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.
Space-based solar power (SBSP) uses photovoltaic panels on satellites to generate electricity and beam it back to Earth in microwave form. The energy is then converted back to electricity at a rectenna receiving station connected to the grid. By deploying a network of geostationary satellites, it is theoretically possible to transmit energy around the globe before beaming it back to Earth. The technology would be a breakthrough, generating abundant renewable energy 24 hours per day, regardless of the weather or season. This would overcome the primary challenge of renewables – intermittency – and reduce the need for storage.
Reusable Rockets and Small Satellites
One of the greatest hurdles to commercialising SBSP is the prohibitive cost to launch into orbit, but the advent of reusable rockets and small satellites has brought down the price dramatically. Private companies, like SpaceX and Rocket Lab, charge between USD 3,000-30,000 per kilogram of payload to low earth orbit, a fraction of the cost when launches were dominated by government space agencies.
The emergence of cheaper small satellites, or CubeSats, is also creating a landscape favourable to innovation in space. Researchers can afford to experiment with new technologies by launching prototypes into orbit and iterating quickly.
Caltech Experiment Proves Transmission is Possible
While the efficiency and durability of photovoltaic panels have improved exponentially and the cost of launching satellites into space has plummeted, transmitting power back to Earth remains a challenge. Electricity must be converted into microwaves, with the beams steered back through the earth’s atmosphere. Transmission can be degraded by factors, such as atmospheric absorption, diffraction, and weather.
Researchers from The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) recently achieved a milestone by demonstrating that the transmission of energy from space is possible. The Caltech Space Solar Power Project (SSPP) launched the Microwave Array for Power-transfer Low-orbit Experiment (MAPLE) onboard the Space Solar Power Demonstrator (SSPD-1) earlier this year. In progressively ambitious experiments, the researchers lit up two LEDs in orbit to test energy transfer in space. Next, they successfully transmitted a “detectable” amount of power to antennae on the roof of the Moore Laboratory at Caltech. This may prove to be the first step toward developing a commercially viable system.
Governments Recognise Space-based Solar Potential
With sustainability and energy security coming sharply into focus over the last year, governments have sat up and paid attention to the potential of SBSP. The UK’s energy security secretary, Grant Shapps, recently announced the winners of £4.3M in funding to develop the technology. The grants were devised to tap into the 10GW of space-based solar power potential that an independent study estimated would be available to the UK. Public entities in the EU, China, Japan, and the US have made similar announcements over the past 12 months, signalling a rapid shift in momentum for SBSP.
A Revolution of Space-based Power and Communications
Although SBSP is still undeniably an experimental technology, recent developments hint at a future where clean energy could be beamed down to Earth. Even accounting for transmission loss, each solar power satellite is estimated to deliver the equivalent of a nuclear power station to the grid.
Access to power remains a major obstacle to data centre operators, whether they are hyperscale cloud providers, city-based facilities at capacity, or small regional edge data centres. In recent years, cloud hubs, such as Singapore and Ireland, have imposed strict controls on new data centre builds due to concerns about escalating power consumption. Rising prices for natural gas have made the business case for renewable sources for data centre power even more attractive and space-based solar is an alluring candidate to add to the future mix.
Power transmitted to Earth could be coupled with low latency connectivity provided by satellites in low earth orbit from the likes of Starlink. The pairing of power and connectivity from satellites means even remote locations could be served. Advances in energy and communications have ignited progress since the discovery of fire and the emergence of language and these space-based innovations will undoubtedly play a key role in the next industrial revolution.
And many of the traditional businesses are turning themselves around. Foxtel, the “legacy” cable TV provider in Australia, has grown its subscriber base by 19% off the back of its streaming services – where subscriber numbers are growing at over 60% YoY. ComfortDelgro – a transport provider based out of Singapore – is seeing its revenue start to increase again after being hit hard by digital competitors and the pandemic. CBA’s “Ceba” virtual assistant is winning plaudits in Australia and globally.
It’s Not Too Late to Catch-up!
In many respects, the fact that the digital disruptors got SO far ahead is an indication of just how slow the rest of the market was to respond, and a credit to the significant investments these innovators made to get ahead. But now that the rest of the market is catching up shows that there is no secret sauce when it comes to innovation. What Uber, Tesla, Amazon and every other digital innovator has done is replicable. Your business just needs to make the necessary changes to give you the ability to catch up to the digital innovators in your industry – do it well and you will even keep up with them or get ahead. And innovation is the leading business priority for most organisations today!
What all of the digital disruptors did fifteen years ago, and many other businesses have done since then, is develop the ability to create and improve digital customer experiences at pace. Nearly every customer experience is digital – at least in part. So creating great digital experiences will go a long way to creating great customer experiences. Sounds easy right?
However, what this actually means is they changed their culture, structure, KPIs, technology, skills and the nature of their business. Many organisations have beaten the path to becoming digital businesses – in fact, it is a well-worn path. When you set off on the journey you are no longer taking risks or heading out alone. There is a very clear playbook as to how to become a digital business today.
What Does a Digital Business Look Like?
If you are part of your organisation’s tech team and wondering how digital your business is, ask these questions:
Do you mainly deploy new technology services with the Waterfall project methodology?
Do all of the development work with the IT team (and not in business or customer teams)?
Does it take months or years to deploy new services?
Are your KPIs the same as they were 5-10 years ago?
If the answer to some or all of these questions is YES, then it is likely that you are working for a business that will not catch up with or get ahead of your competitors. You might have a few initiatives that see you make some ground on them – but innovation today is not about leaps and bounds – it is about continual improvement. If you catch up today but don’t have the ability to continually improve, you will have fallen behind again tomorrow…
The good news is it is never too late to start this journey. It typically starts from the top of your business – the CIO cannot make the entire business agile. The head of the digital cannot change the culture of the entire organisation. But the IT and digital teams can get the ball rolling by changing their structure and work processes. Start by moving some developers into the Customer Experience team (if you have one!). Stop funding projects and start funding squads, tribes and teams. Structure the team around the customer journey – or at least make it easier for customers to get value from the digital assets and services you offer. Hopefully, someone will notice the fact that the tech team is helping a business unit or team to operate with agility and they’ll start asking why they cannot have that same ability?
And by then the ball is rolling down the hill and you are on your way to being a digital business – and on your way to giving customers the products, services and experiences they demand today and tomorrow.
Industries and governments have shifted focus to areas such as smart energy, Industry 4.0, autonomous driving, smart buildings, and remote healthcare, to name a few. In the coming days, most initial commercial deployments will centre around network speed and latency. Technologies like GPON, 5G, Wifi 6, WiGig, Edge computing, and software-defined networking are bringing new capabilities and altering costs.
Ecosystm’s telecommunications and mobility predictions for 2020, discusses how 5G will transform the industry in multiple ways. For example, it will give enterprises the opportunity to incorporate fixed network capabilities natively to their mobility solutions, meaning less customisation of enterprise networking. Talking about the opportunity 5G gives to telecom service providers, Amanullah says, “With theoretical speeds of 20 times of 4G, low latency of 1 millisecond and a million connections per square kilometre, the era of mobile Internet of Everything (IoE) is expected to transform industries including Manufacturing, Healthcare and Transportation. Telecom operators can accelerate and realise their DX, as focus shifts to solutions for not just consumers but for enterprises and governments.”
Changing Customer Profile
Amanullah adds, “Telecom operators can no longer offer “basic” services – they must become customer-obsessed and customer experience (CX) must be at the forefront of their DX goals.” But the real challenge is that their traditional customer base has steadily diverged. On the one hand, their existent retail customers expect better CX – at par with other service providers, such as the banking sector. Building a customer-centric capability is not simple and involves a substantial operational and technological shift.
On the other hand, as they bring newer products to market and change their business models, they are being forced to shift focus away from horizontal technologies and connecting people – to industry solutions and connecting machines. As their business becomes more solution-based, they are being forced to address their offerings at new buying centres, beyond IT infrastructure and Facilities. Their new customer base within organisations wants to talk about a variety of managed services such as VoIP, IoT, Edge computing, AI and automation.
The global Ecosystm AI study reveals the top priorities for telecom service providers, focused on adopting emerging technologies (Figure 1). It is very clear that the top priorities are driving customer loyalty (through better coverage, smart billing and competitive pricing) and process optimisation (including asset maintenance).
Technology as an Enabler of Telecom Transformation
Several emerging technologies are being used internally by telecom service providers as they look towards DX to remain competitive. They are transforming both asset and customer management in the telecom industry.
IoT & AI
Telecom infrastructure includes expensive equipment, towers and data centres, and providers are embedding IoT devices to monitor and maintain the equipment while ensuring minimal downtime. The generators, meters, towers are being fitted with IoT sensors for remote asset management and predictive maintenance, which has cost as well as customer service benefits. AI is also unlocking advanced network traffic optimisation capabilities to extend network coverage intelligently, and dynamically distribute frequencies across users to improve network experience.
Chatbots and virtual assistants are used by operators to improve customer service and assist customers with equipment set-up, troubleshooting and maintenance. These AI investments see tremendous improvement in customer satisfaction. This also has an impact on employee experience (EX) as these automation tools free workforce from repetitive tasks and they be deployed to more advanced tasks.
Telecom providers have access to large volumes of customer data that can help them predict customer usage patterns. This helps them in price optimisation and last-minute deals, giving them a competitive edge. More data is being collected and used as several operators provide location-based services and offerings.
In the end, the IoT data and the AI/Analytics solutions are enabling telecom service providers to improve products and solutions and offer their customers the innovation that they want. For instance, Vodafone partnered with BMW to incorporate an in-built SIM that enables vehicle tracking and provides theft protection. In case of emergencies, alerts can also be sent to emergency services and contacts. AT&T designed a fraud detection application to look for patterns and detect suspected fraud, spam and robocalls. The system looks for multiple short-duration calls from a single source to numbers on the ‘Do Not Call’ registry. This enables them to block calls and prevent scammers, telemarketers and identity theft issues.
Talking about the significance of increasing investments in cybersecurity solutions by telecom service providers, Amanullah says, “Telecom operators have large customer databases and provide a range of services which gives criminals a great incentive to steal identity and payment information, damage websites and cause loss of reputation. They have to ramp up their investment in cybersecurity technology, processes and people. A telecom operator’s compromised security can have country-wide, and even global consequences. As networks become more complex with numerous partnerships, there is a need for strategic planning and implementation of security, with clear accountability defined for each party.”
One major threat to the users is the attack on infrastructure or network equipment, such as routers or DDoS attacks through communication lines. Once the equipment has been compromised, hackers can use it to steal data, launch other anonymous attacks, store exfiltrated data or access expensive services such as international phone calls. To avoid security breaches, telecom companies are enhancing cybersecurity in such devices. However, what has become even more important for the telecom providers is to actually let their consumers know the security features they have in place and incorporate it into their go-to-market messaging. Comcast introduced an advanced router to monitor connected devices, inform security threats and block online threats to provide automatic seamless protection to connected devices.
Blockchain can bring tremendous benefits to the telecom industry, according to Amanullah. “It will undeniably increase security, transparency and reduce fraud in areas including billing and roaming services, and in simply knowing your customer better. With possibilities of 5G, IoT and Edge computing, more and more devices are on the network – and identity and security are critical. Newer business models are expected, including those provided for by 5G network slicing, which involves articulation in the OSS and BSS.”
Blockchain will be increasingly used for supply chain and SLA management. Tencent and China Unicom launched an eSIM card which implements new identity authentication standards. The blockchain-based authentication system will be used in consumer electronics, vehicles, connected devices and smart city applications.
Adoption of emerging technologies for DX may well be the key to survival for many telecom operators, over the next few years.
For more insights on the key trends in the telecom services market in Southeast Asia, read Shamir’s report
For more information on “The New Normal for Telecom Providers in South East Asia”, report please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org