MAS commits S$250m to further drive innovation, develop Singaporean fintech talent

Thu, Aug 13, 2020 – 12:42 PM

THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will be committing S$250 million over the next three years to enhance an existing scheme as part of efforts to accelerate technology and innovation-driven growth in the financial sector.

The enhanced Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme, or FSTI 2.0, aims to encourage the expansion of the existing innovation labs and further develop Singaporean talent in fintech, said MAS managing director Ravi Menon, adding that it also took onboard industry feedback.

He announced the launch of FSTI 2.0 on Thursday at a virtual event that is part of the lead-up to the Singapore FinTech Festival that will be held from Dec 7-11 this year.

Out of the S$250 million committed this time around, almost half the sum was rolled over from the former FSTI scheme that was first introduced five years ago. Some S$225 million was committed under the FSTI from 2015 to 2020, but only half the sum was utilised.

The funding for FSTI 2.0 is made up from this remaining half that was rolled over, together with an injection of additional funds by the MAS, said Mr Menon.

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Among the enhancements to the scheme is an increase in support for early-stage experimentation of technology.

Under the existing Proof-of-Concept (POC) Grant, MAS will double the maximum funding quantum from S$200,000 to S$400,000, and will raise the maximum funding support from 50 per cent to 70 per cent of qualifying project cost.

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

A merit-based tiered funding mechanism will also be introduced to replace the existing flat 50 per cent funding support of qualifying project cost, where 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 enhanced scheme also aims to strengthen the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) within the financial industry.

MAS will raise the maximum funding quantum for all qualifying AI projects under the Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (AIDA) Grant from S$1 million to S$1.5 million, to provide greater push for financial institutions to implement innovative AI solutions.

In addition, 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.

All AIDA applicants will be required by MAS to work with the Institute of Banking and Finance to "actively look out" for workers who might be at risk from the adoption of AI, and to develop a training plan to keep them employable, said Mr Menon.

FSTI 2.0 also seeks to ramp up the pipeline of Singaporean talent for fintech.

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