Media analytics may provide low-cost tool for financial regulators

The technology would allow regulators to monitor social media trends and spot transgressions, says SFC’s head of risk

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 9:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 9:22pm

Media analytics, particularly the monitoring of social media trends by financial technology (fintech) start-ups, can provide regulators with new low-cost ways to spot misconduct, according to a senior official at Hong Kong’s market regulator.

Benedicte Nolens, the head of risk and strategy for the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, said her research into fintech and regulatory technology (regtech), had brought up the potential of media analytics, which relies on artificial intelligence to scan vast amounts of data and spot trends.

“[For] media analytics, there’s any type of social media analytics that can help incidentally anyone’s investment decision-making if you want to do that,” Nolens said, speaking at the U.S. – Hong Kong FinTech Link forum held by the American Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

It can also help me as a regulator regarding misbehaviour as I can look at social media posts
Benedicte Nolens, head of risk and strategy, SFC

“But it can also help me as a regulator regarding misbehaviour as I can look at social media posts.”

Regtech was highlighted as offering “fresh business opportunities for the fintech sector” in a report earlier this year by the Steering Group on Financial Technologies.

Nolens is the contact person within the SFC for fintech start-ups, a role created following suggestions given in the steering group’s report.

She added that the cost of such regulatory technology was often lower than the overall cost of comparative systems financial institutions have in place, and suggested the tools cost less than IT staff.

Her comments come hot on the heels of the SFC’s recent crackdowns on commentary by the analyst community – a move interpreted by some market watchers as a shift in how it interprets its role and a fresh attempt to expand its regulatory power.

Previously, the SFC prosecuted and won a case against Moody’s for its 2011 report Red Flags for Emerging-Market Companies: A Focus on China. And just last week, the SFC took action against US short seller Citron Research.

The enforcement actions have caused significant worry in the local financial community, many of whom believe they violate freedom of speech and could harm the markets.