The first participant in the Regulatory Sandbox was approved by Financial Services Commission of the British Virgin Islands (BVI FSC) on 16 April 2021. Bank of Asia, a BVI-headquartered, fully digitalised global bank, has played a pivotal role in introducing, leading, and delivering this Sandbox project which is affiliated with one of the three most prominent Crypto Exchanges in the world.
The BVI’s Financial Services Regulatory Sandbox Regulation came into force in August 2020. It was designed to facilitate the innovation in the Financial Technology (FinTech) sector, allowing innovative financial solutions being tested in a defined and controlled environment. The approved participants will have 18 months (with a possibility of up to 6 months’ extension) to conduct financial services business in the BVI, without the need to apply for a license. This regime creates a more efficient, pro-commerce yet regulated business environment, demonstrating the jurisdiction’s commitment to its mission of building the leading digital International Financial Centre.
The first approved participant, a client of Bank of Asia who is affiliated with a well-known major Crypto Exchange, was introduced to this regulatory sandbox by the Bank. The latter also facilitated the whole application process and was instrumental in the successful delivery of this project, which is a strong testimony of Bank of Asia’s capacity in managing projects related to the Sandbox Regulation for its clients.
Mrs. Lorna Smith, Vice Chair of Bank of Asia, commented: "The BVI Regulatory Sandbox is another example of this jurisdiction responding to the needs of our clients by ensuring that they can test new products and thereafter offer solutions that are fit for purpose and in line with the BVI’s objective of being a leader in digital assets. The fact that Bank of Asia’s client was the first to be approved following passage of the Legislation is testament to the competence of our President, Ms Lisa Lou and her team. We are very grateful for the confidence that the Commission has placed in Bank of Asia by granting this approval."
Mr. Nicholas Bishop, Chairman of BVI Finance, commented: "The Sandbox has been a great recent initiative for The BVI and this news from Bank of Asia will hopefully be the first of many announcements showing the growing strength of the jurisdiction in the digital assets market. Given that the BVI is one of the strongest Financial Centres in the Caribbean, the importance of enabling innovation through the Sandbox while also offering a stable, and proven regulatory environment is key for investor confidence. Bank of Asia will continue to encourage communication between innovators, startups and the regulator to ensure BVI means business."
Mr. Michael Leung, CEO of BOA International Financial Group, Chairman of the FinTech Committee of Hong Kong Institute of Bankers, said: "As a member of the BOA ecosystem and having a wealth of banking and FinTech expertise in-house, we are delighted to be able to support the ongoing digital initiatives of the BVI Government through Bank of Asia, which aptly serves as a bridge between Asia and the BVI."
Gold Leaf Consulting Limited (Gold Leaf) was engaged as regulatory consultant to provide advice and expertise in relation to the Sandbox Application. In reflecting on its role, CEO of Gold Leaf, Mrs. Julia Shamini Chase noted that, "We were able to leverage extensive BVI regulatory experience and its unique expertise in the Fintech space to contribute to the client's successful application." She further highlighted that, "It was important to provide practical advice, tailored to the specific operational competencies of the client."
In addition to managing projects in the BVI’s financial services sandbox, Bank of Asia will also continue applying its vast resources to provide value-added services in SPAC advisory, corporate advisory, merchant banking and wealth management for its clients across the world.