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FINANCIAL SERVICES, TELECOM & INTERNET | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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Robust ICT market to drive Singapore's fintech sector growth this year

Over the past two years, 210 fintech firms commenced operation in Singapore.

Singapore's financial technology sector is poised for growth this year, to be boosted by its highly mature ICT market and supportive regulatory landscape.

According to BMI Research, the country has one of the world's most technologically advanced telecommunications markets, with 3G/4G subscribers reaching 8.4m and broadband internet subscribers at 4.3m in 2016.

"The population is very tech-savvy, which, coupled with high financial inclusion and debit/credit card penetration, mean that Singaporeans are well equipped to embrace developments in payment platforms and other mobile-based fintech applications," BMI said.

It furthered, "We expect the development of sandbox regulations to further advance the spread of fintech within the city-state, while its status as a regional banking hub will increase its attractiveness to fintech start-ups that are looking to enter the region."

BMI argued that this came as no surprise given that Singapore's advanced telecom network and pro-investor policies make the city-state a vibrant destination for investments in services and research and development. Citing their latest Q1 2017 Asia Pacific Risk/Reward Index, the firm said Singapore ranked second in the region, as the nation's wealth facilitates uptake of premium services, from which operators enjoy high average revenues per user (ARPUs), and its Smart Nation vision propels it towards mass-market fintech, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) adoption.

"Fintech start-ups in Singapore benefit from high levels of education, low tax rates, efficient procedures to set up their business, the availability of government or private grants and tax incentives. Over 2015-2016, around 210 fintech firms operating in Singapore were opened, the fastest growth rate in Asia," BMI stated, referring to a report from KPMG.

BMI added, "All three major Singaporean banks (DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and UOB) have m-banking applications for smartphones, and in March 2016, DBS and OCBC launched m-banking apps for Apple watches, catering to the growing number of smartwatch users. According to DBS, more than 60% of its 500,000 daily logins are made via mobile, illustrating the significance of MFS to access banking services on-the-go, even in countries where most mobile subscribers have a fixed broadband connection."

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