Regulators at Bali Fintech Agenda

The rise of financial technology — more commonly known as fintech — won’t threaten the existence of banks and it’s the responsibility of authorities to make sure that traditional lenders are prepared for changes in their industry, policymakers and regulators said in a CNBC-moderated panel Thursday.

The comments were made in Bali, Indonesia where the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are holding their annual meetings. The two organizations on Thursday jointly launched a paper, the Bali Fintech Agenda, to help policymakers around the world strike a balance between encouraging financial innovation and safeguarding the stability of the system.

CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore moderated a panel discussion in Bali to discuss the contents of the paper. He asked the panelists whether it’s a good idea to allow fintech firms to “cherry pick” profitable segments of the banking industry to operate in — therefore taking money away from a legacy system that’s built up over decades and has weathered financial crises.

That question, according to Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, is akin to asking “whether it’s a good idea to protect the banks from serving consumers better?”

Carney, who was one of the panelists at the event, said many small and medium-sized enterprises in the U.K. face high costs in tapping the formal banking system for funds. Therefore, reaching those businesses through fintech is “not taking liquidity away, that’s providing new liquidity” into the financial system, he said.

The key is to ensure that technological transformation in the financial industry can bring about the maximum benefit and at a minimum costs, which is a “classical problem” that many policymakers face, said Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s finance minister who was also a panelist.

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