Digital Financial Services

Financial services provide opportunities often taken for granted in developed countries, including the ability to readily make payments, save and invest for the future, insure against misfortune and borrow to grow one’s business.


However, in developing countries around two billion people lack financial services. In most of these countries, more people have a mobile phone than a bank account. Innovators are making use of this unprecedented access to affordable technology to deliver digital financial services (DFS) to the previously unbanked at an impressive rate.


The UNSW Digital Financial Services Research Team is conducting in-depth and pioneering research into the regulation of digital financial services with support from the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund.


This project is being undertaken by the world’s first and, we believe, only university-based research team delving into the regulation of digital financial services and FinTech.


For a detailed summary of the project, please CLICK HERE


For an overview of our Regulatory Diagnostic Toolkit for this project, please CLICK HERE


For a full list of our project's outputs please use the "Resource Filter" on this page.

Working Papers

From Fintech to Techfin the Regulatory Challenges of Data-Driven Finance

Originally published: 29/04/2017
Dirk Zetzsche , Ross Buckley, Douglas Arner, and Janos Barberis discuss the implications of the shift from financial intermediary (FinTech) to data intermediary (TechFin) for incumbent financial services firms, FinTech startups and regulators.

The Evolution of Fintech: A New Post-Crisis Paradigm?

Douglas W. Arner, Janos Nathan Barberis and Ross P. Buckley discuss the challenges for regulators and market participants posed by the evolution of FinTech.

FinTech, RegTech and the Reconceptualization of Financial Regulation

Originally published: 01/10/2016
The regulatory changes and technological developments following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis are fundamentally changing the nature of financial markets, services and institutions. At the juncture of these two phenomena lies regulatory technology or ‘RegTech’ – the use of technology, particularly information technology, in the context of regulatory monitoring, reporting and compliance.


FinTech in Developing Countries: Charting New Customer Journeys

Originally published: 06/10/2016
A customers’ journey is the path the customer travels to satisfy their needs and wants and will typically consist of several separate processes. FinTech product and service developers in advanced economies often understand how difficult many customers find their journey with banks and have been able the make the journey more pleasant and seamless.

Digital Financial Services in the Pacific: Experiences and Regulatory Issues

Originally published: 26/04/2016
Digital Financial Services in the Pacific: Experiences and Regulatory Issues identifies mobile banking and the use of technology as a particularly effective way to enhance access to financial services in a region beset by challenging geography and poor infrastructure.

Regulatory Handbook:The Enabling Regulation of Digital Financial Services

Originally published: 14/12/2015
UNSW Digital Financial Services Research Team published the Digital Financial Services Regulatory Handbook.

Government Submissions

Submission to the Australian Payments Plan Consultation: Shaping the Future of Australian Payments

Originally published: 03/09/2015
UNSW Digital Financial Services Research Team addressed three issues in their submission to Australian Payment Plan Consultation.

Submission on Financial System Inquiry Final Report – Purchased Payment Facilities

Originally published: 01/03/2015
This submission outlines our recommendations for the PPF regime and explains why we believe the FSI recommendations will not achieve their desired aim.

Account Closures of Money Transfer Operators by Australian Banks– Instability and Injustice in the Pacific

Originally published: 01/08/2014
This submission analyses the impact of regulation on financial inclusion.

Opinion Pieces

The True Potential of RegTech: Fostering Systemic Financial Stability

Originally published: 10/10/2016
RegTech today offers very substantial cost savings but we shouldn’t satisfy ourselves with these. RegTech implemented with the right vision and purpose, accepting that “people are too big to be failed”, can bring about the stability that our financial systems have been lacking since liberalization began in the 1970s.

Regulatory Diagnostic Toolkit for Digital Financial Services

Originally published: 21/09/2016
The UNSW Digital Financial Services Research Team, in collaboration with UNCDF, developed a Regulatory Diagnostic Toolkit (RDT) for digital financial services (DFS) and piloted the application of the RDT in Solomon Islands. The RDT enables regulators to assess the “health” of their regulatory environment in view of their objectives for DFS.

August Visit to Solomon Islands: Financial Inclusion and Consumer Protection

Originally published: 19/09/2016
In August, the UNSW Digital Financial Services Diagnostic Team (UNSW DFS Diagnostic Team) visited Honiara for the second time this year on a project designed to assist in closing this "gap" in the provision of financial services, and increase financial inclusion.

Briefing notes

Protecting Customers’ Mobile Money Funds in Civil Law Jurisdictions

Originally published: 07/12/2015
The UNSW Digital Financial Service Team presents discussion on protecting customers’ mobile money funds in civil law jurisdictions.

Regulating the Use of Digital Financial Service Agents in Developing Countries

Originally published: 18/11/2015
The Digital Financial Service Team discusses the regulation of the digital financial service agents in development countries.

The Role of Regulators in Building Consumer Demand for Mobile Money

Originally published: 27/10/2015
The Digital Financial Services Team discusses the role of regulators in building consumer demand for mobile money.


Protecting Consumer Data and Privacy

Originally published: 20/06/2017
Dr Kemp presented to the plenary session on “Data Protection for Financial Services Consumers in Developing Countries: Alternatives to the Flawed Consent Model”, highlighting weaknesses in the traditional “informed consent”, or “notice” and “choice”, approach to consumer data protection.

Global Development of Financial Regulatory Sandbox

Originally published: 02/03/2017
Dr Cheng-Yun Tsang presented on "Global Development of Financial Regulatory Sandbox" at a semianr on "FinTech Innovation Experiment and Sandbox" co-hosted by FinTech Research Center of National Chengchi Univeristy and Taiwan Academy of Banking and Finance on March 1, 2017.

Exploring the Nexus of Digital Financial Services (DFS) and Financial Stability

Originally published: 12/12/2016
Dr Cheng-Yun Tsang presented on the panel of "Digital Financial Services & Financial Stability" at a Global Conference on "Maximizing the Power of Financial Access: Finding an Optimal Balance between Financial Inclusion and Financial Stability" hosted by AFI and Bank Indonesia.