Hong Kong Creates a Fintech Sandbox for Banks

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) last week announced the launch of a financial technology sandbox, to allow banks to test new innovative products that do not yet meet compliance standards. The new regime is valid as of September 6.

The announcement comes a few months following similar action by various governments around the world, including the UK, Singapore, Australia and France, but more recently also in other countries in the area, including Malaysia, Thailand and last but not least Japan. The main difference here is that the the regulatory sandbox would be not applicable to standalone fintech firms, but it’s only applied to banks. We believe this is a fundamental benefit, given the disruptive innovation being leveraged around the world in innovative banking institutions.

This initiative is the third one in less than a year announced by Hong Kong. At the start of the year they established a fintech steering committee, before that the financial regulator announced, just two months later, an office to promote fintech through the organization of industry events.

The good news of “Fintech Supervisory Sandbox” was brought by Norman Chan, Chief Executive of HKMA, in a keynote speech at Treasury Markets Summit 2016. Talking about the situation of banking and fintech in Hong Kong he said that “in the past few months, banks and stored value facility operators have already launched new payment facilities built on smart-phones and Near Field Communication technology. These facilities have the potential of altering fundamentally the way consumers make payments. Many banks have also reported to the HKMA their intention to roll out very soon new technology with a view to providing more secure and efficient services to customers. I mentioned earlier biometrics authentication technology involving voiceprints and fingerprints. This is indeed something that many banks are planning to roll out. Additionally, blockchain, robotics and augmented reality are also being explored by banks to improve their services or streamline their operations.”

Going further talking about the regulatory framework sandbox he says that it “allows banks to conduct testing and trial of newly developed technologies and applications on a pilot basis. Within the Sandbox, banks can try out their new Fintech products without the need to achieve full compliance with the HKMA’s usual supervisory requirements. This will enable banks to gather real-life data and user feedback on their Fintech products or services more easily and in a controlled environment, so that they can make suitable refinements to their products before the full launch.” Adding also that banks intentioned to access this fintech sandbox should get in touch with the monetary authority early on.

The full speech of Norman Chan is available on the HKMA website: http://www.hkma.gov.hk/eng/key-information/speech-speakers/ntlchan/20160906-1.shtml

Originally published at news.crowdvalley.com.

Freelance writer & digital strategist. European Commission expert, Fintech curator at Techstars Startup Digest, SXSW advisory board member.

Freelance writer & digital strategist. European Commission expert, Fintech curator at Techstars Startup Digest, SXSW advisory board member.