The Ethics of FinTech

This project examines the ethical issues relating to the use of new technologies in financial services — a phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘FinTech’. The goals of the project are: 

(i) to map out the FinTech ecosystem, identifying: (a) the new technologies that have been deployed in financial services since the 2008 financial crisis, notably, Big Data and AI/machine learning, distributed ledger technology and crypto assets; (b) the new business models that characterize FinTech, notably digital, online, peer-to-peer platforms; and (c) the new types of financial products and services in the FinTech ecosystem, such as digital financial assistants (chatbots and ‘robo-advisors’) and p2p loans;   

(ii) to identify the key opportunities and ethical concerns due to FinTech. Opportunities include greater and faster access to financial services, inter alia, due to the use of online platforms and data-driven financial analysis that reduce the costs of financial advice and wealth management, and improve access to credit. Key ethical concerns include: the impact of increasingly pre-emptive, data-driven approaches to financial decision-making for consumer privacy and autonomy, particularly the ability of individuals to determine and manage their own (financial) identities; the scope for bias and discrimination against vulnerable persons due to the use of these technologies; unfair price discrimination, and the implications of predictive risk measurement for those whose perceived riskiness increases as a result (i.e. the problem of too much information).

The project examines ways to mitigate these ethical concerns whilst leveraging the benefits of FinTech.