Top 10 Fintech and Insurtech Innovation Labs in Singapore to Check Out in 2021by Fintech News Singapore August 10, 2021
Singapore, which has set out to become one of the leading fintech hubs in the world, has witnessed the establishment of dozens of innovations labs in recent years as banks and foreign tech firms are looking to capitalize on the city state’s large pool of IT specialists, established financial center, and a supportive government to build the next generation of financial services.
An innovation lab is a facility launched with the ultimate goal to create new revenue streams or bolster existing ones by improving productivity or speed, with much more to consider. Innovation labs engage diverse participants, on a long-term basis, in open collaboration for the purpose of creating, elaborating, and prototyping radical solutions to pre-identified systemic challenges.
In a report titled ‘Innovation Labs: Driving the Future of Industry Evolution’ by Frost and Sullivan, 87% of financial services firms either have an innovation lab or have at least carved out some real estate for innovations. In comparison, this is a 27% increase in the number of innovation centres over 2017 – 2018. The report also highlighted the significance of innovation in the financial services industry to find solutions to challenges such as financial exclusion, cybersecurity, and compliance.
The following list compiles 10 of the most notable fintech and insurtech innovation labs in Singapore:
PayPal Innovation Lab
Launched in 2016, the PayPal Innovation Lab in Singapore is a one-stop melting pot for startups, developers, students and innovators providing various programs for projects and companies of all stages. The lab aims to foster innovation, research and development, entrepreneurship, talent, and expertise in Singapore by collaborating with government agencies, industry associations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Apart from these, the lab also collaborates with institutes of higher learning to groom the future fintech talent pool. Students will have access to PayPal’s resources and tap on their experience opportunity to develop fintech technologies. Current research topics include fraud detection, anomaly detection, national language processing, and identity verification. The lab, which is PayPal’s first outside the United States, focuses on three pillars which are productivity, innovation, education, and IT. Another initiative from PayPal Innovation Lab is its Innotopia Podcast, where leading Asia-based innovators share their experience, especially about the challenges and opportunities they have discovered within the Asia market.
Visa Innovation Center
Visa launched the Visa Innovation Center in 2016 as its first innovation lab in the Asia Pacific. The slightly over 7,000 square feet facility in Singapore was established as a destination for clients, merchants, and partners to collaborate, design and prototype new digital payment experiences together with the growing global community of fintech developers across the region.
DBS Asia X (or DAX)
DBS Asia X (or DAX) is a space where DBS collaborate with startups and the broader fintech community to reimagine, inspire and create the future of innovation. Located at the Sandcrawler Building in Fusionopolis, DAX is at the heart of Singapore’s startup ecosystem. It is also home to HotSpot, DBS’s pre-accelerator program.
A successful project to come out of DAX is DBS’ AI chatbot ‘JIM’, or Jobs Intelligence Maestro, which automates the first stage of the hiring process. It can review resumes, collect applicants’ responses to pre-screening questions, and conduct psychometric profiling of candidates. According to DBS, it can save recruiters approximately 40 man-hours per month, allowing them to spend more time in other parts of their job and is the first virtual bank recruiter in Southeast Asia. DBS has run more than 1,000 experiments, with each of the bank’s senior managers tasked to own at least one customer journey.
BNY Mellon Singapore Innovation Centre
The BNY Mellon Singapore Innovation Center focuses on creating data-driven market solutions through collaboration with fintechs and clients in Asia within BNY Mellon’s digital ecosystem, NEXEN. The lab aims to bring together leading-edge thinkers and emerging talent from across the industry to create, disrupt and accelerate market solutions, while tackling the demands and challenges of an increasingly complex market.
The BNY Mellon Singapore Innovation Centre team subsequently built a prototype as part of its Technology Leadership Forum’s hackathon. This eventually led to a collaboration between BNY Mellon and Deutsche Bank to deploy a chatbot-to-chatbot communication solution for a more seamless flow of information by replacing previously manual responses to status updates on securities trades.
ING Labs aim to bring disruptive ideas to market by combining the bank’s knowledge and network with the knowledge and skills of others, including startups, scale-ups, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other corporates. ING Labs in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, New York, and Singapore focus on specific value spaces that best match the local expertise and ecosystems in these locations. The Singapore lab concentrates on tradetech and global trade, exploring advances such as the Internet of Things and distributed ledger technologies to enable greater efficiency within the supply chain and disrupt trading and trade financing as we know it.
IAG Firemark Labs Singapore
Firemark Labs Singapore is an insurtech hub set up by Australian insurance firm IAG. The lab acts as an incubator for the company to work with Asian-based startups and technology providers to co-create new products and services targeted in Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
On 19 September 2019, CloudBench, a project by the lab, was awarded the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) Proof of Concept (POC) grant. The open-source project aims to automate the data engineering work that data scientists need to support their experiments.
KPMG Digital Village
KPMG Digital Village was created to bring corporates, startups, investors, and government bodies together in a collaborative ecosystem to drive the adoption and integration of innovative solutions. Within the Digital Village, KPMG offers a portfolio of services that support the different needs of corporates to overcome these challenges. The Digital Village focuses on fintech, healthtech, and logistics.
KPMG Digital Village has partnered with Kuehne + Nagel, a global transport and logistics company, to develop etrucKNow, a platform to connect customers and transport partners to facilitate land trade. Using a design thinking approach and an agile development approach to provide solutions to challenges faced by customers and transportation partners, the platform would enable customers to receive instant quotations and subsequently book a shipment in a simple process and give transport partners real-time visibility and assist in tracing of jobs.
The FinLab is a joint venture between United Overseas Bank’s (UOB) and SGInnovate that was founded in 2015 for fintechs and startups to develop fit-for-market solutions.
In June 2020, The FinLab went digital with the launch of the The FinLab Online which leverages UOB’s extensive network to provide its community with the necessary expertise, knowledge and connections.
Contour’s Future of Finance Lab
Blockchain trade finance network Contour had set up the Future of Finance Lab in July 2021 to focus on digital B2B trade finance innovations.
The lab aims to develop the digital infrastructure to address longstanding inefficiencies in trade finance by removing barriers, simplifying workflows, and making trade more accessible to all.
Contour formed an in-house development team to experiment with new trade product offerings and is expected to double the team size in the next year.
BIS Innovation Hub
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) joined forces with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to the BIS Innovation Hub (BISIH) Center in Singapore in 2019.
BISIH’s Singapore hub partnered with the Saudi G20 Presidency to promote innovation in regulatory compliance (regtech) and supervision (suptech).
Additionally, BIS’ Swiss hub had recently released an annual report that it backs the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). BISIH, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and the financial infrastructure operator SIX has successfully completed a joint proof-of-concept for its wholesale CBDC dubbed as Project Helvetia prior to that.
Originally published November 16, 2018, and updated August 6, 2021.