Singapore as a Global Hub for Digital Finance?

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced new initiatives earlier in April to boost the country’s position as a global hub for the burgeoning financial technology sector.

The head of the Monetary Authority of Singapore Ravi Menon and the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, were recently at the Asia Society in New York where they announced the launch of the first Singapore FinTech Festival, to be held from 14 to 18 November 2016.

As stated on the MAS website, the festival will be supported by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), and will comprehend a ‘fintech hackcelerator’, an awards ceremony for the most creative digital finance applications, as well as conferences and debates on regtech.

Bloomberg reported that Menon declared Singapore will regulate their fintech companies only when they grow to a size that can be a threat to the financial system. “If you start regulating every one of those, you stifle a lot of innovation, and they don’t get a chance to grow,[…]So only when they grow and reach a certain critical mass, which then poses a significant impact on the system, or it can affect a large number of consumers, then we step in to regulate. It’s always a fine balance,” Menon said.

Singapore’s interest in digital finance is not something new. In August 2015, MAS launched the Financial Sector Technology & Innovation (FTSI) scheme, hiring former Citigroup banker Sopnendu Mohanty to head the unit, and committing SGD $225 million ($167 million), in a five year plan to support financial technology innovation.

Singapore is not alone here, other countries around the world are taking fintech growth seriously, and the UK is one of those. Harriett Baldwin, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, announced new regulations and initiatives at the 2016 Innovate Finance Global Summit. The main points are: the introduction of a fintech panel and delivery of a support function to supervise activities and regulations; the creation of a professional services information hub to facilitate fintech companies to source legal and accountancy services; the introduction of ‘FinTech Bridges’, working with the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), to help the companies expand internationally. With £6.6 billion in revenue and more than 60,000 people employed in 2015, the size of the UK financial technology sector is already considerable and considering the attention given to the sector, the future definitely looks promising.

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Freelance writer & digital strategist. European Commission expert, Fintech curator at Techstars Startup Digest, SXSW advisory board member.

Freelance writer & digital strategist. European Commission expert, Fintech curator at Techstars Startup Digest, SXSW advisory board member.