Singapore must ensure it has enough fintech talent: MAS chief

If this is not done fast enough, lack of talent will be binding constraint in future, he says

(From left) Bank of China chief information officer Liu Qiuwan and Singapore FinTech Association president Chia Hock Lai at the inaugural Singapore FinTech Awards yesterday, with Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon, who recei
(From left) Bank of China chief information officer Liu Qiuwan and Singapore FinTech Association president Chia Hock Lai at the inaugural Singapore FinTech Awards yesterday, with Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon, who received the FinTech Outstanding Achievement Award.PHOTO: SFA AWARDS

Singapore needs to work harder to ensure it has enough fintech talent - both local and foreign - in the coming years, said Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon.

"If we don't do this fast enough, this will become a binding constraint," he told the inaugural Singapore FinTech Awards at Capitol Theatre yesterday, where he spoke about the Republic's journey to becoming a smart financial centre.

The event highlighted individual success stories and showcased local fintech talent who have made a significant impact on the industry.

Ensuring there is talent is one of three areas that the fintech and financial services industry should work towards in the coming three years, said Mr Menon.

The other two areas involve strengthening business financing and boosting digital connectivity.

Noting that fintech start-ups do not have the resources of large financial institutions, Mr Menon noted the importance of having an actively growing venture capital industry.

It needs to keep growing at 25 per cent to 30 per cent each year for another five to 10 years, he said, given the substantial needs for financing and the crucial role of private equity.

Singapore must be more digitally connected as well, said Mr Menon.

While it works on digital utilities internally, it must also build connections with other countries.

  • 66 Number of people and organisations that received awards and recognition from the Singapore FinTech Association yesterday.

"At a time when globalisation is under threat, trade tensions are on the rise, openness is being threatened, and the traditional ways in which we have integrated the world are coming under strain, we need to build new ways of connectivity," said Mr Menon.

He added that the potential for economic payouts and social benefits is large if there could be a digitally connected Asean that is in turn linked to regional powerhouses such as China and India.

On Singapore's role in promoting fintech in the region, Mr Menon said a pressing problem to solve is that of financial inclusion.

While he said Singapore is not a smart financial centre yet, stressing that this is an ongoing journey, he noted the progress made.

There are now over 600 fintech start-ups, up from about 50 five years ago. The sector is also creating 1,000 fintech jobs every year.

Labour chief Ng Chee Meng also lauded the progress of the industry, which has seen investments this year more than double from that last year, amid global uncertainties.

He flagged the need to equip the workforce with the skills needed to enter the emerging industry.

Mr Chia Hock Lai, president of the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA), noted that in spite of the global economic slowdown, in part due to the fallout from the US-China trade war, the fintech landscape remains vibrant.

Singapore, for example, is issuing up to five digital banking licences, he said, urging members to remain agile and seize opportunities that come their way.

Yesterday, 66 people and organisations received awards and recognition from the SFA, including Mr Menon and 10 fintech leaders such as Mr Zack Yang, co-founder of mobile payment start-up Fomo Pay; software company TurnKey Lender's chief executive Dmitry Voronenko; and peer-to-peer lender Validus Capital co-founder Nikhilesh Goel.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore must ensure it has enough fintech talent: MAS chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe