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Annual conference

Since 2016, the CCAF has held an annual conference in Cambridge, UK. An international and invitation-only conference gathers together industry leaders, academics, policymakers and regulators from around the world.

Taking place over two days, the conference opens with an international academic boutique conference led by CCAF Co-founder and Director of Research, Professor Raghavendra Rau. On the second day, the conference is extended to industry global leaders in alternative finance, creating a hybrid programme designed to capitalises on industry and academic knowledge. Thus, providing a dynamic environment to present and to enable engaged interaction, learning, exchanges and networking to deepen the understanding of alternative finance.

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance second annual Conference Navigating the Contours of Alternative Finance, took place on 28 and 29 June 2017 at Cambridge Judge Business School.

It was attended by 150 speakers and delegates from the global alternative finance industry, academia, corporate sectors, multilateral institutions, national and supranational policymaking and regulating bodies. 

Following the success of the inaugural conference in September 2016, the 2017 conference focused on the continuously evolving global alternative finance landscape in the broader context of FinTech and highlighted the latest market trends, regulatory and policy developments and research advancements in this exciting space. 

The conference programme consisted of five peer-led panel sessions and three keynote speeches exploring the four keys themes of ‘Regulatory and Supervisory Issues Raised by Fintech,’ ‘Corporate Adaption of Alternative Finance,’ ‘Making Crowdfunding Work in the Interest of Consumers’ and ‘Opportunities and Challenges in Regulating Alternative Finance’. Notable keynote speakers included: Svein Andresen (Secretary General, Financial Stability Board), Sarah Rapson (Director of Authorisation, Financial Conduct Authority), and Mario Marcel (Governor, Central Bank of Chile).

Download the academic conference programme (28 June 2017)

Download the conference programme (29 June 2017)

Download Svein Andresen's Keynote Speech "Regulatory and Supervisory Issues Raised by Fintech"

2017 highlights

The conference provided a thermometer for FinTech industries, corporates, investors, policymakers and regulators on the current temperature of alternative finance, while elucidating new areas for study and refined methodologies. 

In the first keynote address, Svein Andresen highlighted the regulatory implications of new financial technology or ‘FinTech’ innovations—how it should be regulated and what societal implications of new technologies in the alternative finance space might exist? 

Mario Marcel, the Governor of the Central Bank of Chile, in his keynote noted that he does not see ‘FinTech’ to be in conflict with central banking, its regulatory architecture, or its current financial stability mandates. 

"Yet, the pace of 'FinTech' innovation has left many recent developments comparatively unregulated, such as initial coin offerings (ICOs). And with a lack of data, experience, and market penetration, assessing risks for regulatory purposes is particularly complicated as governing bodies seek to ensure fair-play without stifling innovation.  As a result, most regulatory efforts have focused on crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, as it is amongst the most visible application of technology for alternative capital funding. Even here, however, regulatory authorities have to cope with a fast-evolving set of industry players and investors."

Sarah Rapson, Director of Authorisation at the Financial Conduct Authority, noted that firms under regulation have increased and diversified their activities due to swelling consumer demand and continual financial innovation. This, coupled with the global nature of alternative finance, has brought a need to better understand the associated regulatory risks and challenges.

To help contextualize this new industry for regulators and industry players, Raghavendra Rau (CCAF), Stijn Claessens (Bank for International Settlements), and Luigi Zingales (University of Chicago) highlighted the current state of affairs globally in alternative finance, and shed light on the importance of trust in alternative finance markets. The largest markets can be found in the US, the UK and China. And while the success of China and the US can be explained by their relative size, that of the UK cannot be. 

The second panel discussion turned its attention towards the corporate perspective of alternative finance. Representatives from the CME Group, Microsoft, IBM, the World Economic Forum, and BBVA were on-hand to discuss various topics including blockchain’s effect on existing financial infrastructure, cryptocurrency, its implications for investment management,  and the continued development of online channels 

The global character of alternative finance was the theme of the third panel session on emerging markets and developing countries. Representatives from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development bank, FSD Africa, Lend Academy and YingCanGroup discussed how to leverage financial innovation to promote financial inclusion via online alternative finance channels, the eradication of chronic poverty through digital leapfrogging, and the empowerment of women entrepreneurs and investors.  

The last panel discussion on regulation was conducted under Chatham House Rules and chaired by a member of the Financial Stability Board’s Secretariat. Regulators from the SEC, the Abu Dhabi Financial Services Regulatory Authority, the Malaysian Securities Commission and the European Securities and Market Authority (ESMA) discussed varied approaches in regulating alternative finance and how best to forge an evidence-based, appropriate and proportionate regulatory regime. 

Photo gallery

The Inaugural Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance Conference: Mapping the Landscape of Alternative Finance Conference took place at Downing College, Cambridge on 29 September 2016. 

Download the conference programme

Get in touch with the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

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