Sandbox Express launched for faster testing of financial products

MAS will closely monitor the utilisation of Sandbox Express to ensure that it meets the evolving needs and interests of the financial industry.
MAS will closely monitor the utilisation of Sandbox Express to ensure that it meets the evolving needs and interests of the financial industry.PHOTO: REUTERS

An initiative to provide firms with a faster option to test innovative financial products and services in the market was launched yesterday.

Eligible applicants can begin market testing in what is called the Sandbox Express, within 21 calendar days of applying to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

This is faster than under the existing fintech regulatory sandbox, while approval involves a two-stage process under existing rules, a MAS spokesman said.

Applicants will be informed of their potential suitability within 21 working days before final approval is given to operate in the sandbox.

"As each sandbox experiment has its own business, technical and regulatory complexities and risk considerations, the time taken for final approval... is unique to the application. To date, the final approval requires at least three months."

Essentially, Sandbox Express shortens the approval process for entry into the sandbox by relying on standard disclosures and pre-determined rules.

This means Sandbox Express is only suitable for activities where the risks are low, well understood by the market and can be reasonably managed within pre-defined parameters, the MAS said.

The fintech regulatory sandbox that has been operating since 2016 remains open for applicants with more complex business models or where the MAS requires more time to understand the risks, it said.

Sandbox Express will initially be available specifically for insurance brokers, recognised market operators and remittance businesses. Each sandbox will also have pre-defined boundaries, regulatory reliefs and expectations, the MAS said.

"Firms must comply with all conditions of approval, including providing clear and proper disclosure to the customer, as well as submitting regular progress reports to MAS."

Experiments can remain in Sandbox Express for up to nine months, giving firms more time to overcome business and technical challenges and for the MAS to address potential regulatory issues.

By comparison, the sandbox duration under the existing fintech regulatory sandbox is fully customisable. Approved sandbox periods range from six months to a year.

MAS chief fintech officer Sopnendu Mohanty said: "For innovation to take root, it is important for ideas to be tested quickly and in a safe environment. Sandbox Express aims to achieve this through appropriate disclosures and pre-defined rules.

"This... builds on the experience we have gained from running the fintech regulatory sandbox, and reflects our commitment to encouraging more experimentation and greater adoption of innovative technologies in the financial sector."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2019, with the headline 'Sandbox Express launched for faster testing of financial products'. Print Edition | Subscribe