Singapore launches new awards for fintechs

Singapore Awards Fintech

Singapore has begun gearing up for its big fintech festival later this year by announcing a series of awards for companies and individuals leading the way in the financial technology arena.

The awards look to drive development and recognise efforts made in everything from innovation in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital currencies, to ways of boosting the sector’s response to climate change.

The main awards announced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) are the 2021 Singapore FinTech Festival Global Fintech Awards. They recognise innovative solutions by financial institutions and technology companies, as well as individuals and firms, whose initiatives have contributed significantly to the fintech ecosystem.

The 2021 Award winners will be announced at this year’s Singapore Fintech Festival which runs from November 8-12.

In a separate move, the MAS, in conjunction with the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network (AFIN) and financial services group Accenture, launched a competition to identify fintechs who are accelerating innovation in responsible AI solutions.

Known as the Global Veritas Challenge, these awards promote development of artificial intelligence and data analytics (AIDA) solutions which meet the fairness, ethics, accountability and transparency (FEAT) principles that form part of Singapore’s national AI strategy first launched in 2019.

The FEAT principles were co-created by MAS and the financial industry to provide guidance to firms developing products and services about the responsible use of AI and data analytics, and to strengthen internal governance around data management and use.

MAS chief fintech officer Sopnendu Mohanty said: “Responsible AI solutions which validate AI solutions against the FEAT principles will strengthen trust in AI technologies among users and the general public.

“This trust underpins all our AI development efforts and is vital to realising Singapore’s ambition as a global hub for AI in the financial sector. I invite all innovators to use this unique platform to showcase their responsible AI solutions to a global audience.”

The top three groups in the Veritas Challenge will each win a S$50,000 cash prize and get to present their solutions to a global audience at the Fintech Festival.

Lee Joon Seong, managing director of Accenture’s Applied Intelligence Lead for Southeast Asia, said: “Accenture Research found that the majority of C-suite executives believe that AI is a key leverage to achieve their growth objectives.

“The Global Veritas Challenge 2021 will help to uncover the practical ways in which businesses can incorporate the FEAT principles into their operations.”

Earlier this year, the central bank launched another competition, the Global FinTech Hackcelerator, which recognises ground-breaking solutions that enable the financial sector to respond to the challenge of climate change.

The Hackcelerator targets all start-ups with a market-ready product. Winners will be announced at the Fintech Festival. All finalists receive S$20,000, with the top three earning another S$50,000 each and the chance to present their concept to a major Singapore-based financial institution.

As it looks to create the next generation of government-issued money, the Monetary Authority has also asked Singapore’s fintechs to pitch ideas that maximise the potential of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

The MAS is part of a global challenge to find retail CBDC solutions in partnership with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, various UN bodies and the OECD.

The Global CBDC Challenge is looking for innovative retail CBDC solutions which enhance payment efficiencies and promote financial inclusion. That includes addressing problems around instruments, distribution and infrastructure for retail CBDCs.

“A retail CBDC built for next-generation financial rails has the potential to increase payments efficiencies, improve financial inclusion, and support the broader digitalisation drive in the economy,” the MAS said in a statement.

Singapore has already experimented with CBDCs for wholesale use but the MAS has yet to announce whether it will officially launch its own digital currency.