Budget 2019 to ensure Singapore remains as a competitive FinTech hub in the region

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Singapore racked a record high $468.78m (US$346.6m) in fintech investments in 2018, putting the country amongst the top five fintech markets by funds raised last year in Asia Pacific, behind China, India, Australia and Japan. Fintech firms in Singapore attracted the largest share of funding (48.5%) within ASEAN after achieving a record high $299.94m (US$222m) in 9M 2018, data from UOB showed. The focus of capital injections into Singapore largely went into FinTechs providing small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) financing services given that SMEs are said to account for 99% of all businesses and 65% of employment in 2017.

SMEs are the cornerstone of our labour force, comprising of 99% of all enterprises in Singapore and accounting for 65% of employment. That said, as our economy makes its push towards Industry 4.0, many SMEs do not have a particularly rosy outlook in the face of high manpower costs, an increasingly complex and competitive global business environment, and the ongoing trade tussle between China and the United States. The 2018 SME Development Survey by DP Info (the 16th edition with 2,557 SMEs respondents surveyed) reported that 15% of SMEs projected negative turnover growth for 2018 – a marginal increase from 11% in 2017. Budget 2019's focus is on ensuring that businesses and employees stay relevant.

Several measures within the budget emphasise a continued focus on making Singapore a FinTech hub in the region. The investments in this area will support skills upgrades in a focussed manner that addresses the needs of the hour for companies who are already digitalising and help local companies initiate their journey into digitalisation while remaining competitive. Measures include the Scale-up Programme for start-ups by Enterprise Singapore, providing support in tech adoption, customised assistance and better financing options. The Innovation Agents Programme was announced as a pilot, providing tailored assistance to high growth companies, to focus on innovation, growth and globalisation. Funds adding up to S$1 billion over several years are earmarked to help local companies overcome scaling challenges. The Professional Conversion Programme for one, aims to help professionals develop skills within Digital, including software, blockchain and pre-fabrication. This, in turn, will generate good jobs, better career opportunities and wage growth for local workers, the Singapore Business Federation said.

Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) president Chia Hock Lai said: "Scale-up SG will increase the chance of producing Singapore-based tech unicorns, while Innovation Agents will increase the chances of success for tech start-ups." He added: "This is the year SFA will be launching SMEs Go FinTech to raise awareness on the various fintech solutions to address their complex financing needs."

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To maximise the impact of bringing the global innovation community together in Singapore this year, SWITCH and the Singapore FinTech Festival will be held in the same week in mid-November. We can draw in even more entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, from around the world, to explore and collaborate in technology innovation in this Fourth Industrial Revolution. After its third edition last year, Singapore’s FinTech Festival is now the world’s largest FinTech event. As part of this Festival, the Global Investor Summit brought together investors on our Meet ASEAN’s Talents and Champions (MATCH) platform. These investors expressed an interest to invest up to US$12 billion in ASEAN enterprises in FinTech, info-communications technology, and MedTech over the next three years. Another technology event, the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) brought together more than 350 exhibitors, and 1,000 promising startups and financiers from 75 countries.

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FOMO Pay provides one-stop QRCode Payment Solution which enables merchants to accept a full suite of new payment methods including WeChat PayNETSPay, mVISA, Grab PayBaidu WalletBest Pay, etc. Launched in 2016 with more than 1000 merchants acquired within a year, FOMO Pay is trusted by major companies including SPHMarina Bay SandsStarHubJUMBOClub 21, CHANEL, etc. With FOMO Pay, merchants can unlock their true business potential by giving customers the payment options they prefer and adopt cashless payments easily. FOMO Pay is also sitting on the MAS SGQR Taskforce to promote QR code payment and make Singapore a cashless society.