The winners of the 2020 FinTech and RegTech Global Awards

Central banks and their partners have innovated across machine learning, cloud services, payments and more

The winners of Central Banking’s 2020 FinTech and RegTech Global Awards were unveiled today (October 28) in an online ceremony.

Across 21 categories, the awards recognise the central banks and private firms that are at the cutting edge of technology, from artificial intelligence to cloud integration, the promotion of fintech and new applications of data.

The Bank of Lithuania takes the overall prize for global impact, having rolled out several initiatives throughout 2019 to boost its position as a global leader on technology. The central bank launched a regulatory sandbox and new licensing regime. Data reporting is being automated, and the bank is focused on sustainability as fintech develops.

“The Bank of Lithuania has been shaping global discussions on [central bank digital currency, CBDC], searching for effective RegTech solutions, and setting a global example in using the blockchain technology for both regulatory purposes and in the field of digital numismatics,” said board member Marius Jurgilas.

Another central bank leading the way in creating a fintech ecosystem is the South African Reserve Bank. Sarb wins the fintech policy award for its joined-up approach to regulation, showing that institutions can work together for greater efficiency.

Among other official sector winners, a paper published by the Bank of England wins the Techforward award, recognising an important contribution to technological research. Eleni Kalamara, Arthur Turrell, Chris Redl, George Kapetanios and Sujit Kapadia showed how forecasts could be improved by using machine learning tools to extract sentiment from text.

Sveriges Riksbank has been a fast mover when it comes to CBDC, and wins this year’s award for digital currency infrastructure. Governor Stefan Ingves said: “When we started our work with the e-krona back in 2017, the subject of central bank digital currency was something of a fringe interest among most. Now, it has risen to the top of the international policy agenda, and this award is a great encouragement to our team.”

Elsewhere in the payments landscape, change is also happening fast. Bank Indonesia – winner of the payment innovation award – demonstrated how the launch of quick response (QR) codes could make it easier for consumers to pay with mobile devices. Deputy governor Sugeng said the true value of QR code adoption was its ability to “expand economic inclusion”.

Fast change means new vulnerabilities, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore has been keeping on top of “cyber hygiene”. It wins the award for cyber resilience, having become one of the first regulators to set baseline requirements for cyber security, and to launch bespoke cyber stress tests.

Central banks are upgrading their own systems too, and a trio of winners have shown the value of finding new ways to work with data.

The Bank of Israel has been harnessing real-time data to keep abreast with fast-moving events – critical during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commenting on the central bank’s award for data management, governor Amir Yaron said: “Winning this prize is a testament to the Bank of Israel’s hard work, across all contributing departments and specialisations, which helped bring important economic information that has been essential in managing the crisis to the attention of policy-makers both within and outside the bank.”

The Bank of Thailand takes the prize for artificial intelligence, which it has been using to gather new sources of information. AI has been particularly helpful in extracting meaning from text, allowing the central bank to analyse board minutes of firms it supervises.

The infrastructure underpinning data is critical too, and here the Reserve Bank of New Zealand has been a leader. The central bank has embraced the economies of scale that the public cloud can offer, moving its financial markets department to the cloud already, with other departments following soon. It wins this year’s award for cloud innovations.

Technology is being put to work to solve some of the greatest challenges of our time, and one of the biggest is clearly climate change. The Bank for International Settlements has shown it is possible to take a broad view of green reforms, from investing based on environmental, social and governance criteria, to overhauling internal operations to make them as sustainable as possible.

Deputy general manager Luiz Awazu Pereira da Silva said: “The BIS is working alongside other members of the Network for Greening the Financial System towards a greener financial system, through our analytical work, research and investments.”

Technology partners

By its very nature technology demands expertise, and central banks often rely on the services offered by partners in the private sector.

This year, Vizor takes the overall prize as global technology partner. The firm has built a reputation over the years for being a trusted provider of technology for regulatory data collection.

Chief executive Conor Crowley said: “Deep collaboration with some of the world’s leading central banks and tax authorities has been fundamental to the company’s success, and we are happy to see our community growing year on year.”

Financial Network Analytics wins the award for data analytics. Its software is now in use at many different central banks, helping them map out complex network dynamics across their financial systems.

Global payments are changing fast, and Swift wins the award as payments technology partner. Swift has been using its global payments innovation, or gpi, service to deliver real-time payments worldwide.

Equifax wins the Finnovator award for its work in using credit data to support financial inclusion. The firm has been working closely with regulators to boost the adoption of interpretable artificial intelligence tools that can give a more reliable picture of a consumer’s creditworthiness.

The prize for anti-money laundering technology goes to Exiger Tech. The US-based regtech and risk intelligence company has been providing financial firms and regulators with global governance, risk and compliance solutions to identify and manage financial crime at scale.

The winner of this year’s cloud-native solutions award has an established track record as a provider of regtech for data collection. BearingPoint has now integrated its Abacus Regulator platform with cloud-native environments, helping it to work with new clients such as Swedish financial regulator Finansinspektionen.

Wolters Kluwer leads the way on technology for regulatory compliance. The firm harnesses technology to help market players cope with the growing scope and volume of financial regulation.

Expert.ai, meanwhile, has used its AI platform to help its partners tap into the value of textual data. The firm’s approach collects and analyses information in a number of different languages, helping clients monitor information flows in real time.

On regulatory compliance, Verint has demonstrated the power of technology in streamlining processes around the management of communication data. A South American central bank client used its software to help it monitor calls with market participants, setting the bar for meeting stringent surveillance requirements.

Norton Rose Fulbright, which takes the award for top technology adviser, played a key role in the Central Bank of Bahamas’ CBDC project. The law firm helped the central bank navigate the challenges of aligning the CBDC with current regulations while promoting financial inclusion.

“We were in completely uncharted territory with Project Sand Dollar, forced to truly think outside the box to serve up solutions that would have an impact on society-level issues like financial inclusion,” said Norton Rose Fulbright partner John Kim.

Another firm grappling with the challenges around CBDC issuance is Tokyo-based Soramitsu, which worked with the National Bank of Cambodia to deliver financial inclusion gains through this year’s soft launch of the digital riel project. Soramitsu wins the prize for central bank digital currency.

All the award articles are available at the FinTech & RegTech Awards hub.

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