Singapore regulator sets out fintech payment plans in ‘Roadmap’

As part of a previously-announced strategy aimed at becoming Asia’s financial technology hub, Singapore’s regulator today unveiled its plans for promoting the use of electronic payments in the city-state, which it said are contained in a  just-published “Payment Roadmap” prepared for it by KPMG.

In a statement on its website, which also contains a link to the 22-page Roadmap document,  the Monetary Authority of Singapore noted that the report calls for a “strengthening” of the governance model, and the creation of a “national payments council” that would “foster innovation, competition and collaboration in the payments industry”, while coordinating key initiatives, such as promoting inter-operability and adopting common standards.

The proposed payments council would be comprised of representatives from both users of payment systems as well as those who provide them, the MAS statement noted.

The MAS statement coincided with a speech by MAS managing director Ravi Menon at the Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics on Friday, in which Menon outlined the MAS’s ongoing pro-electronic payments initiatives.

‘phone transfers as soon as next year’

A Straits Times article covering Menon’s speech quoted him as saying that “fund transfers via mobile phone number could come [as soon as] next year”.

“Menon had announced in October last year that the banking industry was exploring ways to enable money transfers using only mobile phone numbers,” the article went on. “[But] this is the first time he has given an update on when this plan might be a reality.”

In his Sim Kee Boon Institute address, Menon said MAS’s vision was “to make Singapore an electronic payments society, a society that spurs innovation in payments technology, that gives consumers maximum convenience and confidence in making payments”.

Menon’s Sim Kee Boon Institute appearance had been part of a conference on fintech and financial inclusion that had been jointly organised by Singapore Management University and the International Monetary Fund.

‘Best-in-class potential’

According to the MAS statement, KPMG found that Singapore has “the requisite components to be a best-in-class jurisdiction in the area of payments”, but that it needed “to take several steps” to get there.

These, it went on, included streamlining and strengthening Singapore’s regulatory framework, establishing a new governance model for payments, and making it easier for electronic payment methods to be used.

MAS said it will be carrying out a public consultation on the review of the payments regulatory framework, and its proposals to set up a payments council, over the next week.

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