Enabling Financial Sector to Manage Pandemic Challenges
MAS adjusted several regulatory and supervisory programmes to enable the financial sector to focus on COVID-19 priorities and support their customers
These adjustments included:
- Adjusting banks’ capital and liquidity requirements, to help sustain their lending activities
- Allowing financial institutions (FIs) to take into account the Government’s fiscal assistance and banks’ relief measures in setting more realistic accounting loan loss allowances
- Deferring FIs’ implementation of the final set of Basel III reforms, the final two phases of margin requirements for non-centrally cleared derivatives, and the final phase of reporting requirements for certain entities in relation to over-the-counter derivatives transactions, and other new regulations and policies, to ease operational burden
- Allowing life insurers an additional year, to end of 2021, to rebalance their asset portfolio to match the SGD denominated liabilities under Risk-Based Capital (RBC) 2, which came into effect on 31 March 2020
- Providing FIs more latitude on submission timelines for regulatory reports and deferring non-urgent industry projects
- Temporarily suspending regular onsite inspections and supervisory visits
- Allowing individuals to commence regulated activities as appointed representatives under the Securities and Futures Act and Financial Advisers Act as well as provide advice on and/or sell general or health insurance, pending fulfilment of their Capital Markets and Financial Advisory Services (CMFAS) and General Insurance/health examination requirements. These individuals would be given a grace period of 6 months to pass the relevant examinations, subject to safeguards.
Enhancing Long-Term Capabilities and Building Skills
MAS launched a S$125 million support package to sustain and strengthen long-term capabilities in the financial services and FinTech sectors amid the economic slowdown
8 April 2020
The package comprised enhanced support for workforce training and manpower costs to encourage financial institutions and FinTech firms to make use of the downtime in business activity, to train and deepen the capabilities of their employees.
The initiatives included:
- Enhanced course fee subsidy to 90% for employees of financial institutions (FIs) or self-sponsored individuals who were Singapore Citizens (SCs) and Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) who take on IBF-recognised courses. In addition, the subsidies were extended to include employees of FinTech firms.
- New Training Allowance Grant (TAG) for SCs and PRs who completed training in courses accredited by IBF at S$10 per training hour for self-sponsored individuals; and S$15 per training hour for employers who sent their employees for training.
- Enhanced Finance Associate Management Scheme (FAMS) from S$1,000 to S$2,000 monthly salary support to FIs for eligible SC hires under the structured talent development programmes.
As part of the S$125 million support package, S$35 million was set aside for a Digital Acceleration Grant (DAG) to support digitalisation in smaller FIs and FinTech firms
8 April 2020
The DAG was intended to help firms adopt digital solutions to strengthen operational resilience, process efficiency, risk management and customer service. This would position smaller FIs and FinTech firms for stronger growth, when the threat of COVID-19 receded and economic activity normalised.
MAS further enhanced FinTech firms’ access to digital platforms and tools to support innovation and collaboration
8 April 2020
- MAS provided all Singapore-based FinTech firms six months of free access to API Exchange (APIX), an online global marketplace and sandbox for collaboration and sales. Through APIX, FinTech firms and FIs would be able to integrate and test solutions via a cloud-based architecture.
- In addition, MAS supported the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) to set up a new digital self-assessment and digital framework for FinTech firms to familiarise themselves with MAS’ Outsourcing and TRM Guidelines and improve their quality of solutions. The FinTech Service Providers Compliance Readiness Framework was launched on 10 June 2020.
MAS, Singapore FinTech Association (SFA), AMTD Group and AMTD Foundation (collectively, AMTD) launched a S$6 million MAS-SFA-AMTD FinTech Solidarity Grant to augment support for Singapore-based FinTech firms amid the COVID-19 pandemic
13 May 2020
The Grant aimed to help FinTech firms maintain their operations, continue to innovate and grow and also supported undergraduate internship opportunities. AMTD provided an initial S$2 million to support the Singapore FinTech ecosystem. MAS provided an additional S$4 million from the Financial Sector Development Fund, taking the total grant amount to S$6 million.
MAS launched a S$1.75 million FinTech Innovation Challenge for a COVID-resilient and greener financial sector
8 June 2020
The competition sought to promote FinTech solutions that would help financial institutions adapt effectively to the new operating environment precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aimed to apply FinTech capabilities to spur the development of green finance in Asia and globally. The competition comprised the revamped MAS FinTech Awards and the MAS Global FinTech Hackcelerator and would be hosted entirely on APIX.