IN the latest sign of its financial technology (or fintech) ambitions, Singapore is starting them young. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has partnered the five local polytechnics to review and enhance their banking and IT-related curricula so that they are aligned with developments in the field.
Sopnendu Mohanty, MAS chief fintech officer, said on Monday that the initiative seeks to nurture a pool of skilled manpower for Singapore's growing fintech sector, and will be a key area of focus in the SkillsFuture drive for the financial sector.
Clarence Ti, principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, the SkillsFuture sector coordinator for accountancy and financial services, said: "Our partnerships with the industry will help ensure that polytechnic students acquire relevant skills to meet the evolving needs of the fintech sector."
He said that Ngee Ann Polytechnic will offer 100 fintech internships and a pool of 100 fintech mentors next year; it will invite companies to register their interest in providing internships and mentorship opportunities.
The four other polytechnics that signed memoranda of understanding with MAS are Nanyang Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic.
Alongside MAS, they will review their curriculum and facilitate internships for final-year students at fintech startups, financial institutions and regulatory bodies.
MAS will recommend industry mentors ranging from venture capitalists to incubator operators to these students. It will also introduce to them potential partners for their final-year projects, notably in areas such as agile software development, data analytics and application programming interface development.
The initiative will take place in the next three years, during which time more than 2,500 students in banking and IT-related courses in the polytechnics are expected to benefit each year.
Janet Young, head of group channels and digitalisation at UOB, said the initiative will foster the next generation of innovators, and shows Singapore's commitment to developing competencies in fintech.
Students will get a ringside seat to the "breadth of innovation, creativity and industry collaboration before a product goes to market", she said.
In August, MAS opened Looking Glass @ MAS, a regulatory sandbox to experiment with fintech solutions with startups and financial institutions, and to grow the fintech community.
Capbridge's chief executive Steven Fang, when asked if a regulator should be spearheading Singapore's fintech aspirations, replied that a "supportive regulatory environment" is key.
Capbridge is an online platform that enables growth companies to raise capital from institutional and accredited investors.
Mr Fang told The Business Times: "There are principally two ways to build a market: Allow it to evolve or curate it. In this case, given its incredibly strategic impact to our economy, it does make sense - to some extent - for regulators to drive the growth of fintech in Singapore."
He added that a right and necessary balance needs to be struck - to have regulators drive fintech growth and private fintech companies contribute and participate in the growth.