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Singapore to help fund fintech trials

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has launched a grant scheme that will fund half the costs of Singapore-based trials of financial technology (fintech).

Proof of concept trials can apply to have 50% of their costs funded, up to a maximum of S$200,000 per project, MAS chairman and deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a speech at a Singapore fintech awards ceremony.

The grant scheme will look for ideas that can benefit "not just an individual financial institution or start-up, but the financial system at large, in Singapore or abroad", Tharman said.

The scheme is in addition to existing support schemes including Spring Singapore, which can help Singapore startups with grants matching S$7 for every S$3 raised, up to S$50,000, and the National research Foundation which will co-invest with tech incubators, taking up to 85% of an investment in a Singapore startup, Tharman said.

"Money is not the key issue, but it's helpful for the startups and helpful before ideas have been proven in the market," he said.

MAS is also involved in getting Singapore students "ready for fintech", Tharman said. MAS is working with five polytechnics to improve their curricula so that students develop skills in agile software development, mobile app development, cloud application deployment and data analytics, he said.

"We are also working with the polytechnics to increase the number of fintech internships and joint projects with the fintech community so that students can apply their skills and gain hands-on experience. In October, we embarked on the PolyFinTech 100 initiative to secure 100 fintech mentors and 100 internships for 2017. I am pleased to announce that we have secured these targets in the short span of a month. More than 2,500 students in the banking and IT-related courses in the polytechnics each year are expected to benefit from these initiatives," Tharman said.

MAS is also partnering with universities and polytechnics to expose students to perspectives from industry practitioners, and will launch a series of talks next year that will see fintech professionals share their industry experiences with students, he said.

MAS issued guidelines last week on a regulatory sandbox for fintech developers. The sandbox itself was proposed in June. At the time, MAS said the regulatory sandbox will enable businesses to "experiment with financial technology (fintech) solutions" in an environment where some regulatory requirements are relaxed.

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