As one of the gateways of the Asian financial market, Singapore represents an attractive spot in the region to enter the financial industry and is a hotbed for fintech.
Over 200 banks have operational headquarters in Singapore and some of them, including UBS and Citigroup, have opened innovation labs in the city-state to benefit from Singapore’s strategic localization in Southeast Asia and its many areas of competitiveness which include its business environment, infrastructure, high-skilled labor and business-friendly taxation.
Naturally, Singapore has got a rich (and growing) fintech ecosystem, thanks partly to the government that has been rather receptive in embracing innovation, notably in the financial services industry.
As part of the city-state’s ambition of becoming the world’s first smart nation, Singapore is also working towards becoming a ‘Smart Financial Center’ and is supporting the fintech industry in this regard.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank and financial regulator, has set up a Fintech Innovation group to formulate and develop regulatory policies and development strategies. MAS is committing S$225 million over five years to fintech growth and is involved in a number of public-private initiatives to boost the industry.
Most recently, the authority announced the upcoming launch of the ‘Fintech Office,’ a collaborative initiative with the National Research Foundation and other key fintech organization, aimed at becoming a “one-stop virtual entity for all fintech matters.”
Set to launch on May 03, The Fintech Office will focus on enhancing fintech-related funding schemes across government agencies, assisting with startups and managing the branding and marketing of Singapore as a fintech hub.
Accelerators as well as are playing a critical role not only in the development phase of startups but also in providing the funding for growth and expansion in the ecosystem.
Private accelerators include Startupbootcamp Fintech Singapore, Plug and Play Singapore, among others. Banking and technology industry accelerators include DBS Innovation Group and DBS Accelerator, as well as OCBC Bank’s Open Vault fintech accelerator.
Singaporean fintech startup scene
All these elements have helped develop the Singaporean fintech startup scene. Although relatively nascent with over 90% of fintech startups still in seed or early growth stage, Singapore has nurtured some very successful startups and is home to 10 of the 15 most funded fintech startups in Southeast Asia.
Singapore currently counts over 80 fintech startups tackling numerous areas of financial services, according to data provided by SMU Fintech, a student group of the Singapore Management University.
Payments and remittances is undoubtedly the most crowded subsegment with 20 startups. Notable ventures include Fastacash, a mobile social payments platform that has attracted international interest and funding, raising a total of US$23.5 million so far from Life.SREDA, Jungle Ventures, and Rising Dragon Singapore, among others.
In personal finance and wealth management, Singapore hosts innovative companies such as Dragon Wealth, a platform designed specifically for financial advisors to connect more easily with new and current customers.
The city-state is also home to MoneySmart.sg, a personal finance platform and financial products comparison website that has recently teamed up with OCBC Bank to offer lower mortgage rate to customers.
In the lending space, Loan Garage, MoolahSense and OneLyst are helping individuals and businesses get loans.
In retail banking and investments, Call Levels is providing investors with real-time financial monitoring and alert services, while Co Assets is connecting investors with crowdfunding projects.
Companies such as BitX, Otonomos, DeBuNe, and Tembusu Systems, are all leveraging blockchain technology to provide greater efficiency and automation in different areas of finance and commerce. Otonomos allows business owners to incorporate their businesses on the blockchain, while DeBuNe provides users with a decentralized professional network and collaboration platform powered by blockchain technology.