Australia and UAE form alliance to support fintech

Regulators in Australia and Abu Dhabi have signed an agreement to share national fintech trends and provide an easier pathway for fintech businesses looking to expand into each other's regions.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has signed an agreement with the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) to provide mutual support to fintech businesses from Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seeking to operate in each other's markets.

Similar to the agreements ASIC has entered into with Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Ontario, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, the agreement with FSRA will enable the regulators to refer fintech businesses to each other for advice and support via ASIC's Innovation Hub -- aimed at helping fintech businesses navigate Australia's regulatory framework without compromising investor and financial consumer trust -- and its ADGM equivalent, RegLab.

If an Australian fintech business meets the eligibility criteria and wants to operate in Abu Dhabi, the agreement ensures the business has access to RegLab's support mechanisms for operating within the regulatory framework in the UAE.

This agreement establishes ADGM's fourth fintech bridge with an international hub, following its recent partnerships with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Kenya Capital Markets Authority, and the Authority of Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone.

"Fintech developments are not confined by national borders. Each country and region has a different experience with fintech, and there is much we can learn from engaging with one another. This agreement will help to connect Australian fintech businesses with a range of exciting opportunities in a region ripe for further development," ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft said in a statement.

Information sharing between the two regulators is also accounted for in the agreement, enabling ASIC to maintain visibility over regulatory and relevant economic or commercial developments in the ADGM that could influence Australia's regulatory approach moving forward, ASIC said.

"In MENA, the opportunities and potential for fintech to advance financial inclusion, economic benefits, and growth are enormous. With this fintech collaboration, ADGM and ASIC are able to tap on the strengths and network of each other's markets to support technology startups and innovators in advancing their creative solutions into new markets," Richard Teng, CEO of ADGM FSRA, said in a statement.

ASIC said the UAE is Australia's largest trading partner in the Middle East, with goods and services trade worth AU$8.8 billion in 2015.

The Australian regulator released its regulatory sandbox policy in December to allow fintech businesses to test certain products or services for a limited period of time without having to hold an Australian financial services or credit licence.

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