Singapore FinTech Festival

Why fintech companies are drawn to Singapore

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung says Singapore is a great springboard to the region with 3,000 financial institutions, including every major global bank, located in the country.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung says Singapore is a great springboard to the region with 3,000 financial institutions, including every major global bank, located in the country.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

The willingness to experiment with new ideas, together with strong support from the Government, are among the reasons why fintech companies are drawn to Singapore.

Speaking at the Singapore FinTech Festival yesterday, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung also outlined the Republic's attributes that have made the five-day event the world's largest fintech festival, with about 40,000 participants from more than 100 countries attending.

Besides being at the crossroads of the world, he said Singapore is a great springboard to the region with 3,000 financial institutions, including every major global bank, located in the country.

Mr Ong, who is also on the board of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), added: "MAS has been developing connections through a network of 25 FinTech Cooperation Agreements with counterparts in the UK, US, Japan and many of our Asean neighbours.

"Through these agreements, you can better enter these markets and navigate the regulatory landscape of these overseas markets."

Big technology firms have set up shop in Singapore and worked on projects here, he said.

For instance, ride-hailing firm Grab has its global innovation hub at the National University of Singapore, and e-commerce giant Alibaba's research centre is located at Nanyang Technological University.

 

The MAS, Mr Ong said, is committed to support innovation here.

Among other things, Singapore has made sure its digital payment structure is open to a variety of players, from banks to telcos.

That decision led to the SGQR, a single QR code that combines multiple e-payment solutions into one.

It allows users to scan codes and transfer funds from up to 27 e-payment apps, a global first.

Meanwhile, the MAS said yesterday that it was seeking views on the creation of pre-defined regulatory sandboxes, known as Sandbox Express.

The initiative aims to help companies that intend to conduct regulated activities embark on experiments more quickly, without having to go through the existing bespoke sandbox application and approval process.

The new programme will allow applications to be fast-tracked and granted within 21 days.

As a start, it will include sandboxes specifically prepared for insurance broking, recognised market operators and remittance businesses, said an MAS spokesman.

The consultation ends Dec 13.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2018, with the headline 'Why fintech companies are drawn to Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe