SINGAPORE IS A BIG THING AT THE MOMENT, NOT TO MENTION THE STARTUP SCENE THERE AS WELL – EVER WONDERED WHY?
Singapore, as a colony, was founded in 1819 as a trading post of the British East India Company. By 1965 it gained independence and became a Republic, and today the Lion City is an economic tiger and along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan is one of the original Four Asian Tigers. With OCBC, DBS and UOB (Singaporean Banks) ranked amongst some of the strongest in the world by Bloomberg, the situation for Fintech StartUps and Banking in Singapore looks rosy, but does it?
On the 26th of February 1995, Barings, which had been the United Kingdom’s oldest merchant bank, was declared insolvent. Many people point the finger at Watford-born Nick Leeson, the man that many have dubbed the ‘Rogue Trader’.
Before Nick was extradited to Singapore in 1995, where he had been working for Barings since 1992, he attended Parmiters in Watford, about the same time as he was hanging around in Frankfurt, I did a semester at Parmiters too, we are both from the same town after all, so the chances were always high that we might attend the same school. This was probably the main reason I had ever really heard about Singapore, the story of Barings Bank and Nick Leeson. But this isn’t the only thing that I have in common with Nick, someone I consider to be an original Disruptor. With the growing role of Asia in Capital Markets, Singapore is once again gaining a lot of attention when it comes to Banking in Asia and it has caught my interest just as it once caught Nick’s.
Singapore is now a StartUp Hub, there is no question about this, and has come a long way since the collapse of Barings Bank. With favourable economic conditions, a good tax rate and one of the most corruption-free economies in the world, Singapore is an attractive investment destination. As a major financial hub, Hong Kong is still more important according to some, but Singapore’s economy is much more diverse and feels more Westernized which is in turn encouraging a stronger Tech scene than Hong Kong.
Some of the leaders of the StartUp scene in Singapore are people like: Jennifer Doherty at HSBC, Samuel Hall at Startupbootcamp, or Gerben Visser at the FinTech Consortium.
And there is a lot of interest in the Fintechs of Singapore, with PayPal, MasterCard, Wells Fargo, HSBC and Citi, to name just a few, all involved in accelerators on the island. Singapore is also ranked in the Top 5 Global Fintech StartUp Hubs alongside Silicon Valley, London, New York and Chicago.
So if you hadn’t considered it before, then it might be time to keep an eye on companies like: CoinPip, a unique Fintech StartUp helping to make payments less expensive using Blockchain technology, very useful with the Crypto market hitting global headlines as well. Or look at Datarama, a Regtech platform for bankers and investors setup in 2015 with access to online details of hundreds of thousands of companies and individuals interested in online investments, just two of the awesome Fintech StartUps growing in Singapore’s StartUp scene.
Europe is a traditional hub of innovation, but apart from London the rest of Europe is not on the global StartUp map really. With Stockholm, Berlin and Tel Aviv trying their best to keep up with London, and Sydney and Hong Kong trying very hard to keep up with Singapore in Asia the StartUp eco-system is constantly evolving. One thing is for sure though, Singapore and its’ StartUps supported by a very wealthy government have still got a long way to go and things will only get more exciting there! Banking is changing, and not just because of trends like Blockchain, but because the internet is making everything far more transparent.
Tune into some of the individuals, companies and organizations I’ve written about in this Article and I’m sure your horizons will be widened. Asia is being disrupted, and Singapore is leading the way!
It has been inspiring for me to share my perceptions on Singapore with you all. With some of the most impressive global Fintech events coming up in the World.
And finally, just to show you how much the Singapore Government is doing for the local StartUp scene: www.linkedin.com/company/govtech-singapore/ – lots of useful information there for those of you who want to understand how to build a StartUp legacy.