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Key announcements from the Singapore FinTech Festival 2021

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) makes multiple announcements

23 November 2021

The sixth edition of the Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) with the theme 'Web 3.0 and its impact on financial services' concluded on 12 November 2021. The key initiatives and collaborations that have been announced during the SFF 2021 include the following:

  • National Artificial Intelligence Programme in Finance – the Singapore Government has launched the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Programme in Finance, which is a joint initiative by the MAS and the National AI Office (NAIO) at the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO). The AI Programme in Finance is part of Singapore’s broader national AI strategy and intended to build deep AI capabilities within Singapore’s financial sector to strengthen customer service, risk management, and business competitiveness. Under the AI Programme, the MAS and the SNDGO will provide funding, contribute government data, and convene the necessary expert stakeholders to drive AI adoption in the financial sector.
  • Phase two of SGFinDex – the MAS and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) have launched the second phase of the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex), under which individuals can now view information on their investment holdings at the Central Depository (CDP) as part of their consolidated financial position via participating banks’ financial planning applications and 'MyMoneySense', a free government financial planning digital service. The MAS has indicated that, in the next phase, individuals can look forward to accessing information on their insurance policies through SGFinDex as well.
  • Sandbox Plus – the MAS has announced the launch of Sandbox Plus, an enhanced version of its FinTech Regulatory Sandbox framework, to further catalyse financial innovation and fintech adoption. The MAS launched the FinTech Regulatory Sandbox in 2016 to encourage and enable experimentation with technology innovation to deliver financial products and services. The Regulatory Sandbox was enhanced with Sandbox Express in 2019 to provide firms with a faster option for market testing in pre-defined environments. Sandbox Plus will take effect on 1 January 2022 and includes the following three enhancements:

- expansion of eligibility criteria to include early adopters of technology innovation – currently, a company is eligible for the sandbox only if no similar implementations were observed in Singapore. By expanding support beyond first movers to early adopters, the Sandbox Plus is intended to provide a more conducive environment for new technology innovations to gain broader traction in Singapore, and provide more options to consumers and businesses;

- streamlined application with financial grant – first movers of technology innovation can concurrently apply to enter the Regulatory Sandbox and receive a financial grant of up to SGD 500,000 at a 50% funding level, in a single application. The grant is intended to help meet the cashflow needs of Sandbox Plus applicants and allow them to focus resources on technology innovation and market development while they are still in the Regulatory Sandbox; and

- participation in Deal Fridays – eligible applicants will be enrolled in the Deal Fridays programme, a platform for deal-making opportunities. The programme is intended to help sandbox companies access the external investor community, to benefit from the network, mentorship, and funding.

  • Retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) paper – the MAS has published an information paper which sets out its initial assessment of the economic case for a retail CBDC in Singapore and its potential implications for financial stability and monetary policy. In particular, the information paper:

- focuses on the key economic considerations around the issuance of a retail CBDC in Singapore;

- lays out key developments in the payment landscape that have ignited interest in a retail CBDC;

- discusses the potential benefits of a retail CBDC for Singapore;

- highlights the risks to credit creation, financial stability and monetary policy if a cash-like CBDC is issued, as well as some safeguards that could mitigate these risks; and

- highlights areas that require further in-depth study.

  • Digital platforms under Project Greenprint – the MAS has announced that it will collaborate with the industry to pilot four digital platforms under Project Greenprint, to address the financial sector’s needs for good data on sustainability. Project Greenprint was launched in December 2020 with a view to harnessing innovation and technology to promote a green finance ecosystem by supporting the mobilisation of capital, monitoring sustainability commitments, and measuring impact. The MAS observed that one of the key challenges faced in sustainability financing is the difficulty in accessing high quality, consistent and granular sustainability data. It believes that addressing these data gaps will enable financial institutions to direct capital towards sustainability projects in a more scalable way, effectively monitor their sustainability commitments, and quantify the risks and real-world impact of their portfolios. The MAS intends to work with the industry to pilot the following common utility platforms, with the pilots expected to be completed in the second half of 2022:
  • the Greenprint Common Disclosure Portal, which is intended to simplify the environment, social and governance (ESG) disclosure process by converting data inputs into different reporting frameworks as required under different jurisdictions and purposes;
  • the Greenprint Data Orchestrator, which will: (a) aggregate sustainability data from multiple data sources, including major ESG data providers, utilities providers, and the Common Disclosure Portal, as well as other sectoral platforms and provide access to these key data sources; and (b) enable new data insights to be generated through data analytics services to better support investment and financing decisions;
  • the Greenprint ESG Registry, which is intended to: 

- record and maintain the provenance of ESG certifications accorded by certification bodies in different sectors as well as data and metrics that are verified by qualified third party auditors; and

- provide financial institutions, corporates, and regulatory authorities with a single point of access to these certified data, and facilitate trusted data flows; and

  • the Greenprint Marketplace, which will connect green technology providers in Singapore and the region to a community of investors, venture capital firms, financial institutions, and corporates to facilitate partnership, innovation and investments in green technology.

The MAS has also indicated that it intends to work on two use case projects to facilitate green and sustainability-linked trade finance in the building and construction, and palm oil sectors, by using data from the Greenprint Data Orchestrator and ESG Registry.

  • ChekFin on APIX – the MAS has announced that it will launch a platform named ChekFin to further enhance industry collaboration on technology and data sharing. The platform is a partnership among the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network, BCG FinTech Control Tower, and Affinidi, with the MAS as a founding partner. ChekFin is a decentralised credentials platform intended to support partnerships between financial institutions and fintech firms thereby enabling financial institutions to obtain verified credentials of fintech firms, such as business references, awards they have obtained, and investor funding records. Subsequently, fintech firms can decide who they want to share their private credentials with. With ten global financial institutions having signed up for ChekFin already, the platform is set to be launched in December 2021.
  • Singapore and United Arab Emirates conclude cross-border digital trade financing pilot - the MAS, Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) have, in collaboration with commercial partners DBS Bank, Emirates NBD and Standard Chartered, concluded a cross-border digital trade financing pilot which harmonises the legal recognition of digital documents such as electronic bills of lading (eBLs) across both jurisdictions, and is intended to complement the larger global trade movement by the Group of Seven (G7) economies on adopting electronic transferable records in international trade. The pilot used IMDA’s TradeTrust framework to facilitate the transfer of electronic records between jurisdictions that have adopted the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR). DBS Bank, Emirates NBD and Standard Chartered collaborated with the IMDA, MAS and FSRA in this pilot, and used IMDA’s TradeTrust to validate, review and transfer ownership of simulated eBLs. The regulators have indicated that they will continue to collaborate, adopting an iterative approach, with the objective of encouraging businesses in both jurisdictions to phase out and switch from paper to digital documents as the mainstream practice to support trade finance.
  • MAS and BSP to pursue cross-border payment linkages – the MAS and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have signed an enhanced fintech cooperation agreement to facilitate interoperable payments between Singapore and the Philippines. The enhanced cooperation agreement:

- builds on the earlier 2017 agreement to broaden the scope of fintech collaboration and partnership between the two regulator;

- facilitates the linkage of both countries’ real-time and QR payment systems, in order to provide instant, seamless and low-cost cross-border payments; and

- aligns with the G20’s efforts to address existing frictions in global cross-border payments, and contributes to Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) goal of establishing regional payments integration by 2025.

The regulators have indicated that they will also explore multilateral interoperability of payment infrastructure projects, in keeping with regional efforts to establish further linkages within ASEAN and with countries outside the region.