Singapore offers more grants to help fintech firms ride out pandemic
Singapore is giving fintech companies more funds to help them ride through the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure they can continue to innovate alongside financial institutions. A new SG$6 million ($3.44 million) grant can be tapped to cover their day-to-day expenses as well as fund proof of concepts.
Put together by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore FinTech Association (SFA), AMTD Group, and AMTD Foundation, the new "fintech solidarity grant" is in addition to a SG$125 million ($71.62 million) support package that was announced last month to help the local financial services industry and fintech firms boost their digital capabilities.
AMTD Group is a financial services conglomerate with various businesses, including in investment banking and digital finance, and encompasses its subsidiary AMTD International, which is a regional investment bank. The group is contributing SG$2 million to the solidarity grant, with the remaining SG$4 million to come from MAS.
Looking at the journey their counterparts in Europe and the UK have experienced, digital banks looking to succeed in Singapore cannot afford to focus solely on customer acquisition and will need a growth strategy that is sustainable and taps into data.
Under the new grant, fintech companies can apply for a one-time SG$20,000 grant to cover their daily working capital expenses, such as salaries and rental fees. This was established to help these businesses sustain their operations and retain employees, according to a joint statement released Wednesday.
Eligible Singapore-based fintech companies also will be able to receive up to SG$40,000 to fund a first proof of concept that is developed with financial institutions on the MAS' API Exchange (APIX) platform. An additional SG$10,000 will also be available for each subsequent proof of concept, capped at SG$80,000 per company for the duration of the grant.
An online marketplace and sandbox, API Exchange enables fintech and FSI companies to integrate and test applications on a cloud-based platform.
The new grant will also provide funding to offset the salaries of undergraduate interns, capped at SG$1,000 per month per intern. According to MAS, this grant will support some 120 interns in the fintech sector based on an average internship period of between three and five months.
Local fintech firms can submit their applications for the grant from May 18 until December 31 next year. SFA has been tasked to administer and review grant applications.
The association's president Chia Hock Lai said fintech firms were in a great position to tap opportunities presented by the "accelerated trend towards digital financing" that had been fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Chia added that the solidarity grant aimed to help these companies plug their short-term financing gaps as well as grow and sell through the APIX platform.
MAS' chief fintech officer Sopnendu Mohanty said: "There is a surge in demand in the financial services industry around the region for solutions to address the need for remote digital services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Fintech firms have a great opportunity to step up actively during this period to provide these solutions.
"By conducting their proof of concepts on APIX, financial institutions and fintech firms will not need to set up test infrastructure for integration," Mohanty noted. "This will help accelerate project development while still working remotely."
Author: Eileen Yu