Staying at the Top
Singapore has a hugely important financial sector and a tradition of valuing elite talent and education. As one of a number of initiatives to maintain the country’s reputation in South-East Asia and around the globe, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced a new co-financing initiative to encourage startups in Singapore, which have innovative ideas on how digital financial services should be provided.
A Changing World
The global financial sector has arguably experienced the greatest changes in its history over the past two decades.
Reliable, instant communication and access to information on a global scale, unprecedented access to formerly unavailable markets, and technology that seems to change every quarter have presented financial services companies with both new opportunities and new risks. Any commercial entity – or economy – that operates in the banking, investment or insurance spaces has to be extremely agile in adapting to these new challenges, or risks being left behind.
The MAS, the Association of Banks in Singapore and various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies already have a years-long track record of encouraging the local development of innovative fintech concepts, of which this co-funding effort is just the latest example.
Cooperation With Numerous Agencies
Not only is MAS willing to match third-party investment on a one-to-one basis (up to $200,000) for qualifying projects, it is also actively involved with local higher education authorities to ensure that companies based in Singapore can rely on finding the talent they require. As far as the financial sector is concerned, skills sets involving modern software development paradigms and big data are likely to become even more important in the near future. Local companies can participate in this scheme either by providing high-level experts as mentors for knowledge transfer or offering internships to some of the brightest potential employees.
Aside from the MAS initiative, seed investors should be aware that organizations such as Spring Singapore, technology incubators and the National Research Foundation also offer assistance in funding promising new enterprises.
Intentions of the Program
Apart from easing the establishment of promising new financial companies in this high-tech nation, the objectives of this project include funding ventures that are likely to be beneficial to wider national and international financial structures by offering synergistic products and services.
The MAS grants are intended to help rising finance start-ups during their “proof of concept” stages, which usually entail a high degree of risk for the initial investors. In this way, less private investment is required while technical feasibility and market acceptance is first demonstrated.
New Frontiers in Singaporean FinTech
Political stability, an extremely high level of infrastructure, a mature regulatory environment and governmental support of the linked information technology and financial service sectors already make Singapore an attractive investment destination.
This environment is expected to be further enhanced in future by several mutually supporting initiatives, such a regulatory sandbox that will allow new businesses to try out fresh business models and techniques without having to seek full government authorization for their activities. Additionally, increasing support will be available for start-ups, both in the form of advice and more direct assistance.