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Australia and Hong Kong Regulators Ink FinTech Agreement

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:57 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:57 PM

The securities regulators of Hong Kong and Australia have signed a FinTech cooperation agreement with the mutual aim to aid and develop financial innovation in each other’s economies.

With an announcement yesterday, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) signed a ‘Co-operation Agreement’ that will see them establish and adhere to a pro-FinTech framework for the two countries. The framework will encourage the two regulators to discuss and share information of new developments in the space.

The agreement will see the two regulators paving a simpler path for FinTech startups from both countries to gain entry into each other’s jurisdictions. The ASIC and the SFC will refer local FinTech businesses to each other via their respective innovation hubs, with startups and companies gaining priority regulatory advice.

ASIC Commissioner Cathie Armour stated:

Financial services are a major contributor to Hong Kong’s US$316 billion economy. The Cooperation Agreement is a significant boost for Australia’s burgeoning fintech sector and will ease entry into this important market for innovative Australian businesses.

Asian economies like China and Hong Kong are among the largest adopters of financial technologies. Digital wallets and peer-to-peer payments have permeated into everyday society, with China, in particular, seeing some 500 million people adopt the likes of WeChat and Alipay.

Australia is looking to learn from Hong Kong’s proactive leap in financial technologies. The agreement “will enable ASIC to keep abreast of regulatory and relevant economic or commercial developments in Hong Kong and to use this to inform Australia’s regulatory approach,” Australia’s securities regulator revealed.

The ASIC signed a similar agreement with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in April 2016. At the time, ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft markedly revealed that the regulator had seen a rise in FinTech companies developing blockchain business models in Australia after the launch of ASIC’s Innovation Hub  in 2015.

Medcraft has publicly encouraged his regulatory counterparts around the world to embrace blockchain technology. In March 2017, the regulator released an information broadsheet with six questions posed toward companies who are considering the adoption of blockchain technology in Australia.

Featured image from Shutterstock.