21 November 2017
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MAS to tighten cybersecurity, loosen sandbox rules

Business Times
06 Nov 2017
Jamie Lee

Some 20 global banks and insurers have set up innovation labs; more than 400 fintechs have settled in.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) plans to set further requirements in cybersecurity, with its managing director Ravi Menon pointing to cybersecurity risks posed by banks going digital.

"The use of technology is not going to take off if we have not successfully addressed the cybersecurity problem, and assured ourselves and Singaporeans that cyber risks are reasonably well mitigated.

"MAS has been raising the level of expected standards for cyber risk-management. We want to do some things through regulation, in terms of setting requirements for cyber," Mr Menon told The Business Times in an interview.

"Cyber risk is the least known risk of all the major risks facing banks. The models to track, manage and mitigate these risks are not as well developed as the models for the more traditional areas."

Amid the focus on digital innovation in Singapore, some 20 global banks and insurers have set up innovation labs in Singapore.

More than 400 fintechs have also set up shop in Singapore, some of which are matured and generating revenue. Many already have existing products and services.

Amid the hive of activity, MAS is adjusting itself as a regulator of startups, and doesn't shy away from change.

As an example, Mr Menon noted that the approval process for fintechs to join the regulatory sandbox - a ringfencing concept so startups and corporates can test ideas in a limited environment - has been slow.

"We have quite a few in the pipeline. We are taking a while longer to evaluate them. One would have hoped we could have approved sandbox applications in weeks rather than months. But, we are learning ourselves - we're in the sandbox, too," said Mr Menon.

"We are working out reduced requirements, looking at what are the requirements we can lift."

MAS has received more than 30 sandbox applications, with more than 80 per cent of the applications submitted by fintech startups. The sandbox applications cut across various asset classes such as insurance, remittance, and financial advisory.

Two entities have launched in the MAS' regulatory sandbox so far, with insurtech firm PolicyPal graduating from the sandbox, and the second, fund manager Kristal Advisors, experimenting in the sandbox till 2018.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.