From Fishing Village to Fintech Hub: Where 'Crazy Rich Asians' Go
Singapore’s origins as a financial center began 200 years ago when it became the trading post for British East India Company to bridge the gap between the east and the west as an entrepôt. Today, Singapore is believed by some to be on its way to becoming the leading Global Fintech hub in Asia. It is home to over 270 Fintech startups. Many financial institutions have chosen to set up their research centers or innovation labs in the small city-state that is well connected with the global startup ecosystem.
It is easy to get connected with the right networks by attending events such as Money 20/20 Asia and the FinTech Festival. The FinTech Festival by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is by far the largest fintech event in the world, functioning as a global platform to enable tripartite collaboration between government, corporations, and startups. Singapore Fintech Association, a local nonprofit has also been set up by enthusiastic entrepreneurs to help boost collaborations in the industry.
With such a vibrant local ecosystem, it is not hard to understand why Ant Financial (previously Alipay) decided to open a FinTech research center in Singapore. All these are possible because Singapore government is forward thinking enough to open itself to evolve with the industry without stifling it with regulations, working side by side through its FinTech Regulatory Sandbox and the network of 25 FinTech Cooperation Agreements with U.K., U.S., Japan, and many of our ASEAN neighbors.
MAS has also set aside up to $225 million for Fintech development over the next five years through the Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme. The merger of SPRING and IE to form Enterprise Singapore will consolidate resources and help companies scale up and capture opportunities in Asia and beyond through its global network of partners and with a myriad of grants.
Understanding the importance of talent, the government has invested in its people through initiatives such as TechSkill Accelerator (TeSA) and FinTech Talent Programme, to groom more tech talent and realize its vision to become a smart city, crucial to prepare its professional workforce for Fintech jobs.
Fintech is not just about digitalization. It has been coupled with other enabling technologies, such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to create holistic innovations to better serve consumers. With SkillsFuture credits, Singaporeans are getting better equipped with knowledge and networks through eligible programs provided by Nanyang Technopreneurship Centre and National University Singapore.
Not only is the government supporting the development of the industries, banks such as UOB, DBS, and OCBC are doing their part. Companies such as PayPal, Mastercard, and Mercedes are also on the wagon with Startupbootcamp FinTech Singapore and InspirAsia to accelerate Fintech startups in Singapore.
With a long history as a financial hub, Singapore has the networks, resources, and knowledge required to succeed in the industry. Singapore is not only a place for Crazy Rich Asians to party, but it's also a place where the finance industry is being reinvented.