Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer: Singapore’s Fintech Scene on a “High Level”

Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer: Singapore’s Fintech Scene on a “High Level”

by April 19, 2017

Singapore’s fintech scene is on a “high level” and there are learning points for Switzerland, according to Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer. “We are a little bit not in the same speed like you… but I think we can go step by step.”

Ueli Maurer

Ueli Maurer, Switzerland’s Head of the Department of Finance

During his current journey across Asia, the Swiss Finance Minister stopped by Singapore and visited the city-state’s fintech hub Lattice80.

Speaking to the media, Maurer said that it was important for smaller countries like Singapore and Switzerland “to have good relationships.”

“Today is a step to network between the two countries,” Maurer said. “I think it is important that small countries [which] are important financial centers have this network and understand the need to cooperate. We are not competitors [and] we can cooperate together.”


A gateway to Asia


Singapore via Unsplash

Singapore’s fintech sector can benefit from its close proximity to bigger Asian markets and act as a gateway to Asia for Swiss fintech startups. For Singaporean ventures looking to expand into Europe, Switzerland can be their entry as well, Maurer said.

Gina Heng, co-founder of Lattice80 and CEO of Marvelstone Group, said that many European startup founders have opted to take up residence at the fintech hub as they consider Singapore as the first step for their ventures in the region.

“They see this as a central location to kick-start their companies,” Heng said.

“There’s good infrastructure and legal system, with a supportive government. We are also near to many countries which makes it easier in terms of outreach.”

Last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) signed a bilateral agreement to foster greater cooperation on fintech.

The agreement provides a framework for innovative fintech companies in Singapore and Switzerland to establish initial discussions in each other’s market and understand regulatory requirements, thus helping to reduce regulatory uncertainty and time to market.

It aims to allow new emerging fintech players incorporate their businesses in the two countries more easily and generate more opportunities for these startups in both nations.

Maurer, who was leading a 20-member delegation comprised of representatives of the Swiss banking industry, was in Singapore yesterday as part of a week-long trip in Asia.

Besides the Lattice80 tour, Maurer also held talks with Singapore’s local exchange, SGX, and the local banking association. On the second day of their stay, the representatives were due to meet with MAS.


Fostering collaboration

During another visit, the Swiss representatives also met with Chinese banks to examine a possible market entry in Switzerland.

Notably, the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPD) is said to be looking to expand in Switzerland, following the lead of the China Construction Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China which have both been granted a license from FINMA to develop so-called “renminbi hubs” in Switzerland. These hubs are meant to facilitate business and financial transactions with the Chinese currency for Swiss companies.

The week-long visit, which took place from April 12 to 19, included meetings with ministries and authorities, state institutions and financial center players in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Talks and meetings were primarily centered on bilateral and multi-lateral issues, and specific cooperation at the state and private sector levels, with a key focus on the best framework and conditions to support innovation in the financial sector.


Featured image: Singapore via Unsplash.