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Singapore has successfully established itself as an Asian fintech hub — in 2016, the city-state accounted for three quarters of Southeast Asia’s fintech funding, half of the deals, and three of the top five deals by value. This comes down to several factors, including that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore's central bank and financial regulator, has shown strong support for the industry. MAS has made the setting up of fintech businesses easier and more efficient by creating a Fintech Office, providing grants to startups, and creating a sandbox where fintechs can test new technologies, among other initiatives. In addition, international fintechs in Singapore are able to register with two local agents to act on their behalf. Meanwhile, the majority of the population has access to 3G/4G and are subscribed to the internet, meaning the market is primed for digital services. With all of these factors in its favor, Singapore is likely to emerge as a globally recognized fintech hub in the next year or so.

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Singapore’s Fintech Strengths

Regulatory support. Straightforward, fintech-specific regulation is one of Singapore's biggest strengths, especially as many other countries in Asia-Pacific (APAC) have more complicated regimes. MAS boasts a virtual Fintech Office, launched in collaboration with the National Research Foundation (NRF) in May 2016, which develops funding schemes, identifies gaps in regulatory oversight and ways to bridge them, and manages the marketing of Singapore as a fintech hub. Additionally, MAS recently proposed making it easier for firms to offer digital advice to retail investors through updated legislation, and supports Singapore's fintech festival, first held in November 2016. Moreover, the regulator has formed fintech agreements with a number of other countries, facilitating information sharing and collaboration [...]