The world’s biggest annual fintech gathering got bigger this year with the merger of the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) and the Singapore Fintech Festival. This year marked the inaugural SFF x SWITCH.
The vision for this year was 'reimagining fintech for the future'. Its main focus was on green finance and sustainability. The event demonstrated Singapore’s aim of being a leading fintech center in Asia and showcased the numerous initiatives it contributed to achieve its goal.
Here are the key announcements made during the three day event:
- Minister for Education, Ong Ye Kung, announced the investment of US$2 billion in green funds by Singapore through the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which will go toward providing green and sustainability-linked loans, rolling out grant schemes, and supporting the development of innovative green finance solutions.
- MAS also announced the successful development of a blockchain-based prototype (Project Ubin) in collaboration with JP Morgan and Temasek. The prototype network aims to improve cost efficiencies by enabling payments to be carried out in different currencies on the same network.
- At an award ceremony, MAS and The Association of Banks in Singapore announced the 12 winners of the Fintech Awards. The top three winners (in no order of merit) for the Global Fintech Hackcelerator were: Pula Advisors GmbH, Arthance LLC and MindBridge Analytics LLC.
- Mastercard launched the Fintech Express program in Asia Pacific was, allowing selected fintech organisations to gain access to a suite of digital-first products, flexible commercial agreements and global licensing.
- United Overseas Bank (UOB) launched its AI-based digital banking service, Mighty Insights. The service will enable UOB to anticipate and provide insights to its customers, enabling them to better track their savings and expenses while providing a better solution to target customers with more relevant financial products and services.
- Digital insurer Singlife announced the launch of its first mobile-first insurance savings plan, Singlife Account. The account will come with an optional Visa debit card that gives customers instant account access and the ability to make overseas transactions without incurring FX charges.
- Day 2 brought about more announcements from MAS, including a new Fintech Research Platform, developed in collaboration with Deloitte and S&P Global Marketing Intelligence to connect investors and financial institutions to fintech startups. The new platform aims to increase transparency by providing information on a comprehensive new set of fintech companies, including their attributes on business models, use cases, funding and technologies.
- MAS and Banque de France (BDF) announced their intent to strengthen the cooperation between both entities with a view of deepening their financial linkages and collaboration on key areas such as cybersecurity. With BDF opening its second overseas office in Singapore in early 2020, the dealing room setup will have strengthened operational capacity to better serve official sector entities in Asian time zones.
- The final announcement from MAS for the day was a fintech cooperation signing with Canadian Securities Regulators to establish a referral and support mechanism for fintech firms to grant them easier access each other’s markets. The eight Canadian members of the securities regulatory authorities are Alberta, British Colombia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
- Ten fintech APIs also showcased the collective strength of their collaborative efforts. The API Exchange Platform (APIX) announced their capability of building a digital bank in just five days; a feat that is made possible due to the collaboration of these fintech APIs.
- Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands started her keynote address recounting her first-hand experience of how fintech has transformed the lives of otherwise unbanked individuals, and stressed the importance of financial inclusion for improving people’s lives.
- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat, unveiled five key national AI projects as part of the city state’s new national AI strategy, covering border security, logistics, healthcare, education and estate management.
- As part of the National AI Strategy, Singapore has created a new National AI Office under the Smart Nation and Digital Governance Office. This will be responsible for facilitating the commercialisation of AI research and acting as a link between private and public sectors.
- MAS announced as part of the same National AI Strategy that it will work with financial industries to create a framework called Veritas, which will be used to ensure the responsible use of AI and data analytics (AIDA) by allowing financial institutions to evaluate AIDA solutions based on the criteria of fairness, ethics, accountability and transparency (FEAT).
- MAS and the Bank of International Settlements also launched the BIS Innovation Hub Centre in Singapore – a platform aimed at fostering innovation and greater collaboration amongst the central banking community globally. The platform has an initial focus on two projects: the establishment of framework for public digital infrastructures on identity, consent and data sharing; and the creation of a digital platform connecting regulators and supervisors with digital and technology solution providers.
- Enterprise Singapore announced the expansion of its Global Innovation Alliance network to London with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with UK-based accelerator IoT Tribe, which will be running two Acceleration Programmes under the initiative.
- In collaboration with the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Enterprise Singapore also launched the Open Innovation Network (OIN) to serve as an online directory that aggregates nationwide open innovation challenges across different sectors for the purpose of fostering innovation through collaboration. The OIN aims to match corporates, government agencies as well as trade associations and chambers looking for tech and digital solutions, with solution providers including SMEs and innovative startups.
- Global Processing Services announced the launch of its APAC hub in Singapore to better support its existing clients as well as regional banking providers through its Apex platform.
- Saxo Markets partnered with Quantifeed to launch a new 'wealthtech' solution for financial advisors by 2020, which includes three core functions: portfolio and account management, actionable investment-related notices, and “interactive investment journey”.
This year’s event closed as one of the largest fintech festivals in the world to date, setting a record of 569 speakers, close to 1,000 exhibitors and 411 international pavilions. The week-long festival attracted more than 60,000 participants from 140 countries.
OC Singapore is proud to support a number of global fintech unicorns. We will continue to monitor developments in the fintech space and provide updates when they are available.