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.