Arguably the premier fintech hub in Asia, Singapore has benefitted from its own strong growth, the emerging economies of its neighbors, and a robust regulatory regime in the form of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
According to the 2022 FinTech State of Play report from the Singapore Fintech Association, Singapore has more than 1,000 fintech firms in its jurisdiction. The majority of fintechs in Singapore are involved in payments, financial services infrastructure, regtech, lending, and money management. Payments is considered the most mature sector within the industry. At the same time, observers have highlighted regtech as an area of potential opportunity for growth.
This week in Finovate Global we take a look at handful of recent developments in Singapore’s fintech industry. These items include a new investment, positive signs for AI adoption in financial services, and new regulatory guidance from the MAS.
Singapore-based multi-currency mobile wallet company YouTrip has secured $50 million in funding. The Series B round was led by venture capital firm Lightspeed. The investment takes YouTrip’s total capital raised to more than $105 million. The company plans to use the funding to launch new products and features, invest in technology, and expand into new markets. YouTrip also expects to offer GooglePay later this year.
“YouTrip launched in 2018 with the bold vision to empower everyone with a smarter and more convenient way to pay in foreign currency,” YouTrip CEO Caecilia Chu said. “The latest funding round is a testament to our strong potential in the B2C and B2B payment spaces.”
YouTrip is a mobile financial platform that offers a multi-currency mobile wallet and a contactless Mastercard. Users can make fee-free payments in more than 150 currencies. YouTrip also features 10 selected currencies that are available for in-app exchange. This enables users to lock in favorable exchange rates when they become available.
In a blog post at the company’s website, YouTrip thanked its customers for not abandoning the company during the pandemic. “You stuck with us through thick and thin – supporting us when we expanded to e-commerce to help you continue saving on FX transactions as you stayed safe indoors,” the company noted.
YouTrip achieved profitability in April. The company processes $10 billion in payments annually. These payments come largely from the consumer side of YouTrip’s business. This includes facilitating payments for users traveling overseas, transactions on international websites, and corporate spending by SMEs that use YouTrip’s YouBiz service.
How eagerly are financial services companies embracing AI? OCBC Bank Singapore announced this week that it is making a new AI-powered chatbot available to its 30,000-member staff across 19 countries. The bot, OCBC ChatGPT, was developed in partnership with Microsoft Azure, and operates similarly to Open AI’s ChatGPT.
The solution will be used to help bank employees with writing, research, and ideation, and comes to OCBC Bank after a six-trial. Approximately 1,000 OCBC employees participated in the trial, and reported completing their tasks twice as fast with the bot – including fact-checking – compared to without.
OCBC Bank is currently working with four specific generative AI functions. These roles are: Wingman, which helps coders write code; Whisper, which transcribes and summarizes voice calls; Buddy, which retrieves data from company documents and records staff meetings; and Document AI, which provides summaries of documents like financial reports.
“We are excited to be one of the first banks in the world to deploy generative AI tools at scale,” OCBC Head of Group Data Donald MacDonald said. “We believe that these tools have the potential to transform the way our employees work by automating a wide range of time-consuming tasks, freeing up their time to focus on more strategic and value-added work.”
Looking for someone to blame when it comes to phishing scams? The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) have weighed in with a new paper proposing a Shared Responsibility Framework (SRF) for phishing scams. The framework points to specific actions both financial institutions and telecommunications companies need to take in order to mitigate the damage from phishing scams. The SRF also requires these entities to pay affected scam victims when these actions are not carried out.
“This incentivizes vigilance by all parties in the ecosystem to uphold safety in e-payments,” MAS Deputy Managing Director Ho Hern Shin said. Additionally, the two entities proposed heightened standards in the E-payments User Protection Guidelines (EUPG) to strengthen anti-scam efforts. IMDA Deputy Chief Executive Aileen Chia praised the involvement of telecommunications companies in the effort to fight phishing. “The inclusion of Telcos in the Shared Responsibility Framework as supporting infrastructure providers serves to strengthen the ecosystem against scams,” Chia explained.
Here is our look at fintech innovation around the world.
Central and Eastern Europe
- Turkish invoice financing marketplace Figopara partnered with Provenir to automate risk decisioning.
- German fintech Riverty extended its partnership with payment service provider Computop.
- AMLYZE, a regtech based in Lithuania, forged a strategic partnership with identity verification company Shufti Pro.
Middle East and Northern Africa
- Saudi Arabia-based fintech Hala introduced new Chief Technology Officer Saleem Arshad.
- UAE-based digital payments provider Hubpay launched its cross-border “Collect & Remit” solution.
- Egyptian bank Banque Misr partnered with telecommunications company Etisalat Misr to launch e-payment technology company, SuperPay.
Central and Southern Asia
- India’s first digital escrow platform Escrowpay raised $6 million in funding.
- Mint reported that India ranked third among countries with the most fintech unicorns.
- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced an investigation of Kazakhstan fintech Freedom Holding over compliance issues.
Latin America and the Caribbean
- Uruguay-based cross-border payments processor dLocal forged a partnership with ACE Money Transfer.
- Open Finance platform Belvo teamed up with Colombia’s MOVii to help fight digital payments fraud.
- Plata, a Mexico-based fintech platform, turned to South Africa’s Entersekt to boost security for its Plata credit card.
- Triple-A, a Singapore-based digital currency payment institution, raised $10 million in Series A funding.
- GoTo Financial partnered with Indonesia’s Bank Jago to launch new bank account for everyday transactions, GoPay Tabungan by Jago.
- International B2B payment infrastructure platform Thunes has teamed up with China Construction Bank to enhance cross-border payments.
- Disrupt Africa profiled Ghana-based payments infrastructure startup PAL.
- Cameroon-based fintech Koree won the 2023 Ecobank Fintech Challenge
- Rest of World featured Nigerian money transfer app OPay.
The post Finovate Global Singapore: Multi-Currency Wallets, MAS on Scams, and the OCBC OKs AI appeared first on Finovate.