Singapore is setting aside SG$125 million ($70.89 million) to help its financial services industry (FSI) and fintech firms boost their digital capabilities and drive their deployment of digital tools. The funds also will offer financial support for workforce training and manpower costs.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday said the package aimed to enable these businesses to enhance their digital infrastructure amidst the global economic slump and prepare them to tap potential growth spurt when the COVID-19 situation eased.
Funded by the country’s Financial Sector Development Fund, the SG$125 million package focused on three components comprising workforce training and manpower costs, digitalisation and operational resilience, and fintech sector’s access to digital platforms and tools.
It would include a new Training Allowance Grant aimed at encouraging FSI and fintech companies to use the current downtime in business activity to train and boost their employees’ skillsets.
A Digital Acceleration Grant also would be set up to help smaller FSI and fintech firms adopt digital tools to bolster their operational resilience, process efficiency, risk management, and customer service, MAS said. Such initiatives could the adoption of digital tools and upgrading of systems that facilitated business continuity, such as virtual conferencing systems and document collaboration software.
Encompassing two key areas, the grant would cover 80% of eligible expenses incurred in the adoption of digital tools, capped at SG$120,000 per organisation, over the duration of the scheme.
It also would co-fund 80% of eligible expenses, capped at SG$100,000 per organisation per project, when at least three smaller FSI firms jointly customise digital tools for deployment within their organisation. The funding period must not exceed two years from implementation and eligible expenses could include hardware and software, professional services, and manpower costs.
Qualifying digital tools must be deployed and used in Singapore for at least one year and designed to improve productivity, efficiency, risk management, operational resilience, or customer service. These tools should fall under certain technology categories including cloud services, CRM, data-related such as data analytics and automation, cybersecurity, and compliance.
In addition, all Singapore-based fintech companies would have six months free access to an online global marketplace and sandbox for sales and collaboration. Called API Exchange (APIX), the marketplace would enable fintech and FSI companies to integrate and test applications via a cloud-based platform.
MAS added that it also would work with the Singapore FinTech Association to establish a new digital self-assessment framework, to be hosted on APIX, to help fintech companies assess the quality of their software against the MAS’ Outsourcing and TRM (Technology Risk Management) Guidelines.