Earlier last week, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-In-Charge of the Smart Nation Minister Vivian Balakrishnan delivered his opening speech at Innovfest UnBound, the key event under Singapore Smart Nation Week, and what he shared was probably one of the most progressive ideas ever from a government minister.
Here’s the excerpt from Minister Balakrishnan’s speech:
“But because we believe that Singapore’s future does depend on us continuing to be a global financial centre, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has decided that we will create a “regulatory sandbox” for Fintech companies.”
“What this means is that if any of you have an idea, product or service in financial industries – you can start-up, you don’t need prior approval from the MAS. You can do anything you like as long as you don’t cheat anyone and you will not be smothered by regulations; until you become big enough to actually be a threat to the financial system but at that point you would already be considered a success. A regulatory sandbox gives you a conducive environment to test and grow your ideas without having to apply for a licence or a permit. We will only take a regulatory interest in you when you become big and successful enough to be a major player in the financial system as a whole. This gives you opportunities to be free to start-up and grow as quickly as you can.”
With the announcement, Singapore basically just allowed any fintech startups to do what they want and to disregard any regulation whatsoever.
And the FinTech industry is one that is booming – which we highlighted in a recent article, where there are 12 broad FinTech categories which are booming with disruptive startups now.
Another thing which Minister Balakrisnan has announced is also that the government will be moving into a potential company acquirer: where the government will be a smart buyer.
“Well guys do you have a solution for water, green energy and security? If your solution works, we will buy it from you but before that – we will give you the opportunity to build proofs-of-concept and prototypes. If it works, we can buy it from you.”
“So if any one of you has an idea, a product or service which makes lives better for citizens, come to Singapore prove it, test it, prototype it and upscale it. Ultimately, because we are smart buyers, this provides your companies opportunities to go to the rest of the world and say ‘this product worked in Singapore’, and you know that this means something.”
Earlier in 2013, Google’s cofounder and then CEO Larry Page also shared in an event that “as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out what is the effect on society, what’s the effect on people, without having to deploy kind of into the normal world. And people like those kind of things can go there and experience that and we don’t have mechanisms for that.”
With Minister Vivian’s recent announcement at Innovfest Unbound, it definitely sounds like Singapore is creating the environment Larry Page envisioned!