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FinTech and Its Accountability

Published: November 8, 2021

Ensieh Mahi, a PhD Student at the Business Studies Department, Uppsala University, outlines the roundtable “Accountability In (and of) FinTech“ at the WASP-HS FinTech Community Reference Meeting held on October 5th, 2021.

At the beginning of the meeting in the main room, Nicolas Moch, Chief Information Officer at SEB presented about AI trends in the financial industry. In general, banks use AI in three areas including decision, automation, and customer service. He discussed that trustworthiness and explainability is required in order to have a reliable relation between customers and bank.

I had the pleasure of being a secretary of the roundtable “Accountability in (and of) FinTech “, chaired by Magnus Strand and Mattias Levin. The participants consisted of people from banks, academia, and regulatory bodies which made our roundtable interesting to look at FinTech and Accountability from different angles. The roundtable started with an introduction of accountability in FinTech by Magnus Strand. Accountability is a multi-faceted concept which means being responsible and accountable to someone who is able to hold the accounts. Accountability is a matter of relation and is applicable in many contexts like accountability in media, legal accountability, and accountability in business.

From a regulation perspective, it requires assessing the positive potential and challenges of AI in the financial sector in order to be accountable. Digitalization and technology usage create some potentials but it raises some questions too: different risks of developing this technology, data sharing of different financial databases on a large scale while respecting consumers’ concerns like trust and control on data. Financial regulation is key to having a mature financial service and financial market. Dividing Fintech to ‘Fin’ as financial services which are more regulated and ‘Tech’ that is less regulated like cryptocurrency. Crypto is a new area that is not traded in a centralized market and more often is not under the control of regulators.

Another discussed topic was the current status of accountability in FinTech. FinTech is governed by many financial, technical, and ethical regulations but there is less accountability framework for AI usage. Therefore, a mechanism for accountability should be defined in FinTech which assures the accuracy of AI to customers. While discussing AI and accountability, legitimacy pops up. Transparency and high quality of output are necessary to legitimate ourselves to agents and satisfy our stakeholders.

Finally, the discussion ended with some solutions to move toward more accountable and trustworthy AI. It is important to find a consistent approach for different regulations to fit together and act in line with each other. We should define boundaries for using AI to clarify the accountability and responsibility of AI. Moreover, in order to build trust in AI-based services, some basic education about AI-based FinTech to customers is helpful. As participants from industry-described banks try to share the common knowledge with clients to describe what the model (AI) is saying. In general, having basic knowledge of AI is a foundation for adding AI to its right place.

This gave me the opportunity to see how different groups of participants discuss accountability in Fintech and bring them to my PhD project which is ‘Managing AI with legal tools: The example of AI in FinTech’. Also, I am looking forward to participating in the future meeting at WASP-HS whose main topics are about impacts and challenges of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems on societies and humanities.

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