Singapore considering extending fintech funding beyond 2020: MAS chief Ravi Menon

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Singapore's central bank is poised to extend funding for financial-technology initiatives because the five-year round ending in March has yielded positive results, its top official said.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will probably announce new funding plans next year, with possible areas including cyber security and artificial intelligence, managing director Ravi Menon said. The $225 million programme has spurred innovation, attracted new companies and created jobs, he said.

"I think it has been money that is extremely well spent," Mr Menon said in an interview before the city-state's third annual fintech festival kicks off on Monday (Nov 11). "The most important is that we now have a vibrant fintech ecosystem."

Singapore is among global financial centers that are promoting technology to boost competitiveness and innovation. The private sector is also piling in, with investors spending a record US$735 million (S$999.5 million) on the island's fintech ventures in the first nine months of this year, according to Accenture Plc.

There are now more than 600 fintech start-ups in Singapore, up from about 50 in 2015, MAS data show. That has bolstered employment at a time when automation has prompted lenders around the world to cut branches and staff.

"We've been creating outside of the financial sector about 1,000 fintech jobs each year," Mr Menon said. "This is significant at a time when the need to create jobs is more paramount than ever before."