From the momentum of a threefold increase of global investments in 2014 for the FinTech sector to the tune of US$12 billion plus, industry leaders such as the banks, insurers and venture capitalists are working hard in the supportive environment of Singapore to put the country on the finnovation map.Singapore’s policy makers have positioned the country as a testbed for a variety of innovations in the overall FinTech arena. As the Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan pitched in his address at an annual conference dinner in May 2015 to the attendees to provide more new services to Singaporeans and people beyond Singapore, he pleaded them to focus on data science and analytics together with issues of cybersecurity, protection of privacy, and especially protection of identity.
Conference attendees earlier presented unsustainability of several Peer to Peer lending platforms such as those in the UK and in China. Also, conversations went to Singapore’s SingPass or Estonia’s e-identity initiative as an idea that seems to be worth its weight in gold as it could not only lower the costs but also the potential fraud and identity theft that currently count as benefits among blockchain technology application.
The FinTech and Innovation Group (FTIG)
FTIG have been setup by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to facilitate the use of technology to better manage risks, enhance efficiency and strengthen competitiveness in the financial sector. Headed by the former Global Head of Consumer Innovation Lab Networks and Programmes of Citibank, it shows a serious commitment by MAS towards Singapore’s vision of a Smart Financial Centre, where technology is applied pervasively to create new opportunities and improve people’s lives. Within the FTIG are three sub-units: Payments and Technology Solutions Office; Technology Infrastructure Office; and Technology Innovation Lab.
This is a followup of the Singapore government’s initiatives of The Smart Nation Programme, launched by the Prime Minister of Singapore Mr Lee Hsien Loong in 2014, that seeks to embrace innovation and harness ICT by bringing together stakeholders from the government and the industry to identify issues and develop solutions to increase productivity and improve the welfare of Singaporeans. The new Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) scheme introduced by the MAS in June 2015 has MAS committing S$225 million over the next five years to fund the establishment of innovation labs, institutional-level projects and industry-wide initiatives. This is in response to higher customer expectations and lack of trust, cited as key challenges to the existing structure of the industry, particularly following the global financial crisis in 2008.
For a startup or FinTech developer however, navigating through legal and compliance requirements, ensuring development updates go through without a hitch, networking with industry leaders and sourcing for funding are some of the common issues that they are likely to encounter, and may not necessarily have the expertise or resources to resolve. This is why working with global institutions will greatly benefit not only the startup or developer, they will be able to leverage on the global institutions’ vast network, and take advantage of the mentorship that comes along with the collaboration to realise their dreams and bring their solutions to the global stage.