Australia could become one of Asia-Pacific’s fintech hubs, a Coalition Senator said last night.

Senator Andrew Bragg made the claim in handing down the Senate’s Select Committee on Financial and Regulatory Technology's interim report yesterday.

In its submission to the committee last January, ACS said overcoming tax, skills and R&D barriers could see the fintech sector deliver benefits worth $16bn to the Australian economy.

The report’s 32 recommendations included relaxing regulations on fintech services, more certainty on R&D concessions and a greater focus on digital technologies by government and agencies.

“The Committee has made a number of other recommendations in the areas of regulation, tax, capital and funding, skills and talent, and culture,” Bragg said.

“Australia should continue developing as a leading Asia-Pacific fintech nation especially as Hong Kong declines as a financial centre.”

“More jobs and better consumer choice will emerge if we are competitive and iterative in our approach to policy formulation.”

Senator Andrew Bragg. Photo: Supplied

The committee also recommended technologies adopted during the COVID-19 restrictions such as telehealth, digital signatures and virtual general meetings be permanently adopted by regulators and in legislation.

Established in September last year, the committee itself was disrupted by the COVID-19 shutdowns and reopened submissions after the report was delayed by the Senate's suspension.

“We’ve already shown we can be smarter and more innovative during the pandemic. That’s why we’ve called for the extension of virtual AGMs, technology neutral laws and a permanent telehealth system,” Bragg stated.

ACS President, Dr Ian Oppermann, said, “the COVID-19 pandemic illustrated how digital technologies have become essential to delivering traditional goods and services.

“By embracing a regulatory framework putting digital services first, the federal government can ensure Australian business and society can reap the benefits of 21st century technologies.

“Financial services is a sector where Australia has long-standing expertise and fintech is a field where the local ICT community can show its global competitiveness.”

“We congratulate the committee on its valuable work and contributions,” concluded Dr Oppermann. “Should the government adopt these measures, we would see a boost to Australia’s prosperity along with enhanced global opportunities for local businesses, investors and workers.

“As part of Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic opportunities such as these should not be overlooked.”

Senator Bragg was also upbeat about the tech’s sector role in leading the nation out of the current downturn, saying, “as Australia faces its first recession in 30 years, it’s clear we need more jobs and the only way to do that is to embrace technology and become globally competitive.

“It is my hope this interim report can be seen as a series of quick wins: new jobs and more choice,” he said.

The Committee’s final report is due in April 2021.