In the race to be the premier fintech hub, Singapore concedes no ground to London, New York, and Silicon Valley, and the island city-states central bank is all-in. In July 2015, Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon announced the bank had created a fintech and innovation group to orchestrate regulatory policies and development strategies to promote Singapore as a smart financial center. The groups chief fintech officer, Sopnendu Mohanty, says the vision is one that is characterized by innovation, and where businesses and people benefit from the use of technology. The initiative is an outgrowth of the Financial Sector Technology & Innovation project, set up by MAS in June 2015 with S$225 million ($162 million) to deploy over five years to create a fertile fintech environment, including innovation centers to attract R&D labs. MAS has delineated seven areas capable of transforming financial services: digital and mobile payments; blockchain and distributed ledger; advanced sensors; learning machines; big data; cloud computing; and authentication and biometrics. These are to be supported by a strong API [application programming interface] architecture and enhanced cybersecurity, says Mohanty, 45, who previously spent 12 years with Citibank, most recently as global head of consumer lab networks and programs. From 2010 to 2014 he was Citis Asia-Pacific head of branch operations and led its Singapore consumer innovation lab. MAS seeks to encourage a just do it mind-set, Mohanty explains. Financial institutions can launch their innovative solutions without first seeking MASs endorsement if they are satisfied with their own due diligence in terms of risk management and compliance with relevant regulations. Where regulatory compliance is unclear, financial institutions and fintech companies can adopt a regulatory sandbox to launch innovative solutions within controlled boundaries, where the risks can be contained. A native of Balasore, India, Mohanty graduated from Birla Institute of Technology in Ranchi in 1995 with a degree in information science. Since 2011 he has coauthored four patent filings related to retail distribution in the financial sector. In the field of innovation, you learn something new every day, Mohanty says. My personal and professional journey prepared me well for dealing with uncertainties.
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