Singapore FinTech Festival

Creating a financial sector that's an absolute delight

The five-day Singapore FinTech Festival, which ends on Friday, has drawn about 40,000 participants from more than 100 countries, making the event the biggest annual gathering of the global fintech community, according to the Monetary Authority of Sin
The five-day Singapore FinTech Festival, which ends on Friday, has drawn about 40,000 participants from more than 100 countries, making the event the biggest annual gathering of the global fintech community, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
MAS managing director Ravi Menon says data must be used in a responsible, transparent and ethical manner.
MAS managing director Ravi Menon says data must be used in a responsible, transparent and ethical manner.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
The five-day Singapore FinTech Festival, which ends on Friday, has drawn about 40,000 participants from more than 100 countries, making the event the biggest annual gathering of the global fintech community, according to the Monetary Authority of Sin
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat

MAS chief envisions future where services are customised to users' needs

The vision of a financial sector where a person can get an instant and complete picture of where he stands with regard to cash, tax and other money-related matters was outlined by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director yesterday.

Mr Ravi Menon said such a new world would mean a person would have a personal financial dashboard that pulls data from his banks, insurers and brokers.

It would also contain tax liabilities and mortgages, and provide advice based on milestones in that person's life.

"This is the financial sector we want to create, customised (to) our needs, invisible to our eyes, and an absolute delight," said Mr Menon.

He told the Singapore FinTech Festival that creating such a future meant marshalling necessary ingredients like common standards, inclusive collaboration, and a free flow of ideas, knowledge and people.

"Innovation and technology are key to realising this future, but they are not enough," Mr Menon added. What is necessary is to grow a fintech, or financial technology, ecosystem that includes platforms for innovation and good data governance standards.

One initiative involves the MAS working with the Infocomm Media Development Authority to roll out a global services marketplace for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Business sans Borders, as it is called, aims to connect SMEs on a platform where they can explore collaborative ways to digitise their business processes and lower costs, said Mr Menon. "It will (also) allow solution providers to more effectively reach out to SMEs (that) tend to be highly dispersed and sometimes hard to reach."

OPENING UP POSSIBILITIES

Fintech ... has opened up many new possibilities. Lowering costs allows banks to serve even more customers even more efficiently, and allows them to expand services even wider.

FINANCE MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT

The initiative will start with a proof of concept next year, with features such as a sandbox where start-ups and established players can experiment and build solutions.

It will also have an app store where SMEs can access services, including finance, logistics and human resources.

Another feature is an artificial intelligence engine that matches suppliers with buyers of products and services across the region.

The MAS has also been trying to reap the benefits of technology by working with the industry to develop principles to guide data usage in financial services. These were released yesterday.

And the MAS and Singapore Exchange said in a joint statement on Sunday that they have developed Delivery versus Payment (DvP) capabilities to settle tokenised assets across different blockchain platforms.

"This will help simplify post-trade processes and further shorten settlement cycles," they added.

DvP is a settlement procedure where securities and money are exchanged at the same time, so the delivery of securities occurs only if payment is made.

Mr Menon said: "Data must be used in a responsible, transparent and ethical manner. We must be able to explain the results of data-driven algorithms. We cannot hide behind the black box."

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told the media at the festival that fintech should lower the costs of engaging customers, and will allow for greater financial inclusion as banks can reach out to the unbanked population.

He noted: "Fintech... has opened up many new possibilities. Lowering costs allows banks to serve even more customers even more efficiently, and allows them to expand services even wider."

The five-day festival ends on Friday. It was first held in 2016, and this year's edition has drawn about 40,000 participants from more than 100 countries, making the event the biggest annual gathering of the global fintech community, according to the MAS.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2018, with the headline 'Creating a financial sector that's an absolute delight'. Print Edition | Subscribe