Financial planning can become an arduous task when you have to login to multiple accounts, tally your balances, and manually pool data into a spreadsheet. Thankfully, that’s now a thing of the past.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has launched a platform to give users a consolidated view of their financial data across different government and financial institutions.
This is but just one tool under its belt, as the nation charges forward with its plan to become a smart financial centre. Alan Lim, Head of the MAS FinTech Infrastructure Office, shared more at the recent Apidays conference.
A consolidated financial data platform
The platform is known as the Singapore Financial Data Exchange, or SGFinDex. With users’ consent, it brings all financial data such as account balances, credit cards, loans, tax information and investments, into one place. This gives users a “holistic view” of their financial health, Lim said.
Users also have the option to disconnect particular bank accounts if they wish to, said Eric Chang, Lead Solution Architect at GovTech, at a separate session during the Apidays conference.
The SGFinDex acts as a “single gateway” between service providers and data sources, Chang added. This has saved service providers the time and effort required to retrieve data from multiple sources.
SGFinDex rides on SingPass, Singapore’s national digital identity system, to authenticate users’ identities. Users have to provide consent every time data is shared, he said.
Users’ financial data are also encrypted, and only authorised financial planning applications are able to decrypt the data, Chang said. SGFinDex does not store the customer data, MAS’ Lim said.
The platform currently incorporates data from seven participating banks. Those who are not customers of these banks can use MyMoneysense, a financial planning initiative by the Ministry of Manpower.
MAS is “not stopping at banks”, said Lim. It is looking to integrate data from insurance companies and The Singapore Exchange’s Central Depository, a platform for citizens to manage their stocks and securities.
As of this February, about 120,000 unique users have linked up 160,000 accounts with SGFinDex, GovTech’s Chang added. This is “not too shabby”, and the team is expecting numbers to go even higher as more financial apps are rolled out.
MAS is also focusing on creating opportunities for small and medium businesses to expand beyond the domestic market, Lim said.
Its Business Sans Borders initiative acts as a one-stop platform for businesses to connect to an international group of buyers and sellers. The platform uses AI to help businesses discover sales opportunities and digital solutions that match their needs.
The central bank has also built Project Ubin, a blockchain-based system that makes cross-border payments and settlements cheaper and faster for these businesses.
Singapore launched the APIX platform to help financial institutions and fintech firms collaboratively design new digital services with application programming interfaces (APIs). They speed up the process of building new banking services by reusing existing data and infrastructure.
Over 70 financial institutions and 400 fintechs across 30 countries have used the platform so far, Lim said.
Singapore will also focus on enabling “safe, simple and speedy” e-payments for consumers, Lim said.
It has a series of e-payment services under its belt. This includes FAST, a digital service that enables customers to transfer funds from one bank to another in Singapore almost instantly. PayNow, a digital payments app, enables customers to transfer funds to friends and family just with their phone numbers or Singapore identification number.
The country plans to extend these two e-payment services to non-bank e-wallet providers, such as GrabPay, Lim said.
Currently, most e-wallets require debit or credit cards to top-up funds, and funds transfers between e-wallets are not possible. This shift will enable users without debit cards to easily top up their e-wallets. Users of non-bank e-wallets will also be able to transfer funds across bank accounts and e-wallets.
This “gives a wider access to a wider set of players” in the payment services market, Lim said. That would create more opportunities to innovate in the industry, and MAS is “really excited” to see what happens from here.
Singapore is going full steam ahead with its fintech efforts. These digital tools are key to its vision of becoming a smart financial centre.