SARB and other financial regulators in South Africa launched the Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG) Innovation Hub to respond to the fintech-driven changes in the financial sector and to promote responsible innovation in the sector. As part of this, the three available avenues for assistance are the Regulatory Guidance Unit, the Regulatory Sandbox, and the Innovation Accelerator. SARB also published a set of frequently asked questions on the IFWG Innovation Hub.
The Innovation Hub is a cross-regulator capability aiming to demystify the regulatory landscape, provide a space for safe testing of innovative ideas, and actively advance innovation in financial services. In addition to SARB, the other financial regulators include National Treasury, the Financial Intelligence Center, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, the National Credit Regulator, and the South African Revenue Service. The Innovation Hub is intended to support the financial sector in introducing innovations that complement the core mandates of regulators, including financial stability and soundness, consumer protection, financial inclusion, and fair lending practices. The Hub is open to all financial sector innovators, whether from a start-up, an established fintech firm, an incumbent financial service provider, or an adjacent industry entering the financial services market. Innovation Hub users have access to three avenues for assistance:
- The Regulatory Guidance Unit exists to help market innovators resolve specific questions regarding the policy landscape and regulatory requirements. Regulators will continue to assist queries through digital and virtual means, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, response times may depend on the volume and complexity of queries and will be provided on a best effort basis.
- The Regulatory Sandbox provides financial sector innovators with an opportunity to test new products and services that push the boundaries of existing regulation, all under the responsible supervision of relevant regulators. Participants must apply to the Regulatory Sandbox.
- The Innovation Accelerator exists to provide a collaborative, exploratory environment for financial sector regulators to learn from and work with each other on emerging innovations in the industry. Outcomes of these coordinated efforts will be shared on the IFWG Innovation Hub website
Through the Innovation Hub, the IFWG is committed to providing these resources to fintech firms and other financial-sector innovators to combat the pandemic. To help address the expected economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, IFWG believes innovation among fintech firms and other financial sector innovators is required now more than ever and, therefore, must be supported.
Keywords: Middle East and Africa, South Africa, Banking, Fintech, COVID-19, IFWG, Innovation Hub, Cyber Risk, Regulatory Sandbox, Regtech, Innovation Accelerator, SARB
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