Fintech innovation in Singapore – a hive of activity

Fintech innovation is alive and kicking in Singapore. Image: Michi Loheit CC
Written by Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner recounts a recent visit to Singapore, where he found fintech innovation in abundance.

I recently attended a digital bank boot camp in Singapore. It wasn’t much of a boot camp. For example, I volunteered to play the Sergeant Major’s role and shout at the audience: ‘Stand up, stand up, get your digital gear on and start delivering, you lazy, lackadaisical wunch of bankers’. I was told that wasn’t needed, however, and that I should be a little gentler. After all, this is Singapore, old chap. Harrumph!

I complied (as a banker, I’m always for compliance) and purely gave my keynote and then listened to the other folks talking. And they were good. One particularly good moment was when Markus Gnirck, global COO of Startupbootcamp Fintech, talked about the Singaporean fintech startups.

They have 11 embryonic companies and five of these were showcased at the digital bank boot camp
Startupbootcamp Fintech is run by my good friend Nektarios Liolios, formerly of the Swift Innotribe, and nurtures new companies from embryo to teenager. In the Singapore office, they have 11 embryonic companies and five of these were showcased at the digital bank boot camp (I’m starting to feel for ‘Kinky Boot Camp’). Here’s a very short overview of the five that were showcased.

Two are blockchain companies. The first is Otonomos. Created by a former Goldman Sachs executive, Han, the aim is to use blockchain technologies to issue share certificates and provide a secure method of recording company incorporation. According to Crunchbase’s description:

‘Otonomos is engineering the world’s first blockchain-chartered company, in which you hold your shares in the same way as owning bitcoins in a digital wallet.

‘When you form a BCC through Otonomos, you can transfer equity peer-to-peer to attract co-founders, remunerate collaborators, invite new private investors or get funding from the crowd at large.

‘No matter how dispersed your share ownership, their blockchain-native technology automatically updates your cap table and helps you govern your company using self-enforceable, smart contracts.’

According to Han’s description, it’s all about digitalizing a market full of paper.

The second blockchain-related company is OnePay, which aims to be a global payment and loyalty platform based on blockchains, bringing the power of digital currencies to use at any retail store already accepting credit card via NFC.

There’s not much info out there right now (the website is sparse), but you have to bear in mind that it’s a startup. I was impressed with the idea that it was going to reuse all the merchant terminals out there, and just replace the Visa and MasterCard network with an NFC-based blockchain system. One to watch.

Two other startups were lending-oriented. One, KyePot, aims to provide a mobile-centric savings and loans offer, while the other, Credit Seva, is a lending product for the underbanked and low credit-worthy consumer.

Creditseva is an Indian loans system that uses a state-of-the-art algorithm and online integrated platform with banks, to help instantly analyze credit reports and track credit scores, as well as obtain discounted offers to close bad loans and get customized offers for new loans.

KyePot is a mobile-centric community savings and lending platform that brings individuals together to achieve their financial goals using the collective power of the individual, group and the community.

Finally, there was an online wealth management system called Dragon Wealth. Dragon Wealth offers a fast way for financial advisers in Southeast Asia to increase sales and acquire more investors through two easy-to-use mobile apps, alongside an automated suite of marketing tools connecting financial advisers with new investors.

Startupbootcamp Fintech found several other Singaporean innovators the other week, when it held its first round of seed funding days, including:

BankGuard – BankGuard provides a revolutionary two-factor authentication (2FA) solution that addresses weaknesses in current technologies vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.

Kashmi  Kashmi is a mobile application that enables you to make real-time payments while you socialize and communicate with friends.

Open Trade Docs – OTDocs certifies online identities and documents. Allowing trusted collaboration, OTDocs increases workflow efficiency for businesses involved in international trade.

ShereIt – ShereIt makes share trading easy. It’s a social trading platform that helps non-professional investors identify expert traders, follow them and copy their trades/actions.

SkolaFund – Skolafund is a web platform that enables university students to crowdfund their scholarship from the public and corporates. More products will be rolled out, as SkolaFund aims to be the biggest higher education financing platform in Asia.

Toast – Toast allows unbanked Filipino workers in Singapore to send cash back to the Philippines without having to spend hours queuing at Western Union.

And that really does show that fintech innovation is hot, hot, hot, and not just in London and New York but all around the world. Keep watching this space.

This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. You can read the original article here. Main image: Michi Loheit

About the author

Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner is an independent commentator on the financial markets through the Finanser, and chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club, which he founded in 2004. He is an author of numerous books covering everything from European regulations in banking through to the credit crisis, to the future of banking.

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