Written by Richard Wee, Muhammad Anwar, Ng Chin Yang, Lim Zhi Ying, Ashleshaa
Financial technology, or mainly known as Fintech has been a booming industry ever since the strike of Covid-19 when contactless transactions were the only means of dealing. It has become more convenient for every one of every age as everything is mostly one tap away. However, with how simple Fintech has become it can very easily get out of hand without proper supervision. Hence come into play the regulations governing financial technology. Different countries regulate on different playbooks.
This seven part series will highlight Fintech Regulations in several countries within Asia Pacific, namely:
Singapore has established itself as a global fintech hub, fostering innovation in financial technology while maintaining a robust regulatory framework. Fintech businesses in Singapore must navigate a complex legal landscape, drawing from various laws and regulations to ensure compliance. This part explores the fundamental laws and regulations that impact the fintech industry in Singapore, spanning financial, business, currency, cybersecurity, anti-money laundering (AML), and data protection aspects.
Financial Regulation: The Securities and Futures Act (SFA) of 2001 oversees securities and futures trading, prioritising investor protection and market integrity. The Financial Advisers Act of 2001 is dedicated to the governance of financial advisory services, ensuring the licensing and regulation of financial advisers while fostering professionalism and safeguarding clients’ interests. The Banking Act of 1970 is vital in regulating banking activities, emphasising stability and soundness within the banking sector. The Insurance Act of 1966 provides the legal framework for insurance operations, focusing on upholding policyholders’ interests. The Payment Services Act of 2019 (PSA) is a pivotal regulation for payment services, encompassing digital payment tokens, to enhance consumer protection and foster innovation. Lastly, the Moneylenders Act 2008 governs money lending activities, actively promoting responsible lending practices. Together, these regulations form a comprehensive framework ensuring the integrity and security of Singapore’s financial ecosystem.
Business Regulation: The Companies Act of 1967 lays down the foundational rules governing company incorporation, management, and corporate governance. It is relevant for fintech firms operating as companies within the Singaporean business landscape. This comprehensive legislation ensures transparency, accountability, and effective corporate governance, contributing to the overall business environment’s integrity and robustness in the fintech sector and beyond.
Currency and Monetary Regulation: The Currency Act 1967 serves as the cornerstone for overseeing the issuance and management of currency, playing a fundamental role in underpinning the nation’s monetary stability. By establishing clear guidelines and mechanisms for currency-related operations, the Currency Act contributes significantly to maintaining the integrity and reliability of Singapore’s monetary system, thereby fostering economic stability and trust in the financial sector.
Commodity Regulation: The Commodity Trading Act of 1992 was designed to meticulously oversee and regulate various commodity trading activities, with a primary objective of ensuring the maintenance of fair and transparent markets.
Cybersecurity Laws or Regulations: Singapore has established a comprehensive framework to address the evolving cybersecurity laws. The Copyright Act of 2021 serves to combat copyright infringement, particularly pertinent to fintech businesses involved in electronic content distribution. Singapore’s commitment to cyber resilience is evident through the Cybersecurity Act of 2018, which imposes cybersecurity requirements on vital information infrastructure owners and service providers, bolstering the nation’s ability to withstand cyber threats. The Strategic Goods (Control) Act of 2002 is crucial in controlling the trade of specific products and technologies, including information security systems, to safeguard national interests. The Computer Misuse Act 1993 protects digital content from unauthorised access or modification, enforcing penalties for offences. Furthermore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued guidelines on Risk Management Practices – Technology Risk, providing essential risk management principles for financial institutions, including fintech companies, to manage technological risks effectively. MAS also issues Notices on Cyber Hygiene, outlining cybersecurity precautions for financial institutions and capital market intermediaries, contributing to the overall resilience of the financial sector against the increasing threats in cyberspace. These laws and regulations form a robust cybersecurity framework, enhancing Singapore’s position as a trusted and secure fintech hub.
Anti-Money Laundering Regulations: AML and CFT regulations align with international standards, following Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidelines. Relevant laws include the Terrorist (Suppression of Financing) Act and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking, and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act. The Payment Services (Amendment) Parliament has strengthened AML/CFT measures, especially for virtual assets, and granted regulatory authority over DPT service providers.
Regulation of Personal Data: Personal Data Protection Act (2012) (PDPA): Governs the collection, use, and transmission of personal data, ensuring data privacy and security. Personal Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2020 introduced a mandatory data breach notification regime and expanded the “consent framework.” Mishandling personal data is now an offence with varying penalties. Fintech companies dealing with substantial customer data in compliance with KYC laws must establish data privacy frameworks to balance data usage while respecting customer data privacy rights.
In conclusion, Singapore’s fintech regulatory landscape is characterised by a multifaceted framework, adapting to technological advancements and international standards. Fintech businesses must understand and comply with these diverse laws and regulations to operate securely and innovatively in the Singaporean fintech ecosystem. As Singapore continues evolving as a fintech hub, regulators and businesses will play pivotal roles in shaping a dynamic and responsible industry.
- Levin, Richard, and Kevin Tran. “Fintech 2022 – Vietnam Chapter.” Global Legal Insights.
Published on 30 October 2023