Key Takeaways from The 2017 Singapore Fintech Festival
The second edition of Singapore Fintech Festival brought together more than 30,000 participants from over 100 countries, as Singapore underscored its credentials as a Fintech powerhouse. This year’s event highlighted how financial technology is being plugged into various sectors, for real economic value.
It also became clear how Singapore is taking bold steps to embrace emerging technologies, such as blockchain, to steer the next phase of growth in various sectors.
Here are some of the biggest developments, that made headlines at this year’s Fintech Festival.
MAS’ Fintech Deals in 2017
More than 400 Fintech startups have set up shop in Singapore and the country’s central bank, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), has since signed a number of partnerships as it seeks to accelerate growth in financial technology.
Singapore-Philippines Blockchain Cross birder Payments
Singapore’s central bank and the central bank of The Philippines confirmed the signing of a Fintech agreement to enhance cross-border payments using blockchain technology. The agreement formulates a framework in which the two regulators will work together to share emerging Fintech trends in a bid to promote financial innovation.
“MAS and the BSP are like-minded in their focus on harnessing financial technology to reduce inefficiency and benefit individuals and businesses,” MAS managing director Ravi Menon stated.
MAS and the Bank of Thailand inked a collaboration agreement that will enable people in Singapore, to instantly and securely, send money to Thailand and vice versa. Collaboration between Singapore’s PayNow and Thailand’s PromptPay will facilitate transactions from one bank account to another.
Singapore-Hong Kong Trade Finance Enhancement
Fintech2017 also saw MAS and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority reach an agreement on the formation of a cross-border platform for trade finance using blockchain technology. The Global Trade Connectivity Network is to be used for seamless transfer of digital documents and data between the two countries.
MAS and the Association of Banks in Singapore have also joined forces to strengthen Cybersecurity. The two are to lay down risk management guidelines for red teaming. The two have also agreed to form a financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center that will enhance the sharing of cyber threat data, to enhance defense response.
Launch of S$27 Million Artificial Intelligence & Data Analytics Grant
MAS confirmed at this year’s financial technology summit the allocation of a S$27 million grant that is to be used to finance artificial intelligence and data analytics projects. The funds according to MAS managing director, Ravi Menon, will enable professionals in the financial sector to up their skills and adapt to the use of new technologies.
MAS Collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MAS and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media are to collaborate on Fintech Research and Development. The collaboration seeks to strengthen Singapore’s pool in the Fintech industry in addition to providing industry professionals and researchers opportunities to work alongside MIT researchers.
Fintech Innovation Hub
The regulator also confirmed plans to form a Fintech innovation hub at Singapore’s business district. The entire building at 80 Robinson is to be rebranded to 8RR and devoted to Fintech startups.
However, MAS was not the only entity building up partnerships during the festival. The private sector was doing pretty much the same, including but not limited to, some of the main sponsors of the Fintech Festival
Other noteworthy deals
Prudential –Starhub Blockchain Trade Platform
Prudential Singapore and Starhub confirmed at this year’s Fintech Festival the formation of a joint venture for the launch of Singapore’s first digital trade platform. Powered by blockchain technology, the platform will help small and medium-sized enterprises seek business partners and distributors. The platform will also be used for tracking shipments, receiving and making payments as well as accessing financing and insurance cover.
Starhub is to offer enterprise customer’s access to FTT’s services as Prudential Singapore focuses its efforts on providing SMEs insurance cover for mitigating business cover. The bigger plan is creating a digital B2B marketplace for bringing together a network of service providers across multiple industries.
“We are creating a digital ecosystem based on cross-industry collaboration that will transform commerce and drive the growth of enterprises. For Prudential, FTT will help drive engagement with a new group of enterprise customers,” said Ms. Stephanie Simonnet, Chief Partnerships Distribution Officer at Prudential Singapore Ms. Simonnet.
Prudential Five Year Fintech Sponsorship
Prudential Singapore also reiterated its commitment to fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration at the just concluded Fintech2017 festival. The company announced a five-year commitment to be the Grand Sponsor of Singapore Fintech Festival until 2022, to the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
The life insurance company see its sponsorship of the SFF as an opportunity to contribute to the development of the country’s financial ecosystem. As a grand sponsor of this year’s event, the company acted as a mentor to startups participating in the Global Fintech Hackcelerator.
Global FinTech Hackcelerator Winners
Winners at this year’s Fintech 2017 Hackcelerator competition came from multiple business areas touching on digital advisory, investment analytics, blockchain based biometrics as well as e-payments. The Monetary Authority of Singapore awarded three winners selected from a pool of 20 finalists.
Moxtra, an embeddable Secure Messaging, and Business service provider came on top with its mobile on-demand service that helps transform business critical applications for mobile and web.
SQREM came second with a platform designed to deliver asymmetric information in real-time on virtually any market and economy around the world.
The third winner was Trunomi a startup that offers data rights management technology which enables businesses to request and receive customer consent to use their personal data.
2017 FinTech Award winners
The Fintech Awards sponsored by the Monetary Authority and the Association of Banks recognizes innovative Fintech solutions already implemented by tech companies and Fintech startups as well as financial institutions.
The 2017 Fintech Festival saw ten lucky Fintech startups walk away, not only with fresh knowledge and insight but a combined S$1.15 million from MAS. The winners were evaluated based on impact, uniqueness, creativity, and practicality of their solutions.
Here are some of the winners in the different categories.
ABS Global Fintech Award (Singapore Open)
Blocko walked away with S$150,000 for its blockchain-based biometric log-in and payment authorization system, currently in use by Lotte Card in South Korea.
Mass Fintech Award
Cross-border payment startup FlyWire walked away with S$250,000 for its solution that helps students pay for their studies abroad. The solution is also being used by healthcare and other businesses to conduct international transactions.
Mass Fintech Awards (Singapore Open)
AGDelta walked away with $150,000 for its digital wealth management platform that enables compliance monitoring. The solution also helps financial advisors maintain client relationships.
Mass Fintech Awards (Singapore Founder)
Spark Systems with its platform designed to facilitate faster and more affordable forex trading was awarded S$150,000. Singx an online remittance platform that targets white-collar workers and SMEs was awarded $100,000 for its solution that allows users to remit money across borders.
Where does Singapore go from here?
Singapore remains in its early days in its fintech development, a fact reiterated by Menon who emphasized that Singapore would need to continue to create a “culture of innovation”, which includes “a restlessness to make things better, a spirit of enterprise to try new ways, a willingness to take manageable risks, and the resilience to bounce back from failure to try again, and again.”
Calvin Choi, the Chairman of AMTD, related to ZUU Online about how China had embraced fintech innovations. In Hangzhou alone, 98% of its transportation system had already gone cashless, as well as the payments in most areas, including street side hawkers. While Choi believes Singapore could eventually keep up with China, he noted that would not happen without recognizing some key differences.
“The market in Singapore is very small, compared to China, and as these fintech innovation companies get bigger, they will discover that they need a bigger market to keep growing quickly, because timeliness is very important, and the ASEAN market offers greater opportunities,” said Choi. “On that same note, the road to digitalization is an interconnected play. Singapore cannot do well without the rest of the ASEAN market embracing it.”
“So Singapore will have to remain the leader or the driving force across the ASEAN market in the fintech space.”