Singapore's FinTech is on the way to global leadership
Singapore is one of the gems of the global financial services industry ecosystem with ~200 banks with total assets of $2 trillion having operational headquarters in the city. Global financial institutions like Mastercard, UBS, DBS Bank, OCBC, UOB, and Citigroup have already launched their innovation labs and accelerators in Singapore along with significant investments in the ecosystem.
Singapore has one of the most forward-thinking governing authorities in the financial services industry internationally. To support the development of a vibrant FinTech ecosystem (there are 400+ FinTech Startups incorporated in Singapore), MAS has taken steps to ensure Singapore’s leading position as a leading global FinTech hub: those include committing S$225 million under the Financial Sector Technology & Innovation (FSTI) scheme; the launch of the FinTech and Innovation Group (FTIG) and the FinTech Office; creation of a FinTech regulatory sandbox; a move towards an open-API architecture; the “Singapore Payment Roadmap,” and the opening of the MAS’ FinTech innovation lab – the “Looking Glass @ MAS,” amongst other first-of-their-kind initiatives.
Not only does Singapore offer the most fertile ground for innovators to launch and test their solutions, the country is also paving its way into becoming the blockchain center of the world. At the end of October, Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS, announced that Singapore will conclude its experiment with blockchain technology and its own digital currency in 2018 before deciding whether to commercialize the trial. In 2016, MAS announced "Project Ubin," an exploration of DLT. Now, the MAS trial is looking at delivering securities, cross-border payments and, finally, using a digital version of the Singapore dollar to carry out real transactions and buy assets. Several major banks – including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Credit Suisse – are involved in the project.
The concept of open APIs is not just a concept for financial institutions in Singapore. A number of banks have embraced this wonderful opportunity, and OCBC Bank is one of the leaders in this field via its Connect2OCBC platform – an open API platform – and the vast set of transactional APIs that was released for the external developer community. Connect2OCBC was launched in May 2016, an initiative that made OCBC Bank become the first bank in Southeast Asia to launch an open API platform. This platform enables external developers and FinTech players to collaborate with OCBC Bank as an innovation partner. It also helps them to develop unique applications that will add value to OCBC’s customers. This essentially is a clarion call to the creative technological talent available in the market to join forces with OCBC Bank and take a step towards digital, open banking. The efforts made by the Singapore government to cultivate a “Smart Nation,” along with a regulatory environment that encourages innovation, have helped OCBC Bank plug into the “open data economy.”
Since the launch, OCBC has received more than 150,000 APIs calls or requests across all its APIs. The bank was also the first in Singapore to launch a transactional API for GIRO, setup in September 2017.
Another major institution – DBS – launched the world's largest banking API developer platform at the beginning of November, boasting of 50+ successful collaborations. All in all, DBS has launched 155 APIs for Singapore across more than 20 categories; more categories will be added in response to demand.
David Gledhill, DBS Group CIO, said, "DBS embarked on a journey to transform our tech infrastructure nine years ago. With that early start, we are now ahead of many others in being digital to the core. This has given us an edge – enabling us to operate with FinTech-like ability and nimbleness, and also platform-like inclusiveness."
Singapore FinTech Festival 2017 – FinTech Hub's Flight to the Top
To strengthen its position as a platform for collaboration and co-creation, Singapore is launching the second edition of the FinTech Festival with an even more exciting lineup of events and discussions. The Singapore FinTech Festival is organized by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in partnership with the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) and in collaboration with SingEx Holdings.
Comprising a series of back-to-back events that will take place from 13 to 17 November 2017, the Festival will feature:
- Innovation Lab Crawl (Nov. 13)
- FinTech Conferences (Nov. 14–16)
- Global FinTech Hackcelerator (Nov. 16)
- FinTech Awards (Nov. 16), and
- Investor Summit - Deal Day (Nov. 17).
Innovation Lab Crawl
Most banks and financial institutions in Singapore have innovation labs and accelerator programs. These labs engage with startups and the broader FinTech community to bring the next generation of digital transformation to the financial sector. More than 20 innovation labs are providing a rare opportunity to visit them and showcase their latest innovative FinTech solutions.
The FinTech festival will bring together 150+ speakers from the global financial community across three days of conferences. Here are the nine broad themes covered during the conferences: Global Market Insights, Data Analytics, Tech Risk, Beyond Proof of Concept, RegTech, FinTech Future, Inclusive FinTech, Applying FinTech and Sustainable FinTech.
Global FinTech Hackcelerator
The Global FinTech Hackcelerator aims to create market-ready and impactful FinTech solutions across three broad categories: RegTech, Financial Inclusion, and Customer-Facing Solutions. A total of 20 global teams were shortlisted from over 580 submissions. These teams underwent a 12-week long virtual program and will finally present their solutions during the demo day on November 16. Here are the shortlisted startups:
- Alternative Circle
- Dathena Science
- Lingua Custodia
- Mycash Online
- Prive Services
- Solus Connect
The FinTech Awards comprises of the MAS FinTech Awards and ABS Global FinTech Award. The awards recognize innovative financial technology solutions that have been implemented before June 30, 2017. A total of 10 winners will be announced and a cash prize of S$1.15M will be awarded.
Here are the finalists for the FinTech Awards:
|AG Delta||Digital Wealth Platform (DWP)|
|AIDA Technologies||Claims Expeditor – STP|
|Asia Risk Transfer Solutions (ARTS)||Crop Risk Expert System (CRES)|
|Blocko||Lotte Card Blockchain-based Authentication|
|Citibank||Singapore Acquisition API|
|First Data||First Data Universal Commerce Solution (uCom)|
|Flywire||Flywire International Payment Solution|
|FOMO Pay||FOMO Pay App|
|HDH Capital Management||Mandelbrot Cue|
|HedgeSPA||HedgeSPA Core Investment Platform|
|HitPay Technologies||HitPay Keyboard|
|InstaReM||InstaReM Payment Solution|
|Mercer (Singapore)||Jenneke Chatbot for Employee Health & Benefits Administration|
|Mobidoo||Sonic Payment Solution|
|Planar Investments||WeInvest Digital Wealth Solutions|
|Signzy||Remote Digital Current Account Opening for SMEs|
|Silent Eight||Silent Eight|
|Spark Systems||Spark FX|
|Symphony Communication Services Singapore||Symphony|
|The Association of Banks in Singapore||PayNow|
|United Overseas Bank (UOB)||Telco Insights POC|
|VoxSmart||Mobile Compliance and Surveillance|
Investor Summit – Deal Day
The Deal Day is aimed to enhance access to funding for Singapore-based startups and will showcase investment-worthy startups and disruptive technologies to local and global investors via a personalized matchmaking process.
Qualified startups are invited to the Demo Day on November 17 for a one-on-one session with the matched investors.
The initiatives taken by the MAS and its partners create a blueprint for other innovative and forward-thinking regulators to follow suit. The FinTech Festival has generated global interest amongst budding entrepreneurs and technologists wanting to locate and start FinTech companies in Singapore.
The full agenda for the FinTech Festival 2017 can be found here.