Singapore has upped the ante in the global race to be the next Silicon Valley, with a generous new grant scheme for trials of promising ideas in the fast-growing financial technology (fintech) area.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will fund up to half the cost of promising fintech "proof-of- concept" trials based in Singapore, or a maximum of $200,000 for each project.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said at a ceremony last night at Universal Studios for the Fintech Awards that the new grant scheme is aimed at ideas that can benefit not just an individual financial institution or start-up, but also the financial system at large, in Singapore or abroad.
The scheme adds to other support schemes available to fintech players, such as Spring Singapore grants for Singapore start-ups matching $7 for every $3 raised, up to $50,000.
Even as he announced the new grant, Mr Tharman noted that "not all of us can be entrepreneurs".
The likelihood is that many jobs will remain but most jobs will be transformed, requiring new skills and capabilities to make the most of new technologies.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM
He added: "But we all have to build the skills and expertise necessary to power the digital economy."
He said the financial sector in particular has to build new capabilities.
"The likelihood is that many jobs will remain but most jobs will be transformed, requiring new skills and capabilities to make the most of new technologies," he said. "In the financial sector, there is already growing need for skills in data analytics, in digital and mobile user interfaces, and in application development, in addition to core finance skills."
The Government is doing its bit to nurture the growth of Singapore's tech talent pool by, for example, working with the polytechnics to increase the number of fintech internships and joint projects with the fintech community.
Last month, the Government launched "PolyFinTech 100", an initiative to secure 100 fintech mentors and 100 fintech internships for next year, and Mr Tharman said the initiative has secured these targets within a month.
More experienced finance professionals also have avenues to upgrade their skills.
Mr Tharman said the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School will be launching an executive education programme in Singapore focused on financial innovation.
The Wharton FinTech Innovation Programme for Financial Institutions is expected to be launched in the second quarter of next year, and aims to expose senior managers in incumbent financial institutions to current topics in fintech.
Mr Tharman also mentioned a recently formed committee that will identify infocomm technology skills in demand and work with training providers to meet these demands.
The MAS and the Association of Banks in Singapore awarded 10 fintech companies a total of $1.15 million at the awards last night, which took place during the week-long Singapore FinTech Festival.
Correction note: In an earlier version of the story, we said that Mr Tharman announced a new committee to identify infocomm technology skills in demand and work with training providers to meet these demands. This is incorrect. The committee had already been formed.