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Financial Institutions in Singapore Need to Adopt APIs to Keep Pace with the Digital Economy

December 14, 2016

While financial institutions in Singapore are acutely aware that they need to be agile and digitally transform to stay ahead and engage the increasingly digitally enabled consumers, many of them may not know where and how to start.

Recognising that financial institutions need help and support to transform their legacy systems, the Association of Banks in Singapore launched the “Finance-as-a-Service: API Playbook” at the Singapore FinTech Festival held recently.

This playbook provides guidance to financial institutions, FinTech players and other interested entities in developing and adopting an open Application Programming Interface (API) based system architecture.

Deloitte was involved in the production of the playbook that provides insights into why the financial services industry should adopt APIs, how industry players can leverage on seamless data exchange through APIs to encourage innovative thinking and actions, and how they can build and develop APIs within their organisations to take their business to the next level in the digital economy.

“The digital economy finds its innovation efforts being stifled by legacy. In this environment, the adoption of APIs by the financial services industry can help boost innovation and business agility, clearly making APIs a critical enabler to support the acceleration of digital economy,” said Mr Mohit Mehrotra, Strategy Consulting Leader, Deloitte Southeast Asia.

“Organisations need to ensure APIs have the clarity of a well-positioned product – a clear intention, a clean definition of the value, and perhaps more importantly, a clearly defined audience. It is important to plant the seed of how business services and APIs can unlock new business models,” added Mohit.

“Open APIs are especially important. They are great time savers and will contribute significantly to a thriving Fintech ecosystem,” said Mr Ho Kok Yong, Financial Services Industry Leader, Deloitte Southeast Asia.

“The APIs is one of the many ways, financial services industry players can digitally transform their operations and services to remain competitive in today’s marketplace. Our collaboration with ABS and key financial institutions encourages the development and uptake of APIs, and is a sign of strong support from industry players in both public and private sectors to help Singapore advance its position as a Smart Financial Centre,” added Kok Yong.

See: Fintech is Shaking up the Banking and Financial Services Industry in Singapore

“Regional integration and the digital economy are both big opportunities in what is one of the world’s fastest growing regions. All manner of business, from the start-up to the regional champion as well as the multinational, will benefit if the AEC framework puts the digital economy front and center. Now is the time to do so,” Jeff Pirie, AEC Leader, Deloitte Southeast Asia added.

In Singapore and throughout ASEAN, these policies can support modern high-tech industries, enhance the development of e-commerce, help small and medium enterprises reach customers and optimise their businesses, enable financial inclusion, and encourage foreign investment.

However, governments need to consider regulatory, legal and policy issues stemming from technology, platforms and providers. Privacy, security, intellectual property and customer protection are some of the issues that need to be addressed if countries are to benefit from the digital economy.

It is also essential to ensure that it is the risk that is regulated. Further, inter-agency cooperation is essential if ASEAN member states are suppose to have effective digital laws and regulations, as issues cut across many different sectors.

Amol Gupte, Citi Country Officer (CCO) for Singapore and Head of ASEAN said, “Digitisation of financial services has a positive impact on ASEAN integration and the economies of Southeast Asia. To maximize the full potential of digitisation across the region, there is need for a supportive policy framework. Particularly crucial is the ability to move data quickly and seamlessly across borders which will benefit trade, increase innovation and support financial inclusion. Citi is committed to helping its clients benefit from the opportunities digital networks bring such as in the area of payment innovation.”

Also, a new centre to encourage financial institutions in Asia Pacific to share their cybersecurity information and analysis will be jointly established by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC).

MAS and FS-ISAC will establish the Asia Pacific Regional Intelligence and Analysis Centre and the Singapore-based facility will begin operations in the first half of 2017. The centre will employ local analysts who will monitor cyber threats to member financial institutions in the region, and provide analysis as well as recommend courses of action to mitigate those threats.

Also read: S’pore’s financial sector needs more resilient workforce: Patrick Tay

Image credit: worldfinance.com

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