World Bank, MAS establish fintech innovation authority for ASEAN


The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore this week signed a memorandum of cooperation to establish the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network.

The AFIN (ASEAN Financial Innovation Network) will aim to facilitate broader adoption of fintech innovation and development and enhance economic integration within the ASEAN region, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

As part of the memorandum, the AFIN will be tasked with developing a regional network to help financial institutions, fintech firms and regulators address issues of connectivity, local compliance, and cross-border compatibility.

“We believe that innovation and digital technology can play a decisive role in enhancing financial access for a wider population, said Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer, MAS.

Alongside broader development and collaborative goals for the region’s financial technology sector, the AFIN will also engage in more prosaic pursuits, developing an industry ‘sandbox’: a cloud-based testing environment for banks and fintech players to develop, test and refine digital finance and inclusion solutions.

“This industry sandbox will be a cloud-based marketplace for the distribution of fintech solutions to financial institutions located in multiple jurisdictions,” Mohanty said, “[promoting] real-time collaboration and financial innovation.”

“We hope that this platform could also spur discussions amongst participating regulators on cross-border policy harmonisation across ASEAN,” he added.

According to Vivek Pathak, IFC’s Director for East Asia & the Pacific, “the initiative builds on IFC’s efforts to deepen access to finance for underserved segments of the population.”

“In today’s world it is feasible to reach these segments of the population at a fraction of the cost and at a speed that was not feasible earlier,” he said.

“New business models resulting from digital transformation of financial services and fintech adoption in the region can create new markets that will lead to a higher level of prosperity. The end desired state is for financial institutions to be able to embrace innovation and collaboration more easily, and for innovations to spread more easily across the region.