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MAS commits $250 million to fast-track financial sector innovation, develop Singaporean fintech tale

SINGAPORE - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is stepping up its support for fintech here, by committing $250 million in the second edition of a scheme to speed up technology adoption and innovation-driven growth in the local financial sector.

It also aims to strengthen support for large-scale innovation projects, and build a stronger pipeline of Singaporean fintech talent.

The amount will be invested over the next three years under the enhanced Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme (FSTI 2.0), MAS managing director Ravi Menon announced in a webinar on Thursday (Aug 13).

This is an 11 per cent increase from the $225 million spread over five years that was injected under the original FSTI scheme, launched in 2015.

Funded by the Financial Sector Development Fund, FSTI 2.0 aims to invigorate the culture of innovation in Singapore, catalyse the implementation of innovative solutions, and deepen the cyber-security capabilities in the financial sector.

In the enhanced FSTI scheme, the MAS will double the maximum funding quantum, from $200,000 to $400,000, under the Proof-of-Concept (POC) Grant, and will increase the maximum funding support from 50 per cent to 70 per cent of qualifying project cost, the authority said in a separate statement.

The higher funding support will enable financial institutions and fintech firms to undertake larger-scale POC projects to experiment, develop and deploy innovative solutions, empowered by emerging technologies.

A merit-based tiered funding mechanism will be introduced to replace the existing flat 50 per cent funding support of qualifying project cost. Also, a higher level of funding will be allocated to POC projects which demonstrate stronger merits.

The level of funding support and quantum cap for each applicant will vary according to the total number of favourable votes awarded by an evaluation panel.

The central bank also will raise the maximum funding quantum for all qualifying AI projects under the Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (AIDA) Grant from $1 million to $1.5 million, to provide greater impetus for financial institutions to implement ground-breaking and innovative AI solutions.

In addition, the MAS will introduce a new AIDA-Lite track, providing half the funding quantum of the AIDA track. With AIDA-Lite, financial institutions will be able to obtain funding support to adopt proven AI solutions to enhance their operations.

The MAS will co-fund existing innovation labs for new Singaporean hires to encourage the expansion of existing labs and groom Singaporean talent.

Furthermore, all new projects under the Financial Institution-Level Projects, Industry-Wide Projects and AIDA Tracks will now qualify for funding support for capability transfer-related training costs.

Such training costs include expenses incurred to engage specialists to train the local talent pool, and expenses incurred to send local employees for overseas training.

These training programmes will help to support workforce transformation in the financial sector and to accelerate skills and knowledge transfer to Singaporean talents.


Article by Ovais Subhani, for Straits Times Singapore

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