Financial Services & FinTech: 2021 Year in Review
Reflecting on 2021, our National Financial Services & FinTech team shares some of the industry trends and significant matters of the year, and what we can expect in the next 12 months.
The industry has continued to change rapidly in response to ongoing regulatory reform, ever-evolving technology, and the demands of the market – including the accelerated adoption of digital alternatives in response to the pandemic. We expect this to continue in 2022.
Shannon Adams – Practice Team leader
The financial services industry has continued to deal with waves of regulatory reform, and at the same time, it has had to adapt many of its practices, in particular how it interacts with customers when providing products and services, in response to the restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic.
Blockchain, and fintech developments have been extraordinary this year, among the world’s most dynamic sectors. The area has experienced ten years of development compressed into 12 months, as the landscape rapidly adapts to a pandemic world.
As we look forward to the coming year we anticipate that 2022 will look something like what 2032 would have looked like, were it not for the pandemic.
The big issue for financial services providers will continue to be this – how can we further modify our processes to enable our customers to access our products and services more easily and more quickly, while ensuring that risk is well managed and ensuring regulatory compliance.
Our national team welcomed Special Counsel, Sabina Schlink to the firm, joining our Perth office working on matters across the country with Partner, Andrea Beatty.
The team also celebrates the promotions of Sally Fetouh and Konnie Lontos promoted to Senior Associate as of 1 January 2022.
In our Adelaide office we welcomed Tabitha Mackenzie as a Lawyer, Jack Dean as a law Graduate and Harley-Lee Hall as a Paralegal.
Throughout the year, we continued to represent and advise our clients, across various industries and geographies.
We have assisted many financial services providers, including banks and credit unions to:
- comply with various regulatory reforms – such as open banking, breach reporting and design and distribution obligations (our DDO Toolkit proved to be very popular);
- modify their supply practices and channels in response to the changing environment – the trend towards digital production and execution of credit contracts and mortgages is an example; and
- engage with regulators and customers when there have been compliance problems.
We have also advised and assisted with a number of proposed sector mergers, such as People’s Choice Credit Union / Heritage Bank and Beyond Bank Australia / South West Credit Union.
A few other matters of note have been:
Cigno Pty Ltd, Gold-Silver Standard Finance Pty Ltd
Piper Alderman represented Cigno Pty Ltd in its Full Federal Court appeal against the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. Cigno in challenging ASIC Corporations (Product Intervention Order—Short Term Credit) Instrument 2019/917, which is ASIC’s first use of its product intervention order power.
Lygon 1B Pty Ltd (Lygon)
The Lygon platform is an industry solution that streamlines the bank guarantee process for everyone.
Piper Alderman advises Lygon on corporate commercial, employment, strategic and fundraising matters and assisting in relation to Blockchain matters relevant to the business. Piper Alderman partnered with Lygon in 2021 to take a Blockchain based bank guarantee for a client opening.
Across our National Financial Services & FinTech practice team, we have received a number of individual and team accolades this year. We thank our clients and colleagues for their ongoing support. See the list of recognised lawyers for The Legal 500 Asia Pacific, 2021 edition and The Best Lawyers in Australia, 2022 edition.
Sydney partner, Michael Bacina, was also recently named a finalist in the Australian Blockchain Industry Awards ‘The Blockies’ for both ‘Professional Advisor Leader of the Year’ and ‘Blockchain Leader of the Year’.
Our team has also authored the Australian chapters of Lexology’s Getting the Deal Through – Cryptoassets & Blockchain, 2021 edition and the Chambers Global Practice Guide – Blockchain 2021, published by Chambers & Partners.
Earlier in the year, Andrea Beatty delivered AFSL & ACL Compliance Training both in person and virtually, with this series set to kick off again in 2022.
In December, Piper Alderman was a major sponsor of the 31st Annual Credit Law Conference with partner Andrea Beatty chairing day one and Michael Bacina delivering a keynote presentation on cryptocurrency and credit.
Andrea Beatty and Michael Bacina also delivered a virtual presentation on privacy and data protection in February for our annual ‘Beat the Clock’ series for in-house counsel.