Singapore: South East Asia’s Regional Hub for Fintech

Fintech has taken the world of finance and technology by storm. Rapid and continuous disruptions aimed at handling and documenting financial transactions better, is what marks this disruptive technology.

Fintech is not only meant for governments and large corporations. It has been designed to make finance an easier matter for the general populace, as well. Right from easy loan originations and repayments, digital payments, and easy verifications, fintech can help a lot of people find the right funding at the right time, thus, helping them grow. And it is when the common man benefits monetarily and lives a stable life, the economy of the entire country burgeons. This is how Singapore’s fintech scenario can be described in a nutshell.

The country has successfully created digitized execution of services for its population, thereby making living in the city-state easy and attractive for Singaporeans, as well as foreigners. The country’s dream of turning into a Smart Nation, first dreamt of in 2014, is turning into a reality and is a raging success. By integrating technologies such as Big-Data, AI, ML, into its social and administrative fabric, Singapore has achieved its aim of empowering its citizens to troubleshoot issues they are facing using apps and tech platforms. This has decreased dependence on government to provide solutions for the minutest of administrative and social issues.

Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative has already laid a strong foundation of mobile and tech literacy and the internet-using population is set to grow to 97% by the year 2023. Furthermore, the financial scenario of Singapore has been good overall. The ‘Asian Tiger’ makes most of its money through exports and taxes and has a large network of banks that are open to move forward and adopt new technologies to take the next step into turning the Smart Nation to a financially digitized one.

The support of Singapore’s finance sector


Singapore has always been a tech-friendly country and is also considered a financial superpower in the region of southeast Asia. This strong embrace between tech and finance has been one of the most important factors in giving fintech the boost it needed to start and gain momentum.

While fintech and traditional bank collaborations are still not an everyday story in most parts of the world, the finance sector in Singapore has taken notice of the many opportunities that fintech holds and are proactively collaborating with the industry. This friendly and mutually beneficial collaboration between the finance and tech industry in Singapore has led to the unparalleled growth and expansion of fintech in the country. The country’s conscious step towards being open to foreign collaborations and ensuring strong regulatory practices has made it a place for other countries, too, to put their trust in when it comes to partnering up with Singapore-based fintech firms.

International platform for fintech collaborations


Not only is Singapore spearheading the fintech revolution in Southeast Asia, it is also creating a platform for countries, all across the world that are open to fintech knowledge and collaborations. In November 2018, Singapore hosted the largest fintech festival, ever, which saw 40,000 participants from 100 countries. This year too, Singapore will be hosting the Singapore Fintech Festival 2019 during the second week of November. The event is hosted by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) along with the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS). This annual festival is scheduled to go on till the year 2020.

MAS has played an important role in giving fintech startups sandbox facilities where they can test their products for issues and scope of improvement before launching them in the market. This has enabled fintech firms achieve a higher success rate in their app and fintech platform launches thus boosting revenues.

Singapore as the regional fintech hub in ASEAN


Given the growth parameters discussed above, Singapore is already on the fast track to success when it comes to fintech. The country is speedily heading towards a 100% smartphone-enabled, literate population that does not shy away from using new technology. The country’s strong financial sector is giving the fintech landscape the homegrown boost they need to skyrocket it to regional and international fintech leader.

Singapore has already become a regional hub when it comes to ASEAN countries. Last year, in 2018, Singapore held the ASEAN chairmanship and through it, empowered the other member countries get on to the fintech bandwagon, too. Currently, Singapore is the leader in Southeast Asia when it comes to consumer adoption of fintech and total dollar investment received by this industry. It stands as an inspiration for its fellow members teaching how fintech can be enmeshed into a country’s financial culture and also motivating them to adopt the same in their respective countries.

Singapore knows that it is only through creating awareness and competence that it can grow further in the region. As such the Singapore government, with steady support from the Singapore Fintech Association (NPO) is creating a fintech ecosystem by creating study modules for tertiary institutions and universities, so that the new generation is already well aware of the benefits of this industry and how they can make the best use of it.

The government is also collaborating with the Temasek Foundation and the Ngee Ann Polytechnic institution to partner with the Indonesian government, to disseminate fintech knowhow to students in Indonesia.

Conclusion

Singapore has created the strong foundation of people and technology that is going to reward it highly in the tech-focused future. The best part about its rapid growth is the fact that the city-state recognizes that it can only keep growing further when its counterparts are also growing along with it. This has helped create a fintech ecosystem in southeast Asia which, slowly in time, will spread to the entire world.

While the fintech industry in Singapore is burgeoning, it knows the next step to continue growing is to find gaps in the industry and fill those gaps using technology. As of now, the industry is already looking into filling the gap created by regulatory challenges that have mushroomed with the rapid invasion of technology in the finance sector, that has made it susceptible to cyber security challenges. This new area known as ‘regtech’ will be Singapore fintech’s claim to tech prowess next. Until then the country is doing an excellent job at helping this new age disruptive technology bloom and boom.
  • September 5, 2019