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Fintech firms to get access to Singapore's real-time payment system

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Singapore will open up its real-time and round-the-clock payment system - known as FAST - to financial technology (fintech) firms to broaden access to various payments players, said Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung on Monday.

SINGAPORE will open up its real-time and round-the-clock payment system - known as FAST - to financial technology (fintech) firms to broaden access to various payments players, said Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung on Monday.

Speaking at the launch of the SGQR, Mr Ong said that the latest development in opening up the FAST system is a "major milestone" in Singapore's infrastructure development. SGQR is a single and standardised QR code for e-payments in Singapore.

"We will allow non-bank players to have direct access to FAST. This is to enable their e-wallets to bring greater convenience to consumers," he said. Mr Ong added that e-wallets are regulated under a much simpler framework that has been "calibrated" to payment activity, and only the risks that payments pose. E-wallet operators cannot operate like banks in taking deposits or giving loans.

Singapore will form a Direct FAST industry working group, which would include banks, non-banks, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), to develop business and technical requirements for non-banks to connect directly to FAST. Grab, Liquid Group, MatchMove, Razer and TransferWise have signed up for this working group. 

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Mr Ong said that the government will look at parties interested in building and operating a FAST aggregator, which would help lower costs by bringing together the technical requirements across a number of players. 

"As we enable more non-bank players to connect to FAST, MAS expects them to adopt a mindset of open accessibility and good customer service. They have to provide two-way payments between e-wallets and bank accounts," said Mr Ong.

"Open access to a common infrastructure like FAST means that banks and non-banks will have to compete harder to gain and retain customers. They will have to innovate and offer value-added services constantly to stay ahead of the curve."

Mr Ong added that financial institutions, including banks and payment providers, must put in place "robust cyber defences" so that customers have confidence in carrying out online financial transactions.

"Safety underpins our e-payments journey."