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Singapore Fintech Industry News - Oct 2017

Singapore is testing blockchain for interbank payments

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) have developed a consortium to test blockchain as a payment method for inter-bank payments. Banks that are involved in the test include the Bank of America Merrill Lynch and three local banks. Overall the objectives are to explore the use of the blockchain distributed ledger technology (DLT) to increase speed and privacy in cross-border clearing and settlement of payments and securities.

Flipkart Payment infuses funding into PhonePe

PhonePe has secured fresh funding of US$38.7 mil. from its Singapore-based group entity Flipkart Payment. The fresh funding will help the digital payment platform to market their services and activities more widely. PhonePe, formerly FX Mart, was acquired by Flipkart in 2016. This investment comes 2 months after Flipcart itself raised US$2.5 bil. of funding for its activities.

InfoCorp Technologies and Maybank Singapore Sign MOU to Collaborate on Financial Inclusion Projects

Infocorp Technologies and Maybank are testing a service for migrant workers and communities in Singapore. Currently, migrant workers in the construction sector may not have bank accounts or an ATM card due to the minimum sum requirements imposed by most banks. The system being tested is based on a blockchain concept, where migrant workers will be able to store their identities on their mobile devices and make payments via a private blockchain platform for goods and services within the dormitory compound. Maybank will be the integral player supporting this cashless ecosystem, and the goal is to expand the system throughout the ASEAN region.

OCBC Bank, HSBC and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), with MDA complete KYC blockchain testing

A blockchain KYC platform was tested to share information between private sector bodies and government institutions to improve KYC requirements. The platform uses encrypted data to allow the consortium to collect, validate and share information between parties. The system will partner a government initiative called the MyIndo service which keeps government-verified consumer details.

Startup Singapore Mega 2017

Startup Weekend Singapore (SWSG) Mega 2017 saw 251 participants pitch more than 100 ideas. This year, participants formed 36 teams which received guidance from close to 40 senior mentors. Ideas pitched included an artificial intelligence-powered photography assistant, a virtualised home-based solution for caregivers of dementia patients and a project for easier payment processing using blockchain.

Blockchain for discount coupons

Gatcoin is a blockchain product which aims to replace traditional discount coupons. Gatcoin will allow retailers to issue their own cryptocurrencies to consumers to replace traditional discount coupons, loyalty points and gift vouchers. The cryptocurrencies will then be used to buy products or can be traded by holders for other retail currencies or cash. Gatcoin tokens will be available to the public on 28 October 2017.

Singapore banks closing accounts of cryptocurrency firms

Several Singapore cryptocurrency companies have had their bank accounts closed forcefully by banks in Singapore. The Singapore Fintech Association confirmed some 10 members had experienced account closures. In response, the head of Singapore's Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Industry Association has asked the government for help to remedy the situation. Similar actions are taking place in other jurisdictions that have also previously been supportive of fintech initiatives.

Singapore and Malaysia to foster closer fintech cooperation

An MOU was signed to foster closer cooperation on fintech and innovation in financial services between Singapore and Malaysia. The MOU establishes a strategic framework for both regulators to assist innovator businesses to better understand the regulatory regime in each jurisdiction, and provide support through "the application and authorisation process." A fintech training programme will be organised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in cooperation with the Securities Commission of Malaysia (SC). The training programme is a first of future cooperative activities.

Bluzelle completes Series A

Blockchain provider Bluzelle completed a US$1.5 million Series A round with participation by Global Brain, LUN Partners Capital and True Global Ventures. Investment proceeds will be used by the company to scale up the enterprise business, develop its decentralised database platform, and build its initial developer community. Bluzelle is a database system for blockchain. Bluzelle is looking to make a token sale of its own Bluzelle tokens in late October.

InstaRem in Lithuania

InstaReM recently raised USD$13 million from leading investors in Asia to fuel its expansion and has made recent announcements to provide international money transfer services in Europe from Vilnius, Lithuania. The Bank of Lithuania already issued an approval for an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) licence to be granted to InstaRem. InstaReM is a Singapore company and also South East Asia's largest digital cross-border payments company processing over USD$2 million transactions annually.

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