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January 16, 2023

On the web

Singapore Debuts Ethics Test for AI

Biometric Update

Following the advice of many ethicists, leaders of city-state Singapore have committed to building an AI governance testing framework and tools against which they can compare their algorithms.

November 21, 2022

On the web

Singapore: Additional Regulatory Requirements Proposed for Digital Payment token Service Providers

Global Compliance News

“The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued a consultation paper proposing additional regulatory safeguards, particularly around retail customer access, business conduct measures and technology risk management for cryptocurrency players. The MAS seeks to extend its regulatory focus beyond money laundering and terrorism financing risks, to holistically strengthen the regulatory framework, limit consumer harm and better address fraud protection in light of recent incidents, while acknowledging the need not to hamper digital innovation. The MAS proposes that these new requirements, once issued in the form of guidelines, will apply not only to licenced digital payment token (DPT) service providers licenced under the Payment Services Act 2019, but also to those currently operating under a transitional exemption from licencing while their licence applications are being reviewed (collectively, DPTSPs).”

November 4, 2022

On the web

ThitsaWorks was Awarded the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) Proof of Concept (POC) grant for Inclusive Cross-Border Remittances

TechCrunch

“ThitsaWorks, in partnership with INFITX (previously ModusBox) and Visa, was awarded the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) Proof of Concept (POC) grant on 29-June-2022. The FSTI POC grant supports the experimentation, development, and dissemination of nascent innovative technologies in the financial services sector.”

November 3, 2022

On the web

MAS Launches Expanded Initiative to Advance Cross-Border Connectivity in Wholesale CBDCs

Monetary Authority of Singapore

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) today launched Ubin+, an expanded collaboration with international partners on cross-border foreign exchange (FX) settlement using wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC). Ubin+ will focus on the following: Study business models and governance structures for cross-border foreign exchange (FX) settlement, where atomic settlement, based on digital currencies, can improve efficiencies and reduce settlement risks compared to existing payment and settlement rails. Develop technical standards and infrastructure to support cross-border connectivity, interoperability and atomic settlement of currency transactions across platforms using distributed ledger technology (DLT), and non-DLT based financial market infrastructures. Establish policy guidelines for the connectivity of digital currency infrastructure across borders, for better access and participation. This includes policy relating to governance, access and compliance issues for such linkages. As part of Ubin+, the following projects will be undertaken with international partners…

November 1, 2022

On the web

Singapore Central Bank Proposes Stablecoin Rules to Rein In Crypto Sector

Coindesk

“The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has proposed a slew of new rules to rein in the local crypto industry – starting with some stringent standards for stablecoin issuers. The rules include setting capital and reserve requirements for issuers of stablecoins, which are cryptocurrencies that maintain their value against fiat currencies or assets like gold. The measures also seek to ban issuers from engaging in “other activities that introduce additional risks” like lending or staking, which lets users lock their crypto and earn interest. The proposals, which were published on Wednesday, come after a turbulent year for crypto markets. The downturn is particularly frustrating for Singapore regulators, as a number of collapsed multi-billion-dollar crypto enterprises like stablecoin issuer Terraform Labs and crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital have ties to the country. The MAS had since promised to tighten regulations for the sector.”

October 21, 2022

On the web

‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Code of Conduct Launched to Protect Consumers against Debt Accumulation (Singapore)

CNA

“Customers will not be able to chalk up more than S$2,000 in outstanding payments with a “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) provider, unless they pass an additional credit assessment which will consider details such as income and credit information shared across all BNPL providers. Customers will also be suspended from making further BNPL purchases once a payment is overdue. These are part of a code of conduct announced on Thursday (Oct 20) to protect consumers in Singapore against over-indebtedness amid a growing BNPL industry. BNPL is a payment service that allows payment for purchases over time. It differs from usual instalment plans by enabling one to split the cost for small-ticket everyday items – from a meal at a restaurant to a new dress – at zero interest, and without having to own a credit card. The new code, developed by a working group led by the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA), states that it recognises the “transformative use” of BNPL, especially for the under-served and the under-banked.”

September 16, 2022

On the web

MAS Launches Financial Services Industry Transformation Map 2025 (Singapore)

Monetary Authority of Singapore

Mr. Lawrence Wong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minster for Finance, and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Deputy Chairman, launched the Financial Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025 today. The ITM 2025 lays out the growth strategies to further develop Singapore as a leading international financial centre in Asia – to connect global markets, support Asia’s development, and serve Singapore’s economy.

September 14, 2022

On the web

BNPL Transactions Increased to S$440m Last Year, Code of Conduct ‘On Track’

TechCrunch

“While the total amount of “Buy Now Pay Later” (BNPL) transactions in Singapore increased to S$440 million last year compared to S$114 million in 2020, it is still “much less than 1 per cent” of total credit and debit card payments last year. Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam noted this in his written reply to a question by Nee Soon Member of Parliament (MP) Derrick Goh in Parliament on Monday (12 September). Goh had asked for the current total value of BNPL loans in Singapore and the growth rate of these loans in the past 12 months. He also enquired whether an industry code for effective industry self-regulation will be developed and whether the government will consider requiring BNPL providers to report such loans to the Credit Bureau for financial players to properly assess consumers’ credit worthiness.”

September 7, 2022

On the web

Banks in Talks with Singapore’s DBS to Begin Real-Time Remittance System

Business-Standard

“At least five Indian banks, including the State Bank of India and ICICI Bank, are in discussions with Singapore’s DBS Bank to start a real-time remittance system using UPI as the backbone, reported The Economic Times on Wednesday. The banks are in discussions to start a common remittance platform with the city-state in collaboration with Singapore’s PayNow funds’ transfer service, reported ET quoting people familiar with the matter. This will make the international funds’ transfer process real-time, instead of taking more than one day.”

August 31, 2022

On the web

Indonesia, Singapore Agree to Link QR Code Payments

Antara News

“Bank Indonesia (BI) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have agreed to initiate cooperation on cross-border Quick Response (QR) code-based payment linkage between Indonesia and Singapore to encourage payment connectivity in ASEAN.”Bank Indonesia believes that the initiative marks an important milestone in strengthening bilateral financial cooperation between Singapore and Indonesia,” Governor of Bank Indonesia Perry Warjiyo remarked here on Monday.He said that the initiative to encourage the digitalization of cross-border payments was also a priority of Indonesia’s 2022 G20 Presidency and the ASEAN Central Bank Governors’ Meeting in April 2022.The initiative is in line with the G20’s attempts to overcome potential obstacles in global cross-border payment activities and support post-pandemic economic growth.”

July 21, 2022

On the web

Central Banks in Five SE Asian Countries to Create Common Contactless QR Payments Zone

NFCW

“The central banks of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are to develop an interoperable cross-border payments system that will enable residents of each country to use their mobile banking app to make QR code-based payments for goods and services when visiting any of the other territories. The integrated system will enable visitors to another of the participating countries to make transactions in local currency that will then be settled in their own without having to be exchanged via an intermediary currency such as the US dollar. Bank Indonesia, Bank Negara Malaysia, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Bank of Thailand announced that they are preparing to sign a general agreement on payment connectivity that will establish a framework for the system later this year at a seminar during a meeting of G20 finance ministers and central governors in Bali.”

June 22, 2022

On the web

Mojaloop Foundation Launches the Mojaloop CBDC Center of Excellence in Singapore

businesswire

“The Mojaloop Foundation today announced the launch of its Mojaloop Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Center of Excellence (COE) in Singapore to advance financial inclusion in emerging markets. In addition, the Mojaloop Foundation announced the appointment of Nick Drury, a seasoned executive with nearly 25 years of experience innovating payments technology to drive inclusion, as the Mojaloop CBDC COE Director. Nick will oversee the operations and strategic growth of the COE and its initiatives, such as hackathons, workshops, and pilot projects. Through these efforts, the COE will examine how Mojaloop open source software can leverage CBDCs to reduce the costs and inefficiencies of fast payment platforms and cross-border payments.”

August 11, 2021

On the web

Amazon to Introduce 0.5% Surcharge for Visa Credit Card Transactions in Singapore From Sept 15

The Straits Times

“E-commerce giant Amazon has announced that it will impose a 0.5 per cent surcharge on Visa credit card transactions on its Singapore website, Amazon.sg, from Sept 15. An Amazon spokesman told The Straits Times that Singapore is the first country where this surcharge will be imposed, but added that the high cost of accepting card payments is a global problem. The surcharge will apply to most purchases made on Amazon.sg, such as apparel and consumer electronics sold by third parties, or Amazon itself, from Singapore or overseas.”

June 23, 2021

On the web

Singapore’s Gen-Z Are Borrowing Too Freely, Central Bank Worries

Bloomberg

“Many officials in Singapore , though, aren’t convinced Gen Z consumers like Lee are spending wisely. The growing popularity of BNPL services among young Singaporeans is unnerving regulators and politicians who fear BNPL apps prey on 20-somethings who may be financially naive. “Young adults without sufficient financial awareness can have access to credit lines before they have the necessary earning capacity,” said Cheryl Chan, a Member of Parliament from the ruling People’s Action Party, in an email. “This is an unhealthy trend.” Among those sounding the alarm is the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the city-state’s central bank, which has launched a media campaign warning the payment methods may lead to debt and consumer credit risk.”

June 4, 2021

On the web

Singapore’s Fintech Honcho Has Vision of Asian Silicon Valley

Bloomberg

“Singapore sees more investments pouring into financial technology firms this year as the city-state seeks to become a regional hub for capital raising in areas from payments to robo-advisory, according to a top central bank official. Such investments have risen from around $20 million in 2014 to a record $1.1 billion last year, and more is expected this year, Sopnendu Mohanty, the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s chief fintech officer, said in an interview…Mohanty has been involved with efforts like Partior , the joint venture between JPMorgan Chase & Co., Temasek Holdings Pte. and DBS Group Holdings Ltd., that’s a new blockchain-based platform for payments, trade and foreign-exchange settlement. He is also keen to expand a cross-border payments infrastructure, that has kicked off with Thailand allowing people in both countries to almost immediately move money via their mobile phones through government-backed systems.”

May 4, 2021

On the wires

Adyen Singapore Now Licensed Under Payment Services Act As a Major Payments Institution

“Adyen, the global payments platform of choice for many of the world’s leading companies, today announced that its Singapore entity, Adyen Singapore Pte Ltd, has received approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to carry out merchant acquisition services under the Payment Services Act 2019 (PSA). Effective from 1 May 2021, Adyen Singapore’s license as a Major Payment Institution under the PSA has been expanded to include merchant acquisition and domestic money transfer services, on top of the previously licensed activity of cross-border money transfer service. Adyen Singapore is the first global payments provider to be licensed for the newly regulated activity of merchant acquisition service under the PSA.”

April 28, 2021

On the web

Crunchtime for Cash at Singapore’s Famed Hawker Food Stalls

BNN Bloomberg

“Singapore officials trying to digitize the economy are targeting a tricky group of holdouts: elderly vendors who run the country’s famed hawker stalls. For generations of Singaporeans, stalls selling popular street food have been an indispensable part of local life. Even amid unbearable midday heat, these open-air complexes draw office professionals, families and retirees with favorites such as chicken rice, prawn noodles and the nasi lemak coconut rice dish. Hawker centers have won global acclaim, recognized by Unesco last year as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Most of these stalls have been cash-only businesses though, and that’s part of the challenge as Singapore encourages consumers to use electronic payments.”

February 24, 2021

On the web

SMEs Can Now Use Facial Recognition to Apply for DBS Online Banking Accounts

The Straits Times

“Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners now simply need to face a camera to authenticate and verify their information while setting up a corporate account online with DBS Bank. DBS said the new facial biometrics feature runs on the Government Technology Agency of Singapore’s (GovTech) SingPass Face Verification technology. Previously, business owners who qualify for straight-through processing need to manually key in their DBS digibank credentials to confirm their application, the bank said on Tuesday (Feb 23).”

December 10, 2020

On the web

PayNow and Thailand’s PromptPay to link up next year in trailblazing move

The Business Times

“FROM mid-2021, users of Singapore’s PayNow and Thailand’s equivalent PromptPay will be able to send money instantly and securely across the two countries with their mobile phone numbers at “competitive rates”, said Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). This linkage between two countries’ national faster payment systems will be the first of its kind in the world, noted Mr Menon on the second day of the Singapore Fintech Festival x Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology.”

November 30, 2020

On the wires

Non-Bank Financial Institutions to have Access to FAST and PayNow

“The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced today that eligible non-bank financial institutions (NFIs) will have direct access to the banking system’s retail payments infrastructure from February 2021. NFIs that are licenced as major payment institutions under the Payment Services Act will be allowed to connect directly to Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST) [1] and PayNow [2] .”

September 29, 2020

On the web

UOB Taps Visa API to Simplify Digital Payments

Finextra

“Singapore’s United Overseas Bank (UOB) has become the world’s first lender to use a new Visa API that lets customers add cards to third party apps without the physical plastic. The bank has built an ecosystem with a host of firms, including Fave, Fitbit Pay, Grab, Shopee, Singapore Airlines and SP Group, to take advantage of the API and simplify digital payments and rewards redemption.”

July 30, 2020

On the web

Face Verification Technology to Allow SingPass Holders to Sign up for DBS Digital Banking Services Using a Selfie

CNA

“SingPass holders will be able to sign up for DBS’ digital banking services by taking a picture of themselves through the use of face verification technology, following a rise in digital banking amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The pilot programme aims to benefit more than 1 million DBS customers who are SingPass holders and do not use digital banking services, the bank and Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) said in a news release on Wednesday (Jul 29).”

July 15, 2020

On the web

Gojek Lets DBS PayLah in on the Ride

ZDNet

“Customers of ride-sharing operator Gojek can now book and pay for their fares with DBS Bank’s digital payment app PayLah. The move is an extension of a partnership established in 2018, when Gojek began its foray into the Singapore market.  It gives more than 1.7 million users of PayLah the option to book and pay for their rides directly on the mobile payment platform, said the two partners in a joint statement Wednesday. PayLah last year was rolled out as the default in-app payment option in the Gojek app, allowing users who do not own a debit or credit card to pay via the digital mode. The DBS platform links directly to the customer’s bank account.”

June 15, 2020

On the web

ByteDance in talks with Singapore’s Lee family on banking licence bid

Financial Times

“ByteDance is in talks to join forces with Singapore’s influential Lee business family, as the Chinese technology group looks to expand into banking for the first time. The company has bid for a digital bank licence in the city-state and is negotiating a tie-up with an investment group linked to the Lees, said three people with knowledge of the situation.  ByteDance is best known for its short-video app TikTok, but like many other technology companies, the Beijing-based group has been trying to make a move into financial services. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is set to issue five virtual banking licences by the end of the year, for which ByteDance will compete with a number of other Asian technology companies including Alibaba’s Ant Financial and smartphone maker Xiaomi.”

June 4, 2020

On the web

Singapore to Assess COVID-19 Impact on Digital Bank Bidders

Reuters

“Bidders for five Singapore digital bank licences on offer will have to factor in how the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted their funding and profitability plans, as the central bank kicks off interviews with applicants over the next few weeks, three sources aware of the matter said. Singapore has drawn interest from 21 applicants seeking to shake up its banking landscape in what would be its biggest liberalisation in two decades.”

April 15, 2020

On the web

OCBC Brings Google Pay’s P2P Funds Transfer Service to Singapore

The Business Times

“OCBC Bank has brought Google Pay’s peer-to-peer (P2P) funds transfer service to Singapore, making the Republic the third country where this service is available. Before this, the service was available only in the US and India. With the new service, OCBC Bank customers can pay directly from their bank accounts to anyone registered to PayNow using the Google Pay app. This allows customers to make real-time money transfers to contacts who have linked their bank accounts to their mobile numbers.”

November 8, 2019

On the web

Rapyd to Launch Cashless Payments Platform in Singapore

Mobile Payments Today

“Rapyd, a London-based startup fintech, announced the launch of a Singapore payments platform that will help enable cashless transactions for businesses and consumers.  The firm, which received a remittance license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore last month, said it will roll out a comprehensive payments platform that will allow a range of bank transfers, conversion of cash to digital payments and expand the use of e-wallets like GrabPay and OCBC Pay Anyone.”

March 8, 2019

On the web

New SimplyGo System to Let Bank Cards Double up As Public Transport Travel Cards

The Straits Times

“Commuters with Mastercard contactless bank cards can use it to pay for public transport rides under a new system to be launched on April 4. The SimplyGo platform will do away with the need to top up stored-value cards, with fares for rides reflected in commuters’ credit or debit card bills, just like their retail purchases. Visa card holders will get the same convenience later this year, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said in Parliament on Thursday (March 7).”

December 10, 2018

On the web

Singtel adds international m-payment capabilities to Dash app

Telecom Paper

“Singapore operator Singtel has expanded the payment capabilities of its all-in-one mobile payments app dubbed ‘Dash’, to include international mobile payments. Dash customers can now use their Visa Virtual Account on the Dash app at millions of online retailers worldwide and merchant points that accept Visa Contactless Payments. In addition, customers can also use Dash on Apple Pay.”

November 21, 2018

On the web