Week in Review: Regulators such as SC Malaysia catching up with disruption

  • Established ‘fintech bridges’ with APAC, MidEast capital markets to promote innovation
  • Next wave of startups likely to leverage on powerful features in new smartphones


IT is an accepted fact that regulations are always chasing innovation, and this is even more the case in the internet driven digital economy nations are moving into. But some regulators are doing a good job of trying to catch up and, dare I say, even try to keep ahead.

One good example is Securities Commission Malaysia which has just established what is calls “fintech bridges” with major APAC and MidEast financial centres. In the words of SC Malaysia chairman, Ranjit Ajit Singh, the tie-ups “will promote innovation within capital markets, and enhance the cross-pollination of digital finance concepts which will benefit financial services institutions, startups and investors alike.”

The Malaysian financial market regulator is collaborating with its peers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and Australia as these regulators seek a better understanding of the new dynamics emerging in the financial landscape. No one knows how the landscape will be changed because of fintech and both regulators and established industry players are probably uncomfortable with what’s going on but everybody recognizes that changes are coming. Ignore them at your peril.

And Malaysia’s SC has shown it has no intention of ignoring the disruption happening around its space, having its own digital strategy where it was the first Asia-Pacific regulator to introduce equity crowdfunding (ECF) regulations in 2015. Peer-to-peer (P2P) regulations were introduced in 2016 followed by regulations on digital investment management (DIM) services. Regulations aside, through its alliance of FINtech community (aFINity), it has created a platform to engage with the growing financial technology community in Malaysia as well.

And how is that community taking to the openness of the financial regulators in Malaysia, and I am talking about both the SC and the central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia? They definitely appreciate the level of engagement going on and the awareness regulators have about offering clarity in terms of rules and regulations. They may not be happy with the speed regulators move but aside from that, I don’t hear, yet, of any major issues from fintech disruptors. Let’s see if it stays that way.

Meanwhile in terms of disruption, the new iPhone has been launched by Apple to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. And while there was nothing really disruptive about the features of the phone, what it has done is to raise the bar amongst its competitors with Huawei promising to blow us away with its new AI powered phone in an upcoming launch. Meanwhile, Sony has already released its new premium phone with 3D and enhanced AR features.

I can just image the next batch of startup founders brainstorming away to come with a killer service around the new features in today’s powerful smartphones.

Speaking of startup founders, Indonesia just saw the first batch of graduates from its inaugural Plug & Play Indonesia accelerator. Congratulations to them as the join the pumped up local ecosystem where the leading cowork space startup, EV Hive, just raised a tidy US$3.5 million (RM14.68 million) in funding.

With that, I wish you a restful weekend and a productive week ahead. Wishing our Malaysian readers a Happy Malaysia Day as well.

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