Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme
In June 2015, MAS launched the Financial Sector Technology & Innovation (FSTI) scheme, which would commit S$225 million over five years to support the creation of a vibrant ecosystem for innovation. FSTI funds can be used for three purposes:

  • Innovation centres: To attract financial institutions to set up their R&D and innovation labs in Singapore
  • Institution-level projects: To catalyse the development by financial institutions of innovative solutions that have the potential to promote growth, efficiency, or competitiveness
  • Industry-wide projects: To support the building of industry-wide technology infrastructure that is required for the delivery of new, integrated services

Several financial institutions have already set up their innovation centres or labs in Singapore, some under the FSTI, including DBS, OCBC, UOB, Allianz, Aviva, Citibank, Credit Suisse, Metlife, and UBS.

Development of the FinTech Ecosystem
MAS commissioned a study to identify the conditions needed to support a thriving FinTech ecosystem in Singapore, and to develop strategic projects to accelerate technology adoption and performance in established players within the financial sector.

The study found that Singapore has the resources and capabilities to become a Smart Financial Centre, based on benchmarking interviews with the industry and secondary research.

To strengthen Singapore's proposition as a hub for the development, deployment and export of FinTech solutions, MAS will focus on opportunities in know-your-customer solutions, greater use of Application Programming Interface (API) gateways in financial systems, and establishing innovation laboratories with industry partners and other government agencies. New incentive schemes will be made available to encourage more experimentation such as proof-of-concept projects and to recognise innovative solutions to industry challenges. As the FinTech ecosystem in Singapore grows and attracts venture capital, there will be more funding options available for start-ups.

MAS intends to make Singapore the destination of choice for innovative FinTech companies by easing the process of starting an innovative financial business. These firms will need a ready pool of skilled FinTech professionals as they grow. MAS will work in conjunction with the industry and academic community to design new curricula and introduce opportunities for internships and attachments to meet this demand.

Enhancing Payments Efficiency
MAS' vision for Singapore is for a retail payment landscape that is swift, simple, and secure — where interoperable electronic payment options are accessible to and acceptable by all in Singapore. In 2016, MAS commissioned a study to take stock of Singapore's payments framework and landscape and create a roadmap to achieve our vision. The findings of this study will guide MAS' payments strategy in the years to come.

MAS, together with the Ministry of Finance (MOF), is co-leading a government-wide effort to increase the adoption of electronic payments in Singapore. In 2015, MAS and MOF identified two core thrusts: streamlining payment card acceptance infrastructure at merchants through unified Points-of-Sale (POS), and enhancing access to real-time payments through the Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) system.

A unified POS would enhance merchant efficiency by simplifying front-to-back process integration and enhance customer experience. Separately, FAST membership has grown from 14 to 19 banks since its launch in 2014, and the limit on FAST transfers has been raised from S$10,000 to S$50,000. This has allowed more people to pay for more transactions in real-time.

MAS is also working with the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) to develop a Centralised Addressing Scheme that will allow anyone in Singapore to pay someone else via FAST using only his or her mobile number as a proxy.

Cooperation Agreements with the Financial Conduct Authority and Australian Securities and Investments Commission
MAS signed co-operation agreements on FinTech with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on 11 May 2016 and 16 June 2016 respectively. The agreements will enable MAS and its counterparts in the UK and Australia to refer to one another innovative FinTech businesses that would like to enter each other's market. Following the referral, the regulators will support the businesses through the initial discussion phase and provide advice on required licences, thus helping to reduce regulatory uncertainty and time to market. The agreements also set out how regulators plan to share and use information on emerging market trends on FinTech. In addition, the MAS-ASIC agreement includes a commitment by both regulators to explore joint innovation projects.

Singapore FinTech Festival
Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of MAS, launched the inaugural Singapore FinTech Festival, to be held in Singapore from 14 to 18 November 2016, at a Singapore FinTech roadshow in New York City on 12 April 2016. MAS also announced the 100 problem statements submitted by the industry for the Global FinTech Hackcelerator at a FinTech event in Singapore on 31 May 2016. The event was attended by more than 1,000 members of the FinTech community, including bank and investment executives, FinTech start-ups, technology experts, and innovation practitioners.

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of MAS, launches the inaugural Singapore FinTech Festival in New York City on 12 April 2016. Also in photo: Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS, and Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer

The audience at the announcement of the industry problem statements for the Global FinTech Hackcelerator