Have a look at one of the most dynamic fintech ecosystems in the world! Singapore is not only a well-developed economy but also an international financial hub that is establishing itself as a fintech hub.
This material has the goal of giving anyone interested in the fintech market in Singapore to have a good overview of the ecosystem and a kick start to join this growing ecosystem.
By Thiago Paiva
2. The Author
3. Economic and Social
4. Financial Industry
5. Fintech Ecosystem
6. Venture Capital and ICO
7. Extra Resources
First of all, thanks for reading this material! My name is Thiago Paiva and I've been working with
startups and innovation for the past 8 years in Brazil, Mexico, US, and now Singapore.
I have invested and accelerated more than 60 startups from which more than 20 were fintech startups
from 8 different countries. As I moved to Singapore, I decided to get a deep dive into the fintech
ecosystem here. As there are many other people that are interested in having an overview of the
fintech ecosystem in Singapore, I decided to recollect all the information I gathered in a material and
share that material with the community.
My goal was to compile relevant information (citing the sources) so that any people that want to have
an overview of the Singaporean fintech ecosystem can do it in a easier way than I did.
I hope this material is helpful to you or anyone you would like to share (please, do share)!
Thiago Oliveira de Paiva
● 8 years of experience working with startups and innovation
● Evaluated more 2,500 startups and invested in more than 60 startups
through acceleration programs in distinguished global startup accelerators
(Startupbootcamp and Wayra)
● Led the design and implementation of two startup acceleration processes
and one scale program
● Fintech expert who worked with more than 20 fintechs from 8 different
● Supported early stage startups to raise more than US$ 10M of investment
● Studied Fintech at MIT and Business with Concentration in Finance at
The World Bank - Doing Business 2018
● Population (2017): 5.6 million
● GDP (2017): US$ 323 billion (37th)
● GDP per Capita (2017): US$ 57,495 (8th)
● GDP Growth:
○ 2016: 2.4%
○ 2017: 3.6%
○ 2018 (Expected): 3.2%
○ 2019 (Expected): 2.7%
● Unemployment Rate (2017): 2.2%
● Inflation Rate CPI (2017): 0.4%
● 12% of the GDP is due to financial services (2014)
● 5% of workforce works in the financial services (2014)
● 2nd easiest place in the world to do business
Although Singapore is a small country, it has a well developed economy with one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. Its
economy is strong and open, growing quite well and having the financial industry as a relevant pilar. As a result, Singapore host
many foreign companies that use the island as their regional headquarter. See below some economic and social relevant numbers:
● Internet Penetration (2018): 84%
● Social Penetration (2018): 53%
● Mobile Penetration (2018): 82%
● Active Mobile Social Users (2018): 75%
● Smartphone Penetration (2016): 73%
Bank and Card Penetration
Singapore has one of the highest level of bank penetration in the world
with 98% (2017) of the population with more than 15 years old having a
Debit and credit card penetration in Singapore is also quite high, with
both at a 83% (2016) level.
However, it's an isolated case in Southeast Asia, as most of the
population in the region are out of the financial system, with only 27%
(2016) of the adult population having access to the financial system.
That means that there are 479 million people that need access to basic
Cash Still a Relevant Payment Method
Even with a very financially sophisticated population, cash is still the prefered payment method for the
Southeast Asia Economic Numbers
● Population (2017): 641 million
○ Indonesia: 260 million
○ Philippines: 104 million
○ Vietnam: 96 million
○ Thailand: 68 million
○ Myanmar: 55 million
○ Others: 58 million
● GDP (2016): US$ 2.57 trillion
● GDP per Capita (2016): US$ 4,009
● GDP Growth (2016): 4.5%
Digital Population in Southeast Asia
● Internet Penetration (2018): 58%
● Social Penetration (2018): 55%
A Global Financial Hub
Singapore is one of the most relevant financial hubs in the world, been elected the 4th best
Global Financial Centre, only behind London, New York, and Hong Kong, by Global Financial
Centres Index in 2018. As a result, many foreign financial institutions incorporate offices in
Singapore to operate regionally.
Most Relevant Banks
Local Banks Foreign Banks
Source: 2017 Annual Report of the each bank.
* For Citibank and Standard Chartered, it was considered the total assets of their Singaporean subsidiaries only
Largest Banks by Total Asset
By total Asset in
● 1st place globally in Online Banking Penetration (82.5%)
● 5th place in mobile banking penetration
● 6th most open country to new digital platforms.
● 70% of the population is open to a digital alternative banking
Singapore has one of the most advanced digital banking systems in the world. Where opening a
account digitally or using a chatbot to transfer money and pay bills are already part of the daily
routine of the citizens. The digital transformation started in 2008 led especially by DBS, who
was elected World's Best Digital Bank by Euromoney in 2016 and 2018. Here follows some other
relevant information (2018):
Branches are Less Relevant
In Singapore, as well as other developed
countries in Asia, people use less frequent
the branches services, preferring doing a
digital transaction 5x more times than a
That is due to its high penetration of
online banking and mobile banking Emerging Asia: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines,
Developed Asia: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore,
South Korea, Taiwan.
Financial Innovation Hub
As Singapore is the 5th most innovative country, by the Global Innovation Index 2018, and a global financial
hub, it attracts many financial institutions to incorporate a innovation labs.
Most Relevant Financial Services
● Asset Management: 660+ Fund managers managing S$ 2.7 trillion (2016 Singapore Asset Management
● Private Banking: 2nd best global centre (The Deloitte International Wealth Management Centre
● Insurance and Reinsurance: 7th country by Total Insurance Premiums per Capita
● Foreign Exchange: 3nd largest global market
● Capital Markets: With 754 listed companies and a total market capitalization of US$ 733 billion, SGX is
the Largest Stock Exchange in SEA. Also, one of the most opens in the world with 40% of the listed
companies are non-Singaporean companies
Singapore Startup Ecosystem
Source: The 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report
12thBest Startup Ecosystem
Snapshot of the Region by EY
210 Fintechs Mapped in Nov 2017
● Insurtech: 74% of all insurers predict disruption of their business in the next 5 years, according to a PwC survey.
As Insurance is a major industry in Singapore, many insurers are investing in innovation and collaborating with
● Blockchain/Cryptocurrencies: Due to its open regulation, Singapore has blockchain and cryptocurrencies as
trending segments, been the 3rd largest ICO market in the world.
● Investment/Wealth management: Singapore is the 2nd best market for private banking, leading to many
innovations on this segment. This is confirmed by the number of fintechs in this segment, 41, the largest
segment with 20% of the total fintechs.
● RegTech: Although still initiating, the Regulation Technology (RegTech) is a prominent segment and has been
pushed by the MAS as well as market necessity.
● SMEs: 99% of the companies in Singapore are SMEs, contributing to half of the country's GDP. However, 40% of
them don't have access to bank loans ( Visa and Deloitte Study 2015).
● B2B Services: Although Singapore is a small country with a population of 5.5 million compared to other
countries in the region, it has more than 300 financial institutions that are potential fintech customers.
Most Funded Fintechs
● Grab (US$ 6.1B): Although started as a ride hailing app, Grab has a fintech arm lead by its payment solution,
● Quoine (US$ 123M): A cryptocurrency trading startup.
● M-Daq (US$ 98.7M): Provides Over The Top (OTT) forex applications to securities exchanges, e-commerce
platforms/payment gateways and companies.
● TenX (US$ 80M): TenX is a cryptocurrency payment platform that consists of a wallet, physical debit card,
bank account, ATM access, and more.
● KyberNetwork (US$ 60M): An Ethereum-based protocol which allows the exchange and conversion of digital
assets by providing rich payment APIs and a new contract wallet that allow anyone to receive payments from
● Singapore Life (US$ 50M): Is a life insurance company built to provide a better experience by using technology.
● Republic Protocol (US$ 33.8M): An open source decentralized dark pool exchange that facilitates cross-chain
atomic trades on a hidden order book over the Ethereum and Bitcoin networks.
● Funding Societies (US$ 32.6M): Provides an online lending marketplace for SMEs to secure loans
crowd-funded by retail individuals and institutions.
● Tryb Group (US$ 30M): Tryb enables better access to global capital markets for underserved consumers of credit in
● C88 (US$ 28M): Design and build essential financial technology infrastructure, from market-leading financial
marketplaces, to modern credit risk models and financially-specific AI solutions.
● Bluzelle (US$ 22.3M): Offers a complete and fully integrated stack of blockchain applications, middleware and data
services for clients ranging from SMEs to global enterprises.
● PolicyPal (US$ 20M): A digital direct insurance broker that enables individuals to buy, manage and optimize their
● Smartkarma (US$ 18.2M): Operates Asia’s largest independent marketplace for investment research.
● InstaRem (US$ 18M): Offers cross-border money transfers with close to live exchange rates.
● 2C2P (US$ 18M): The leading SEA payment service provider that offers omni-channel payment solutions, allowing
merchants to accept local and international payments through credit and debit cards, bank channels and cash.
Most Funded Fintechs
● Joyful Frog Digital Innovation
● Plug and Play
● Entrepreneur First
The Open Vault
Fintech and Corporate Partnership
● Theta Ray
● BlackSwan Technologies and Silent Eight
● Funding Circle and Moolah
There still aren't as many cases of partnership as it would be expected with so many fintech initiatives from
financial institutions. Probably because most of those institutions developed or are developing internal
capabilities to create digital solutions themselves. Find below some examples of those collaborations:
Acquired by ShopBack
Undisclosed amount (May 18)
Acquired by Credit Card Compare
Undisclosed amount (Mar 18)
Acquired by Finantix
Undisclosed amount (Mar 18)
Acquired by Ingenico
US$ 38M (Aug 10)
Acquired by Ingenico
US$ 67M (May 16)
Acquired by Paynear
Undisclosed amount (Oct 17)
The financial system is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS"), Singapore's central bank. It
is a very progressive entity that foster a digital transformation with the end goal of transforming Singapore in a
Smart Financial Centre.
Fintechs to operate in Singapore they need to be licensed, however, there are no specific fintech licenses. They
should acquirer the necessary licenses to operate based on the service offered.
Singapore is one of the few countries with a regulatory Sandbox that allows not only fintechs and financial
institutions but any company that has an innovative financial service to experiment in a temporary safe
In summary, fintechs need be aware of 3 main things to be able to operate:
● Find the appropriate licenses to operate
● Comply with Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA)
● Comply with Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT)
Important to remember that each country in Southeast Asia has its on regulation, which makes harder to
expand quickly in the region.
Many financials institutions have APIs (Application Programming Interface) to enable third parties to
have access to their information and services , allowing fintechs to develop better services to the
Most banks have quite developed APIs, allowing access such as to account balance, credit card details,
payments, funds transfer, and more. Here follow some of the the banks with available APIs:
Also, as part of its plan for a Smart Financial Centre, the MAS is impulsing financial institutions to have Open
APIs in Singapore.
Fintech Events in Singapore
● March: Money 20/20 Asia
● June: Blockchain for Finance Conference, APAC
● July: Money Live Digital Banking ASEAN
● August: Blockchain Summit
● November: Singapore Fintech Festival
Fintech News and Associations
News Websites Associations
Top 20 Fintech Influencers in Fintech by E27
1. Prakash Somosundram, Founder and CEO – Pealo PTE LTD
2. Neal Cross, MD and Chief Innovation Officer – DBS Bank
3. Aman Narain, Head of Digital, APAC – Schroders
4. Slava Solodkiy, Managing Director – Life.SREDA venture capital fund
5. Varun Mittal, Associate director, Asia pacific Fintech – EY
6. Scott Bales, Enterprise Business Development, APAC – Amazon Web Service
7. Stefano Covolan, Head of Marketing and Growth – Dragon Wealth Asia
8. David Moskowitz, Director – Attores Pte Ltd
9. Christian Konig, Digital Consultant/FinTech Expert – Finanzpro Ltd
10. George Kesselman, Co-founder/CEO – InsurTech Asia
11. Antony Lewis, Director of Research – R3, Singapore
12. Rob Findlay, Founder – Next Money
13. Chris Doerfler, Co-founder – Ramps.io
14. Shwetank Verma, Director Collab – LumenLab
15. Augustus Loi, Senior Analyst – Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd
16. Steve Leonard, Founding CEO – SGInnovate
17. Daniel Liebau, Founder – Lightbulb Capital
18. Balasubramaniam GD, Senior Vice President, Risk Management Group CBGWM & SME – DBS Bank
19. Bert-Jan Van Essen, CEO and Founder – Cloud consulting services Pte ltd
20. Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore, Singapore Government
1. Prakash Somosundram, Founder and CEO – Pealo PTE LTD
2. Adam Reynolds, CEO Asia Pacific - Saxo Capital Markets
3. Alistair Duff, Co-Founder & Head of Asia Pacific - DrumG Financial Technologies
4. Altona Widjaja, Vice President - OCBC Bank
5. Anson Zeall, Co-founder CEO/CTO, CoinPip
6. Ayesha Khanna, CEO - ADDO AI
7. Chia Hock Lai, President - Singapore Fintech Association
8. Dan Liebau, Founder - Lightbulb Capital
9. Daphne Ng, CEO - Jupiter Chain
10. Darius Sit, Managing Partner - QCP Capital
11. David Hardoon, Chief Data Officer - Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
12. David Lee, Co-founder - BlockAsset
13. Dušan Stojanović, Founder and Director - True Global Ventures
14. Fernn Lim, Head, Culture and Fintech Acceleration - The Open Vault at OCBC
15. Gina Heng, Founder - Miss Kaya
16. Hope Liu, CEO - Eximchain
17. Igor Pesin, Partner / Investment Director, Life.SREDA VC
18. Jacqueline Loh, Deputy Managing Director - Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
19. Janet Young, MD & Head, Group Channels & Digitalization - United Overseas Bank (UOB)
20. Joe Seunghyun Cho, Co-founder and Founding CEO - LATTICE80
Top 20 Fintech Influencers by LATTICE80
VC in Southeast Asia and Singapore
Pulse of Fintech Q4'17, Global Analysis of Investment in Fintech, KPMG International
7.86B Total Southeast Asia (US$)
5.6B Total Singapore (US$)
229M Fintech (US$)
VC investment in the region has duplicated from
2016 to 2017 with Singapore representing more than
70% of the total invested in the region in 2017.
Venture Capital in Singapore
Fintech is the most relevant industry for venture capitalist in Singapore, therefore, most of the local funds
invest in fintech. Also, Singapore is the main market to enter in Southeast Asia, therefore, many Japanese and
Chinese funds setup a local office. There are also some fintech focused investors such as Vectr, Tryb, Lightbulb
Capital, Arbor, and Life.Sreda that have Singapore as a key market. Here follows a list of the most relevant
investors investing in Fintech in Singapore:
Due to its open regulation to ICO, Singapore has become the 3nd largest ICO market in the world behind
only US and Switzerland. Which makes many startups from the region going there to improve their odds of
raising an ICO successfully; a such example is the Philippine startup Acudeen that went to Singapore to
raise US$ 35 M in its ICO.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
● US$ 381 million raised in ICOs so far
● US$ 25 million is the average raised per ICO
Although open to ICOs, the Singaporean regulator still wants to protect investors. It has
issued a warn to some crypto exchanges as well as some companies that did ICOs that
were considered a security instead of a utility token (link). Also, the MAS has issued a
guide to digital token offerings (link) to prevent further problems.
US$ 80 Million
US$ 105 Million
US$ 30 Million
US$ 20 Million
US$ 19.5 Million
US$ 34 Million
US$ 20 Million
US$ 22 Million
● Map of VCs: http://mapofthemoney.com/index.html
● Top 50 VCs: https://www.drwealth.com/venture-capital-singapore/
● 8 Fintech VCs: http://fintechnews.sg/23097/funding/fintech-investors-and-vcs-in-singapore-funding-startup/
● SFA Directory of Fintechs: https://directory.singaporefintech.org/
● Banking Industry Overview:
● MAS Financial Institutions Directory: https://eservices.mas.gov.sg/fid
● Regulation Overview:
● Set-up a Fintech Business in Singapore: https://singaporelegaladvice.com/set-up-fintech-business-singapore
● UOB - State of Fintech in ASEAN:
● EY - ASEAN Fintech Census:
● Startupbootcamp Fintech and PwC - The State of Fintech 2017:
● Google and Temasek Report on SEA:
● Jungle Ventures - SEA Venture: Discovering Opportunity in a fragmented market.
● Singapore Startup Ecosystem and Entrepreneur Toolbox:
● Singapore's Tech-Enabled Start-up Ecosystem
Extra Resources - Reports
Citi Citizen in Singapore
CFA, Kellogg MBA, and tech
I'm very thankful to some people that collaborated with this material by giving their
feedback and correcting some information. Big thanks to:
Co-founder & Director at Tryb
Early stage fintech investor in
Portfolio Director at
Life.SREDA and COO Arival
ASEAN FinTech Lead at EY
Founding Member at SFA and
Fintech Partner at PwC
Chia Hock Lai
President at Singapore Fintech
Advisor in many fintechs
Wanna have a coffee? I would love to hear your take on the
material and the fintech ecosystem in Singapore. Also, I
would be happy to talk about VC, fintech, Security Tokens,
and Latin America. Schedule below:
Send me your feedback and comments on my
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