ECONOMY, FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Daily Briefing: Singapore added to US watch list for currency manipulation; HSBC to boost Singapore retail wealth unit with 50 new hires

And IoT startup AmpoTech secures $1m in seed funding.

From Bloomberg:

Singapore was added to a watch list for currency manipulation by the US, which said the city-state made estimated net foreign exchange purchases of at least US$17b in 2018, equivalent to 4.6% of GDP.

Singapore should undertake reforms that will lower its high saving rate and boost low domestic consumption, whilst striving to ensure that its real exchange rate is in line with economic fundamentals, in order to help narrow its large and persistent external surpluses, the US report says.

Countries with a current-account surplus with the US equivalent to 2% of gross-domestic product are now eligible for the list, down from 3%. Other thresholds include persistent intervention in markets for a nation’s currency, and a trade surplus of at least US$20b. Countries that meet two of the three criteria are placed on the watch list. China only meets one of the criteria, but Treasury says it’s on the list because of its large trade surplus with the U.S.

Read more here.

From Reuters:

HSBC plans to boost its Asia retail wealth management staff by about 300 by end of this year, with Europe’s biggest lender by assets sharpening its focus on Singapore to add to its presence in core markets of Hong Kong and China.

London-headquartered HSBC, which makes more than 80% of its profit in Asia, will boost its wealth staff in Singapore by 50 and launch new digital offerings this year, said Kevin Martin, Asia Pacific head of retail banking and wealth management.

Whilst HSBC did not disclose its wealth management headcount in Singapore at present, the bank’s business of offering advice and investment products to affluent clients in the city-state is smaller compared to its presence in China and Hong Kong.

“It’s fair to say that our entire business in Singapore underperformed, and we haven’t hidden from that fact,” Martin told Reuters in a recent interview, referring to the bank’s retail banking and wealth management unit.

“As we build Asia wealth ... there is a really significant opportunity in Singapore, not just onshore Singapore, but offshore Singapore,” he said, adding the bank expects the country to be a “growth engine” over the next few years.

Read more here.

From e27:


Ampotech, a Singapore-based IoT startup that develops next-generation power monitoring solutions used in commercial and industrial buildings, has raised $1m (US$726,000) in seed funding, led by Silicon Solution Ventures, a fund managed by startup incubator Silicon Solution Partners.

Enterprise SG‘s investment arm SEEDs Capital, as well as existing investor and Indonesian telco Prasetia Dwidharma also co-invested.

With opportunities ahead in international markets such as Australia and Indonesia, Ampotech plans to use the funding to support its operations and expand its product range.

Ampotech, which spun out a University of Illinois and A*STAR research centre in Singapore, specialises in the collection and analysis of electricity usage data from the built environment. Its products and software provide real-time visibility into power and energy consumption of spaces and equipment at a facility while offering a simple installation process and wireless connectivity.

Read more here.

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