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Kenya Gets Ready To Unveil Sandbox Policy

Kenyan financial authorities are on the cusp of unveiling a FinTech sandbox that will initially focus on robo-advisors and consider blockchain. Across Europe, Revolut looks to make inroads with a banking license, and an Israeli FinTech startup gains the financial backing of some big banks.

In Kenya, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has issued its “FinTech Sandbox Guidance Note,” which is now finalized as policy. As reported by BitcoinKE, the sandbox had been announced in the middle of the year, and, as reported earlier in December, “will soon be made available” to stakeholders within the financial realm before being made public.

The first step is one that takes in market-specific operators within a number of spaces, including robo-advisors, crowdfundng and algorithmic trading. There are other FinTech niches that are under consideration in what is being billed as this “initial step” within Kenya’s FinTech sandbox, and where such entities may be involved with Big Data and distributed ledger tech (DLT) that does not center around cryptocurrencies (such as blockchain). Meetings between these firms and the CMA are slated to begin next month.

In further evidence of FinTech linkups with traditional financial services firms, Revolut, a FinTech firm based in the United Kingdom, said late last week that it has been granted a European banking license.

Under the terms of that license, said CNBC, the company will be able to offer full current accounts and business lending. The license was granted by the European Central Bank (ECB), and will span markets, beginning next year, that include the U.K., Poland, Germany and France. The company’s CEO, Nik Storonsky, said the license is targeted as being “one of many,” and that there will be an application for a U.K. license in the face of Brexit. “If we feel a ‘hard Brexit’ happens, we’ll definitely need to have a license here,” he told CNBC. The company has said it is opening between 8,000 and 10,000 accounts daily.

Separately, the Israeli startup Access Fintech said this past week that it has received $17.5 million in venture capital funding from a number of banks, including Citigroup, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan Chase. The company helps financial institutions (FIs) resolve what are known as “exceptions,” where there are erroneous data points included on trading or customer information. The FinTech seeks to help FIs cut down on the manual processes tied to fixing those errors.

According to Reuters, Access Fintech Co-founder Roy Saadon said that “we see a dramatic level of difference as to what banks are willing to collaborate on, or outsource to shared vendors instead of building internally. We see the banks in a search for efficiency in the places where things are not competitive.” Reports also said that Access Fintech has joined JPMorgan’s In-Residence program, aimed at helping FinTech firms bring their offerings to enterprise customers.

In Asia, South Korea’s JB Financial Group said it has inked a strategic memorandum of understanding (MOU) with CIMB Niaga, an Indonesian commercial bank, and MITRA JASA LIMA, aimed at open banking. The MOU, according to a press release, ties into JB Financial exporting its open banking platform, rather than entering new markets through local banking licenses.

The open banking platform is known as Obank and debuted last year. It helps local banks streamline operations and embrace services such as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and international remittances. The rollout will start in Jakarta and will eventually expand to all of Indonesia. More than 1,600 local banks based in Indonesia will be able to create fee-based revenues from such offerings, according to the release.

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