Singapore aims to increase its financial sector’s growth to 4.3% a year, which will lead to a total creation of 4,000 jobs, as part of its plan to strengthen its status as the Asian financial hub and leading international wealth management hub.
"With technology transforming the way financial services are produced, delivered, and consumed, it is critical that Singapore’s financial sector also transforms, to stay relevant and competitive," the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Monday.
The MAS said that the main focus is to encourage the adoption of technology to increase efficiency. The central bank said it will work closely with financial institutions to implement common utilities such as electronic payments, and invest in research and development of “distributed ledger technology” for inter-bank payments and trade finance.
Part of its plan also includes expanding cross-border cooperation agreements with other fintech centers and using technology to simplify financial regulator compliance, to encourage foreign fintech start-ups to use Singapore as a base.
Chua Hak Bin, Maybank Kim Eng economist, said a challenge for Singapore is striking a balance between staying at the forefront of technology, and ensuring that technology is not too disruptive for the sector.
"Technology is blurring geography, and financial transactions can now be increasingly conducted with applications and the Internet via new financial entities," he said.
"You want to encourage these things to take off and yet at the same time, you want to balance that risk... that some of this new technology could actually be disruptive to your major local players," Chua said.
Ong Ye Kung, education minister and an MAS board member, said encouraging innovation “does not mean the regulator takes a laissez-faire, hands-off approach.”
"New and emerging activities that pose systemic risk or endanger consumer interests will need to be regulated. At the same time, the landscape for existing regulated activities may have changed, necessitating a relook at rules," he added.
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