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Updates on Singapore's FinTech Regulatory Sandbox- 30 applications received, first graduation in August 2017

Speaking at the Singapore FinTech Festival, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence, Mr. Ong Ye Kung, provided updates on Singapore’s FinTech Regulatory Sandbox.

The FinTech regulatory sandbox was launched by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in June 2016 to allow financial institutions and FinTech start-ups to test their innovations, while maintaining safety. Since then, MAS has received more than 30 sandbox applications.

Mr. Ong revealed that half the applications did not require the sandbox and they were given the go-ahead by MAS to launch their solutions.

“That is really encouraging and a positive reflection of our regulatory framework, because innovation thrives most when enterprising people can commence business and implement ideas easily,” Mr. Ong said.

The remaining applicants are currently in the sandbox, have been approved to enter the sandbox, or are in discussions with MAS on their applications.

Mr. Ong provided an example of the kind of technologies being tested in the sandbox. Kristal Advisors is currently testing its innovative financial advisory and portfolio management service in the sandbox. Rather than the usual way of recommending investment portfolios based on a set of pre-defined rules, the solution uses machine learning to continuously analyse and learn from the investor’s on-going decisions, with the aim of making better recommendations to the investor. 

Due to the untested technology and the unconventional nature of the fund manager, MAS set up boundaries within which Kristal could test its technology in a live environment with real customers.

First graduate

One applicant graduated from the sandbox in August 2017. The first applicant to graduate from the regulatory sandbox is an insurance broker called PolicyPal.

PolicyPal aims to help customers manage their insurance policies digitally in one place through a mobile app. The customer uses his phone to take photographs of his insurance policies and uploads them onto PolicyPal’s mobile app. The app uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology to digitise and analyse the documents, and assesses whether the customer has duplicate or insufficient insurance coverage. The customer can purchase new insurance plans using the app and store them in the same app, easily. 

As a startup, PolicyPal was unable to meet MAS’ criteria for licensing, including track record and financial requirements. In addition, the OCR and applied analytics technologies were untested. PolicyPal was therefore granted the necessary exemptions to allow it to test its solution in the sandbox with a limited pool of actual and real customers. PolicyPal was successful in its sandbox experiment and is now a licensed insurance broker. 

Mr. Ong explained that the sandbox is as much a learning journey for the applicants, as it is for MAS.

“As we learn more, we can do more for the industry, and do it better. MAS will expedite the sandbox application assessment so that firms can test and launch their innovative solutions faster. MAS will also further loosen the regulatory boundaries for sandbox cases where the risks do not outweigh the potential benefits of the solution to consumers,” he said.

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