SINGAPORE – Information on insurance polices offered by various insurers in Singapore will be added to the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex), said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Wednesday (2 November).
In his opening address at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2022 at the Singapore Expo, Wong said that this addition to SGFinDex will enable Singaporeans to have a more comprehensive view of their finances.
This, he said, is an example of how technology can empower not only businesses and individuals.
"Technology can help individuals take better care of themselves. Planning for your finances, for example, is a step towards having less stress in life and building a more resilient financial future. But to do an in-depth review of your financial situation, you need access to data," Wong said.
SGFinDex was launched in 2020, to give individuals an overview of information from banks and government agencies including loan desposit and CPF balances. With SGFinDex, individuals can access consolidated data from different private and public agencies, all in one page.
The insurers involved currently are AIA Singapore, AXA, Great Eastern, Income, Manulife, Prudential and Singlife with Aviva.
Technology helps enhance productivity and connectivity
It is intrinsic in the Singaporean mentality to always strive to do better, and technology helps with that, Wong noted. "We are always trying to improve and do better... in Singapore, we embrace a healthy level of constructive paranoia and divine discontent," Wong said. "We are never fully satisfied with the status quo and we are endlessly striving to do better... and technology is the key enabler for us to do this."
"We are always looking at ways to use digital technologies to streamline and further improve business processes," he added.
To this end, Wong announced that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will invest S$150 million in the next three years to further encourage innovation in the financial sector. This includes in artificial intelligence, environmental, social and governance (ESG) sectors.
Still, while technology can be a force for good, governments and businesses need to be mindful of its societal impact, he said.
An example is how electronic payments have proliferated in Singapore in recent years, Wong said. "They are more convenient, more efficient and they are widely available. Think about this: when was the last time you had to write a cheque? I have not done this for years. I can't even remember when my cheque book is now."
"So the use of cheques has declined sharply in Singapore. The share of checks as a proportion of payments used to be 32 per cent in 2016. Now, it has come down to seven per cent," Wong noted.
To be more productive overall, the government aims to eliminate all cheque and terminate central cheque-clearing over the medium term, Wong said. MAS begun a public consultation exercise on Wednesday to seek views on the proposed initiatives to eliminate centrally cleared cheques used by corporates by 2025.
But, among the individual users of cheques, "we recognise that there are some, especially seniors, who are still not comfortable with e-banking and e-payments", Wong added.
"We must not forget about them. To ensure that our e-payment journey is inclusive, we will provide a longer runway for individuals to switch to alternative payment methods," he said.