NAMFISA launches first-ever FinTech Square to drive financial inclusion and innovation
The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA) this week launched the first-ever FinTech Square in the Non-bank Financial Institutions (NBFI) sector, to drive financial inclusion and innovation, as well as help mitigate some of the risks emerging from the financial services industry.
The NAMFISA Fintech Square is a platform where the regulator meets the innovator. It will be celebrated annually as part of the NAMFISA calendar and will take different forms.
Under the theme, “Where the Regulator Meets the Innovators”, the FinTech Square is expected to become an innovation hub where many initiatives will be housed and developed for future generations.
The innovation hub will provide an opportunity for upcoming innovators, particularly the youth, to participate in the transformation of the financial services industry.
At the launch of FinTech Square, NAMFISA’s Deputy CEO for Prudential Supervision, Erna Motinga explained that the financial services industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation across the world driven by digital technologies.
She further emphasized that these technologies are reshaping business models and operations in financial services, a reality that the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated. “Our experience over the last few months since the occurrence of COVID-19 is that it is no more business as usual.”
“During the hard lockdowns, we have seen how technology has aided many households not only to access financial sector services but enabled the provision of goods and services in other sectors of the economy,” said Motinga, adding that while this is making financial services more diverse, competitive, and inclusive, it has its implications on the financial services sector through emerging risks and opportunities.
The Deputy Chief Executive pointed out that this is an important initiative, as it enables a more dynamic and evidence-based regulatory environment. In this regard, the Authority will learn from and evolve with emerging technologies, ultimately promoting inclusion, competition, diversities, and efficiencies in the financial services sector. Once we are ready, we will invite the media to share important, she added.
According to her, the objective for this year is to gauge the innovations within the market as the Regulator plans to move toward the envisaged NAMFISA regulatory sandbox. “Taking account of today’s engagement, we intend to incorporate some of the concerns raised in finalizing our proposed Regulatory Sandbox. This is an “incubatory” platform where financial innovators would “test” their innovations in a controlled regulatory environment. This might mean the relaxation of legislative requirements or even exemptions,” she said in a statement.
She added that NAMFISA would have access to the same platform to understand the underlying implications of the innovation on the financial services sector in general and consumer protection.
“Despite the limited time, we have received 29 applications from innovators from across the country spanning banking, non-banking, and other sectors of the economy. So, far we are impressed by the applications brought forward, and intend to share with the media in the coming days summarized versions of what we have learned as a regulator.,” she revealed, adding that a few selected entrants of this first-ever FinTech Square will have open-ended engagements with the NAMFISA FinTech Square team, to set the stage for the Fintech Square initiative and later the Regulatory Sandbox.
The General Manager of Research, Policy, and Statistics, Floris Fleermuys, said FinTech is seen as a catalyst in periods of crisis and is often linked with the financial crash of 2008, where FinTech companies and innovators respond to the needs of small businesses and individuals.
As a result, the Authority identified FinTech Square as an instrumental catalyst for digital transformation in the NBFI Sector.
Fleermuys added that as the Authority, they are grateful to the innovators for the interest they have shown so far. “NAMFISA believes that this initiative will gain momentum and we can provide a platform where our innovators and in particular the youth can participate in driving innovation,” he said. “This will ultimately lead to improved access to financial services to the majority of our population, as we strive for a more inclusive world for all,” he concluded.