Five years into the future: new Chair leads response to disruptive technologies

UNSW Scientia Professor Ross Buckley will be the inaugural Chair in Disruptive Innovation and Law, focusing on the effect of technological change in key sectors globally.


UNSW Scientia Professor Ross Buckley

UNSW Sydney Law has partnered with global professional services leaders KPMG and King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) to establish the Chair in Disruptive Innovation and Law.  

The five-year partnership supports research and education in the financial technology (fintech) and regulatory technology (regtech) sectors. UNSW Scientia Professor Ross Buckley, a world-leading scholar in international financial regulation, will hold the inaugural chair.

The establishment of the Chair places UNSW, and Australia, at the forefront of disruption and technological change that is significant to the legal, banking and other sectors globally.

“The rise of fintech, regtech and blockchain is transformative and the law is struggling to adapt,” Professor Buckley said. “We are looking five years into the future. Working at the cutting edge of facilitating this technological revolution is tremendous fun.”

Blockchain technology and disruptive innovation are two phrases that have become ubiquitous in the popular lexicon in recent years with the introduction of Bitcoin and companies like Uber, Airbnb and Alibaba. But most people cannot define what either phrase precisely means, let alone how to regulate them.

 “The combination of technology, data and AI – coupled with intense business and regulatory change – is transforming the economy, business, and the delivery of services, as well as the legal industry itself,” said Stuart Fuller, Head of KPMG Law at KPMG Australia. “Transformation is the new normal. That is one of the key reasons for us joining with KWM to sponsor the Chair in Disruptive Innovation and Law at UNSW.”

'The rise of fintech, regtech and blockchain is transformative and the law is struggling to adapt. We are looking five years into the future. Working at the cutting edge of facilitating this technological revolution is tremendous fun.'

Berkeley Cox, Chief Executive Partner – Australia at KWM, added that the firm is committed to supporting research and education in partnership with KPMG to ensure its position as a leader in the technology and regulatory law domain.

“Navigating the laws across our interconnected world and helping to shape them to facilitate the opportunities and address the challenges presented by technological disruption is a key challenge we face,” said Mr Cox. “KWM is very pleased to invest in research and knowledge sharing in this area, collaborate with KPMG and UNSW, and play a role in that journey.”

George Williams AO, Dean of Law at UNSW, said supporting future leaders in disruptive innovation and law via this collaboration moves ideas and insights into real-world implementation.

“We believe the Chair and the work of Professor Buckley will have a tangible impact on the delivery of key new technologies in Australia and globally,” said Professor Williams. “Since 2012, Professor Buckley’s research has achieved a number of world-first breakthroughs in technology law.”

Professor Buckley previously held the position of KWM Chair of International Finance Law from 2013 to 2018, where his research focused on fintech and regtech in developed markets, and how best to regulate the delivery of financial services over mobile devices in developing countries.

Since joining UNSW Law in 2007, Professor Buckley has led major research projects in fintech and regtech, findings from which have been presented to leading regulatory agencies around the world including AUSTRAC, ASIC, RBA and Treasury in Australia, the SEC, FDIC and Federal Reserve in the US, Banque de France, Bank of Korea, European Securities and Markets Association, and the Monetary Authorities of Hong Kong and Singapore. Several projects have received funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

Research findings from Professor Buckley’s work in regulating digital financial services in developing countries has been reflected in the laws of a wide range of countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Furthermore, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and United Nations agencies have used Professor Buckley’s frameworks in advising national central banks and other regulators in some of the world’s poorest nations.