The FinTech industry in Singapore
Fintech – or financial technology – is an industry on the rise. Although the financial services space was once dominated by traditional banking institutions, there has been an increase in smaller players using technology to create niche solutions in cyber-security, mobile payments, market infrastructure, and more.
The last few years have seen Singapore emerge as a centre of excellence for fintech startups. We’ve created a guide as a primer to the ecosystem, which we hope will be a valuable guide to those looking to get a lay of the land.
A fertile ground to find external investment
In 2017, funding for Singaporean fintech startups rose to US$229 million while the rest of fintech startups across Asia saw a decline in investments. This was a 1000% increase from the investments they received in 2014. This funding came from a number of sources including government subsidies, grants, angel investors, venture capital, and corporate venture divisions.
The Singaporean government has been instrumental in its fintech-friendly regulatory framework. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has established a group called the Fintech and Innovation Group who has put forward a number of initiatives. One example is an opening up their digital payment structure from banks to telcos.
Another key initiative is the regulatory sandbox that makes the implementation and adoption stages easier (find out if your company qualifies for the regulatory sandbox here).
MAS has also allocated funds of up to $225M for its Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme, intended to support projects and encourage development and growth in the domestic startup ecosystem. While a lot of established names in the fintech industry grabbed the opportunity, MAS is also eager to help out the startups and accelerators.
The Singaporean government also provides grants to entities involved in the FinTech space. Various grants and schemes provide additional funding and mentorships to startups, accelerators, and incubators. The most popular grants and schemes for fintech entities in Singapore include the following:
There are a great number of incubators and accelerators based in Singapore, with several specific to the fintech industry. These connect founders with mentorship, resources, and access to a network of investors and venture capitalists. Traditional heavyweight banks and payment providers are starting to enter into this space as well, using their resources to help nurture the scene.
A non-exhaustive list of fintech accelerators and incubators in Singapore include:
- InspirAsia Accelerator
- OCBC's The Open Vault
- DBS' HotSpot (defunct as of 2016 but soon to be relaunched)
- UOB's FinLab
- Mbanq's Banking as a Service Accelerator
- Paypal's Incubator - Startups @ Paypal
- Mastercard's Start Path [Global]
- Startup Autobahn Fintech Singapore - Powered by Mercedes-Benz
With Singapore considered the financial hub of the region, it’s no surprise that there are many events available to those interested in fintech. There are two events that are considered the keystones of the Singapore fintech space.
- Money 20/20 is another big event for startups, investors, and entities in the fintech industry in Singapore. Held every March, Money 20/20 covers financial services, payments, and AI, as well as running a concurrent StartUp Academy.
There are other smaller community events run throughout the year – you can check out future events related to fintech here.
The Singapore Fintech Association is a non-profit initiative that aims to allow collaboration between the different names (both market participants and stakeholders) in the fintech industry. The aim is to make solutions easily attainable for members within the ecosystem.
A thriving jurisdiction for startups
The promise of a regulatory sandbox, a thriving community, and assistance from giants like Paypal, Mastercard, and government bodies make Singapore an attractive jurisdiction for fintech startups.