Nida Rahimi-Naeem here! I’m back with another blog in the RegChats with Nida series where I catch up with RegTech luminaires who are paving the way for women in our industry in more ways than one. In the latest blog in the series I had the pleasure of talking with Jessica Ramos, Head of Regulatory Oversight Affairs for EBA CLEARING where we spoke about hot trends, the RegTech world and advice to other RegTech women.
Nida: Hello, tell us about yourself and your role.
Jessica: Hi Nida! A little background: I’m originally from Honduras and I lived for a bit in the US but have been based in Brussels since 2011. I am a lawyer by profession, mostly in the financial technology industry. For the past ten years I have been working in the payments industry. I have had a number of different roles always trying to find new and innovative things in the industry to learn about. I’ve had different roles in legal and finance, and I also had the opportunity to work on more strategic roles as Chief of Staff for a global CEO. I am currently the Head of Regulatory and Oversight Affairs at EBA CLEARING. EBA CLEARING is a financial market infrastructure and a system operator for two of the systemically important payment systems in Europe, EURO1 and STEP2, as well as the instant payment system RT1. I am in charge of the relationship with the Overseers of those systems, the European Central Bank together with the Eurosystem central banks. My team works to ensure that the company is compliant with the requirements that are applicable to those systems. I really enjoy working at EBA CLEARING as it has a very diverse and international culture, even though it’s a small company, we have over 27 different nationalities and a high number of languages spoken, making it a dynamic and interesting place to work.
Outside of work, I am an ambassador for the European Women Payments Network (EWPN) for Belgium and I’m a board advisor for CyberWayFinder and The Nine, which are organisations that support and empower women to achieve their goals. Diversity and inclusion have always been a big passion of mine. In addition, I am also a mentor at ConceptionX, it’s a hub for PHD students who come up with super interesting use cases in the field of AI.
Nida: What trends and opportunities are you seeing in RegTech right now?
Jessica: In the ongoing wave of digital transformation, in the payments space in particular, we have observed a lot of rapid change and, with it, a lot of opportunities, also in the RegTech space. For example, in cybersecurity, there has been over the years a very interesting dynamic between the regulators and other authorities with specialised tech companies and other private-sector stakeholders within the financial services industry, to come together and discuss how we are going to make best use of technology to ensure cyber threats are properly addressed. I recently contributed to an article where I made the case for regulatory harmonisation across different jurisdictions. I think that’s one of the key challenges for the private sector. To be able to be efficient and effective when handling regulatory requirements, we need more harmonisation across the globe. This is a space that offers an abundance of opportunities to come up with great solutions.
In general, when speaking to my peers within the industry, in terms of other RegTech opportunities, there is so much going on. For example, there is this big push for making instant payments the new normal, and the whole movement behind enhancing cross-border payments. We need to better understand how these changes will impact the regulatory side and how technology solutions can help us deal with compliance and regulatory requirements (e.g., sanction, screening AML, fraud etc). There is a huge opportunity for technology providers to come up with more efficient ways to carry out these requirements via RegTech. I think the future will definitely be a lot of AI and automation but fundamentally, humans will need to upskill and learn how to manage the technology, which in turn creates a lot of opportunity for society in general.
Nida: Tell us about your role specifically in the RegTech space.
Jessica: In a nutshell, I advise the company on how to be more efficient and effective in complying with different regulatory requirements. I am also currently exploring more strategic topics like reducing frictions in cross-border payment transactions in the context of the FSB’s goals to enhance cross-border payments. Part of that is actively engaging in conversations with authorities or participating in discussions and forums where different stakeholders come together.
My role also includes responding to public consultations by putting the perspective of the company out there and providing our insight and experience in terms of what different stakeholders could do to achieve common goals. It’s about evaluating existing regulatory frameworks and how – by engaging with authorities, service providers and other key stakeholders – we can leverage the technology that is available today. So, I’d say my role is a combination of engaging in discussions within the industry, highlighting potential issues and solutions, and thinking strategically to support the company in how we can improve our services with those value-added functionalities through RegTech.
Nida: What one thing would make the RegTech world a better place?
Jessica: I think that I am very candid person, so I always vote for transparent and open discussions. For me, coming together as an industry with the regulatory and supervisory authorities, to make sure we are doing things in a way that is most efficient for the industry, is key. The reasons why regulations exist are valid and justified, it is how we implement them that could be improved. The only way we are going to achieve that is through transparent and open communication on a regular basis. The RegTech space would be highly benefitting from that communication as everyone could actively contribute and hash out how we are going to achieve the regulatory goals we have set out.
From my experience, I would also have to add diversity. Bringing diversity into RegTech, having people from all over the world, from different backgrounds, with various profiles and capabilities, genders, ages, etc. will improve how visions and missions are carried out by companies and of course, in turn, will have a very positive impact on what the end product will look like. If we all came from the same background and perspective, we would most likely miss important elements. I think diversity is an important thing to have when working in this sector. Transparency and diversity are the two things that I think will make RegTech better!
Nida: What advice would you give to your fellow RegTech women about succeeding as a woman in the industry?
Jessica: I would say be unapologetically yourself. I am a woman of colour in Europe, and I started my career in a law firm when I was 20, so I was very young. There have been a lot of occasions where that has been played against me. I also happen to be extremely feminine, so I love the glitter, the headbands, the heels and dresses. And even though I’ve worked in the tech industry for the majority of my career, I’ve have always been unapologetically myself. I am outspoken about the things I believe in, like diversity and inclusion; and at times that can definitely ruffle some feathers and you can become defined as “that woman”. I think ultimately, I wear my femininity and my Latin American heritage as a badge of honour. So, yes, they can say I am XYZ, but they’d also have to admit that I am a competent professional that works very hard. We spend so much time at work, more so than we do with our families probably, so if we are not able to be our authentic selves, then that’s a problem and simply so sad. My advice would be: bring your whole self to work since, by doing so, you will be creating a better environment for yourself and for your peers and probably be a happier person along the way. And be nice…. It’s ok to be nice!
Thank you, Jessica!
- As the sector grows the need for harmonisation globally is vital as this will allow for efficient and effective handling of regulatory requirements.
- The need for diversity transparency communications is key as it allows different perspectives and backgrounds to come together for a positive result.
- “Be unapologetically yourself” I love this and agree with Jessica about bring your whole to work will in turn create a better environment for yourself and your peers.
Make sure you tune in for our next guest blog!