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Singapore launches fintech innovation lab

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has launched an innovation lab to experiment with financial technology solutions alongside financial institutions, startups and technology vendors.25 Aug 2016

The facility, to be known as Looking Glass @ MAS, will be located in the MAS building. It will allow companies to work with legal, business and regulatory experts, and will act as a venue for training and networking, MAS said.

Sopnendu Mohanty, MAS's fintech officer said: "MAS has been encouraging financial institutions to anchor their innovation labs in Singapore. Today, we are pleased to open our own fintech innovation lab, underscoring MAS’ commitment to promoting a culture of innovation in the financial sector. Looking Glass @ MAS will serve as a platform for the fintech community to connect, collaborate, and co-create with one another."

MAS managing director Ravi Menon told a financial technology conference that the lab will be an "experiment", and that it will not duplicate work that is already being done for early-stage companies in Singapore, the Straits Times reported.

The MAS facility will instead work with later-stage companies to test their ideas, and to work with lawyers and regulators, Menon said, according to the newspaper.

Technology law expert Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint venture partner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "It augurs well that the regulator is taking a sustained interest in promoting fintech and is creating more programmes and initiatives towards making Singapore a leading fintech hub."

In June, MAS proposed a 'regulatory sandbox' that aims to allow financial services firms, technology companies and other "non-financial players" in Singapore to test new financial technology products and services in an environment where some regulatory requirements are relaxed.

"Against the backdrop of a fast evolving financial technology landscape where fintech solutions are becoming more common and sophisticated, a responsive and forward-looking regulatory approach will further enhance the ability of promising fintech innovations to develop and flourish," MAS said at the time. "MAS believes that a regulatory sandbox approach can be used to carve out a safe and conducive space to experiment with fintech solutions, where the consequences of failure can be contained."

A 'fintech bridge' between the UK and Singapore was announced in May. The deal will involve the sharing and use of information on "financial services innovation" by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and MAS.

As part of the deal, the FCA and MAS have put in place a "regulatory cooperation agreement". The agreement is designed to help companies win authorisation for new financial technology products, services and business models in both jurisdictions.

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