Enhanced Centre of Excellence track to expand grant funding to corporate venture capital entities
Innovation Acceleration track to support emerging tech based FinTech solutions, and
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) FinTech track to accelerate ESG adoption in fintech
Additionally, FSTI 3.0 will continue to support areas like AI, data analytics, and RegTech while emphasising talent development. We can expect to see transformative financial innovation through greater industry collaboration.
MAS’ Continued Focus on Innovation
Over the years, the MAS has consistently been a driving force behind innovation in the Financial Services industry. They have actively promoted and supported technological advancements to enhance the industry’s competitiveness and resilience.
The FinTech Regulatory Sandbox framework offers a controlled space for financial institutions and FinTech innovators to test new financial products and services in a real-world setting, with tailored regulatory support. By temporarily relaxing specific regulatory requirements, the sandbox encourages experimentation, while ensuring safeguards to manage risks and uphold the financial system’s stability. Upon successful experimentation, entities must seamlessly transition to full compliance with relevant regulations.
Innovation Labs serve as incubators for new ideas, fostering a culture of experimentation and collaboration. They collaborate with disruptors, startups, and entrepreneurs to develop groundbreaking solutions. Labs like Accenture Innovation Hub, Allianz Asia Lab, Aviva Digital Garage, ANZ Innovation Lab, and AXA Digital Hive drive create prototypes, and roll out market solutions.
Building an Ecosystem
Partnerships between financial institutions, technology companies, startups, and academia contribute to Singapore’s economic growth and global competitiveness while ensuring adaptive regulation in an evolving landscape. By creating a vibrant ecosystem, MAS has facilitated knowledge exchange, collaborative projects, and the development of innovative solutions. For instance, in 2022, MAS partnered with United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to build digital financial ecosystems for MSMEs in emerging economies.
This includes supporting projects that address environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns within the financial sector. For instance, MAS worked with the People’s Bank of China to establish the China-Singapore Green Finance Taskforce (GFTF) to enhance collaboration in green and transition finance. The aim is to focus on taxonomies, products, and technology to support the transition to a low-carbon future in the region, co-chaired by representatives from both countries.
MAS has also promoted Open Banking and API Frameworks to encourage financial institutions to adopt open banking practices enabling easier integration of financial services and encouraging innovation by third-party developers. This also empowers customers to have greater control over their financial data while fostering the development of new financial products and services by FinTech companies.
Regulators in Asia Pacific Taking a Proactive Approach
While Singapore is at the forefront of financial innovations, other regulatory and government bodies in Asia Pacific are also taking on an increasingly proactive role in nurturing innovation. This stance is being driven by a twofold objective – to accelerate economic growth through technological advancements and to ensure that innovative solutions align with regulatory requirements and safeguard consumer interests.
Recognising the potential of fintech to enhance financial services and drive economic growth, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) established the Fintech Facilitation Office (FFO) to facilitate communication between the fintech industry and traditional financial institutions. The central bank’s Smart Banking Initiatives, including the Faster Payment System, Open API Framework, and the Banking Made Easy initiative that reduces regulatory frictions help to enhance the efficiency and interoperability of digital payments.
The Financial Services Agency of Japan (FSA) has been actively working on creating a regulatory framework to facilitate fintech innovation, including revisions to existing laws to accommodate new technologies like blockchain. In 2020, FSA launched the Blockchain Governance Initiative Network (BGIN) to facilitate collaboration between the government, financial institutions, and the private sector to explore the potential of blockchain technology in enhancing financial services.
The Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas – BSP) has launched an e-payments project to overcome challenges hindering electronic retail purchases, such as limited interbank transfer facilities, high bank fees, and low levels of trust among merchants and consumers. The initiative included the establishment of the National Retail Payment System, a framework for retail payment, and the introduction of automated clearing houses like PESONet and InstaPay. These efforts have increased the percentage of retail purchases made electronically from 1% to over 10% within five years, demonstrating the positive impact of effective cooperation and innovative policies in driving a shift towards a cash-lite economy.
The promotion of fintech innovation highlights a collective belief in its potential to transform finance and boost economies. As regulations adapt for technologies like blockchain and open banking, the Asia Pacific region is promoting collaboration between traditional financial institutions and emerging fintech players. This approach underscores a commitment to balance innovation with responsible oversight, ensuring that advanced financial solutions comply with regulatory standards.
As a knowledge partner, Ecosystm is deeply involved in the Point Zero Forum. Throughout the event, we will actively engage in discussions and closely monitor three key areas: ESG, digital assets, and Responsible AI.
Read on to find out what our leaders — Amit Gupta (CEO, Ecosystm Group), Ullrich Loeffler (CEO and Co-Founder, Ecosystm), and Anubhav Nayyar (Chief Growth Advisor, Ecosystm) — say about why this will be core to building a sustainable and innovative future.
Transparency through Smart Contracts. As businesses and platforms scale applications and capabilities through global partnerships, there is a need for trusted, transparent transactions. Symbiont‘s partnership with Swift and BNB Chain‘s tie-up with Google Cloud are some recent examples.
Evolution of Digital Payments. Digital payments have come a long way from the early days of online banking services and is now set to move beyond digital wallets such as the Open Finance Association and EU initiatives to interlink domestic CBDCs.
Banks Continue to Innovate. They are responding to market demands and focus on providing their customers with easy, secure, and enhanced experiences. NAB is working on digital identity to reduce fraud, while Standard Chartered Bank is collaborating with Bukalapak to introduce new digital services.
The Emergence of Embedded Finance. In the future, we will see more instances of embedded financial services within consumer products and services that allows seamless financial transactions throughout customer journeys. LG Electronics‘ new NFT offering is a clear instance.
Between 21-23 June, Zurich will also be home to the Point Zero Forum – an exclusive invite-only, in-person gathering of select global leaders, founders and investors with the purpose of developing new ideas on emerging concepts such as decentralised finance (DeFi), Web 3.0, embedded finance and sustainable finance; driving investment activity; and bringing together public and private sector leaders to brainstorm on regulatory requirements.
The Future of DeFi
Zug is a little canton outside of Zurich and is famously known as “Crypto Valley”. When I lived in Zurich, Zug was the home of many of the country’s leading hedge funds as Zug’s low tax, business friendly environment and fantastic quality of life attracted many of the world’s leading fund managers and companies. Today the same can be said about crypto companies setting up shop in Zug. And crypto ecosystems are expanding exponentially.
However, with the increase in the global adoption of cryptocurrency, what role will the regulators play in aligning regulation without stifling innovation? How can Crypto Valley and Singapore play a role in defining the role regulation will play in a DeFi world?
DeFi is moving fast and we are seeing an explosion of new ideas and positive outcomes. So, what can we expect from all of this? Well, that is what I will discuss with a group of regulators and industry players in a round table discussion on How an Adaptive and Centralised Regulatory Approach can Shape a Protected Future of Finance at the Point Zero Forum. We will explore the role of regulators in a fast-moving industry that has recently seen some horror stories and how industry participants are willing to work with regulators to meet in the middle to build an exciting and sometimes unpredictable future. How do we regulate something in the future? I am personally looking forward to the knowledge sharing.
For the industry to strive and innovate, we need both regulators and industry players to work together and agree to a working framework that helps deliver innovation and growth by creating new technology and jobs. But we also need to keep an eye out on the increasing number of scams in the industry. It is true to say that we have seen our fair share of them in recent months. The total collapse of TerraUSD and Luna and the collapse of the wider crypto market that saw an estimated loss of USD 500 billion has really spooked global markets.
So is cryptocurrency here for good and will it be widely adopted globally? How will regulators see the recent collapse of Luna and view regulations moving forward? We have reached an interesting point with cryptocurrencies and digital assets in general. Is it time to reflect on the current market or should we push forward and try to find a workable middle ground?
Let’s find out. Watch this space for my follow-up post after the Point Zero Forum event!