Singapore Banks Reinventing Themselves in Light of Tech Invasion

By Atin Bhutani

Singapore has long been a mainstay of the financial world, offering political stability, geographic gateways, excellent legal framework and of course, a smorgasbord of tax incentives for foreign investment. The traditional banking system has branded the skyscrapers and inhabited the office space within them; in fact, up until 2014, the finance industry took up almost half of new office space in Singapore.  

In recent years however, due in equal parts to technological inevitability and a worldwide pandemic, office space occupied by the finance industry dipped by 26 per cent between 2015 and 2020. In that same period, Singapore office space acquired by tech firms almost tripled.

Tiktok parent company ByteDance has claimed three levels at One Raffles Quay, Amazon has taken three levels abandoned by a large International Bank, and Alibaba Group has invested S$1.7 billion (US$1.3 billion) for a 50 per cent share of an entire office tower. All are at least in part, chasing the 650 million smartphone users in Southeast Asia in an effort to add them to their ever-growing user base.  

The new tech kids on the block have been a major disruptor to not just the real estate once occupied by the finance sector, but the very business model of finance itself. The rise of fintech in Singapore is undeniable, and rather than seeing that as a threat, both the Singapore Government and private sector are seeing this tech shift as the next long-term phase in the financial sector.

In recent years, the Singapore Monetary Authority (MAS) has given S$225 million (US$167 million) in incentives for fintech businesses to operate and expand in Singapore. Even better, a 100,000 square foot financial innovation hub has been created in Singapore's Central Area to encourage experimentation in the sector. Regulatory sandboxes allow fintech startups to work within specific ranges of operation to innovate in the sector. 

More than 40 international fintech laboratories have been established in Singapore to date, with approximately 500 new fintech startups also in operation. Singapore’s traditional finance sector has put billions of dollars into digitization in an effort to ride the fintech wave; and while office space occupied by the finance sector will continue to decrease, 6,500 jobs are expected to be added to the local industry in 2021 alone. 

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology have also had some welcomed clarity in terms of tax treatment, putting Singapore well ahead of most countries — in fact, it makes Singapore one of the first countries in the world to regulate cryptocurrency. 

Singapore also continues to be at the forefront of being able to harness the other top trends in the banking sector such Banking as a Service, Microservices, predictive analytics with machine learning at its heart etc. through investments in talent and innovation, regulatory framework and assistance through broader incentives. The world is changing before our eyes — whether it’s fintech or changing international tax rules, and so it is encouraging to see Singapore not rest on its traditional laurels of simply being a lucrative tax environment. 

If Singapore can continue to leverage its innovation capabilities, as well as its natural advantages as a gateway to Mainland China and the rest of Southeast Asia, we are in good shape for the future. 



 

Join Singapore Business Review community
Since you're here...

...there are many ways you can work with us to advertise your company and connect to your customers. Our team can help you dight and create an advertising campaign, in print and digital, on this website and in print magazine.

We can also organize a real life or digital event for you and find thought leader speakers as well as industry leaders, who could be your potential partners, to join the event. We also run some awards programmes which give you an opportunity to be recognized for your achievements during the year and you can join this as a participant or a sponsor.

Let us help you drive your business forward with a good partnership!

The growth was driven by the increase in services inflation.
A new range of collaborative social spaces will make up the structure. 
One measure is the removal of the clickable links in SMSes sent by the bank.
The increase represented increased considerations of 2.1% in cash and 5.8% in shares.
It achieved a 100% sellout in its apartment launches at Yanlord Arcadia.
The institutions will collaborate on payments innovation projects amongst others.
Keppel Corp had the most growth.
It got Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as its investor.
This optimistic performance is expected to continue until March 2022.
The stock saw a contradicting rise of 51%, despite the STI observing a dip of 4.2% during the period. 
Along with this, the group recommends a green financing bank.
The SGX listed SPAC raised $23.4m from the offering.
They believe crypto's value will increase in the next five years.
ThaiBev had the most growth.