Singapore is ranked among the top 10 startup ecosystems in the world. Singapore’s inter-connectivity makes it a prime location to venture into the startup world. Putting things into perspective, the number of startups in Singapore doubled from 22,000 in 2003 to 48,000 in 2015.
In terms of specialisation of startups, Singapore is a serious contender for the global number one spot in Financial Technology (FinTech). Based on a 2017 report by Deloitte, Singapore is ranked overall on par with London as the top FinTech hub. Startup Genome places Singapore as the world’s number one for startup talent in its 2017 global startup ecosystem report, overthrowing Silicon Valley.
In March 2017, the government announced a comprehensive plan to unify support schemes for startups under the brand “Startup SG”, with a commitment of at least S$225 million to the development of FinTech projects and proofs of concept.
Other initiatives by the government include the Regulatory Sandbox, Cloud Computing Guidelines, Strategic Electronic Payments, FinTech Office, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Innovation Lab, International Technology Advisory Panel and Talent Development.
How has this led to the shift in Singapore’s educational and financial landscape?
Educational institutions have also noticed the increased prominence of FinTech inSingapore. SMU recently launched its Masters of IT in Business (FinTech) programme, the first of its kind in Singapore and probably the world, to blend traditional and emerging disruptive financial technology together with business knowledge and innovation.
Earlier in October 2016, MAS announced that the five local polytechnics have agreed on a framework to review and enhance the polytechnics’ curricula in the next three years to prepare and equip their graduates with the skill sets necessary to take on FinTech-related jobs emerging in the financial sector. PolyFinTech100 is a platform that matches polytechnic students with the global FinTech community for internships and mentoring opportunities.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic was the first to update their Diploma in Financial Informatics to reflect the growth of the FinTech ecosystem. The curriculum is jointly reviewed by MAS and
students are required to take on a six-month internship at financial institutions or at FinTech startups, accelerators and incubators. On top of updating their curriculum to reflect the vibrant FinTech ecosystem, Ngee Ann Polytechnic has also announced that it will utilise
blockchain technology to issue its various certifications and its diploma.
Increase in the demand of FinTech Internships
A news article published on the Straits Times cited firms paying higher wages to interns with multidisciplinary skills sets, even with one firm offering interns an all-expenses-paid overseas learning trip to woo interns with the relevant skill sets for FinTech development.
Traditional financial institutions such as DBS Bank have also started to launch specialised internships programs focusing on multidisciplinary skills, encouraging interns to innovate and venture into using technologies to improve financial services. DBS’s UNI.CORN programme reported a five-fold increase in applications to over 1,000 this year, reflecting the increase in the demand of FinTech-related internships.
Many students also take the path less travelled and venture into Singapore’s FinTech ecosystem, which not only consists of traditional banks but startups as well, like Funding Societies, a digital platform that enables SMEs to get unsecured loan and invoice financing.