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MAS plans cross-border tie-ups on blockchains, e-payments; to develop 80 Robinson as fintech hub

Singapore plans to work with partners in Hong Kong and Canada in developing the use of blockchain technology, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on Tuesday.

SINGAPORE plans to work with partners in Hong Kong and Canada in developing the use of blockchain technology, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on Tuesday.

The MAS will set up a cross-border platform with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to boost trade finance using distributed ledger technology. This will enable the seamless transfer of digital documents and data across the Singapore-Hong Kong trade corridor. This is expected to go live in early 2019.

Speaking to participants of the Singapore Fintech Festival 2017, MAS managing director Ravi Menon said that blockchain technology offers good promise to make trade finance safer and more efficient. He said that today, trade finance is largely paper-based. This is not only inefficient, but increases risks such as fraud and duplicate invoicing, he added.

The MAS also plans to collaborate with the Bank of Canada to link both of their payments system that test the use of distributed ledger technology for cross-border payments.

In the area of retail payments, the MAS and the Bank of Thailand have agreed to work together to link PayNow and Thailand's PromptPay. Both are peer-to-peer payments transfer schemes. This tie-up will enable someone in Singapore to send money instantly and securely to someone in Thailand, and vice versa, using just their mobile phone numbers.

To raise standards in cybersecurity, the MAS will partner the Association of Banks in Singapore to review the technology risk management guidelines.

Separately, Mr Menon mentioned at the festival that in order to sustain Singapore's fintech efforts, a strong pipeline of talent and research capabilities will be required.

To this end, MAS is launching a S$27 million Artificial Intelligence & Data Analytics Grant that will "support the adoption and integration of AI and data analytics in financial institutions". This will enable professionals in the financial sector to upskill and adapt to the use of new technologies, he said.

In addition, MAS on Tuesday announced that it has entered into a research and development (R&D) fintech collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This will see local fintech talents work alongside world-class researchers at the MIT Media Lab to discover technology solutions that can solve real-world problems, Mr Menon said. Among other technologies, pilots using distributed ledger technology, cryptography and machine learning will be conducted.

Lastly, the MAS managing director stated that "no innovation ecosystem is complete without physical spaces to facilitate experimentation and collaboration".

Launched last year, Singapore's first fintech innnovation village, LATTICE80 occupied two floors at 80 Robinson Road. Now, the entire building will become a fintech innovation hub named 80RR. The space of 100,000 square feet will be dedicated to housing fintechs in the heart of the financial district.

For more coverage of the Fintech Festival, go to

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