Ben Taylor, who will be presenting at the upcoming Credit Law Symposium, joined Ashleigh Tesluk of Legalwise Seminars to discuss peer to peer lending and all things Fintech.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Ben?
I have spent more than 20 years working in large, dynamic and high growth businesses, and the last 12 years focused on consumer and SME finance. I have a flair for innovation, and have held senior roles in global businesses such as Kimberly-Clark, Gateway and AOL, and with each role broke into new areas resulting in high margin and growth. My more recent role was at consumer finance company Flexigroup, where I held a number of roles including Chief Marketing Officer and before leaving, as Head of Innovation. I am the General Manager of Harmoney Australia, Australiasia's largest P2P consumer finance platform
What are some of the main challenges that you have seen affecting the credit and lending sector today?
A fair and level playing field. I think mandatory Comprehensive Credit Reporting and including telcos and utilities into the mix would be a game changer in Credit / responsible lending. The current negative reporting model limits the smaller players because they have limited data to make optimal decisions. CCR will slowly come to Australia, but we should also include telcos and utilities - which is currently not part of the mix.
Why do you think Peer to Peer Lending and Crowd Funding Platforms have been so popular?
Market Place lending provides a better borrower rate than the big banks, more transparency and fast online convenience service. For the lender, it provides a much greater return than other standard investment products, reducing the risks through fractionalisation. The banks can’t simply match this offer. Market place lending brings a re-balance of power in the lending relationship. For too long banks have held the power in the lending relationship, and borrowers and lenders want a better deal.
What are the key regulatory issues affecting these areas and why?
In Australia, the key issues are around the time frames and hurdles it takes to become licenced, combined with the outdated regulation which has not really been updated for the online era, so fintech players like HARmoney are licenced within existing laws. ASIC need to be applauded, as they have made some progress, but more work needs to be done.
The government in New Zealand has been a world leader in creating new licence classes at the FMA for Peer to Peer and Equity Crowd Funding in 2014, which has created a massive fintech community. I firmly believe Australia should take a similar role to NZ, and create specific licence classes within ASIC.
What is Australia doing differently to the rest of the world and is it working?
There is a strong fintech community, with many incubator type places to kick start an idea. In addition, getting access to potential investors is fairly easy, and we have accommodating levels of government making headway in innovation.
What are some of the other big trends and developments you see ahead for these areas?
The new generation of smartphones and the continual adoption along the curve with customers doing much of their activity on their phones/tablets that they used to do on their PCs is a big change in financial services. In addition the work underway for instant funds transfer, rather than overnight transfers, will help us deliver better customer service.
To hear more from Ben, join us for day 2 of the upcoming Credit Law Conference, Fintech: Credit Law's Relationship with New Technology.