Singapore’s Continued Investment in Banking Innovation


Singapore continues to lead in financial technology. Photo: Qantas

In his keynote address at the Global Technology Law Conference in Singapore on June 29th, Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS),  highlighted the importance of distributed ledger technology as a leading solution for the problem posed by the current state of the banking ledger system.

Mr. Menon was quick to point out that despite the persistence of tradition, Singapore is on the leading edge of changing the way people move and exchange money.

“We are looking at a financial services industry that will be increasingly driven and powered by technology.

But the bigger impact on financial services, and the broader economy, is likely to come from the distributed ledger system.

There are many potential applications of distributed ledger systems in the financial sector.

Ripple in the US offers a solution, based on distributed ledgers, for real-time gross settlement, currency exchange, and remittance. The same solution could potentially allow regulators to plug into the network to conduct surveillance of risks and to track transactions to detect money laundering or terrorist financing. In fact – and this would be of interest to the lawyers gathered here – distributed ledger systems could potentially be applied in any area which involves contracts or transactions that currently rely on trusted third parties for verification.”

This emphasis on the vital future of financial technology in Asia comes as no surprise, arriving on the heels of an announcement that Singapore’s MAS recently announced a five year commitment and an investment of $225 million to foster innovation in that sector.

Mr. Menon gave this news in the same speech, outlining his plan for a Financial Sector Technology & Innovation (FSTI) scheme. This initiative promises to nurture the nascent fintech startup ecosystem in Singapore while simultaneously encouraging entrenched banks to develop their own solutions to the problem of creating real-time financial services. This funding also takes into account basic, everyday consumer issues, such as the the POS experience in Singapore restaurants. Menon’s view of the needs of the people of Singapore, both global and local, is both broad and detailed.

Singapore is fast becoming a center for financial innovation in Asia and the world at large. In October, the city will serve as a literal center; hosting the world’s premier financial services event. Sibos is a yearly conference, exhibition and networking event organized by SWIFT for the financial industry.

Ripple Labs will attend Sibos for the third time this year, having attended in 2013 in Dubai and in 2014 in Boston. This year we are honored to visit Singapore and bring an exciting exhibition and our contribution to the fintech sphere in such a vibrant and forward-looking nation.

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