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The case for placing AI at the heart of digitally robust financial regulation

#artificialintelligence

"Data is the new oil." Originally coined in 2006 by the British mathematician Clive Humby, this phrase is arguably more apt today than it was then, as smartphones rival automobiles for relevance and the technology giants know more about us than we would like to admit. Just as it does for the financial services industry, the hyper-digitization of the economy presents both opportunity and potential peril for financial regulators. On the upside, reams of information are newly within their reach, filled with signals about financial system risks that regulators spend their days trying to understand. The explosion of data sheds light on global money movement, economic trends, customer onboarding decisions, quality of loan underwriting, noncompliance with regulations, financial institutions' efforts to reach the underserved, and much more. Importantly, it also contains the answers to regulators' questions about the risks of new technology itself. Digitization of finance generates novel kinds of hazards and accelerates their development. Problems can flare up between scheduled regulatory examinations and can accumulate imperceptibly beneath the surface of information reflected in traditional reports. Thanks to digitization, regulators today have a chance to gather and analyze much more data and to see much of it in something close to real time. The potential for peril arises from the concern that the regulators' current technology framework lacks the capacity to synthesize the data. The irony is that this flood of information is too much for them to handle.