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Treading Regulatory Waters: RBI's FinTech SRO Framework

June 14, 2024
6 mins


In the last decade, the FinTech wave has revolutionised the access and reach of financial services in India. The market size of Indian FinTech is expected to scale up to USD 1 Trillion and achieve up to USD 200 Billion in revenue by 2030. Approximately USD 551 Million was invested in the FinTech sector in Q1 2024, with India ranking 3rd globally in fund raising in the sector, with Bengaluru leading the funding in the FinTech space, followed by Mumbai and Hyderabad.  

Regulatory Evolution in Indian FinTech

Initially, FinTech firms operated in a relatively low-regulation environment, primarily because their services did not fit neatly into existing financial regulatory frameworks. As the sector grew, so did its impact on traditional banking, payments, insurance, and investment services.

The turning point for Indian FinTech came with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) establishing regulatory sandboxes. This allowed companies to test innovative products under close supervision, balancing innovation with consumer protection and systemic stability. The RBI further issued guidelines for peer-to-peer lending, digital payments, and cybersecurity, enhancing consumer protection and financial system integrity.

The RBI has actively supported FinTech innovation through a series of strategic measures. This timeline highlights key initiatives:

There is a growing interest in the role of Self-Regulatory Organisations (SROs) within the Indian FinTech sector. SROs could enhance regulatory efficiency and promote best practices by allowing the industry to play a more active role in its governance. 

Reflecting this momentum, the Reserve Bank of India's publication of the finalised Framework for Self-Regulatory Organisation(s) in the Fintech Sector on May 30, 2024 (SRO Framework) comes as a natural progression of events and a response to the needs of the growing sector. This initiative for creating SROs aligns with prior industry discussions and regulatory deliberations focussed on developing uniform rules and practices to further standardize and strengthen the sector. 

Need for SRO

The fundamental role of an SRO is to strike a balance between risk mitigation inherent in an ecosystem with the promotion of innovation and growth. Self-regulation serves as an optimal compromise enabling FinTech's to frame guidelines that adapt to changes in technology and foster a culture of growth and development in the sector. SROs can frame guidelines more suited to their nuanced requirements, as opposed to the more generalist approach undertaken by regulators. 

In India, SROs operate in several sectors, particularly in the financial services industry, to promote best practices, establish standards, and enforce compliance among their members. For instance:

  • Securities and Investment: The Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) is an example of an SRO that oversees mutual fund houses and their distributors, under the broader regulatory framework of SEBI.
  • Insurance: The Insurance Brokers Association of India (IBAI) acts as an SRO for insurance brokers, overseen by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).
  • Payment Systems: The Payments Council of India (PCI) under the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) serves as a quasi-SRO for the digital payments industry, supporting policies and practices under the guidance of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Globally, SROs play pivotal roles in regulatory frameworks. In the United Kingdom, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) leads a proactive regulatory approach, bolstered by support for the UK FinTech Alliance. Meanwhile, in the United States of America, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) adapts regulations for technology-driven services, alongside regional bodies in various states. In Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) fosters an SRO approach, with crucial assistance from the Singapore FinTech Association. Within the European Union, FinTech regulation is predominantly managed at the national level, with EU-wide industry associations advocating for self-regulation and harmonisation.

SRO Framework 

The salient points in the SRO Framework notified by the RBI are:

  1. Objectives 
  • Ensure industry representation 
  • Orient towards development 
  • Be independent from influence
  • Undertake a disciplinary role for resolving members’ disputes 
  • Encourage adherence to regulations
  • Act as a repository of industry information

  1. Criteria for application

  1. Functions


(a) Positives and Challenges

We delve into the potential implications of this SRO Framework, highlighting both its positives and the challenges involved in its implementation.


  1. Increased Nuance and Agility: In the dynamic realm of FinTech, where technological advancements occur at breakneck speed, traditional regulatory frameworks often struggle to keep pace. By harnessing industry-specific expertise, an SRO can craft agile regulations finely attuned to the sector's unique dynamics. This inherent flexibility enables swift adaptations to emerging technologies and evolving market trends, ensuring regulatory relevance and efficacy.
  1. Increased industry engagement: The collaborative nature of an SRO engenders a culture of industry engagement, where stakeholders actively participate in the formulation of regulatory standards. This inclusive approach not only garners widespread support for regulations but also fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility among industry players. Moreover, by serving as platforms for knowledge sharing and collaboration, SROs catalyse collective efforts to address common challenges and drive industry-wide innovation.
  1. Focused consumer protection: Central to the FinTech SRO's mandate is the protection of consumer interests in an increasingly digitized financial landscape. By concentrating regulatory oversight on digital platforms and innovative financial products, an SRO can develop targeted consumer protection measures. These measures, grounded in a deeper understanding of FinTech intricacies, ensure robust safeguards against emerging risks and vulnerabilities.
  1. Baseline governance and education: The inclusion of baseline governance and educational measures within the SRO Framework is an asset for new entrants. By providing a foundational understanding of regulatory standards and industry best practices, it empowers newcomers to navigate the FinTech landscape with awareness and confidence, fostering a more informed and compliant ecosystem.


  1. Securing representation: Achieving fair representation within the SRO is a significant challenge due to the diverse interests of stakeholders spanning various FinTech subsectors. Overcoming representation hurdles and fostering interoperability among these subsectors are crucial for navigating a dynamic landscape, all while meeting the stringent recognition criteria set by the RBI.
  1. Managing conflict of interest: The autonomy and impartiality of the SRO are paramount to its effectiveness and credibility. However, the risk of undue influence from dominant industry players framing self-serving regulations threatens the SRO's independence and regulatory integrity. Implementing robust governance structures and oversight mechanisms is imperative to safeguard against conflicts of interest and ensure impartial decision-making.
  1. Regulatory overlap and integration: Harmonizing SRO regulations with existing statutory and regulatory frameworks presents a complex challenge, characterized by potential overlaps and jurisdictional discrepancies. Seamless integration with national and international regulatory regimes demands meticulous coordination and collaboration, avoiding redundancies while ensuring comprehensive regulatory coverage.
  1. Compliance and enforcement: Effective compliance monitoring and enforcement mechanisms are indispensable for upholding regulatory standards and fostering industry adherence. Despite potential limitations compared to government regulators, the SRO must possess robust enforcement capabilities and mechanisms to ensure regulatory compliance and accountability across the FinTech sector.
  1. Grievance redressal and dispute resolution: Navigating grievance redressal and dispute resolution within the SRO also poses challenges, particularly regarding the expertise of its members. Members may encounter difficulties due to their limited familiarity or expertise in these areas, as they are not well-versed in the intricacies of grievance redressal and dispute resolution. Additionally, achieving consensus on decisions among members with varying levels of expertise can further complicate the process. These challenges underscore the necessity of seeking external support and resources to enhance members' proficiency in grievance redressal and dispute resolution within the SRO framework.
  1. Public and regulatory scrutiny: Gaining and maintaining public trust and regulatory confidence are pivotal to the SRO's legitimacy and effectiveness. Demonstrating unwavering commitment to consumer protection and financial system integrity is paramount, necessitating transparent communication, accountability, and responsiveness to stakeholder concerns and expectations.

(b) Interplay with the RBI

The SRO Framework, while encouraging the FinTech industry to take a pro-active stance towards regulation, also lays the groundwork for a symbiotic relationship with RBI. 

  1. Information sharing and reporting: All SROs are required to collect, analyse, and disseminate relevant data pertaining to the activities of its members. Such information would be beneficial to the SRO and its members for conducting industry research and analyzing market trends and assist the RBI with its policy making. 
  1. Encourages adherence to regulations: The SRO is required to motivate its members to align with the prescribed regulations and promote a culture of compliance.  
  1. Representation to RBI: The SRO would provide FinTechs with a common forum for making representations to and seeking clarification from the RBI. The SROs can participate in the dialogue and take a direct role in shaping the regulatory environment.  
  1. Regulatory oversight: The SRO will be equipped with the authority to take disciplinary actions against its members for non-compliance with the codes/standards prescribed by it, including reprimanding, imposing a reasonable monetary penalty and, if the circumstances require, suspend the membership of such members, temporarily or permanently. 

(c) Membership in SROs

The SRO is primarily intended for unregulated FinTechs, while encouraging regulated FinTechs (other than banks) to also seek membership. The SRO is required to establish its ‘representative’ character at the time of application by way of actual/intended membership. 

Due to the diverse nature of FinTechs, it is likely that there might be more than one SRO for each different sector, where a FinTech may have to be a member in more than one SRO. The SRO Framework anticipates an ecosystem with multiple SROs and encourages all FinTechs to be a member of at least one recognized SRO. 


The RBI's SRO Framework is a significant advancement in India's FinTech regulation, highlighting a commitment to adaptability and collaboration in a dynamic industry. The framework promotes an environment conducive to proactive dialogue and cooperation, effectively addressing the challenges of self-regulation and promoting inclusivity across financial technologies.

Looking forward, the success of the SRO Framework depends on its effective integration and application by the relevant stakeholders. It provides the tools for industry participants to tailor regulatory structures to their specific needs while ensuring consumer protection and financial integrity. This approach aims to drive innovation and responsibility in financial services, positioning India as a leader in the global FinTech industry.

The adoption of this framework outlines a clear strategy: to utilize the strengths of India’s FinTech community to create a balanced, transparent, and robust regulatory framework. Focused on continuous improvement and open communication, this strategy is designed to secure both immediate impacts and long-term growth for India’s FinTech ecosystem.

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