23 September 2019

Singapore fintech plan links lawyers to payments industry

New initiative helping payment firms easily access specialised legal services to meet compliance needs is to be launched in November after two-month pilot.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) is piloting a new Payments Regulatory Evaluation Programme (PREP) to help connect the payments industry with legal service providers. Seven local and international law firms in Singapore are participating in the two-month PREP pilot run.

Showcasing expertise

Instead of relying on informal referrals, PREP provides payment firms with a streamlined process to gain access to lawyers specialising in payment services regulations to meet their compliance needs. Clients are assured that the regulatory assessment conducted by the legal service provider will be sufficiently comprehensive in scope. Based on a payment firm’s response to a standard questionnaire about its business in Singapore, it can expect to receive a customised assessment report on regulations applicable to its payments business. Interested payment firms can participate in PREP by contacting a participating law firm of their choice. Following the pilot, MAS and SAL will take in feedback and make any adjustments. PREP will be formally launched at the Singapore FinTech Festival in November 2019 and will be open to all law and payments firms in Singapore. Sopnendu Mohanty, chief fintech officer, MAS, said, “MAS has developed PREP to ensure that payment firms that want to engage legal services to support them in their business can do so easily and quickly.” Paul Neo, chief operating officer at SAL, said, “As a promotion and development agency for Singapore’s legal sector, we want to give our legal professionals the opportunity to showcase their expertise in the fintech space. Through PREP, they can help payment services providers evaluate their compliance with the requirements of the new Act. In time to come, we hope that our lawyers will also develop legal tech solutions in the regulatory and compliance tech fields to complement their legal advisory services to the payments industry.”

“Significant development”

International firms operating in Singapore have welcomed the initiative. Linklaters partner, Peiying Chua, who leads the firm’s financial regulation practice in Singapore, commented “We are excited to be part of this pilot programme supporting and shaping the legal and regulatory framework on the payments industry. With the upcoming Payment Services Act, we look forward to continuing to support our clients in navigating the increasingly complex and fast-changing fintech landscape.” Kim Kit Ow who heads Bird & Bird ATMD's financial services practice in Singapore commented “This is a significant development for the payment services industry in Singapore. As a firm, we are well positioned to advise businesses in this space given our track record in regulatory and compliance matters combined with our deep sectoral understanding in financial services and technology which are now so intrinsically linked. It will be interesting to see if Singapore leads the way for other such programmes across Asia Pacific in the coming months and years.”

Participating firms

The firms currently participating are AEI Legal, Allen & Gledhill, Allen & Overy, Altum Law, Amica Law, Arielle Law Corporation, Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow, Bird & Bird, Covenant Chambers, Clifford Chance, Collyer Law, Dentons Rodyk, Drew & Napier, Eng & Co., Eversheds Harry Elias, Focus Law Asia, Foxwood Corporate Services, Gateway Law Corporation, Joseph Tan Jude Benny, Lexcompass, Linklaters, Loo & Partners, Lyn Boxall, OrionW, PWC, Resource Law, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, Sabara Law, Simmons & Simmons, Taylor Vinters Via, Tito Issac & Co, TSMP, Tzedek Law, Withers Khattarwong, WMH Law Corporation, WongPartnership, Xavier & Associates and Yeo-Leong & Peh.

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