WhyItMatters

Fintech road to a Smart Nation

The week-long second Singapore Fintech Festival has thrown up a flurry of initiatives aimed at taking the Republic's Smart Nation ambitions to the next level.

Besides initiatives including instant fund transfers between Singapore and Thailand, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon also announced earlier this week the creation of a new fintech innovation hub named 80RR at 80, Robinson Road, a research and development tie-up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the development of a cross-border platform for trade finance using blockchain technology.

The initiatives and deals signed reflect a plan that involves building an ecosystem of diverse players competing and collaborating, and a web of international links to promote the exchange of ideas and scale up solutions. It also involves creating a strong talent pool and deep research capabilities.

As Singapore brings its plan to become a global fintech hub to life, the idea is that the Republic will become the place where financial institutions test, develop and apply new technological solutions.

Already, some of its efforts have borne fruit - there are now more than 30 fintech innovation labs or research centres in Singapore, while more than 400 fintech enterprises have set up base here.

And the work continues.

By the end of this week, around 25,000 participants from more than 100 countries would have attended what has become the world's largest fintech event. As for MAS, it would have signed 16 fintech cooperation agreements with governments and authorities around the world.

These building blocks for a global fintech hub are also part of Singapore's broader Smart Nation agenda which, as Mr Menon noted, aims to "harness the power of technology to support better living, increase productivity and create new jobs".

"A Smart Nation needs a Smart Financial Centre."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2017, with the headline 'Fintech road to a Smart Nation'. Print Edition | Subscribe