Australia, Malaysia sign fintech cooperation deal

The Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) has signed a cooperation agreement with the Malaysian Securities Commission (SC) to pursue mutual support and development in fintech.

The agreement marks the third such deal in as many months between ASIC and its regional counterparts, following a succession of fintech pacts with regulators in Japan, Hong Kong, and Indonesia.

In a statement, ASIC said the agreement provides a framework for information sharing between the two regulators, which will "enable ASIC to keep abreast of regulatory and relevant economic or commercial developments in Malaysia and to use this to inform Australia's regulatory approach.”

The deal will also explore the potential for joint fintech innovation projects, according to the SC.

As with ASIC’s previous fintech pacts, the agreement will facilitate the referral of financial technology businesses between the national regulators, providing advice and support for fintechs seeking to operate in each other's jurisdictions.

Referrals will be supported through ASIC's Innovation Hub and its Malaysia counterpart the 'alliance of FINtech community' ('aFINity') – local fintech assistance networks designed to guide local startups through state regulations.

According to SC Chairman Tan Sri Ranjit Ajit Singh, the agreement will provide a basis for further collaboration between the two emerging fintech powers. 

"This collaboration between SC and ASIC in the realm of digital finance will further strengthen the cooperative arrangements between Malaysia and Australia in capital market development and regulation,” Ranjit said.

Malaysia is a growing regional force in fintech. By early 2016, nearly two-thirds of Malaysia’s financial services institutions (valued at 400 per cent of the country’s GDP) were dealing with fintechs, with 82 per cent regarding fintechs as a genuine threat to established financial services businesses, according to a PwC survey.

In 2015, Malaysia became the first Asia-Pacific nation to regulate for equity crowdfunding; the Australian government this month launched a dedicated regulatory framework for crowdfunding services.

Regional investment in fintech has been growing exponentially in recent years, with total investment in 2016 reaching $8.6 billion, up from $500 million in 2013, according to ASIC.


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