Last week, I was in Singapore as part of a delegation consisting of representatives from Bangladesh Bank, a2i, Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation (SME Foundation), LightCastle Partners, and Sheba.xyz. The Frontier Technology Policy Experimentation and Regulatory Sandboxes program, spearheaded by UNDESA and a2i, intends to facilitate a regulatory sandbox for fostering digital lending to MSMEs in Bangladesh. LightCastle Partners has been providing technical assistance to the program since last year.
During the exposure visit, we met senior representatives from different government agencies (IMDA, Enterprise Singapore), social ecosystem enablers (Impact Investment Exchange (IIX)), Financial Institutions (Citi), and Fintech (TVS Digital Pte. Ltd., ADERA Global, Artha Credit, Accredify). These interactions have enabled our regulators and stakeholders to gain interesting perspectives and may eventually lead to necessary policy-level adjustments.
Sharing some of my key takeaways from our meetings:
The Singapore government, through IMDA, has latched on to the COVID-induced adoption of digital payments and has invested in demand- and supply-led initiatives to mainstream digital payments. IMDA’s efforts in educating MSMEs owners to adopt digital payments have also led to a marked improvement in the payments ecosystem.
Enhanced digital payment transactions at the MSME level have enabled Fintechs to efficiently use their credit scoring algorithm to evaluate the creditworthiness of micro and small enterprises.
Enterprise Singapore has been playing a pivotal role in supporting localized micro and small enterprises, enabling better connectivity with other ecosystem actors, and matching funds for greater adoption of innovative technological solutions.
Singapore’s regulatory system encourages the flotation of innovative financial products like Women’s Livelihood Bonds and Orange Bonds on the Singapore Stock Exchange, enabling organizations like IIX to invest in impact-driven MSMEs.
In the coming week, I’m hoping to write a detailed piece based on my reflections and learnings from the visit.