Roy Teo: How MAS Initiatives Led FinTech Advancement within Singapore

Roy Teo is the Director and Head of the Fintech and Innovation Group (FTIG) at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).  FTIG is responsible for the regulatory policies and development strategies for tech and innovation to better manage risk, enhance efficiency and strengthen competitiveness in the financial sector.

Roy leads the Technology Innovation Lab that is responsible for scouting and recognizing cutting edge technologies that could potentially be used by the financial industry and to work with startups to innovate new solutions in the financial industry. He was at Techsauce Global Summit to discuss connecting global fintech ecosystems.

According to Roy, the fintech landscape has changed. Startups are no longer viewed as disruptors that want to change the financial systems of banks; these days the narrative is more about collaboration.  The relationship between startups and financial institutions has changed.  Financial institutions have realized that working with startups gives them access to tech innovation and good histories of cooperation within the ecosystem. Financial services, on the other hand, have trust and consumer confidence. With the two combined, fintechs have more opportunities to scale beyond where they are operating, and financial services have access to innovative solutions for their customers. Also, financial services are heavily regulated, so the startups will benefit by collaborating to scale beyond their domestic market.

What is Singapore doing to facilitate innovation?

The MAS created a fintech startup research and development (R&D) center where they focus on finding solutions for financial sector problems across the board, not only for the individual but SME’s, corporates, businesses and government institutions.

Further, MAS focuses efforts on acquiring and developing tech talent in Singapore.  They are teaching children to program at school and also assisting the existing workforce to upscale their skills set. These two steps alone have helped Singapore to stay ahead in innovation and digital tech and to become the leader in fintech innovation in ASEAN.

Also, MAS has taken the following initiatives to strengthen cooperation between startups and financial institutions:

  1. Made the regulators' API playbook available to fintech startups
  2. Encouraged government funding and investment in fintech startups
  3. Created talent through education and skills development
  4. Worked alongside the community to improve policy and regulations to facilitate innovation

With the above initiatives, MAS has managed to create an environment for innovative ideas to be created and tested. And in just a short space of time, the Singaporean fintech ecosystem has increased from 70 fintechs to 300.

MAS is on a continued path to improve collaboration within the ecosystem, not only in Singapore but over the whole ASEAN region. Just recently they signed an MOU with the Bank of Thailand and had a further 12 MOUs internationally. This MOU and others they are working on will open more parts across ASEAN for fintechs to expand.


Further initiatives for global connections

MAS wants to see ASEAN as the number one destination for fintech. To facilitate this, they have undertaken the following in Singapore:

  1. Fintech Festival: to connect more people and bring the ASEAN fintech ecosystem to the global space.
  2. Fintech Investor Summit: to connect investors with startups
  3. Creation of a book with 100 financial institutions' problem areas for companies to solve
  4. Fintech Awards: the only regulator that recognizes fintech solutions and initiatives










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