Hailed as an Asian ‘hub’ for the field, Singapore has gained a reputation as an Asian, and world leader in fintech. The desire to lead Asia as the front-runners of the fintech sphere can be seen across all elements of developments, from tech-savvy startups to government endorsement. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has created seven funds to aid startups and innovation in the fintech space, alongside an abundance of government initiatives to get individuals motivated to create.
Singapore is ranked the world’s second best place to experience an ‘ease’ of doing business, encouraging innovators to start creating with all the support they need. The government have further created open spaces, such as LATTICE80, to encourage startups to innovate and collaborate.
The Singapore 2018 budget highlighted the attitude towards technology in their financial development, indicating “The emergence of new technologies which will change the way we work, live and play” as one of the three major shifts that will impact the future of Singapore.
Since taking over Hong Kong as Asia’s fintech hub in the last couple of years, Singapore has continued to secure increasing investment in financial technology. Interest in Singapore continues to soar with investments made in just the first half of 2018, reaching over 85% of the 2017 annual total.
In 2017 and 2018 there has been a major trend in pushing Singapore into a cashless society. Consulting director at Frost & Sullivan, Spike Choo believes that Singapore will increasingly continue its emphasis on digital payments. Singapore has produced some of the finest digital payment platforms on the planet, including soCash, Asiapay and CoinPip, all of which are using various technologies such as blockchain to allow individuals to trust in digital finance. ‘Fatacash’ has been hailed as an upcoming player, springing up from Singapore. The platform has played on the popularity of social media to provide an API for online payments through multiple social media platforms to the 3.3 million social media users in Singapore.
The Government is further pushing the trend from physical cash to digital transfers whilst relying less on banks and more on technology. The managing director of MAS, Ravi Menon, has highlighted how they encourage fintech firms to scale up, placing emphasis on innovation and trust at the heart of financial services and digital economies. Singapore is further revolutionising the reliance on banks which makes innovating more viable for startups.
The MAS will also build on its collaboration with the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group. They are working to build up the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network, which could become a place where smaller lenders from South-East Asia can link up with fintech firms to create cheaper solutions to reach the unbanked.
We, at Difitek, are supporting this change through our role of ecosystem creator and modern infrastructure provider for financial applications, being a key player in the region and supporting the MAS initiatives in Singapore.
In the spotlight
Only having commenced its operations in 2017, Singapore Life has made an impressive mark on the fintech and insurance scene in its short lifespan. Singapore Life provides insurance solutions using an online platform which is also a direct life insurer. Having been recognised as One of Asia’s top 100 Insurtech firms, and one of the 8 most promising Singapore’s fintech startups to watch in 2018, Singapore Life is certainly making its mark. Impressively, they raised US$50 million in its series A round, the largest of its Singapore-based competitors. Insurance bureaucracy is often time-consuming and requires a hefty amount of human intervention, but Singapore Life has used the power of technology through smart identification methods to provide quick purchases without the need for human intervention. Furthermore, the platform uses chatbots to provide tailored insurance plans to its clients. The company has also recently partnered up with Munich Re Group and Pacific Life Re to continue the growth of their client-orientated business.
In order to get innovation flowing in Singapore, an array of incubators, mentorships, funding and the like are aiding budding entrepreneurs to get a jump start in the fintech ecosystem. The Singapore Fintech Consortium acts as a neutral platform to allow collaboration between innovators, market participants and stakeholders in the fintech space.
Startupbootcamp Fintech Singapore is one of Singapore’s leading fintech accelerators which takes 10 startups per year and provides them with office space, funding, mentoring and investor access. The three-month, intensive program allows innovators to access contacts, investors, venture capitalists and over 200 mentors which will help their idea to grow and flourish.
The Public Desire
Convenience. The word which drives the client-centric fintech push in Singapore. The MAS and other government initiatives have been pushing over recent years, for fintech to become quick and easy to use. MyInfo, the government’s personal data platform uses an easy three-step verification method for users to cut the hassle of bureaucracy. Users receive authentication via SingPass, personal and financial data is verified to be able for applications to be submitted. The information is pulled from Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority and collated instead of verification one by one.
The busy lives of working Singaporeans are taken into account and catered for as apps such as Parents Getaway, created by the ministry of education, uses technology to make the lives of parents easier. Parents can interact with schools easily and settle financial matters with school fees for their childrens. Many fintech platforms are recognising the importance of putting their customers first, with PayNow in the very midst of moving from B2B to B2C.
The integration of fintech into the lives of Singaporeans is made easy with the convenience and simplicity of its intervention.
Looking to the Future
As Singapore pushes to build on its fintech status, predictions help for us to understand the future of the field in this small, yet incredible country. JumpStart have predicted that AI and deep data analysis will inform more accurate decisions as they foresee the industry branching out to preventative healthcare products for citizens.
The future of blockchain for Singapore is questionable yet the MAS’s study to explain how blockchain could be used for cross-border financial transactions without an intermediary offers a bright future for the technology famed by bitcoin.
Although the future is not clear, one vision is repeatedly portrayed by the Government, startups and the banks; fintech will disrupt the financial services in Singapore – one can embrace it or resist it.
Fuel your interest
We had the privilege to present along with Oracle, with our VP of Operations, Armodio Luigi Corrado, talking about how to power modern financial services, at this year edition of the Singapore Fintech Festival, one of the world’s largest platforms for fintech where attendees can learn from and network with global fintech leaders. We perceived a vibrant atmosphere with many interesting possibilities and space for financial innovators. Make sure to get in touch with us if interested to discuss opportunities in Singapore and in South East Asia, there’s a lot that we can do together to make rebuild financial services from the ground up.
Having gained experience in the UK Houses of Parliament, International Development and Chinese Think Tanks, Ellen has developed a passion for global affairs. She has undertaken her studies in the UK and has lived and worked in multiple countries including India, Switzerland, Spain and Hong Kong. She currently undertakes her studies at the University of Warwick, studying International Relations and Politics with a focus on Business. Ellen translates her passion for politics to the world of financial technology where she demonstrates a particular interest in developments in Asia.