Singapore's central bank provides infrastructure to drive innovation

MAS shares its initiatives on enabling innovation such as publishing APIs and testing the feasibility of using blockchain for inter-bank payments.

By Nayela Deeba
Nov. 25, 2016


innovation

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently announced that it will facilitating the infrastructure necessary to support an innovative ecosystem.

"We need common standards and inter-operable systems so that innovations can be scaled up quickly and their potential benefits be fully realised. Creating the infrastructure for an innovation ecosystem is a shared responsibility and joint effort. MAS plays the role of a facilitator; the real work is done by the financial industry and the FinTech community coming together to collaborate and create," said Ravi Menon, Managing Director, MAS. 

Sharing MAS initiatives on enabling innovation, Menon said that the central bank recently published 12 sets of data from its Monthly Statistical Bulletin as Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) on its website. The move hopes to enable financial institutions and application services providers to serve their customers better.

Electronic Payment Service
In terms of payments, the Association of Banks in Singapore is working on a Central Addressing Scheme (CAS) and a Unified Point-of-Scale (UPOS) terminal, said Menon. The initiatives aim to provide better accessibility to electronic payment services across Singapore.

CAS allows anyone to transfer funds to others simply by keying in the recipient's mobile number, email address or national ID number. This removes the need to access the recipient's bank account number.

Meanwhile, UPOS allows merchants to accept all major card brands,  including those are contactless or embedded in smartphones.

These initiatives came about after the Fast and Secure Transfer (FAST) service was launched. FAST, a 24/7 inter-bank fund transfer system, did not work out successfully due to high reliability on cheque and cash payment by many Singaporeans, Menon explained.

KYC Utility
Even though knowing the identity of customers is important to banks, it is one of the major pain points in the financial industry. This is because customers have to go through several layers of identity verification every time they conduct a financial transaction.

To combat this issue, the Ministry of Finance and the Government Technology Agency  (GovTech) have jointly developed a personal data platform containing government-verified personal details called MyInfo. This allows citizens to only submit their personal data to the government once. Thereafter, they can use MyInfo to extract personal data for subsequent online transactions.

"MAS is partnering MOF and GovTech to embark on a pilot that will expand the MyInfo service to the financial industry for more efficient know your customer (KYC) using trusted government collected personal data," said Menon. He added that MAS will run a MyInfo pilot with two banks in the first quarter, next year. The move hopes to eliminate the need for consumers to provide hardcopy documents for verification for banking transactions.

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