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Singapore Continues The Asian Race: $150M Invested in Digital Generation

Anna Zhygalina

In a recent survey of Asian markets, we have already said that Singapore became a Mecca for blockchain startups last year. And now the two technological Asian countries compete on the market. In this article, we will consider in details the prerequisites and the government efforts that led to this phenomenon, when a small city-state, non-rich with natural resources had turned out to grow a rapidly developing digital market, that attracts large global investors.

Singapore will become a global blockchain center

On the blockchain summit Blockchain Seoul 2018, we spoke to the President of Singapore FinTech Association Chia HOCK LAI. In an exclusive interview for Bitnewstoday.com Mr. HOCK LAI said that blockchain technology is so global, and the market is so large that it should be based on a new understanding of competition for effective and mutually beneficial cooperation: "In fact Korea, Japan, Singapore - they have to validate transactions if we do create the global blockchain project. So, we are not competitors, we are best to describe as “co-operators”. We compliment but we compete in a healthy way. Because in a competition we get more innovation".

According to him, each country needs to be developed on the basis of its own capabilities and needs, as the pursuit of innovation should not harm the improvement: “In terms of regulations we have to keep up to make sure that we provide the necessary environment that will encourage the blockchain innovation. While ensuring that financial stability of Singapore is not affected. And like I have mentioned in my speech Singapore could become the next financial blockchain center”.

In his plans, the President of Singapore FinTech Association mentioned that he intends to continue the reorganization started in August: in the near future, these experiments will affect the legislative framework for security tokens, as well as the creation of a decentralized autonomous ICO platform. The FinTech Association has big and ambitious plans, according to Mr. HOCK LAI: "Hopefully I would be able to insure a stablecoin soon based on a Singapore dollar. Because i’ve mentioned that crypto tokens volatility is simply too high that is not suitable for most investors and directly inhibits the mass adoption of this technology".

Not afraid of brain drain - go and explore the world

From a small, poor third world country, the city-state of Singapore has become a dynamic metropolis of Asia. In 2017, Singapore ranked the third world place among the number of funds collected through ICO. And in the first quarter of 2018, according to ICORatings, Singapore came in second place in the number of registered companies conducted ICO. In the USA the 59 projects raised about $583,8 million, in Singapore 34 projects attracted $468,1 million.

According to Unacast Singapore is preparing to become the one of the most advanced nations in terms of digital literacy today and is one of the smartest world’s cities in terms of technological innovations. Here children since kindergarten study algorithmic abilities doing their classes on the digital tablets. And the government employees from all levels are taught the latest achievements in cybersecurity, data collection and analysis. It seems that Singapore is not just trying to improve the welfare of the population, protecting the country from the crisis, but is preparing itself to become a hotbed of the digital economy.

Singapore is actively introducing new retraining programs: "In particular, for professionals, it emphasises a lot on job mobility for people who are currently in non digital or non technology related industries. We call it the Professional Conversion Programme," says Louis TYLER, a participant of the state program SkillsFuture. He worked for a government organization where the program was launched and was one of the first in the country to receive a grant. "It was just a practical masterclass session that lasted for 3 days, taught by industry experts in the advertising space. It gave me a choice in what profession sphere I want to pursue - skillsfuture is a $500 grant given to all citizen to choose what they want to learn. And I choose digital and social media because 5 years ago it was definitely an in-demand skill. I think it set me apart from my peers and landed me a role to work in Microsoft".

However, it is recognized that sometimes he wants to try his skills in another country: “I feel that Singapore is definitely still trying to play catch-up, in terms of trying to keep up and stay relevant and prepared for the future, but at the same time we can see that it’s trying extra hard - almost struggling - to find a niche for itself”.

And here is the owner of several online platforms based on DLT Jeremy KHOO in an interview for Bitnewstoday.com expressed a more optimistic view in this regard: "As long as Singapore keeps up the ease of conducting business and allows for capital flows in a pragmatic manner, top companies will always consider this a major port of call for their commercial dealings. This will consequently result in highly talented Singaporeans and foreigners alike choosing Singapore over other countries".

This is also confirmed by Kathiravan MANOHARAN, an emigrant from India. He is now one of Singapore's leading digital transformation analysts and experts. He believes that Singapore's economy is being developed sufficiently by the government: "Singapore has the transformation road maps in place for 23 industries and the support for every stage is in place. I think Singapore is moving in the right direction". Recall that the government has invested in this program $4,5 billion in 2016. And recently, the government of Singapore announced that the national research Fund (NRF) will invest up to $150 million into the new program AI Singapore to study the 12.000 people advanced IT during five years.  

Startups are waiting for new angels

The authorities support the private sector by all means, attracting investors from other countries with a simple and convenient regulatory system. For example, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) opened its doors for business angels and venture funds to stimulate the development of small business and, as we see, it has given the results. Now Singapore is a key startup hub in Asia, where you can register a company in 15 minutes by an online service. And venture funds has also got the facilitated possibility for registration: "The requirement for the presence of a certain amount of capital will be canceled, as there are requirements for independent evaluation, internal audit and provision of audited financial statements," the MAS announced.
Mr. KHOO believes that the high digital literacy of the population has made his country a hotbed for the development of startups, providing investors with unlimited opportunities for testing and scaling. "Singapore is one of the easiest places to conduct business, with a clear and transparent regulatory and funding environment. A lot of leading influencers come to Singapore, following the wave of support from the private and public sector concurrently. In the blockchain realm in particular, it is a well known fact that many high profile educators, investors and leaders have called Singapore their home.

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