The Australian Authorities has revamped its FinTech regulatory sandbox offering a broader exemption to the requirement to carry an Australian Monetary Providers Licence (AFSL) underneath the Companies Act 2001 (Cth). Below the brand new laws, which is able to take impact on 1 September 2020, firms can take a look at new monetary providers referring to sure monetary merchandise for as much as 24 months with out holding an AFSL. This may present firms with the power to check their idea within the market with out going by way of the extra onerous AFSL software course of or appointment as an authorised consultant of an AFSL holder, which may considerably delay product launch.
Based on the Explanatory Assertion, the regulatory sandbox is designed to help innovation within the design and supply of recent monetary providers that may profit customers and companies. Though the sandbox gives exemptions for a variety of economic services and products, on this article we’ll particularly discover the supply of the exemption for InsurTechs and what InsurTechs ought to contemplate when deciding whether or not to depend on the exemption when it turns into out there.
What does the improved sandbox do?
In Australia, the endeavor of danger as an insurer and the distribution of insurance coverage merchandise are each regulated actions. The brand new licensing exemption gives an avenue for firms to check new and revolutionary eligible monetary providers in relation to distribution of insurance coverage merchandise without having an AFSL or appointment as an authorised consultant of an AFSL holder.
The Australian Securities and Investments Fee (ASIC) has been administering a regulatory sandbox since 2016, offering exemptions underneath the ASIC Companies (Idea Validation Licensing Exemption) Instrument 2016/1175. Nonetheless, underneath the idea validation exemption, the scope of the exemption for insurance coverage is restricted to non-public property and residential contents insurance coverage with a most sum insured of $50,000. The corporate should additionally not have greater than 100 retail purchasers.
From 1 September 2020, the licensing exemption will apply extra broadly to insurance coverage. Corporations counting on the exemption can present eligible monetary providers for any kind of basic insurance coverage or life danger insurance coverage merchandise aside from shopper credit score insurance coverage. For insurance coverage, ‘eligible monetary providers’ embody offering monetary product recommendation, making use of for or buying a monetary product or arranging for the issuing, various or disposing of a monetary product. It stays to be seen whether or not claims dealing with can be included as an ‘eligible monetary service’ when this turns into a regulated exercise.
Who’s eligible to depend on the brand new exemptions?
There are a selection of circumstances relevant. Nonetheless, the 2 predominant standards are the particular person counting on the exemption should present the service meets each the general public profit take a look at and the innovation take a look at.
Below the public profit take a look at, the particular person counting on the exemption must justify why the exemption for the actual monetary service will consequence, or be more likely to consequence, in a profit to the general public that may outweigh the detriment to the general public that may consequence or be more likely to consequence from exempting that service.
Below the innovation take a look at, the particular person counting on the exemption must justify why the monetary service is new, or is a brand new adaptation or enchancment of one other monetary service.
What does this imply for InsurTechs?
InsurTechs are probably in a position to take a look at in any other case regulated ideas with out requiring an AFSL. Accordingly, the exemption might considerably cut back the runway and regulatory limitations to a product launch for each InsurTechs launching for the primary time and people increasing to Australia from different jurisdictions. Nonetheless, there are some limitations.
As presently drafted, the distribution of revolutionary insurance coverage merchandise might not qualify underneath the exemption except there’s additionally one thing new in the best way the product is distributed. For instance, utilization based mostly insurance coverage the place the premium payable is linked to real-time monitoring is probably comprised of each an revolutionary insurance coverage product and an revolutionary method of arranging the insurance coverage.
InsurTechs desiring to depend on the exemption ought to rigorously contemplate whether or not they meet these checks. For instance, an insurance coverage product per se just isn’t a ‘monetary service’ (it’s a monetary product), however the distribution of insurance coverage and associated monetary product recommendation could also be a ‘monetary service’. The innovation take a look at applies to the ‘monetary service’.
Moreover, InsurTechs adopting a ‘managing basic agent’ or ‘coverholder’ construction might not have the ability to depend on the exemption for the issuing of insurance coverage merchandise, as this isn’t an ‘eligible monetary service’ underneath the exemption laws. Different preparations could also be required.
An individual can’t depend on the exemption if they’re authorised to offer the eligible monetary service underneath an AFSL, are an authorised consultant of an AFSL holder, are a associated physique company of an AFSL holder or authorised consultant, are an operator of a monetary market, or a pure one who just isn’t an Australian citizen or Australian everlasting resident. ASIC should additionally don’t have any cause to imagine the particular person or physique company wouldn’t meet the match and correct take a look at for an AFSL.
The improved regulatory sandbox just isn’t the one exemption from licensing necessities. InsurTechs ought to contemplate the choices out there, because the regulatory sandbox just isn’t a ‘one measurement suits all’ method. For some InsurTech enterprise fashions, it could be preferable to launch underneath the authorisation of an AFSL holder.
Making use of for the exemption and compliance issues
So as to depend on the exemption, which commences on 1 September 2020, InsurTechs should submit a proper discover to ASIC within the prescribed type. If ASIC doesn’t oppose the applying, the exemption commences after 30 days. An InsurTech can depend on the exemption for as much as 24 months, and on a number of events, supplied the following reliance is for a special monetary service and monetary product. A constraint of the sandbox is that the utmost quantity of gross written premium that may come up is $5 million, an mixture publicity cap relevant to the exempt entity throughout all testing durations.
Importantly, some shopper safety provisions of the Companies Act 2001 (Cth) proceed to use for entities counting on the brand new licensing exemption. This consists of having an inside dispute decision course of, being a member of the Australian Monetary Complaints Authority, holding ample skilled indemnity insurance coverage, complying with consumer cash obligations and product disclosure obligations. An entity should additionally notify purchasers whether it is counting on the exemption.
Nonetheless, not all InsurTechs could also be eligible to depend on the exemption. Reliance on the exemption is a brief measure and comes with strict compliance necessities. To supply monetary providers after the testing interval, the InsurTech should be authorised underneath an AFSL or depend on different exemptions underneath the Companies Act 2001 (Cth). It might even be preferable to be authorised underneath an AFSL relatively than depend on the exemption in some instances as this enables better flexibility within the sorts of monetary providers supplied and gives a pathway to scale up by way of the power to nominate representatives.
For extra info, and to debate whether or not you is perhaps eligible, be at liberty to get in contact with the authors.
Try our InsurTech 101 Glossary of Widespread Insurance coverage Phrases on our Insurance coverage Regulatory Hub.
 Companies (FinTech Sandbox Australian Monetary Providers Licence Exemption) Rules 2020 (Cth).