Good news for Singapore-based financial services professionals like Anton Casey – a new innovation within the country’s finance world is changing the way citizens conduct business. The primary goal of the new innovation is to drastically increase the speed of financial transactions, and this increased speed can bring a new level of potential for around-the-clock service and improved commerce.
According to a recent article from Channel NewsAsia, a new upgrade has just made its way to the payment and banking infrastructure of Singapore. The new system, called Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST), is primarily intended to speed up the ability for banks to transfer money between one another. The new program allows instantaneous transfers at any time of day. This means more transfers can occur over a 24-hour period – a groundbreaking innovation within the country’s current financial system.
Channel NewAsia contributor Linette Lim describes how significant this change will be from a country that has conducted finance the same way for three decades. According to Lim, "In an increasingly digitized and connected world, consumers have come to expect that transactions can be done instantly. However, a funds transfer between two different banks [in Singapore] takes two to three working days. Currently, funds transfers work on GIRO – a system which has been around for 30 years.”
As finance professionals like Anton Casey recognize, this big change will mean a whole new way of conducting business in Singapore.
Singapore Entering the 21st Century with a Bang
The FAST system will work similarly to how banking works in other countries throughout the world. Singapore’s prior system – GIRO – marked an old-fashioned method behind the technological curve. But FAST works to make changes that take Singapore directly into the 21st century for technology, speed of service and convenience.
International finance managers like Anton Casey are especially excited about the instantaneous nature of transactions for both banks and citizens. The GIRO system would generally take anywhere from 48 to 72 hours for payments and transactions to process. This huge delay often caused headaches for both bankers and citizens alike. Because of these processing delays, there was no way the country could have competed with other nations within Europe and other areas of Asia.
Now that FAST is finally taking over operations, these types of headaches have become a thing of the past for Singapore. As professionals within the country begin to understand how to utilize the instantaneous nature of transactions FAST enables, several positive effects occur. First, this means that banker and client convenience increases immensely. Second, clients within Singapore will become more willing to take risks and increases Singapore’s potential in global finance.
Those within the finance network all across Singapore are hailing it as a progressive step toward reinventing the country’s ability to better service customers and clients alike. Professionals like Subba Vaidyanathan, the regional head of retail banking and products at Standard Chartered, also report that the higher speed means one very important improvement: increased productivity. “[FAST] also dramatically improves the way we look at productivity,” Vaidyanathan recently said, “because in a more digitized world, this should be the natural way in which we should be doing banking.”
Pranav Seth, head of e-business & business transformation at OCBC Bank, reinforces Vaidyanathan’s feelings on the new changes and how effectively they can help Singapore’s international presence in finance. As he stated, “With this advanced payment infrastructure, this definitely puts Singapore on the map of countries with advanced payment networks, like South Korea and the United Kingdom.”
While many residents of the country have expressed some apprehension over these changes, industry veterans like Anton Casey recognize these are common feelings. Change is often a difficult process to accept and implement – particularly when it comes to finances. However, most financial experts believe that the change was a necessary step to keep Singapore operating its finance sector successfully.
As risk and financial services partner Mark Jansen of PwC Singapore recently discussed, the move to adapt FAST within the country is a power move to position the country into a more competitive global spot. In Jansen’s words, “Singapore is once again showing great foresight and while some people might be nervous, this is not hugely different from the nervousness that was once seen with the move to ATMs or even GIRO.”
Now that the country is starting a more widespread adoption of the FAST system, even more financial firms will likely improve their business operations. Although FAST is currently restricted to domestic transactions, the move represents an important step in placing Singapore in a better overall position within the global economy.
Getting Singapore Into a Global Presence
As the new system rolls into effect throughout Singapore, many banks and financial professionals are readjusting their business models to reflect the change. Bringing transfers to an electronic medium with instant results reflects a positive step toward becoming a more globally competitive country, and hedge fund managers like Anton Casey look forward to the rapid increase in speed and an immense increase in potential for commerce.
Harvey Greer contributed to this article.