Financial technology (fintech) has gone through an exponential growth in many countries worldwide and this is mainly a result of the advancement in the technology infrastructure and supportive regulations. Singapore is also one of the countries that encourage fintech and fintech businesses have been increasingly popular in the country. In this guide, we have listed several fintech business models in Singapore.
Fintech growth in Singapore
In the past few years, the fintech industry in Singapore has seen rapid growth because of its startup-focused ecosystem, global connectivity, market reach and progressive regulations.
Singapore is currently the highest-ranking Fintech city for Asia Pacific and ranks at fourth place for the Top 20 Global Fintech Hubs according to the Findexable Global Fintech Index 2020. More than 40% of Southeast Asia’s fintech companies are based in Singapore which makes Singapore the leading city for fintech. In 2019, the value of fintech investments was USD 861 million and from 2015 to 2019, the total investment value was USD 2,498 million.
Private sector funding has also influenced the growth of the fintech ecosystem in Singapore with the support of angel investors, venture capitalists and private equity firms. The key public sector that supports the fintech market in Singapore is the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
The Fintech Regulatory Sandbox was introduced in 2016 to allow fintech startups or financial institutions to experiment their products or services in a controlled environment to reduce any financial risks.
Singapore also has various programmes that support innovation and a fintech ecosystem from the public sector such as SG Startup, Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme (FSTI) and FSTI 2.0. There are currently more than 40 innovation labs that have been established by leading financial institutions in Singapore.
In addition to fintech regulations, Singapore also has one of the most supportive regulatory frameworks for businesses; Singapore ranked second among 190 countries for the easiest place to do business in the world in 2019. It offers attractive tax frameworks, foreign ownership, extensive trade agreements, strong IP protection and a stable business environment. That being so, Singapore has become a rising economy for fintech.
List of fintech models
The major fintech players in Singapore include insurance technology (insurtech), peer-to-peer lending, regulation technology (regtech) and wealth technology (wealthtech).
Insurance tech or insurtech is a subsector of fintech that uses technology innovations to improve the effectiveness and operations of the insurance sector. The insurtech market in Singapore mostly focuses on improving existing products and services as the majority of the Singaporean population are covered by insurance. Singapore’s insurtech markets is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of less than 9% over the next five years.
Peer to peer lending (P2P) is a type of fintech business model that allows businesses and individuals to borrow and lend money without utilising a financial institution.
P2P lending in Singapore allows startups and small and medium enterprises (SME) owners to access funding that meet their needs.
Singapore has robust financial regulations, a strong reputation for its technology and supportive business environment for startups and SMEs which makes Singapore a designated location for the P2P lending market.
Regulatory technology, or regtech, is a subcategory of fintech that uses technologies to improve regulatory monitoring, management and compliance in financial institutions.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced a Regulatory Technology (RegTech) Grant scheme and the Digital Acceleration Grant (DAG) scheme to accelerate the adoption of regtech in the financial sector and promote Singapore as a global regtech market.
Wealth technology (wealthtech) uses cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence and Big Data to enhance wealth management and investment services.
Singapore currently has a growing number of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) and ranked eighth for the highest growth rate of UHNWIs in the world between 2018 and 2019, as a result of the increase of UHNWIs, more advanced wealth management services are needed.
In the last few years, wealthtech in Singapore has seen a rapid growth as Singapore is one of the leading countries in Asia Pacific in terms of wealth management because of its advanced technology infrastructure and digital capabilities.
How to start a fintech company
The process of starting a fintech business in Singapore is considerably the same as registering other types of businesses which can be done with the ACRA. After successful incorporation, fintech companies must obtain the required licenses and permits in order to carry on business governed by the following Acts:
- The Banking Act
- Finance Companies Act
- Money Changing and Remittance Businesses Act
- Insurance Act
- Moneylenders Act
- Personal Data Protection Act
- Payment Systems Act
- Financial Advisors Act
- Securities and Futures Act
After the disruption of fintech to traditional financial institutions, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) introduced a fintech regulatory sandbox program in 2016. Through the fintech regulatory sandbox, expanding fintech companies are granted the ability to experiment their products and services in a controlled environment to prevent or minimise any risks and failures.
For each fintech experiment, the MAS will relax certain regulatory requirements on a case-by-case basis, which include the following requirements:
- Asset maintenance requirement
- Board composition
- Cash balances
- Credit rating
- Financial soundness
- Fund solvency and capital adequacy
- License fees
- Management experience
- MAS guidelines
- Minimum liquid assets
- Minimum paid-up capital
- Relative size
- Track record
To register for Singapore’s regulatory sandbox, registration forms will need to be downloaded from the MAS’ sandbox portal and submitted. Once you have submitted the registration application, the MAS will process the application within 21 days and notify whether the submission is successful or not. After your application is considered successful, the MAS will work with you to make adjustments to the application. Fully-accepted applicants will receive a written notice and relaxed requirements will be applied during the sandbox.
If you need assistance with starting a fintech business in Singapore or any relevant issues, our professional team are ready to work with you to ensure you comply with laws and regulations.
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