Australia’s most up-to-date ‘finfluencer’ convention was all about regulation
Australia’s “finfluencer” conference included zero finfluencers, which shows how competitive the space has become. Photo: Getty Images
Australia’s second financial influencer, or “finfluencer” conference, has shown how controversial they have become by completely banning them from the event.
The Capital Network (TCN), MarketLit’s “Social Media Investment Conference”, in its second iteration, largely followed in the footsteps of its July debut: “big” questions about who should be responsible for ruling social media platforms should. How to Get Millions of Followers. Why the digital economy is promising. Who will benefit from it.
What changed, however, was the panel’s perspective.
Even before the conference began, TCN underlined how problematic Australia’s online financial influencer ecosystem had become in the few months since July by going in the opposite direction.
This time around, TikTok producers, Instagram stars, vloggers, and podcast hosts were nowhere to be seen. Instead, think tank analysts, politicians, Twitter talking heads and journalists dominated the panel. The old stood up for the new and brought with it a loose consensus: Social media needs better regulation.
Who is responsible for regulating social media platforms?
It was the only question that any of the guests could answer with any degree of certainty, regardless of whether it was about finfluencers or not.
Guy Kawasaki, Canva’s chief evangelist, was the first to attend.
“I would be amazed if 70- and 80-year-old white senators, who are likely still using AOL for their connectivity, were able to legislate and control Facebook and Twitter … I would be amazed if the government did the social Media can control. ”“ Said Kawasaki.
“I think the thing is, people should vote with their dollars. And if you perceive a social media platform as anti-democratic, spread hatred or promote hatred, you should simply use it less or refrain from it altogether. ”
Social media mentor and consultant Laurel Papworth showed a little more confidence. She said it should be the government’s responsibility to regulate Australian citizens and, “The moment we outsource this to California tech companies, we could get into trouble.”
The Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg contradicted this. It was only now that the platforms have failed to regulate themselves that he said the government has “a duty” to intervene and regulate. But now they have been forced to do so, he is glad.
“My personal opinion is that as a member of the government we can do a lot more to calm the social media giants,” said Bragg.
“It’s ridiculous that we should regulate behaviors like hate speech and defamation in the real world, but is that legal in the online world? I do not think so. Therefore, what happens online must reflect what is happening in the real world, in law and in practice. “
Where do we stand with financial influencers?
As some of the appearances on MarketLit’s debut made clear, the problem with spreading financial advice on social media has never been with young finance enthusiasts or women in general, or even with the platforms they use to express their financial preferences.
Rather, the problem depends on the fact that longstanding regulation requires anyone interested in financial advice – in real life, online or anywhere else – to be in possession of an Australian Financial Services License (AFSL).
To get one, it takes years of study, continuous training in the form of “CPD” lessons, and loads of bureaucracy.
Having these licenses, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission once thought, makes it easier for the average consumer to spot bad advice, which makes it even easier for ASIC to regulate.
But now the market is inundated with advice that offers incentives. Judith Fox, executive director of the Stockbrokers and Financial Advisors Association, believes the government must act to create a new regulatory framework for the space.
“The worst thing is that there is no consumer protection. I think this is the really big missing piece [in] In an unregulated world of social media and financial advice, there is no protection for consumers while in the regulated world there is substantial protection, “said Fox.
“We therefore believe that the government should regulate this area. ASIC pays a lot of attention, but the government has to step in and say, just because it’s an online environment, we have to make sure consumers are protected.
“Therefore, it is absolutely the government’s responsibility to ensure that people who invest online and follow social media advice online are just as protected as others.”
What about crypto?
Over the course of the two-hour event, various angles were shed light on how crypto and blockchain fit into discussions about regulating finfluencers and even regulating platforms in general.
As expected, Senator Bragg praised Australia’s potential to become a leading global crypto hub. Sophie Gilder, Head of Blockchain and Digital Assets at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, showcased the bank’s partnership with Gemini.
However, it was later suggested that crypto had the potential to bring users new regulatory powers by rewarding them for using decentralized browsing products.
According to Joni Pirovich, founder and director of Blockchain and Digital Assets Services and Law, this is already underway with a number of different protocols being developed by aspiring developers.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Pirovich told Business Insider Australia that the Brave browser is the most promising and could turn out to be a serious threat to the way platforms monetize their users.
With Brave and the corresponding Basic Attention Token, or “BAT”, users are rewarded for browsing the Internet in a privacy-preserving model.
The browser itself uses DuckDuckGo as the default search engine, has built-in ad blockers and other data protection functions and even comes with its own crypto wallet. In practice, this means that when a user starts the browser, they may be presented with a generic “privacy notice” that does not capture their data and pays them for the effort.
Pirovich closes the loop, saying there are obvious things to look out for in terms of crypto regulation, introducing consumer protection, and regulating unlicensed advice. However, she sees the greatest value in the ability to democratize regulation at the same pace as the Internet is evolving.
About the author
John Buckley is a Senior Reporter for Business Insider Australia.
He has versed in The Washington Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Saturday Paper, and VICE, among others. His reporting covers politics, finance, economics, technology and their interfaces to culture.
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