Long known as one of the global capitals of financial services, it is no surprise that Singapore takes the development of financial technology or fintech, very seriously. Recently the government announced a three-year plan to invest SG$125 million ($88.12 million USD) into technological innovation in the financial services industry. With the recent boom of fintech in Singapore and the region in general, the country wants to ensure that this burgeoning startup scene has the necessary financial support they need.
In the past five years, over 40 innovation labs and 1000 fintech companies have launched in Singapore alone. The country’s previous dedicated funding for the sector also facilitated close to 500 projects, such as an artificial intelligence (AI) bank chatbot and digital advisory platforms that facilitate wealth management services.
In recent years, fintech has become a massive phenomenon that has transformed the world. We look at why fintech is rising across the region.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is providing funding for “large-scale innovation projects” under the Proof-of-Concept Grant, which will allow startups to test and develop larger, more innovative applications. In addition to helping fintech startups in Singapore, this massive funding boost will also have an added focus on AI, which financial institutions can use to enhance their operations.
With the surge in usage of eWallets and contactless payment methods due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fintech has become part of everyday life. With this in mind, we take a look at some of the emerging players in the financial technology industry in Singapore.
After travelling internationally for business and going through the frustrating process of currency exchange and reimbursement, Rajith Shaji founded the fintech startup Volopay to offer multiple services on one platform. Volopay provides tools to manage prepaid multi-currency corporate cards, expense tracking, and accounting.
Using Volopay, companies can save money on exchange rates, send travelling employees funds in that country’s currency, and track employee spending. Volopay makes their platform free to use so they can better help small businesses grow.
The company currently has about 40 tech startup clients in Singapore and is expanding to Indonesia and Australia in the next six months.
A unique fintech startup app that combines social networking with financial services, Fincy users can manage their money by sending payments, exchanging currencies, transferring funds—all while chatting with their social network. The app, created to eliminate frustrations with exchange rates and transaction fees while travelling, is now popular with travellers and expats alike.
Fincy recently received $11 million USD from their parent company, GBCI Ventures, to extend their reach into Southeast Asia. With the funding, Fincy plans to strengthen its presence in Singapore and expand into other countries in the ASEAN region. This expansion includes building a physical headquarters and also hiring new team members.
Asia is one of fintech’s fastest growing markets. We look at the region and the growth of the market.
Singapore-based fintech startup BondEvalue lets users manage their bond investments easily on the web or through an app on mobile devices. It is currently expanding its products by launching BondbloX (BBX), which allows the trading of bonds in smaller values, making fractional ownerships of bonds possible, which will help traders diversify their portfolios.
An added benefit to allowing small trades is that it is possible to make settlements in seconds, compared to the typical two-day turnaround. Users can get bond issue alerts through the app, and also let BBX choose ideal bonds for them, based on their interests and investment history. BondEvalue has offices in Singapore and India, and recently expanded into Mexico.
Another Singapore fintech startup, Percipient, announced that they have raised $5 million USD from venture capital firm Stat Zero, and plan to use the funds for their “digital twin solution”. The TWINN is the world’s first digital twin for financial services, and will allow bankers and insurers more financial management freedom without the high costs or needs to merge or to eliminate their existing systems.
The TWINN is expected to positively influence mid-to-lower tier financial institutions, as well as those who don’t employ digital services to their fullest potential. With 2.4 billion people already using digital banking services, Percipient CEO Navin Suri proposes that The TWINN will help that number leap to 3.6 billion in just four years.
After seeing what these fintech startups in Singapore are doing, it’s easy to see why the country is willing to invest SG$250 million for technological advancement in the field. In addition to this funding, getting money from venture capital firms will help develop fintech in Singapore, expanding its reach around the world, changing the face of digital banking in the process.
Right now, more than ever, the world needs more streamlined, convenient, contactless methods of managing their money and making payments. Southeast Asia’s financial hub looks set to rise to the occasion.