MAS chief lauded for financial tech efforts

MAS managing director Ravi Menon's work in leading the regulatory body through fintech trends has earned him the title of the best central bank governor in Asia-Pacific from The Banker magazine. It said the MAS stands out for its "cutting-edge" regul
MAS managing director Ravi Menon's work in leading the regulatory body through fintech trends has earned him the title of the best central bank governor in Asia-Pacific from The Banker magazine. It said the MAS stands out for its "cutting-edge" regulatory approach to fintech.ST FILE PHOTO

The head of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been praised for his ground-breaking efforts in leading the regulatory body through financial technology trends.

Managing director Ravi Menon's work in the area has earned him the title of the best central bank governor in Asia-Pacific from British-based magazine The Banker.

It said the MAS stands out for its "cutting-edge" regulatory approach to fintech while maintaining macroeconomic stability.

It also cited a quote from Mr Menon, who said Singapore would encourage technology only "to the extent that you can also contain and manage its risks". He said: "A smart financial centre must be a safe financial centre as well."

The magazine noted that the MAS was among the first regulators to set up a dedicated fintech group that focuses on understanding technology's risks and benefits.

The move has generated strong results, said the magazine. It cited cloud computing, noting that while some regulators still struggle to send out a clear message on this issue, the MAS had published cloud computing guidelines in 2016.

The central bank has also set up a data analytics group to not just look at the benefits of using data, but also at improving the collection and analysis of financial institutions' data.

During last year's Singapore Fintech Festival, Mr Menon won applause from the audience when he said the MAS will aim for "zero duplication" in its data requests to financial institutions.

"A major source of pain for financial institutions is regulators requesting the same data more than once under different data collection exercises. We will fix this," he said.

"If we ask for the same data twice, the institution will be allowed to gently turn us down."

The annual award is based on selection through a survey of bankers and economists. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat was given this award in 2011 when he was then MAS managing director. Over the past three years, the award has gone to the central bankers of Vietnam, India and Bangladesh.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2018, with the headline 'MAS chief lauded for financial tech efforts'. Print Edition | Subscribe