Singapore, Australia reportedly working on fintech regulatory deal

Both governments are said to be ironing out an agreement to better support cross-border collaboration between fintech startups in the two countries.

Singapore and Australia are reportedly working on a deal to better support cross-border collaboration between fintech startups in both countries.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) had reached out to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to form an agreement that would allow fintech companies to more easily operate in both markets, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Discussions were said to still be at an early stage. The report pointed to a similar deal already struck between Australia and the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) last month.

In this agreement, both regulators would refer local fintech startups to the other and offer support to fintech companies referred by the other party. Both sides also would exchange fintech innovation ideas. Christopher Woolard, FCA's director of strategy and competition, said of the agreement: "Innovation in financial services isn't limited by national borders, so it's important that we support overseas businesses that have new ideas that could benefit British consumers.

"We also know that many British firms wish to use the UK as a springboard to launch their businesses or products internationally, making them potentially more sustainable challengers," Woolard said. "With ASIC, we will reduce the barriers for authorised firms looking to grow to scale overseas and to assist non-UK innovators interested in entering the market we oversee."

The Singapore government in the past couple of years had been looking more closely at the fintech industry and assessing ways to drive the local market.

Speaking at the EmTech Asia conference in January 2016, MAS Chief Fintech Officer Sopnendu Mohanty alluded to "big" initiatives slated to be announced this year, including efforts in building up the necessary ecosystem and supporting policies. He added that MAS had adopted a regulatory and development approach, pushing out the necessary policies, for instance, to support technology development in this space.

Mohanty also underscored the regulator's aim to serve as a "one-stop shop" to which market players could approach as the centralised body for policy and development issues. He further pointed to the need for an experiential infrastructure provide a platform in which fintech players and other financial services providers could test out new technology and tools within a protected sandbox environment.

ZDNet had reached out to MAS for comments regarding the ASIC deal and would provide updates should the Singapore regulator respond.