COVID-19: SEC leveraging on Fintech in capital market regulation

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By Kayode Tokede

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has stated that it is leveraging the various opportunities available in the Fintech space to ensure proper regulation of the Capital market in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acting Director General of the SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk said this in an interview in Abuja, weekend.

Ms. Uduk said the apex regulator had to employ various means to ensure that the market is able to operate remotely and also ensure that investors are able to get the benefit of their investments at this critical time when they need them.

“No one saw this coming, but here it is with us. We had to quickly activate our Business Continuity Plans to ensure that there is no gap in regulation. So most of us are leveraging technology, and staff are working remotely, we are interacting with market operators who are also working remotely.

“Our staff are equipped to be able to continue to work remotely and support the market in every area. We have also issued circulars to capital market operators guiding them on how we expect that the market remains open and continues to function seamlessly.

“You are aware that many companies have been able to hold virtual AGMs and have also paid out dividends to their shareholders in spite of the lockdowns. This they have been able to do with the aid of technology” Uduk stated.

Uduk said the pandemic has disrupted the market and everything else but added that with the deployment of technology the market is able to remain open and function.

According to the SEC boss, “In the past we talked a lot about FinTech or Financial Technology and how it has disrupted the market but now its Covid-19 that has so disrupted the market, disrupted everything the way it is and therefore as human beings we have to adapt to be able to ensure that our lives continue and not allow Covid-19 to put our lives on hold. Therefore, we are leveraging technology to be able to continue to function. Initially people were afraid of technology but right now it has become a saving grace given the Covid – 19”.

She disclosed that there are recent developments and opportunities in the Fintech space and said the Commission is leveraging these opportunities.

“We are adopting technology in our regulatory and operational activities and have established a Division dedicated to Fintech and Innovation. We are engaging and guiding Fintech start-ups that seek to operate in the Nigerian capital market, while we encourage those we regulate to embrace Fintech, not as competitor, but as enablers to their existing operations and processes.

“We are finalising some existing regulations in the areas of crowdfunding and other Fintech-based trading and investment platforms.  We are aware that Fintech provides opportunity to bring efficiency into our activities, introduce new products and new platforms as well as supporting development of technology start-ups” she added.

Recall that the Commission launched the Fintech Roadmap for the Nigerian Capital Market and a dedicated committee is working with the commission and other key stakeholders to implement the recommendations of the roadmap report.