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46.8753

Fintech Supervisory Sandbox (FSS)

The Fintech Supervisory Sandbox (FSS), launched by the HKMA in September 2016, allows banks and their partnering technology firms (tech firms) to conduct pilot trials of their fintech initiatives involving a limited number of participating customers without the need to achieve full compliance with the HKMA's supervisory requirements. This arrangement enables banks and tech firms to gather data and user feedback so that they can make refinements to their new initiatives, thereby expediting the launch of new technology products, and reducing the development cost.

In the light of the experience obtained in operating the FSS, the HKMA upgraded the FSS to FSS 2.0 in September 2017. FSS 2.0 has the following new features:

(i)

A Fintech Supervisory Chatroom (Chatroom) to provide speedy feedback to banks and tech firms at an early stage of their fintech projects (the Chatroom came into operation in November 2017);

(ii)

Tech firms can access the Sandbox by seeking feedback from the Chatroom without going through a bank; and

(iii)

The sandboxes of the HKMA, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the Insurance Authority (IA) are linked up so that there is a single point of entry for pilot trials of cross-sector fintech products.

 

Operating Principles

The HKMA has adopted the following principles in operating the FSS:

(a) The FSS is available to fintech and other technology initiatives intended to be launched in Hong Kong by banks;

(b) The management of a bank that is allowed to use the FSS should ensure that the following safeguards are in place:

           
(i) Boundary – Clear definitions about the scope and phases (if any) of the pilot trial, the timing and termination arrangements;

(ii) Customer protection measures – Measures for protecting the interests of customers during the trial, which generally cover the selection of customers who understand the associated risks and voluntarily join the trial, complaint handling, compensation of any financial losses by customers, and arrangements for customers to withdraw from the trial;

(iii) Risk management controls – Compensating controls for mitigating the risks arising from less than full compliance with supervisory requirements and the risks posed to the bank’s production systems and other customers; and

(iv) Readiness and monitoring – Readiness of the systems and processes involved in the trial and close monitoring of the trial.

(c) The FSS should not be used as a means to bypass applicable supervisory requirements


The HKMA has not stipulated an exhaustive list of the supervisory requirements that may potentially be relaxed within the FSS. Banks and their partnering tech firms intending to access the FSS are advised to get in touch with the HKMA early. The HKMA stands ready to discuss with them individually on the appropriate supervisory flexibility that can be made available to them within the FSS. 

 

Latest Development

Banks and their partnering tech firms that use the FSS are able to gather real-life data and user feedback on their new fintech products or services more easily, so that they can make refinements to them as appropriate before the full launch. Hence, the FSS can facilitate banks and their partnering tech firms to rollout fintech initiatives earlier, at a lower cost and with better quality upon full product launch.

As of 30 November, 26 new technology products involving 9 banks have been tested in the FSS. Out of these cases, 12 pilot trials have been completed, and the products have subsequently been rolled out. Separately, banks have collaborated with tech firms in 15 trial cases. Please refer to the following table for further details.

Statistics on Usage of the FSS (As of 30 November 2017)

Technology involved Number of pilot trials
Biometric authentication 7
Soft token 2
Chatbot 2
Distributed ledger technologies 4
Others (e.g. API, notification service via social media platforms, remote onboarding) 11
Total 26

 


Fintech Supervisory Chatroom (Chatroom)

The Chatroom seeks to provide supervisory feedback to banks and tech firms at an early stage when new technology applications are being contemplated, thereby reducing abortive work and expediting the rollout of new technology applications.

Firms may access the Chatroom through emails, video conferences or face-to-face meetings with the HKMA. The detailed arrangements are set out below:

(a)

Firms will have access to both the Fintech Facilitation Office and the Banking Departments of the HKMA through the Chatroom.

(b)

Access through emails:

(i)

Firms may send their enquiries to the dedicated email address of the Chatroom (chatroom@hkma.gov.hk). The HKMA will endeavour to provide supervisory feedback within 7 working days.

(c)

Access through video conferences or face-to-face meetings

(i)

Firms may request for a video conference or face-to-face meeting with the HKMA to obtain supervisory feedback to their fintech proposals;

(ii)

The normal timeslot available is from 11 am to 12 noon, but special requests will be accommodated on a case-by-case basis;

(iii)

Firms intending to use the facility are encouraged to complete the attached form to the Chatroom’s email address (chatroom@hkma.gov.hk) to make a reservation;

(iv)

The request should indicate the preferred timeslots and provide a broad description of the issues the firm wants to discuss so that the HKMA can arrange suitable personnel to join the video conference or face-to-face meeting;

(v)

Timeslot will be allocated on a first come, first served basis; and

(vi)

Reservation is open from 1st and 15th of each month at 9 am (or the first working day thereafter if it is a holiday). Reservation for timeslots from 1 to 14 December 2017 will start on 29 November 2017 at 9 am. Details of the reservation windows are set out below:

Reservation windows Dates available for video conferences / face-to-face meetings

1

Open from 1st of each month (or the first working day thereafter if it is a holiday) at 9:00am till 14th of each month Any date in the second half of each month (i.e. from 15th till the end of each month except public holidays)

2

Open from 15th of each month (or the first working day thereafter if it is a holiday) at 9:00am till the end of each month Any date in the first half of next month (i.e. from 1st to 14th of next month except public holidays)


Firms that are not able to secure any video conference or face-to-face meeting timeslot during the reservation window are encouraged to access the Chatroom through emails or reserve a timeslot in the next reservation window.

The HKMA will keep the above arrangements under regular review. It will refine the operation of the Chatroom in the light of feedback received from users of the facility. 

 

Cross-sector Fintech Services

The HKMA, the SFC and the IA have launched their respective sandboxes. If a firm intends to conduct a pilot trial of a cross-sector fintech product, it may apply to seek access to the sandbox it considers most relevant. The regulator will act as the primary point of contact and assist in liaising with the other regulators for the firm to access the sandboxes concurrently. Below are links to contact points of the sandboxes operated by the SFC and the IA.

SFC Regulatory Sandbox
IA Insurtech Sandbox

 

Contact Us

If a firm plans to make use of the FSS for conducting pilot trial of its fintech products, please contact the HKMA through the email address below:
hkma_sandbox@hkma.gov.hk

 

Notices and Updates

28 Nov 2017 Press Release: Fintech Supervisory Chatroom
29 Sep 2017 Press Release: A New Era of Smart Banking
6 Sep 2016 Fintech Supervisory Sandbox (FSS)

 


Useful Links

InvestHK
HKMA Fintech Facilitation Office

 

Last revision date: 30 November 2017
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