L’financial market supervision has just published a discussion paper outlining the benefits and risks of digitizing financial services.
The document entitled “ Perspectives on the risks and benefits of digital financial services for consumers», was published on the occasion of the 17th edition of the authority sessionwhich took place in Montreal on November 22nd.
In particular, the more than 60-page document puts into perspective the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to an acceleration in the provision of digital services in all sectors. Although consumers consider themselves autonomous in their financial decisions, some of the products offered to them are complex and have incomplete disclosures or are too risky for them.
The AMF proposes using technological innovations to improve financial and digital literacy among consumers, encourage responsible innovation among providers, and explore new issues arising from the digital transformation of the financial sector.
The autonomous consumption of financial products via digital channels is becoming increasingly necessary and is at the expense of the traditional approach, in which consumers are accompanied in their purchasing process by intermediaries: consultants, brokers or bankers. By exposing themselves to risks, the severity of which they do not always appreciate, consumers increase the potential harm they may suffer.
The concept paper consists of three main chapters. The first looks at the key underlying trends related to connectivity, changing demographics and new consumer habits.
The second chapter lists insights and observations related to banking and lending services, securities, insurance, and the crypto-asset ecosystem.
The third chapter introduces the new issues related to the digitization of finance, including fraud, privacy and personal data protection, cyber security, etc.
In the foreword to the discussion paper, the agency’s CEO explains, Louis Morisset, reminds that in 2016 the organization set up a working group to monitor technological innovations. The report “Artificial intelligence in finance – recommendations for responsible usewas also released by this group in 2021.
The elimination of intermediaries in certain markets, particularly in the case of cryptoassets, represents one of the many challenges associated with the digitization of financial activities, adds the agency’s CEO.
During his speech at the rendez-vous, Mr Morisset summarized the importance of the change resulting from the digitization of commercial activities, including financial services. In his opinion, this transformation is not without risk.
Smartphones give us access to the world, which includes financial services. “These services follow us everywhere. They’re personalised, available day and night, and becoming ever more diverse,” he says.
Consumers surfing online have access to financial services, but also to the offerings of other providers, some of which are established elsewhere in the world and are not as strictly regulated as in Quebec.
“The benefits of the digital transformation of financial products and services are many and very real, but the risks are just as real. More than ever, we, financial stakeholders and regulators, need to work together to increase consumer vigilance and contribute to better financial and digital literacy in Quebec,” added Mr Morisset.
In this regard, he points out that consumers are more receptive to financial education messages when they are already involved in a purchasing process. “I therefore encourage you to always try to integrate more elements of literacy into your communication with your customers, especially the youngest ones,” stresses Louis Morisset during his speech.
Two main conclusions
The Autorité draws two main conclusions from its reflection. First, the financial industry relies heavily on Quebec consumer confidence. Consultation is needed to increase the latter’s vigilance on the new risks they are facing.
This vigilance is the first line of defense against fraud and emphasizes the various abusive practices taking place in digital channels.
Second, traditional financial knowledge is no longer sufficient. Consumers must develop the skills needed to navigate this digital environment with confidence.
The AMF intends to continue working with financial sector stakeholders through theirsStrategic partnership program for financial education, awareness and research. Within the framework of this program, seven research areas are preferred, the guidelines of which are set out in the “About the‘Authorityfrom his website.
Additionally, on November 22, the AMF announced that the Superintendency of the Solvency Framework will become the Superintendency of Financial Institutions on December 5.
This change is part of the implementation of the Authority’s Strategic Plan 2021-2025, which aims to strengthen the organization’s operational capacities to support its mission and ensure that its work as a regulator is increasingly relevant to complex market challenges.