Inaugural Digital Banking Symposium 2020: The Future of Banking - Invisible, Intuitive, Integrated

  • Two industry reports on digital banking were released and they pointed towards a bright future for Singapore’s Finance and FinTech sectors, with more job opportunities ahead’

Singapore, 3 November 2020 Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) and Banking and Financial Services Union (BFSU) today jointly organised the first Digital Banking Symposium 2020, being held from 3-4 November 2020. This symposium aims to help attendees deep dive and explore the impact that Digital Banks will bring to Singapore and the ASEAN region. The event was graced by Mr Ng Chee Meng, Secretary-General, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) who officiated the start of the two-day virtual symposium. Following his opening address, Mr Ng also launched two key industry reports focussed on the global and ASEAN digital banking landscape and development (Refer to Section A).

Guest-of-Honour Mr Ng Chee Meng, Secretary-General, NTUC said, “The introduction of digital banks here will open up an exciting chapter for Singapore’s financial services sector, companies and workers. New jobs will be created and new skills will be needed. In moving ahead with these developments, companies in this sector must not forget our workers as they transform to become Bank 4.0. We urge companies to support their workers’ transformation and invest in their capabilities so that they are enabled to take on these new and redesigned job roles. Workers must also adopt a lifelong learning mindset and look for ways to upskill so that they are equipped for jobs of the future. On this front, NTUC, BFSU and SFA will stand by our workers; protecting them, preserving jobs and providing support to those in need, as this sector evolves.”

Held virtually, the symposium has attracted more than 1000 attendees from across the region and beyond, and is supported by Huawei Cloud as the Grand Partner. The event has gathered support from over 30 local and international partners, ranging from government agencies to local Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL), as well as overseas associations from Cambodia to Japan and as far away as Scandinavia. This is a testament to the strong local and global interest in the development of digital banking in Singapore.

Anchored on the topic of digital banking, the attendees can get a glimpse into the digital banking landscape including impacts on jobs and the economy, insights on upcoming trends in digital banking and FinTech, and adoption of key technologies in the FinTech sector. Throughout the two-day symposium, there are over 15 thought leadership discussions, workshops and networking sessions planned for the attendees.

Some of the prominent speakers at the symposium include Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, Monetary Authority Singapore (MAS), Mr Patrick Tay, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, BFSU, together with thought leaders from Boston Consulting Group, Finastra - one of the world’s largest FinTechs - and more.

For a full line-up of the agenda of Digital Banking Symposium 2020, click here.

Section A: SFA & partners releases two key industry reports

SFA, Expand Research (A BCG Company) and Finastra jointly launched two thought leadership reports; Global Digital Banking (DB) Reference document and DB in ASEAN.

Digital Challenger Banks: A Desire, A Dream, A Vision

Singapore is a first-mover in issuing a license for Digital Challenger Banks in Southeast Asia. The MAS will issue five Digital Banking Licenses where non-traditional banking providers are looking to enter the banking sector. Digital Challengers banks are changing the landscape of banking yet it remains difficult to reach profitability with the exception of a few players. The reference document provides a global landscape of these challengers, the enabling regulations, go-to-market strategies and finally Singapore and its potential future outlook.

Key Findings:

Shifting customer expectations and a drive for financial inclusion and technology developments are enabling a digital economy. So much so that over the past 10 years we’ve seen the number of global digital challenger banks increase rapidly of which a 200% increase since 2015 in part also encouraged by regulators introducing digital bank related policies.

  • 45% of these digital challenger banks are in the Americas
  • 35% in EMEA of which more than half are from Germany and the UK
  • 20% in APAC of which the Australian market has the most number

Regulators are increasingly active on banking licensing, facilitating market entry of new players. Factors unique to each market have shaped the Digital Challenger Bank models. Singapore is a first-mover in issuing a digital bank license.

Internet penetration in SEA is at 63% of population and continues to rise while the number of smartphone units sold in the region is expected to reach USD 114m by 2020, with the largest increase in Indonesia.

Banking penetration in SEA is still low in countries like Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia, where more than 50% of adults still do not have access to financial services. The GDP for major SEA countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) could reach USD 4.3trn by 2030, which would make it the sixth-largest economic bloc globally and in terms of population with 542m people by 2030 they will only be behind the EU, India and China.

We see a great opportunity for the future of banking in SEA and a thriving FinTech ecosystem.

For the full report, click here.

Southeast Asia: Coming of the Digital Challenger Banks

Despite emerging as a global phenomenon, there are relatively few Digital Challenger Banks in Southeast Asia (SEA) today. That is poised to change as new players move to acquire digital banking licenses in Singapore. Alongside this vibrant SEA landscape, traditional incumbent banks have also been stepping up their innovation and digital initiatives.

As part of our recent whitepaper, “Southeast Asia: Coming of the Digital Challenger Banks”, we explore the regional landscape and opportunities:

Key Findings:

  • The number of Digital Challenger Banks globally has seen a growth of CAGR 27% since 2010 to a cumulative total of over 200 new players
  • APAC accounts for 19% of the total number of global Digital Challenger banks
  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore is the region’s first-mover in digital banking licensing, with five licenses to granted by the end of 2020
  • SEA represents a great opportunity to serve the unbanked and underbanked with an estimated with a growth in GDP in the ASEAN 5 projected to reach USD4.3 trillion by 2030
  • Imperatives for Digital Challenger Banks to succeed in SEA are:
    • Be customer obsessed
    • Build and leverage a modern bank technology stack
    • Seek ecosystem advantages where possible

For the full report, click here.

About Singapore FinTech Association (SFA)

The SFA is a cross-industry and non-profit organisation. Its purpose is to support the development of the FinTech industry in Singapore, and to facilitate collaboration among the participants and stakeholders of the FinTech ecosystem in Singapore. The SFA is a member-based organisation with over 815+ members. It represents the full range of stakeholders in the FinTech industry, from early-stage innovative companies to large financial players and service providers.

To further its purpose, the SFA also partners with institutions and associations from Singapore and globally to cooperate on initiatives relating to the FinTech industry. The SFA has signed over 50 international Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and are the first U Associate organisation to be affiliated with National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). Through their FinTech Talent (FT) Programme, launched in 2017, over 300 professionals have been trained in FinTech, including blockchain & cryptocurrency, cybersecurity and regulation.

About National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is a national confederation of trade unions as well as a network of professional associations and partners across all sectors in Singapore. NTUC's objectives are to help Singapore stay competitive and working people remain employable for life; to enhance the social status and wellbeing of our members and working people; and to build a strong, responsible and caring labour movement. NTUC's vision is to be an inclusive labour movement for all collars, ages and nationalities. NTUC is at the heart of the Labour Movement, which comprises 59 affiliated unions, five affiliated associations, 12 social enterprises, six related organisations as well as a growing ecosystem of U Associates and enterprise partners. For more details on NTUC, please visit our website at

About Banking and Financial Services Union (BFSU)

The Banking and Financial Services Union (BFSU) represents the interests of all workers who are employed in any capacity in the banking and financial services industry in Singapore. BFSU’s key focus is to protect the interests of these workers and provide support to help them stay relevant and competitive amidst technology advancement and industry transformation. Previously known as the Singapore Bank Officers’ Association (SBOA), the union’s constitution and name were changed in January 2019 to strengthen the union’s outreach to Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) in the industry. BFSU is an affiliated union of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). For more information about the union, visit


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