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.

FSS 2.0

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

  • A Fintech Supervisory Chatroom (Chatroom) to provide feedback to banks and tech firms at an early stage of their fintech projects ;
  • Tech firms can access the Sandbox by seeking feedback from the HKMA through the Chatroom without going through a bank; and
  • 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, if needed, for pilot trials of cross-sector fintech products.

To help develop the Regtech ecosystem, the FSS (including the Chatroom) is also open to Regtech projects or ideas raised by banks or tech firms.

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  • Operating Principles

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

    • The FSS is available to fintech and other technology initiatives intended to be launched in Hong Kong by banks;
    • The management of a bank that is allowed to use the FSS should ensure that the following safeguards are in place:
      • Boundary – Clear definitions about the scope and phases (if any) of the pilot trial, the timing, and termination arrangements;
      • 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 suffered by customers, and arrangements for customers to withdraw from the trial;
      • 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
      • Readiness and monitoring – Readiness of the systems and processes involved in the trial and close monitoring of the trial.
    • The FSS should not be used as a means to bypass applicable supervisory requirements.

    The HKMA has not laid down an exhaustive list of the supervisory requirements that may potentially be relaxed within the FSS environment. 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 within the FSS.

  • Usage of the FSS (As of end-August 2021)

    As of end-August 2021, pilot trials of 223 fintech initiatives had been allowed in the FSS. Separately, banks have collaborated with tech firms in 165 trial cases. 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 facilitates banks and their partnering tech firms to rollout fintech initiatives earlier, at a lower cost and with better quality upon full product launch. Please refer to the following chart for further details.

  • 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.

  • Cross-border Testing Pilot Arrangement

    The FSS has been linked with similar pilot testing facilities of overseas supervisory authorities. On 29 October 2020, the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN), a group of international organisations including the HKMA, launched a new cohort of the cross-border testing pilot and invited applications from firms wishing to test innovative financial products, services or business models across more than one jurisdiction. For details, please refer to the link below:

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:

Last revision date : 30 September 2021