Singapore’s financial regulator unveils $87.8m fintech care package

via FinTech Futures

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced a SGD 125 million ($87.8 million) coronavirus care package for its country’s financial and fintech sectors.

The package, one of the most fintech-specific aid offerings seen so far, focuses on supporting workers and students, as well as boosting operational resilience and speeding up digitisation.

To help cover what the regulator titles “manpower costs”, it will offer a 75% wage subsidy for the first SGD 4,600 of all April salaries, with subsequent months seeing a lesser 25% subsidy on incomes.

For fintechs only, the package offers 80% funding support for those firms purchasing digital solutions which “improve productivity, increase efficiency, enhance operational resilience, manage risks better, and/or serve customers better”.

This funding, called a ‘Digital Acceleration Grant’, is capped at SGD 120,000 for each fintech start-up.

Smaller financial institutions (FIs) – with less than 200 employees – will also be able to tap this grant specifically to adopt fintech solutions.

As for rental costs, the regulator is offering at least a 50% discount for fintechs who have taken out a new lease at Bridge+, a communal working space popular amongst fintech start-ups and based in Queenstown.

Temporary rental relief for existing tenants at ‘80RR Fintech Hub’ will also be considered on a “case-by-case basis”. 

The package also focuses heavily on students. It will distribute an hourly SGD 15 allowance for those local employees attending any Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) course.

As well as an hourly allowance for all IBF courses, those local employees doing “accredited or recognised” courses under the IBF-Standards Scheme (IBF-STS)  and Financial Training Scheme (FTS) will get their courses 90% subsidised by the MAS.

And the ‘Startup Talent Factory’, a regulatory sandbox run by Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) for start-ups and students, will offer up to SGD 12,000 salary subsidy grant for new and existing polytechnic graduate hires.

The MAS’ fintech package is then rounded up with access to two key digital services.

The API Exchange, the flagship product of global cloud-based platform AFIN which was founded in part by the MAS, will give fintechs six months free access to its digital platform, which is designed to help start-ups sell their products to FIs globally.

And the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) has created a new digital self-assessment framework hosted on APIX, designed to help fintechs provide assurance to FIs about the quality of their solutions.

The assessment will be based on the MAS’ Outsourcing and Technology Risk Management (TRM) guidelines.

In addition to this fintech aid package, the MAS announced this month that certain limits for deferred payments on mortgages and consumer loans will be waived to help borrowers bridge the gap until the pandemic is over.