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Tips on how to approach ASIC for help

We’ve heard a lot from ASIC about its willingness to facilitate fintech start-ups. Here’s some tips on how to approach ASIC for help.

What’s ASIC offering?

In addition to engaging with the fintech sector by hosting events at its offices and attending onsite events at fintech hubs like Tyro and Stone & Chalk, ASIC is offering innovative start-ups informal assistance throughout the early stages of their development. This will include:

  • Guidance and assistance during the pre-licence application phase, including meeting with senior staff to discuss the licence application process and any regulatory issues that the business has identified.
  • Guidance and assistance during the first year of being licensed, e.g. if you need to apply to vary your licence because your business has developed into new areas.
  • Providing a dedicated ASIC contact for your business - invaluable for fintech start-ups needing to engage with and coordinate various different ASIC departments.

Who’s eligible?

Fintech start-ups who either haven’t yet sought an AFSL or ACL (or are in the process of applying), or who have had their licence for less than 12 months are eligible to approach the Innovation Hub for guidance.

Your innovation needs to be breaking new ground – it will need to offer a new or significantly different product or service from what is currently available. And it must potentially provide a better outcome for investors and consumers.

How do you access ASIC?

Complete the online form available here. You’ll need to provide a short description of your business to enable ASIC to understand your model and the nature of your innovation. You’ll also need to explain what help you need.

Maximising the opportunity

While it might be tempting for start-ups to use ASIC as their first port of call for information on the regulatory requirements, this could be wasting the opportunity. ASIC is making senior executives available to fintech businesses – regard it as a privilege and approach it accordingly.

Here are some dos and don’ts when accessing the Innovation Hub:

  • Don’t – Approach the Hub if you’re similar to existing business models or you fit neatly in the existing regulatory framework. That’s not the purpose of the Innovation Hub; it’s there to guide and assist innovative start-ups – ones that don’t readily fit and will need special consideration.
  • Don’t – expect ASIC to teach you about the existing law. Their time is valuable and that’s not their job.
  • Do – do your homework first. Work out what laws apply to your business model and where the gaps are:
    • You might find there aren’t any gaps – in which case, you won’t need to be talking to ASIC.
    • If there are, you’ll be well prepared and able demonstrate extensive knowledge when seeking guidance. Gaining ASIC’s trust in your capability in this way will smooth the regulatory journey.
  • Do – seek expert advice before approaching ASIC – to check that you’re on the right track. The AFS and ACL laws are complex and hard to navigate. It’s easy to overlook issues that a short consultation with a regulatory expert can identify.
  • Don’t – be afraid of engaging with the regulator. While ASIC might be the corporate cop, it’s also forward looking – today’s regulators are heavily invested in helping businesses to get it right from the outset, this is always a better outcome than prosecuting after consumers have suffered a poor outcome.

The Fold Legal are financial services specialists – highly regarded for our industry knowledge and for strategic, pragmatic advice that addresses clients’ commercial needs. Click here for more information about our capability and experience in working with fintech businesses.

If you have any concerns about any of these issues, please contact us.

Author: Claire Wivell Plater

November 2015

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