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FMA appointments reflect serious move into fintech space

New FMA appointments to specialist roles in fintech and integrated financial systems reveal the regulatory agency is looking closely at tech.

Thursday, November 5th 2020, 6:09AM

Fiona Whyte (left) and Binu Paul

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has announced the appointment of two new specialist roles focused on deepening the regulator’s expertise in two evolving and important sectors: financial technology (fintech) and environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) impacts on financial markets.

Fintech entrepreneur Binu Paul has been appointed as specialist lead, fintech reporting to director of regulation Liam Mason. While Fiona Whyte, who has a banking and regulation background, has been appointed as specialist lead, integrated financial system and reports to Sarah Vrede, director of capital markets.

Rob Everett, FMA chief executive, said the appointments reflect the regulator’s support for innovation in financial services and commitment to supporting New Zealand’s transition to an integrated financial system, which looks beyond financial returns to also take account of other critical non-financial factors.

“We want to foster technology innovation that improves outcomes for consumers and we believe there is potential for the FMA to work with industry to enable New Zealand to adopt more fintech developments.

“Binu is one of New Zealand’s recognised fintech entrepreneurs and has extensive networks across the sector, making him a perfect fit for this role,” Everett said.

“In relation to the integrated financial system role, demand for responsible or green investments continues to rise and requirements for financial institutions to incorporate climate-related financial disclosures will come into effect in the next few years.

“It’s vital that regulators support the industry as it transitions to a more integrated financial system which recognises these impacts, and Fiona’s role reflects our focus in this area,” he continued.

Both specialist roles will engage with industry stakeholders to help them understand the FMA’s role and approach, as well as keeping the regulator abreast of developments.

They will also be the FMA’s leads in its dialogue with other government agencies and departments.

Paul has deep industry experience across financial services, technology innovation and commercialisation over the past 20 years in New Zealand and overseas.

Since 2016, he has been consulting to the FMA on a number of projects. He has previously founded two fintech businesses and Finnotec, New Zealand’s annual fintech conference.

Paul has also held roles as CEO and head of strategy in the investment research and funds management sectors.

He trained in corporate strategy execution at the Wharton business school and holds MBA and Bachelor of Technology degrees.

Paul is a founding member of FintechNZ and a current board member of ChildFund New Zealand.

Whyte has worked at the FMA for the past seven years as a senior adviser in the conduct assessment team, where she focused on investigating and warning the public about scams that target vulnerable people.

She has a 23-year banking career in New Zealand and has experience in governance roles, including serving as an independent board member of Microfinance Deposit Taking Institutions (MDI) in Cambodia, where she promoted corporate social responsibility.

Whyte has been a board member for World Vision NZ and VisionFund Cambodia, which serve the rural poor by providing access to capital to assist with small business loans.

Tags: ESG fintech FMA green investment people technology

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