SINGAPORE – Information on insurance policies offered by various insurers in Singapore will be added to the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex), Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said on Wednesday (November 2).
In his keynote speech at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2022 at the Singapore Expo, Wong said this addition to SGFinDex will give Singaporeans a more comprehensive view of their finances.
This, he said, is an example of how technology can empower not just businesses and individuals.
“Technology can help people take better care of themselves. Planning your finances, for example, is a step towards a less stressful life and a more resilient financial future. But to do a thorough examination of your financial situation, you need access to data,” Wong said.
SGFinDex was launched in 2020, to give individuals insight into information from banks and government agencies, including loan deposits and CPF balances. With SGFinDex, individuals can access consolidated data from different private and public agencies, all on a single page.
The insurers currently involved are AIA Singapore, AXA, Great Eastern, Income, Manulife, Prudential and Singlife with Aviva.
Technology helps improve productivity and connectivity
It’s intrinsic to the Singaporean mentality to always strive to do better, and technology helps with that, Wong noted. “We’re always trying to improve and do better…in Singapore, we embrace a healthy level of constructive paranoia and divine displeasure,” Wong said. “We are never fully satisfied with the status quo and we are constantly striving to do better…and technology is the key factor in enabling us to achieve this.”
“We are always looking for ways to use digital technologies to further streamline and improve business processes,” he added.
To this end, Wong announced that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will invest S$150 million over the next three years to further encourage innovation in the financial sector. This includes the areas of artificial intelligence, environment, social and governance (ESG).
Yet while technology can be a force for good, governments and businesses need to be aware of its societal impact, he said.
One example is how electronic payments have proliferated in Singapore in recent years, Wong said. “They’re more convenient, more efficient and they’re widely available. Think about this: when was the last time you had to write a check? I haven’t done that in years. I can’t even remember when my checkbook is now.”
“Thus, the use of checks has declined sharply in Singapore. The share of checks as a proportion of payments was 32% in 2016. Today, it has fallen to 7%,” Wong noted.
To be more productive overall, the government aims to eliminate all checks and end central check clearing in the medium term, Wong said. MAS launched a public consultation exercise Wednesday to gather feedback on proposed initiatives to phase out centrally cleared checks used by businesses by 2025.
But, among individual check users, “we recognize that there are some, particularly seniors, who are still not comfortable with online banking and online payments,” Mr. Wong.
“We must not forget them. To ensure that our electronic payment journey is inclusive, we will offer individuals a longer track to switch to alternative payment methods,” he said.