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Interview: Singapore must look to fintech, China for growth

Minister of Finance sees opportunities in Belt and Road Initiative

| China

SINGAPORE The banking sector of Singapore must embrace fintech and other innovations as the financial industry changes due to disruptive forces, said Heng Swee Keat, the city-state's minister of finance and the chair of the Future Economy Council. In a recent interview with the Nikkei Asian Review, Heng also said China's economic growth and its Belt and Road Initiative could help Singapore's position as a financial hub with increased yuan- and infrastructure-related financial products.

When it comes to innovation in the finance industry, fintech seems to be the buzzword. How is Singapore riding this wave? The fintech industry is developing in Singapore, [with over] 400 startups. The Monetary Authority of Singapore, as a regulator, has been facilitating this. All three local banks have been active [in this field]. To make sure the banks manage risk properly, we have a strict policy that banks should not do non-bank businesses. But today, the line between banking and commercial activities is no longer clear-cut. We want to give the banks some flexibility to get into new areas and to partner with key people. We want to encourage innovation.

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