ASIC consults on a regulatory sandbox licensing exemption

ASIC today released a consultation paper on proposed further measures to facilitate innovation in financial services, including a regulatory sandbox licensing exemption.

ASIC Commissioner John Price said, ‘ASIC is committed to facilitating innovation in financial services, especially where it has the potential to improve consumer outcomes. We are looking forward to engaging with industry on the proposed measures.’

Building on ASIC’s experience through its Innovation Hub, ASIC has identified some barriers faced by new financial technology (fintech) businesses seeking to enter the financial services market. These barriers include speed to market and meeting the organisational competence requirements of a licensee.

In seeking to address these specific barriers to innovation in financial services, ASIC is proposing to:

  • provide examples on how ASIC exercises its discretion under existing policy to assess the organisational competence of a licensee applicant;
  • modify ASIC’s policy on organisational competence of a licensee to allow some limited-in-scale, heavily automated businesses to rely, in part, on compliance sign-off from a professional third party to meet their competence requirements; and
  • implement a limited industry-wide licensing exemption to allow start-ups to test certain financial services for six months (the ‘regulatory sandbox’ exemption).

Mr Price said, ‘We believe the measures proposed in this consultation paper will help to lower barriers to entry faced by fintech start-ups by providing cost reductions and promoting efficiency in the provision of financial services whilst maintaining the fundamental principles of the regulatory and licensing framework.

‘The proposed licensing exemption compares favourably to measures in other jurisdictions as it will allow some fintech businesses to commence testing of certain product offerings in the absence of detailed assessment by the regulator.’

ASIC’s proposals build on the substantial flexibility already available to innovative businesses in the form of:

  • modular financial services and credit licensing frameworks;
  • the option for businesses to operate as a representative of an existing licensee;
  • ASIC’s discretion on organisational competency when assessing submissions made by licensee applicants under ‘Option 5’ of Regulatory Guide 105 Licensing: Organisational Competence’ (RG 105); and
  • ASIC’s policy framework to consider granting industry-wide or entity-specific waivers and issue no-action letters.

More information on the current regulatory framework, and ASIC’s proposals, is available in the separate infographic.

ASIC encourages members of the financial services and fintech industry and consumers to make a submission on the consultation paper.

The closing date for submissions on CP 260 is Friday 22 July 2016.


Infographic – current financial services framework and ASIC’s proposals in CP 260 (PDF 1 MB)

Consultation paper 260 Further measures to facilitate innovation in financial services

© Australian Securities & Investments Commission. Reproduced with permission.