UOB tie-up to spur fintech innovation

Ms Janet Young of UOB and Dr Alex Lin of IIPL after signing the joint venture agreement for The FinLab. Each start-up will get about $30,000 and UOB will take a small stake in the start-ups.
Ms Janet Young of UOB and Dr Alex Lin of IIPL after signing the joint venture agreement for The FinLab. Each start-up will get about $30,000 and UOB will take a small stake in the start-ups.PHOTO: UOB

United Overseas Bank is setting up an accelerator to spur innovation in financial technology (fintech).

The FinLab, as the initiative is called, is a joint venture with Infocomm Investments (IIPL), the venture arm of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.

It will look for fintech start-ups that are less than three years old and with working prototypes in areas like payments and collections, risk management, big data analytics and wealth management.

The first intake of about 10 to 12 teams from here and the region is expected to start a three-month accelerator course here around June. It hopes to support about 30 start-ups over the next two years.

Each start-up will get about $30,000 and UOB will take a small stake in the start-ups. Foreign teams will have to base themselves here for the three-month course, which will be held at Bash, Infocomm Investments' office in Block 79 at Launchpad@one-north.

Accelerators are like finishing schools for start-ups. They are coached by business mentors on how to refine products and services. Mentors include UOB executives as well as investors and entrepreneurs. At the end of the course, the start-ups will pitch their ideas on demo day to investors to get follow-on funding for further development.

Dr Alex Lin, head of IIPL, said in a statement yesterday: "This partnership is a commitment to incorporate innovation that not only shapes the fintech landscape in Singapore and South-east Asia, but also builds a strong pipeline of sustainable fintech start-ups in our regional ecosystem."

Ms Janet Young, UOB's head of group channels and digitalisation, told The Straits Times that The FinLab will also consider start-ups formed by the bank's staff. "The aim is also to inculcate an innovative spirit and quicker ways of commercialising products throughout the bank. Having in-house teams will help us achieve this," she said.

UOB had been in discussions with start-ups in various areas like e-commerce and was testing some of their products in the bank.

Road shows will be held in Singapore and Asia over coming months to attract applications, which close at end April. For further information, go to www.thefinlab.com.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2015, with the headline 'UOB tie-up to spur fintech innovation'. Print Edition | Subscribe