In the grip of a financial revolution blended with the infusion of tech, the world is redefining how money flows from one place to another, especially when we talk about a country like Singapore which is a hub of several internationally renowned banks such as Barclays Capital, Prudential, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and many more. Financial technology or Fintech, as the word suggests is all set to utilize technology to provide financial services by making financial services cheaper, more targeted, more efficient, and more convenient. Fintech in Singapore market will allow many more people across the world to access financial services, thereby supporting economic growth and enabling greater financial inclusion.
Currently, Singapore holds the biggest share of fintech firms in ASEAN (39 percent), followed by Indonesia (20 percent) and Malaysia (15 percent). Fintech investments in Singapore have increased two times to go up $365 Mn in 2018 from $180 million in the previous year. With this figure, Singapore is now placed amongst the top five fintech markets by funds raised in the Asia-Pacific last year. RCE Capital, a Malaysian funding company has infused millions of dollars into the Singapore fintech scenario in the beginning of this year. Such a boost has given a fintech based lending platform the power to take on traditional banks by lowering interest rates and allowing prompt debt repayment.
Governmental policies for supporting the fintech market
Fintech is a part of the government’s bigger strategy of ‘Smart Nation’. Specific fintech sector strategies are being incorporated by the government of Singapore to propel investment and boost the sector development. Building a ‘Smart Financial Centre’ is part of that wider strategy. With high levels of government support, Singapore has also introduced a fintech patent scheme known as ‘FinTech Fast Track initiative’. The sole aim is to encourage more research and development around the sector. The government has also committed S$225m (£127m) over the next five years under the Financial Sector Technology and Innovation scheme to provide support for creating a vibrant ecosystem for innovation in the country.
The job market scenario
There is a surge of tech based roles in the Singapore Financial market. 27% of Singapore-based vacancies across large banks will be in tech-related roles. As per Kelly Services, the hottest jobs under this sector will include compliance officer, risk analyst and client relationship manager. Also, the government has set a target of creating 3,000 jobs from 2018 to 2020, with an additional 1,000 jobs per year expected to come from the thriving Fintech sector.
However, there are some challenges that need to be addressed when it comes to getting the right talent for this growing sector. Fintech requires a mix of technology, financial services and customer-centric skills. The current established pool of resource of financial services specialists in Singapore can definitely give a head-start; but fintech companies may also need to look outside the sector to acquire innovation and customer-centric skills. Despite having a tech-savvy population, Singapore undoubtedly has a smaller user base than many other countries. Hence, a less populated country also means fewer potential customers and a smaller pool of tech talent for recruitment. Also, competing with global super cities such as New York and London for the required tech talent is another challenge and hence achieving an organic growth is not as easy as it may sound. Added to the woes is the lack of skilled employee who is willing to work for a startup and posing a problem for the growing market.
Balancing regulation and Fintech Innovation
Fintech is most effective when innovators, investors and regulators can interact, build networks and learn from each other. The Singapore government and regulators are in full support and complete alignment to make this Fintech as one of the most promising sectors that will see the strongest job growth in Singapore in 2019. However, financial services are a heavily regulated industry that is centered towards citizens and customers, protection along with predicted risks to the economy by large financial institutions. In the given pace of change in fintech segment, clear tensions exist between regulation and technology-driven innovation. Therefore, not only regulators need to support experimentation in the early stages of fintech businesses, but at the same time they also need to build trust and manage risks to balance regulation while promoting positive engagement with the sector, without stifling innovation. Hope to see a brighter future in this sunrise industry.