June 2016

Singapore – A sandbox for Technology

Singapore, a land area of just 719sq km with a population of 5.5 million and according to the World Bank, “The country provides the world’s most business-friendly regulatory environment for local entrepreneurs and is ranked among the world’s most competitive economies.” As a country with no natural resources, Singapore has invested heavily in technology to be more competitive in the global economy and overcome the issues it faces. Some key examples:


Known to be a financial hub with stringent regulatory policies, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is focussed on maintaining the Singaporean financial system’s stability but is also not wanting to be left behind in the fintech race.

The MAS recently announced a new regulatory sandbox for financial institutions to test and introduce new financial services in a more breathable regulatory environment but within a defined space and duration. Fintech startups are assessed on criteria such as their level of innovation, whether the developer intends to deploy the solution on a broad scale and whether the service brings benefits to consumers and the industry.


The Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore is collaborating with technology companies to develop and enhance journey planning apps for commuters. The apps will help enable commuters pick the best multi-modal public transport routes using all available options such as trains, buses, walking, cycling and using personal mobility devices.

Commuters will benefit from using better journey plans that can help them take advantage of the various mobility options available to reach their destinations efficiently and comfortably. This initiative is in line with the Singapore Government’s efforts to promote walking, cycling and riding public transport as a way of life in Singapore, as well as the Smart Nation initiative to co-create better solutions with businesses and consumers.


The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is Singapore’s land use planning and conservation authority, whose role is to plan and facilitate Singapore’s physical development in partnership with the community.

The URA has just launched an online portal for people to search for information on land matters in Singapore. Previously enquiries took several days to search and due to the time and effort involved the URA would charge a fee for the information. With the portal, the information is freely available in an easily searchable way.



In the early parts of 2016, the Singapore Government committed S$19 billion to the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) plan, which will be carried out over the next five years, RIE2020. This represents an 18 percent increase on the previous RIE2015 (2011 to 2015) budget.

With an emphasis on public-private partnership, the new RIE2020 budget will emphasize public-private collaboration and the participation of multi-national companies (MNCs), large local enterprises (LLEs) and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

Government will also provide assistance for startups from early stage seed funding and encourage MNCs and LLEs to co-invest in promising start-ups, incubators and accelerators, particularly where management expertise, global supply chain and marketing networks of large firms will be able to give start-ups a push forward.

Leveraging the Future

Government intervention can be seen as a double edge sword, based on East & Partners Asia’s research which speaks mainly to SMEs in Singapore.

One in four businesses see Government regulation as the greatest risk to their business in the next three to five years, primarily due to the uncertainty around unknown regulatory change, something which businesses have no direct control over.

This however is an exciting time for business in Singapore, with clear support from the Government to push technology further.

CFOs in Singapore are also talking about technology implementations in their corporations. Recent East & Partners Asia recent research shows that two thirds (65 percent) of Singaporean businesses see the accelerated use of e-commerce giving them a more sustainable competitive edge. It is clear that companies in Singapore will ride this wave to build their future.






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