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We hear a lot these days about disruption in various industries and one that is heavily exposed is the financial services sector which is at risk from "fintech" - or financial technology sector. Fintech is changing the way we interact with financial institutions and make transactions.

PwC has carried out a major study on the sector and its impact on the traditional financial services sector. Ronan Fitzpatrick, a director with PwC Advisory, explained that fintech is the use of technology to solve a problem and deliver solutions in a financial services context. "It's about using emerging technology to answer the needs of customers and solve problems for financial services companies. It's broader than online banking. It's about using all of the emerging technologies that are available to address needs across online banking, online payments, identity management, among other issues," Mr Fitzpatrick said.

He said the challenge for traditional financial institutions was in responding to the emerging technologies and keeping up to speed with new developments while they have legacy systems that have to be updated in terms of regulation and technology. "The challenge is how to keep your customer base and be relevant to customers while others can deliver a better solution quicker. The smaller niche players can be more nimble." 

Most of the new players start on mobile first and are typically on the cloud. They have the data and analytics built in on day one whereas financial services institutions are catching up on data analytics, according to Mr Fitzpatrick. That raises the question of regulation of these entities and Mr Fitzpatrick said such companies are regulated in the state where they are established. "Regulation is one of the primary reasons why the large players will never be as quick as the smaller ones. By virtue of being in operation for longer, they will have more applications to remediate when it comes to regulation," he concluded.

MORNING BRIEFS - Barclays and four of its former executives - including former chief executive John Varley - have been charged with fraud by the Serious Fraud Office in the UK. The charge relates to the bank's dealings with Qatar at the height of the financial crisis and a cash injection it received from investors in 2008.

*** There has been widespread welcome for the decision by the US Department of Agriculture to award a quality shield to Irish beef and grant approval for it to be marketed as a product of Ireland in US shops. Bord Bia and the US Department of Agriculture have been negotiating approval for three years to have the quality shield awarded to Irish beef. Ireland regained access to the US beef market - on a limited scale - only two years ago after being shut out over the BSE crisis. Wexford-based Slaney Foods will be one of the first into the quality approved market. It has signed a deal to supply Irish hereford beef to supermarket chain Lidl as it expands into the US market.

*** The Private Hospital Association has called on the Government to encourage more private sector investment in the health system as part of its mid-term review of the Capital Plan. Ahead of its annual conference today, the Association points out that the public system has fewer beds now than it did in 1980 and it believes an initiative to allow more private investment could free up beds to treat public patients. The PHA is the representative body for the independently funded sector in Ireland.

*** The share prices of Australia's "Big Four" banks fell today after Moody's Investors Services cut its credit rating on the quartet and a handful of other domestic lenders owing to "elevated risks" in the household sector. It was the first chance the banks had to react to Moody's decision, which was delivered after the stock market closed on Monday. Shares in ANZ Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac were all lower. Moody's said last night that "elevated risks within the household sector heighten the sensitivity of Australian banks' credit profiles to an adverse shock."