Introduction

What is RegTech? Who is RegTech for? Why use RegTech?
What does the RegTech industry look like?

As one of the many promising RegTech companies out there, we get a lot of questions about the RegTech concept. And for a good reason. Being techies at heart – and with a legal and compliance DNA – we are all about bringing innovation to the industry and staying in the know of all the latest developments.

This is why we put together this jam-packed, ultimate guide to RegTech. Here, you will be guided through every nook and cranny of the fascinating and ever-evolving RegTech landscape. From the basic definition and background all the way through to industry associations and our favourite reads. So sit back, buckle up and enjoy your introduction to RegTech.

Causes of RegTech

What are the causes of RegTech? In the broader literature, there are two widespread perspectives on the RegTech revolution. In the first version, RegTech is exclusively the consequence of the financial crisis of 2008 and the regulatory tsunami it caused. In the second version, RegTech is only an add-on to FinTech and the associated demand for the digital processing of regulations. At Apiax, we do not believe that any of these explanations alone can convincingly capture the phenomenon. Instead, we find that the RegTech revolution is the result of a number of broad and powerful forces.

The 7 main causes of RegTech

  • Regulatory tsunami The regulatory environment has been constantly expanding since the 2008 financial crisis. The demand for new regulations comes from the public, government and regulators and has led to an explosion in the scope and complexity of the regulatory environment. RegTech helps to meet these challenges efficiently.
  • Technology Technological developments are another major cause of the RegTech revolution. Obvious, but still relevant and true: Technological developments enable new ways to deal with regulatory challenges and thus bring new and exciting business ideas into the minds of entrepreneurs.
  • FinTech As Forbes writes in this article, the FinTech revolution has produced numerous innovations that have led to a strong demand for RegTech solutions. Many FinTech innovations require the integration of digital regulations into their solutions to enable them to work efficiently.
  • New standards PSD2, open banking, an emerging API economy and cloud computing – to name just a few – are new technologies that financial services providers want to keep up with. Sometimes RegTech solutions are an answer to these developments, sometimes they make them possible.
  • Digital habits Customers demand services and products that are in line with their increasingly digital habits. Products and services must be accessible on mobile devices, and communication must take place on digital channels. RegTech solutions help to make these offers compliant.
  • Competition The intelligent implementation of new technologies by new players is a challenge across the whole range of financial services offered now and in the future. Some of these new market players are established technology companies in other areas. They understand the potential of RegTech and are pushing into this area with urgency.
  • Cost pressure As cost sensitivity increases, RegTech helps to increase productivity and efficiency – and offers as a welcome side effect improved traceability and auditability.

RegTech Definitions

Regulation is one of several services that have recently been given the ‘tech’ affix. While the definition of RegTech means different things to different people, RegTech has certainly received a lot of attention with increasing regulatory complexity and rising regulatory costs. In the following, we present and discuss five of the most common RegTech definitions to bring some clarity to the issue: What is RegTech?

5 most relevant RegTech definitions

Here are five of the most prominent RegTech definitions we could find. As you will see, they all have some similarities, but they also differ quite considerably from each other. Before we discuss similarities and differences, let’s have a look at the definitions:

  • Investopedia “RegTech is a blend word of ‘regulatory technology’ that was created to address regulatory challenges in financial services through innovative technology. RegTech consists of a group of companies that use cloud computing technology through software-as-a-service (SaaS) to help businesses comply with regulations efficiently and less expensively.”
  • Financial Conduct Authority “RegTech applies to new technologies developed to help overcome regulatory challenges in financial services.”
  • Wikipedia “Regulatory technology, also known as a ‘RegTech’ is a new field within the financial services industry that utilises information technology to enhance regulatory processes. It puts a particular emphasis on regulatory monitoring, reporting and compliance and is thus benefiting the finance industry. The objective of RegTech is to enhance transparency as well as consistency and to standardise regulatory processes, to deliver sound interpretations of ambiguous regulations and thus to provide higher levels of quality at lower cost. Oftentimes RegTech companies utilise the cloud through software-as-a-service.”
  • Institute of International Finance “RegTech is the use of new technologies to solve regulatory and compliance burdens more effectively and efficiently.”
  • CB Insights “We define RegTech broadly to include any technology and/or software created to address regulatory challenges and help companies understand regulatory requirements and stay compliant. Companies in this space help customers meet compliance standards, ensure risk management protocols are in place, and put in place controls that actively mitigate risk. This technology ranges from complementing existing compliance, audit, and risk workflows to replacing and wholly automating them through leveraging cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the blockchain.”

RegTech definition: A discussion

In our view, these are the most widely used RegTech definitions. Some of these definitions are too specific for our purposes. We do not believe that RegTech is necessarily about cloud computing or SaaS, although these issues are of course important to many RegTech companies, including Apiax. Nevertheless, we would argue that there is no need to include these issues in a RegTech definition.

What unites all the above-mentioned RegTech definitions is certainly the idea that RegTech is about the use of new technologies to meet regulatory challenges. This is obviously true and is therefore rightly at the heart of all these definitions. In Apiax we find that RegTech is about the digital tools needed to manage regulatory complexity. That is why we strongly refer to the definition of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It is the shortest of the above definitions, but in our opinion, it is also the best:

RegTech applies to new technologies developed to help overcome regulatory challenges in financial services.

It is remarkable that the common theme is that RegTech is not only about compliance, but also about efficiency and productivity. At Apiax we share this idea. Of course, RegTech is about mastering complex regulations and regaining control over compliance. But we also believe that one of the lasting effects of RegTech will be to free up resources and allow companies to refocus on business development.

RegTech Maps and Rankings

RegTech maps and rankings are the most convenient way to get a market overview of RegTech start-ups and RegTech companies around the world. They provide a quick overview of each company’s position on the web and social media, based on various factors that highlight some of the most promising companies among them and give a good impression of the important key areas in which they operate.

The 6 major RegTech maps and rankings

  • Swisscom RegTech Startup Map Every quarter, Swisscom publishes a market overview of Swiss RegTech start-ups in cooperation with e-foresight, categorised according to areas of activity. This is an excellent starting point for learning more about RegTech companies in Switzerland and the Swiss RegTech community.
  • CB Insights RegTech Market Map CB Insights uses its data to identify over 100 private companies in RegTech and organizes them into 9 categories, including 9 sub-categories within financial services. The map is a bit outdated, but it is still a good source to find RegTech companies that operate in different service categories. You can also follow CB Insights on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • RegTech100 The RegTech100 list identifies the 100 innovative RegTech companies that every enterprise should know about in 2020. It is not free, but the Global RegTech Review provides market information that cannot be found in any other report.
  • Deloitte RegTech Universe 2020 Deloitte compiles a list of RegTech companies with the technologies and solutions they offer. It’s a really useful look at who is orbiting the RegTech space. You can find them here and also follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Planet Compliance This RegTech directory, which was first introduced in autumn 2016, has quickly become an invaluable source of information for investors, financial institutions and anyone interested in RegTech. We are proud to play a prominent role in this increasingly business-critical directory.
  • RT Associates RegTech Directory In July 2017, RT Associates began researching and compiling the RegTech directory in order to obtain clarity and an objective assessment of the field. They organize the landscape into precise categories and have a great research behind the data you see. Their mission is clear: to bring both sides of the RegTech market closer together so that both RegTech providers and regulated companies can derive commercial benefits from the use of innovative technology.

RegTech Associations

Why join a RegTech association? Firstly, it is a great way to gain knowledge, inspiration and support from other like-minded individuals and organisations. Secondly, it is a powerful channel to voice ideas, opinions and important issues. The below associations are known to shape and accelerate the evolution of RegTech. 

International RegTech Association

Being the flagship of RegTech associations, the International RegTech Association (IRTA) is a passionate, united community of individuals and organisations with one shared vision: to innovate, advance and influence the future of RegTech. 

On a mission to drive RegTech innovation, IRTA

  • promote ‘innovation in trust’ throughout the global RegTech eco-system
  • collaborate with regulators in key financial markets
  • undertake and sponsor RegTech-dedicated initiatives, research, and accelerators, to enable innovation through the use of technology
  • develop and promote RegTech standards, which are used globally to assess, adopt, and refresh RegTech innovations
  • promote by-design thinking, digital inclusion, and real-time risk resolution

We think the non-profit association plays a central role in the RegTech landscape.

Holland FinTech

Contrary to what the name suggests, also RegTech companies have a lot to gain from joining the extensive network of Holland FinTech. Sharing many mutual interests such as industry innovation and financial compliance, it is a great hub to access knowledge and source talent and investments. Joined by over 22.000 professionals, Holland FinTech connects people and organisations to profit from innovation and development. 

Swiss Finance Startups

Active in our home of Switzerland, Swiss Finance Startups support pioneers on the local FinTech scene. With more than 120 startups joined already, their mission is to create synergies, join forces and drive innovation, inspiration and change in Switzerland. 

Covering a lot of common ground, we find this an excellent hub for Swiss FinTech and RegTech companies alike to gain knowledge and benefit from the community of like-minded, passionate professionals. 

Luxembourg House of Financial Technology

A membership with the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology comes with an array of benefits. Through their community, members are offered training, education and research as well as excellent networking opportunities with peers and innovators from all over Europe.

Being the gateway to FinTech in Europe, the association help their partnering organisations meet innovation goals and find the right resources. They also enable venture capital firms, investors, government agencies and FinTechs and RegTechs to fulfill their ambitions. 

Innovate Finance 

As the voice of global FinTech, Innovate Finance represent and advance the global FinTech community in the UK. Members range from seed stage startups and global financial institutions to investors, professional services firms, and global FinTech hubs.

By bringing together and connecting the most forward-thinking minds of FinTech and RegTech, Innovate Finance help create a transparent, sustainable and innovative global financial services sector.

RegTech Reports and Studies

In recent years, there has been an increasing number of reports and studies dealing with the emergence of RegTech and the future of compliance, providing a wealth of information on the opportunities and challenges facing the entire industry. Therefore, we have carefully selected those that we consider important in order to better understand RegTech. We note that these texts are frequently quoted and provide the figures or justifications that show why RegTech is so timely and important.

The 5 most insightful RegTech reports and studies

  • Thomson Reuters Cost of Compliance Report One of the most frequently quoted reports in the RegTech community is the Thomson Reuters Cost of Compliance report. Its annual survey on the cost of compliance is now in its tenth year. Responses come from nearly 6000 compliance and risk professionals worldwide, representing companies from all sectors and sizes of the financial services industry, including asset management, insurance, banking and investment. The report highlights the trends and developments from year to year.
  • Raconteur World of RegTech Infographic Visually appealing and easy to understand, this infographic by Raconteur helps to navigate through the world of RegTech. It presents 391 RegTech companies worldwide, organized by service sub-sectors, different types of regulatory compliance assistance, how global financial services providers use RegTech solutions, the likelihood of RegTech budgets increasing, the underlying technology for RegTech solutions, and the key benefits of RegTech financial services as evaluated by financial services providers, regulators and professional associations.
  • RTC New Initiatives White Paper Particularly insightful, the New Initiatives White Paper 2018 — A New Paradigm for Regulatory Change and Compliance, describes research by the RegTech Council’s (RTC) New Initiatives Working Group (NIWG) on how a combination of industrial collaboration and the application of semantic technologies based on open standards can radically change the way regulations are written, interpreted, implemented and monitored. This work resulted in a proof-of-concept that demonstrates a more efficient and effective approach to managing regulatory change and compliance that is accessible to both regulators and businesses.
  • ACC Chief Legal Officers Survey Every year, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) conducts a global study of the issues and environment in which Chief Legal Officers (CLOs) operate. The results of the ACC Chief Legal Officers Survey 2019 support the importance of a CLO who is well positioned to influence corporate strategy. In addition, this survey predicts that CLOs will keep an eye on the data in 2019. It shows that data breaches, legislative changes and data privacy are high on their list of concerns in 2019. CLOs also report that new regulations, brand and reputation issues and disruptive technologies will have a significant impact on business decisions this year..
  • Burnmark RegTech Survey This is a survey of 45 RegTech start-ups. One of the most interesting results is certainly that the time frame for implementation in banks is much longer than most RegTechs expect. Read it here.

RegTech Articles and Blog Posts

There is a lot going on in the RegTech industry. In order to keep up with the latest market developments, we have to keep up with the latest news and trends.

That’s why we’ve carefully selected some of the most insightful articles and blog posts on the Internet to help you broaden your understanding of the subject. For those looking for relevant information, these are the articles we think are worth reading. Take a look at them and read them however you like.

Our 6 favourite RegTech articles and blog posts

  • RegTech 101 and 102 CB Insights has created an insightful RegTech 101, in which they show what RegTech is, why it is happening now and why it is important. Their RegTech 102 (“The Evolution of RegTech and the Future of Compliance”) is equally impressive. Both articles offer a lot of new information and are very informative for those who are interested in RegTech.
  • FinTech, RegTech, and SupTech At Finextra we found this great blog post about FinTech, RegTech and SupTech. This article is very specific about how RegTech can help financial institutions to comply with regulations and is very worth reading.
  • The New FinTech Here’s another article that repeats the idea that RegTech is the new FinTech. It also defines RegTech, shares its origins, and explores how it’s going to impact and benefit both customers and businesses. This is another very good RegTech overview.
  • RegTech to the Rescue This article explores that regulatory technology is often cited as the answer to the rising cost of compliance, risk and reporting duties at banks. Will it help financial institutions escape IT silos and enhance control over data? The answer is yes, as you could already imagine.
  • RegTech to Account for 40% of Global Compliance Spend by 2023 This article from the FinTech Times focuses on a new study by Juniper Research, which found that spending on RegTech solutions will exceed $115 billion by 2023. According to the study quoted in the article, any heavily regulated sector of the economy that does not make the introduction of RegTech a priority would risk being fined for not keeping pace with regulatory changes.
  • A Regulation Revolution in Financial Services This is a very insightful interview with Jo Ann Barefoot by Forbes to understand how technology and the digital revolution will impact financial services regulation and compliance. Jo Ann is considered one of the most committed advocates of RegTech, and in addition to her work as a former banking regulator, she currently devotes her time to a number of global bodies and initiatives related to the field.

RegTech Blogs

There is now a wealth of outstanding blogs on the subject of RegTech. We have set out and collected the 15 best RegTech blogs in 2020.

The 15 smartest RegTech blogs 2020

  • Finextra As the leading independent newswire and information source for the worldwide financial technology community, Finextra covers all significant technology news in wholesale and retail banking, the capital markets and insurance. The strong line-up of authors – including internationally renowned business leaders – publish a wide range of research articles, features, white papers and case studies, including quite some content on RegTech, which is why we visit the page on a regular basis. You can also find them on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • GoMedici MEDICI was the first independent source of data-driven research dedicated to FinTech innovation globally and has built a robust international reputation based on their intelligent insights and organised content. If you ask us, it’s still one of the best resources if you are looking for credible research on the most important RegTech developments. Look them up on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • FinTech Futures The publishing platform for the worldwide FinTech community, from the industry veterans to newcomers within the space – and everyone in-between! They provide daily news, in-depth analysis on a worldwide scale and expert commentary across a comprehensive range of areas. Find more on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • FinTech News Switzerland A local hub providing deep insight and the latest – most timely – Swiss and global financial technology news on the market. They launched in September 2015 and have since delivered FinTech and RegTech-centric content in various forms for anyone who wants to stay in the know. See what they’re up to on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • CB Insights Aggregation and analysis of big data along with machine learning, algorithms and data visualization are what you can expect from the machine intelligence platform. Anyone can take part in questions and polls and find out the likely direction of travel for growth, competition and technology trends. The impressively broad coverage (industry, geography, etc) is thoroughly researched nicely presented through easy-to-understand infographics. (We’re big fans!) Follow on Twitter and LinkedIn to make sure you don’t miss out.
  • FinTech Times Our go-to source for FinTech news. Published monthly, it helps explore the world of financial and regulatory technology, chronicling the latest developments in cutting-edge technologies such as payments innovation, RegTech, banking transformation, AI, cryptocurrencies, WealthTech, cyber security, InsurTech – and much more! We really like their beautiful blend of first-hand insight, external expertise and investigative journalism. We recommend staying up-to-date through Twitter and LinkedIn too.
  • PYMNTS Through studies, monthly trackers and daily news, PYMNTS.com boasts a rich mix of relevant, interesting and interactive content, allowing the payment community join in with their own content and commentary. Both innovator and expert-driven, it’s the premier source of information on “What’s Next” in payments and commerce. We find it a brilliant concept that works very well in delivering insightful and original content. Keep them on your radar through Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • IRTA The International RegTech Association (IRTA) is a united community of individuals and organisations with a shared vision to innovate, advance, and influence the future of regulatory technology. As a non-profit organisation, IRTA brings together the people, tools and policies that are required to thrive in today’s rapidly evolving RegTech landscape. Their blog helps us staying up-to-date on the most recent developments in their ever-growing community. Check out their Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • BankNXT Established in 2012 – and then relaunched again in 2015 – the though leadership platform developed a reputation for strong opinions, influential editorial and expert business insight in the world of financial services and technology. It’s a hub for innovative financial professionals wanting to gain knowledge, inspiration and connection with business leaders and experts from around the world. We’re frequent readers – and big fans – of the subpage on regulatory technology! Don’t forget to follow them on Twitter.
  • TechBullion The London based financial technology news website with a global focuses on the RegTech industry. We really like their close monitoring of the players on the market as well as the many useful insights and case studies they provide. Follow on Twitter to stay in the know.
  • FinTech Weekly We recommend signing up for the weekly newsletter on Medium, which summarises key industry news and events. You can expect a profound round up of relevant stories, news, developments and events. Offering expert insights and strategies for the financial services industry, we find their stories, videos and podcasts to be of really high-quality. If you want to explore more, look them up on Twitter and LinkedIn too.
  • Bank Innovation Launched in 2009, the blog has been at the forefront of tracking the evolution of digital banking. Guiding innovation professionals to better results, the coverage centers around the role of artificial intelligence in creating more prescient offers, design thinking that creates more beneficial products and services, plus tools and methods for delivering exceptional customer experience, as well as best practices in innovation at the world’s most forward-thinking financial institutions and startups. They certainly caught our attention with these well-constructed and relevant topics! Check them out on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • The Swiss Finance + Technology Association This non-profit association is considered the center of gravity for FinTech in Switzerland. They promote the positioning of Switzerland as a leading international FinTech hub, by organising high-quality events, connecting stakeholders, conducting research and creating publications that are very much worth reading – among many other relevant activities. Alongside newsletters (which come highly recommended!), their blog features many insightful articles written by their expert community members. You can follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Holland FinTech The platform is used to connect people and organisations in the financial value chain, enabling all parties to profit from innovation and development. Their live-feed and newsletters cover notable stories from all around the world, funding rounds, research and events, while providing some of the best insights into FinTech and RegTech trends. If you don’t already, do follow Holland FinTech on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • The Finanser Chaired by Chris Skinner, an independent commentator on the financial markets and FinTech industry, The Finanser is the portal and knowledge base of the Financial Services Club. We’re frequent readers and always leave with several important take-aways. Chris Skinner is also known as the author of the bestselling books Digital Bank, ValueWeb and its new sequel Digital Human. Follow Chris on Twitter and LinkedIn for interesting takes on current affairs.

Did we manage to pick one of your favourites? Or are there unsung heroes out there waiting to be explored? Please do let us know.

RegTech Summary

While the definition can be found in most modern dictionaries, we find that the meaning of RegTech encompasses so much more than the cross between “regulation” and “technology”. 

Its broad scope and application span across multiple industries, business functions and operational purposes. Regardless of business objective, one thing is sure: RegTech is here to stay and brings benefits essential to competing in the digital era. 

Just like the technology, we anticipate RegTech to evolve along with innovation, market participants and business needs. That is why we encourage you to revisit this page from time to time for an updated snapshot of the RegTech landscape