As the world of Fintech evolves, the need for governance and ethics in that arena is of particular importance.
Financial Technology, or “Fintech” refers to new technology that seeks to improve and automate financial services. This technology aids in the smooth running of financial aspects of business or personal finances through the integration of AI systems. Broadly speaking, this term refers to any innovation through which people can transact business, from keeping track of finances, to the invention of digital and cryptocurrency. With crypto-trading and digital platforms for wealth management becoming more popular than ever before, an increasing number of consumers are seeing the practical application and value of Fintech in their lives. As with any application of AI and technology however, certain measures should be in place for the smooth, and more importantly, safe integration of this technology into our daily lives, allowing the everyday user to feel more secure in the use of this tech.
Legislation and guidance have been implemented and communicated guiding Fintech and AI ethics.
Some pieces of legislation, such as the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2), an EU regulation governing electronic payment services, already target Fintech. PSD2 harmonizes two services which have both become increasingly widespread in recent times; Payment Initiation Services (PIS) and Account Information Services (AIS). PIS providers facilitate the use of online banking to make online payments, while AIS providers facilitate the collection and storage of information from a customer’s different bank accounts in a single place. With the increasing popularity and use of these innovations and other forms of Fintech, and as experience provides further insight into the impact of the various implications and the true impact of its use, new regulations are expected in the future.
To most people, their financial data is considered to be among their most sensitive and valuable data and as such, most people are very keen on ensuring the safety of their data. Legislation and guidance have been implemented and communicated in order to aid in the pursuit of principles like technical robustness and safety, privacy and data governance, transparency, diversity, non-discrimination and fairness. These are all imperative to ensuring that the use of Fintech is safe and beneficial for everyone involved.
Technical robustness and safety.
The safety of one’s personal and financial information is, simply put, of the utmost importance when making decisions about what tools an individual will use to manage their finances. A personal data breach involving financial information could be very harmful for the affected data subjects due to its sensitive nature. Financial institutions and Fintech companies put several measures in place to ensure safe and secure money management through tech. Security measures such as, inter alia, data encryption, role-based access control, penetration testing, tokenization, 2FA, multi-step approval or verification processes and backup policy all can and should be applied, where necessary and feasible. These measures all aid in helping users feel more secure, but intimately they aid in protecting users from far more than they can imagine including malware attacks, data breaches, digital identity risks and much more.
Privacy and data governance.
Article 22 of the EU GDPR prohibits a data subject from being subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, except where some circumstances apply. Automated decisions in the Fintech industry may produce legal effects concerning the individuals or similarly significantly affect them. Any decision with legal or similar effects needs special considerations in order to comply with the UK GDPR requirements. A data protection impact assessment may be necessary to determine the risks to individuals and determine how best to deal with them. For special categories of data, automated processing can only be carried out with the individual’s explicit consent or if necessary for reasons of substantial public interest. Robotic process automation (or RPA) could be very useful to businesses and help increase their revenue and save them money. However, it is imperative to ensure compliance with the GDPR and ensure that automated decision making does not result in dangerous profiling practices.
Diversity, non-discrimination and fairness.
Several studies have been performed exploring the overall fairness of current Fintech, and possible discrimination in consumer lending and other aspects of the industry. Algorithms can either perpetuate widespread human biases or develop their own biases. Common biases in the financial sector arise around gender, ethnicity and age. AI technology, especially in Fintech, where biases can affect an individual’s access to credit and the opportunities that it affords, must prevent discrimination and protect diversity. The use of quality training data, choosing the right learning model and working with an interdisciplinary team may help reduce the bias and maintain a sense of fairness in the world of Fintech and AI in general.
While the use of AI has brought much positive transformation to the financial industry, the question of AI ethics in everything that we do is unavoidable. Transparency provides an opportunity for introspection regarding ethical and regulatory issues, allowing them to be addressed. Algorithms used in Fintech should be transparent and explainable. The ICO and The Alan Turing Institute have produced their guidance “Explaining decisions made with AI ” to help businesses with this. They suggest developing a ‘transparency matrix’ to map the different categories of information against the relevant stakeholders. Transparency enables and empowers businesses to demonstrate trustworthiness. Trustworthy AI is AI that will be more easily adopted and accepted by individuals. Transparency into the model and processes of Fintech and other AI allows biases and other concerns to be raised and addressed.
Check out our vlog exploring Fintech and AI Ethics:
You can learn more about AI ethics and regulation in our YouTube channel.