Digital Finance: MAS MD Explains How Fintech Can Boost Financial Inclusion

In an interview as part of the Fintech Abu Dhabi Festival taking place this week, Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), discussed how Fintech or digital finance has been boosted by the COVID health crisis.

Digital Transformation

Menon shared that a recent survey conducted by MAS that 80% of Singaporeans agreed that they will continue to bank online after COVID-19. The other 20%  are challenged to go digital, perhaps due in part to age. Yet, Singapore is working to help the population go digital with programs like Seniors Go Digital and Hawkers Go Digital.

While the Seniors program is pretty obvious, the Hawkers is to convert small businesses, like food vendors, to adopt digital payments, etc.

Menon explained that incorporating Fintech is not just about targeting the non-banked or underbanked segment of the population but providing better options – as more sophisticated tools and services are now readily available to a far wider audience. Fintech is good for everyone. The provider as well as the user.

Menon stated:

“[It’s] not just financing, but also access to more trading opportunities, supply management services, and meeting overall business needs through digital platforms. If they can do that, many of these small and medium enterprises can achieve a substantial increase in productivity

We think the most efficient way to enhance the digital inclusion of SMEs and empower them to have better business opportunities is through utility-like digital platforms, into which they can plug and play, rather than build a comprehensive, bespoke digital infrastructure for each SME. To reach out to so many SMEs, to get them to build their own proprietary digital capabilities and infrastructure – it’s going to be hugely difficult. The more effective option is to provide simple utility-like digital platforms, for which they just need some basic digital connectivity capabilities and they can plug into. Let me give two examples.”

It is a brief, yet interesting, interview. You may download the transcript here.

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