Fintech licensing FAQs

Find answers to commonly asked licensing questions below.

1. Do I need an AFS licence?

Generally, if you carry on a financial services business in Australia, you will need to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence or an authorisation from an AFS licensee. Some exemptions from the requirement to be licensed may apply. For more information see Do I need an AFS licence?

2. Do I need an Australian credit licence?

If you engage in credit activities involving consumers you will generally need an Australian credit licence (credit licence) or an authorisation from a credit licensee before commencing business.

For more information see Do I need a credit licence?

3. I'm providing services related to consumer credit, but not act as a lender. Will I need a credit licence?

It depends. Some non-lenders do need a credit licence. If you 'act as an intermediary' or provide 'credit assistance', you will need a licence unless there's an exemption that applies to you. These terms are explained in more detail in Regulatory Guide 203 ‘Do I need a credit licence?’

In general terms, you may 'act as an intermediary' if you are take part in the process of securing credit for a consumer by preparing or passing on information. You may be an intermediary even if you do not have face-to-face contact with the consumer.

In general terms, you may be providing credit assistance if you assist someone to apply for credit/a consumer lease or are making suggestions to consumers about credit/consumer leases. If you provide credit assistance, you may also have what are known as 'responsible lending' obligations. This includes making reasonable inquiries about the consumer’s financial situation and taking reasonable steps to verify the consumer’s financial situation. More information on responsible lending.

4. Does ASIC have a preference to my business seeking an AFS licence or acting as an authorised representative of an AFS licensee?

No. ASIC does not have a preference whether your business has its own AFS licence or acts as an authorised representative.

If you are acting as an authorised representative you will need to meet the regulatory obligations of the AFS licensee that has appointed, you which are relevant to your business. Your AFS licensee will need to supervise the financial products and services you provide on their behalf. The AFS licensee will need to have sufficient expertise about your business to enable them to do this.

5. Can ASIC refer me to an AFS licensee willing to appoint me as an authorised representative?

No. We understand that some licensees offer an authorised representative appointment service. However, it is up to you to identify these licensees through your own research. ASIC’s Moneysmart website has a register of licensed financial advisers that you could refer to as a starting point.

6. How long does the licensing process take?

Once you make a licence application, you still need to go through the same process and assessment criteria that apply to all AFS and credit licence applications.

We aim to decide whether to grant or vary an Australian credit licence within 150 days of receiving a complete application (target: 70%). We also aim to decide 90% of complete applications within 240 days.

Please keep in mind that the time your application takes may differ depending on the quality and complexity of your application and proposed business.

High-quality applications that contain all the information ASIC requires may be able to be processed more quickly.

Applications will typically take longer where:

  • they raise complex or new policy issues
  • the applicant has not provided all the information we need
  • there has been past unlicensed conduct or non-compliance by the applicant, its directors, responsible managers or controllers
  • we have concerns about the controllers, directors, or responsible managers that raise doubts about their character or whether the licensee is likely to comply with the financial services laws or operate its business in an efficient, honest and fair manner.

7. Can I tailor my licence to my specific needs?

Yes. The AFS licensing requirements are scalable to the size, nature and complexity of your business. The simpler and smaller your business is, the less onerous the requirements. One way of reducing the compliance burden of the licensing requirements is to limit your activities. For example, if you will only be offering one or two financial services, you will only need a licence that authorises you for these specific activities.

Some activities do not require you to hold an AFS license or be an authorised representative of a licensee. You only need an AFS licence if you are providing a 'financial service' (see Regulatory Guide 36 Licensing: Financial product advice and dealing and Regulatory Guide 104 Licensing: Meeting the general obligations for guidance on what constitutes a financial service).

8. Can I operate under a restricted licence?

In general, no. The same licensing regime applies to all service providers equally.

Licensing is an important part of the financial service regulatory regime as it allows us to ensure that:

  • businesses operating in the market have the skills and experience necessary to operate in an efficient, honest and fair way
  • businesses have adequate resources to carry out their activities
  • important protections are provided to consumers.

These things are very important to maintain consumer trust. A more restricted licensing regime that replaces these requirements and protections, even with trading or turnover restrictions, may undermine consumer outcomes, even if the number of customers affected is small.

However, you can simplify the licence application process by ensuring that you only apply for the authorisations you need. In addition, ASIC can provide waivers from the law in certain circumstances.

9. Can I apply to ASIC for a waiver from certain legal requirements?

Yes. ASIC has certain discretionary powers to grant a waiver (or relief as it is normally referred to) from the various laws it administers. ASIC’s policy on application for relief is explained in Regulatory Guide 51 Applications for relief. As a general principle, we will not provide relief where there is a more than minimal risk of detriment to investors or consumers or where relief would reverse the usual and intended effect of the law.

10. What competencies does ASIC expect of managers?

‘Responsible managers’ are defined as senior staff members with direct responsibility for making significant day-to-day decisions about the financial services offered by the organisation, and who hold the relevant skills and experience for this purpose.

ASIC assesses your business’ competence to provide the financial or credit services covered by your licence by looking at the knowledge and skills of your responsible managers.

If you are applying for an AFS licence, ASIC offers five options for these responsible managers to demonstrate the relevant necessary skills and knowledge. There are four options to demonstrate by a combination of relevant formal qualifications or assessment and experience.


Knowledge component (qualifications, training etc)

Skills component (experience)

Option 1

Meet widely adopted and relevant industry standard or relevant standard set by APRA

3 years relevant experience over past 5 years

Option 2

Be individually assessed by an authorised assessor as having relevant knowledge equivalent to a diploma

5 years relevant experience over past 8 years

Option 3

Hold a university degree in a relevant discipline and complete a relevant short industry course

3 years relevant experience over past 5 years

Option 4

Hold a relevant industry or product-specific qualification equivalent to a diploma or higher

3 years relevant experience

If an applicant does not fit within the first four options, the fifth option allows for an applicant to explain why they think their nominated responsible managers have the knowledge, skills and experience for the services and products their role relates to.

Whether you can rely on option five to demonstrate competency will depend on the facts. It is up to the applicant to provide sufficient detail and reasons for ASIC to exercise its discretion under option five.

For more information see Regulatory Guide 105 Licensing: Organisational competence (section C), and see also ASIC's AFS licensee page.

If you are applying for a credit licence, ASIC has guidance on relevant qualifications for responsible managers. Generally, responsible managers must have at least two years’ relevant problem-free experience and either:

  • credit industry qualification to at least the Certificate IV level
  • another general higher-level qualification (e.g. a diploma or university degree) in a relevant discipline.

There are also specific requirements for some responsible managers.

More detail about this is provided in Regulatory Guide 206 Credit Licensing: Organisational competence and training(section B), and see also ASIC's credit licensee page.

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Last updated: 18/01/2023 11:49