Singapore’s FinTech Journey – Where We Are, What Is Next

by Ravi Menon, Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore

Remarks at Singapore FinTech Festival - FinTech Conference, Singapore Expo, 16 November 2016:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome to the inaugural Singapore FinTech Festival.

  • We have more than 11,000 participants from more than 50 countries, attending one or more of the many events lined up over these five days.

Technologies Transforming Finance

Financial technology or FinTech is transforming financial services, in a way not seen before.

  • We have unprecedented mobility. The smartphone is becoming our bank. People can consume financial services on the go.
  • We have unprecedented connectivity. The Internet has compressed time and space.
  • Interaction is real-time and unconstrained by physical boundaries.
  • We have unprecedented computing power. The devices in our hands or on our wrists are literally Pokemons – pocket-sized monsters that pack more data and more processing power than supercomputers just a couple of decades ago.

Digital payments are becoming more widespread, propelled by advances in near-field communications, identity authentication, digital IDs, and biometrics.

Blockchains or distributed ledgers are being tested for a wide variety of financial operations, to make them faster, more robust, more efficient:

  • To settle interbank payments;
  • To verify and reconcile trade finance invoices;
  • To execute, enforce, and verify the performance of contracts;
  • To keep an audit trail and deter money laundering.

Perhaps the biggest potential is in what is called Big Data. We are beginning to aggregate and analyze large data sets to:

  • Gain richer insights into customer behavior and needs;
  • Detect fraud or anomalies in financial transactions;
  • Sharpen surveillance of market trends and emerging risks.

Big data is in turn being driven by advances in:

  • Sensor networks and natural language processing to gather information from a wide universe of sources;
  • Cloud technologies to store and retrieve large volumes of information at low cost and on-demand;
  • Learning machines and smart algorithms that can continuously adapt and improve their decision making with every iteration.

Smart Financial Center Vision

Be it countries, businesses, or people – those who are alert to technology trends, understand their implications and harness their potential will gain a competitive edge.

  • To be sure, many of these technologies are disruptive to existing jobs and existing business models.
  • But if we do not disrupt ourselves – in a manner we choose – somebody else will – in a manner we will not like.

Last year, MAS laid out a vision for a Smart Financial Centre, where innovation is pervasive and technology is used widely.

Since then, MAS has been working closely with the financial industry, FinTech start-ups, the institutes of higher learning and other stakeholders towards this shared vision. MAS’ role in supporting this FinTech journey is two-fold:

  • Provide regulation conducive to innovation while fostering safety and security; and
  • Facilitate infrastructure < ...
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