Following the article The Rise Of Fintech  – Trends of Robo Advisors in Asia, here’s a summary of the Fintech regulations in Asia concerning Robo advisors. Enjoy! 

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In the first 9 months of 2015, FinTech investment in Asia Pacific reached US$3.5 billion, nearly fourfold than in 2014. Venturing into robo-advisors in Singapore is ideal as:

1) “Innovation in A Sandbox” Regulatory Approach

Innovative products and services can be experimented with and rolled out within controlled environment. To ensure that guidelines do not stifle innovation, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) applies a materiality and proportionality test. Regulations will only be introduced when risks from robo-advisors become material, and measures implemented will be proportionate to the risk posed.

Regulations cannot front-end innovation, to be able to keep up with new developments, constantly evolving technologies and platforms, we need to have flexible laws that will help robo-advisors companies to evolve and improve.

MAS have acknowledged that there is no “One-Size-Fits-All” approach and that they intend to take a comparative and technology-neutral approach in formulating rules in Singapore.

2) Governmental Support and Funding

Before setting up a robo-advisor in Singapore, one can seek advice on various FinTech and technology-related government grants and schemes from the FinTech Office. New robo-advisors companies can tap into the S$225 million that MAS has set aside in its coffers for the five years to grow the FinTech ecosystem in Singapore.

3) Ideas are Encouraged

You can launch a robo-advisor in Singapore without seeking MAS’ endorsement, as long as the founders are satisfied with their due diligence and take ownership for their decisions. Robo-advisors companies have to understand and adhere to boundary conditions such as the time horizon, customer protection requirements, etc.

This will develop an environment where failure is not treated with disdain but accepted as part of the learning process.

Potential Pitfalls of Launching Robo-advisors In Singapore.

Robo-advisors companies in Singapore faces uncertainty surrounding the application of regulations, irresolute if they need to be regulated or licensed. Effective regulation is vital to support the sustained development and adoption of innovation, promote competition, and boost confidence.

Another impediment to the advancement of robo-advisors in Singapore is immigration laws.  Singapore faces a shortage of talent due to measures to curb foreign talents to give priority to Singaporeans.

Lastly, Singapore breeds a pragmatic and risk-averse culture, valuing traditional metrics of success, which opposes the trial-and-error approach of entrepreneurship.

A Comparison: Robo-advisors in China

Starting a robo advisor in China, however, will prove to be trickier as it is uncertain as to how the Chinese regulatory bodies will coordinate their supervision and regulation activities. The difficulty lies with the numerous authorities involved in the regulation of Chinese FinTech companies.

In July 2015, the People’s Bank of China (“PBOC”), the China Banking Regulatory Commission (“CBRC”) , China Insurance Regulatory Commission (“CIRC”), China Securities Regulatory Commission, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (“MIIT”) together with other five government regulators jointly released the Guiding Opinions on Promotion of Healthy Development of Internet Finance (“Guiding Opinions”).[1]

The Guiding Opinions provides the regulatory framework that can be bewildering and tedious for new robo-advisors companies. On the other hand, the Guiding Opinions set out rules to prevent errant FinTech companies from gaming the system.

To encourage the survivability of Chinese FinTech companies, China implemented a series of policy measures. An example is the preferential tax treatment in income tax and stamp duty.

Conclusion

To conclude, technology is a key enabler for innovation and disruption and we – entrepreneurs, incumbents, banks, regulators, capital providers – must make a concerted effort to understand and use it effectively.

FinTech and Innovation are, after all, about designing better work processes and creating new business models that will deliver higher productivity, more jobs, and superior services for the consumer.

[1] http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/knowledge/publications/139380/fintech-regulation-in-china-hong-kong-and-singapore
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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).