TECHNOLOGY

Got an Idea for Fintech? Maybank’s Sandbox Wants to Help You Build it

An online platform that helps developers go from idea to minimum viable product

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BY Tanya Mariano - 16 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

You can't mess around with fintech.

Anything that has to do with people’s money, when manhandled, can spell disaster. This small wiggle room for experimentation keeps a lot of fintech start-ups from fully developing and validating their ideas.

Says Maybank group president and CEO Datuk Abdul Farid Alias, “Having a great idea is not good enough to sell a product. Fintech companies need to be able to develop a minimum viable product (MVP) in order to attract the right investments and funding. This is where many fintech companies face challenges – in their ability to move from ideation to a working MVP,” reports The Star Online.

To speed up innovation in Southeast Asia’s financial industry, Maybank recently launched a fintech sandbox – an online platform where users can build and test their products.

By signing up, users get access to tools that will let them build web and mobile applications; a secure environment for testing these solutions; real banking APIs; simulated banking data; and a platform that lets them learn from and collaborate with fellow developers, as well as people in business and the academe.

Users can then share an idea and collaborate with others to develop it, or help solve a problem posted by another user.

Says group chief technology officer Mohd Suhail Amar Suresh in the same report, “Our aim is to be the leading platform for aspiring fintech, technologists, technology enthusiasts, and even students from anywhere in the world who want to learn about developing real world solutions to ideas that not only come from banks but also brokers, insurance companies, and other non-bank organizations.”

Maybank is one of the first private financial institutions to launch such an initiative.

Governments across the region have also been actively supporting fintech by creating regulatory sandboxes.

Aside from the difficulties of getting to an MVP, another thing that could stand in the way of innovation is regulation. “In order to validate, we need to operate. But to operate, we need to comply with existing government regulations,” Angeline Viray, founder of car-sharing start-up Beep a Ride in Manila, tells Inc. Southeast Asia in this article.

In 2016, Singapore’s Monetary Authority and the central banks of Malaysia and Thailand launched their own regulatory sandboxes. Indonesia’s financial services authority (OJK) followed suit in 2017. These sandboxes let participating companies test their products for a set period of time without having to fully comply with strict regulations. This makes innovation more likely to happen, but, at the same time, ensures that consumers are protected.