Monday, 10 August 2020

MAS launches $88.3 million package for FIs and fintechs to strengthen long-term capabilities

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced about $88.3 million (SGD 125 million) support package to sustain and strengthen capabilities in the financial services and fintech sectors amid the current economic slump.

The support package will help position financial institutions (FIs) and fintech firms for stronger growth when the threat of COVID-19 recedes and economic activity normalises.  

The support package, funded by the Financial Sector Development Fund, has three main components:

Supporting workforce training and manpower costs ($63.5 million or SGD 90 million)

MAS will launch a new Training Allowance Grant (TAG) to encourage FIs and fintech firms to make use of the downtime in business activity and to train and deepen the capabilities of their employees. The TAG will also be available to support Singapore citizens (SCs) and permanent residents (PRs) outside of the financial services and fintech sectors. 

The TAG will supplement the jobs support scheme announced in the resilience and solidarity budgets by providing training allowances for completing training in courses accredited by the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) at:

MAS and IBF will increase course fee subsidies for SCs and PRs attending relevant IBF courses to 90% (from the current range of 50% to 70%), and extend the subsidies to include employees of fintech firms.

The subsidies will be disbursed in advance to help alleviate any cash flow challenges that firms and individuals may face. More than 400 IBF-accredited courses are available on e-learning channels and plans are underway to expand such virtual offerings to meet training needs under the current climate of safe distancing.

MAS will double the salary support for FIs to hire SC fresh graduates or workers from other sectors and place them in talent development programmes under the Finance Associate Management Scheme (FAMS). FAMS is a talent development tool to help groom Singaporeans for future specialist and management roles in the financial services industry through structured programmes offered by FIs.  

Strengthening digitalisation and operational resilience ($24.7 million or SGD 35 million)

MAS will set up a new Digital Acceleration Grant (DAG) to support digitalisation in smaller FIs and fintech firms. The DAG will help these firms adopt digital solutions to strengthen operational resilience, process efficiency, risk management and customer service. This will include the adoption of digital tools and upgrading of systems that facilitate business continuity (e.g., document collaboration solutions and virtual conferencing systems).

The DAG scheme will have two tracks:

Enhancing fintech firms’ access to digital platforms and tools

MAS will provide all Singapore-based fintech firms six months’ free access to API Exchange (APIX), an online global marketplace and sandbox for collaboration and sales. Through APIX, fintech firms and FIs can integrate and test solutions via a cloud-based architecture. 

MAS will work with the Singapore Fintech Association (SFA) to set up a new digital self-assessment framework for MAS’ Outsourcing and TRM Guidelines hosted on APIX. Completing the self-assessment will help fintech firms provide a first-level assurance to FIs about the quality of their solutions.

A tripartite partnership

Jacqueline Loh, deputy managing director of markets and development at MAS, said, “We have significantly enhanced existing initiatives and introduced new schemes to help our FIs and fintech firms not only navigate the current headwinds but at the same time build deeper competencies, skills and networks, so that we can emerge stronger for the longer term. We encourage FIs, fintech firms and financial sector professionals to actively tap on these opportunities.”

“It is heartening to see MAS working closely with our tripartite partners to roll out targeted initiatives to help financial institutions, fintech firms and workers through these challenging times, while at the same time, deepening competencies and skills,” NTUC’s assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said. “NTUC, together with our financial services unions and SFA, support this move and will work hand-in-glove with our tripartite partners to help our workers navigate this trying period so that we can emerge from this crisis a more robust, resilient, reputable and relevant global financial and fintech hub.”

Meanwhile, IBF’s chief executive officer Ng Nam Sin said, “The current slowdown in economic activity provides financial institutions a window to accelerate workforce transformation and upskill their staff. It is also an opportunity to leverage technology to impart learning. IBF will continue to work closely with industry partners to support the sector’s training needs through this period and stands ready to help professionals with career advice and job placement opportunities.”

Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker