$6 million grant to support S'pore fintech firms, spur hiring of undergrad interns

Economists have said internships may be deferred or rescinded in the current crisis.
Economists have said internships may be deferred or rescinded in the current crisis.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Fintech companies in Singapore can turn to a $6 million fund to help pay for their day-to-day expenses, including the salaries of undergraduate interns.

Set up to encourage innovation as well, the FinTech Solidarity Grant aims to be a shot in the arm for the industry during the ongoing public health crisis.

It complements the $125 million support package for the financial services and fintech sectors announced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in April.

A survey of the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA), unveiled in April, found that half of 67 respondents have been hit significantly by the economic fallout of Covid-19.

The grant, announced on Wednesday (May 13), intends to help ease their pain.

Funding it are the MAS and investment banking firm AMTD Group and its foundation.

There are two components and applications for both open on May 18 until Dec 31, 2021, said a statement by MAS, SFA and AMTD.

The first is a business sustenance grant for eligible firms to get up to $20,000 to pay for salaries, rent and daily capital expenditures in the short-term.

The second is a business growth grant which will hand out $40,000 to firms that show proof of concept - which demonstrates that a plan is workable - with financial institutions on the API Exchange platform.

The platform was launched in 2018 to help groups connect with each other and design experiments collaboratively.

With each subsequent proof of concept, a firm will get $10,000, capped at $80,000.

 
 
 
 

It also provides up to $1,000 a month for the salaries of undergraduate interns, an offer the organisers hope will coax the firms to "continue to offer internships and develop the local fintech talent pipeline".

Assuming an average internship duration of three to five months, the grant will support around 120 interns in the sector.

Economists have said internships may be deferred or rescinded in the current crisis as the immediate focus of most companies is to cut losses and stay in business. Fresh graduates' job search this year is also expected to take longer than before

SFA president Chia Hock Lai said the grant will "help save jobs while making our fintech firms competitive for the post Covid-19 economic recovery world".

MAS chief fintech officer Sopnendu Mohanty said Covid-19 has led to a surge of interest in the region for financial technology, with more people needing remote digital services.

"Fintech firms have a great opportunity to step up actively during this period to provide these solutions...By conducting their proof of concept on API Exchange, financial institutions and fintech firms will not need to set up test infrastructure for integration.

"This will help accelerate project development while still working remotely."

AMTD chairman and chief executive officer Calvin Choi said his company sees the need for the private sector to team up with fintech firms in this period.

"This is an important moment in time to overcome challenges while identifying every opportunity and client servicing angle," he said.