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Cybersecurity in finance key to Smart Nation drive, says MAS

SINGAPORE — The financial sector is well-placed to play a leading role in Singapore’s Smart Nation drive, but the first priority lies in continually fortifying the industry’s cybersecurity, Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon said today (June 29).

Singapore Central Business District (CBD), night skyline. TODAY file photo

Singapore Central Business District (CBD), night skyline. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — The financial sector is well-placed to play a leading role in Singapore’s Smart Nation drive, but the first priority lies in continually fortifying the industry’s cybersecurity, Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon said today (June 29).

“As more financial services are delivered over the Internet, the frequency, scale and complexity of cyberattacks on financial institutions have increased globally. Hackers and cyber criminals are constantly probing IT systems for weaknesses to exploit,” he said in his keynote address at the Global Technology Law Conference 2015.

“The connectedness among financial institutions mean that a serious cyber breach in one institution can potentially escalate into a more systemic problem… Repeated cyber breaches could diminish public confidence in online financial services and reduce people’s willingness to use financial technologies in general,” he added.

But the central bank is not seeking a “zero-risk regime”, said Mr Menon, adding that failure is part of the learning process. He said the central bank will work with the industry to achieve the vision of a smart financial centre through two broad thrusts: a regulatory approach conducive to innovation while fostering safety and security; and development initiatives to create a vibrant ecosystem for innovation and the adoption of new technologies.

To continue supporting financial institutions in research and development, the MAS will commit S$225 million over the next five years under the Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme. This comes as technology looks set to transform banking this time despite several false starts in the last few years, Mr Menon said.

“There is reason to believe that this time is different: that technology will indeed transform financial services in a way that has not happened before. It has much to do with the concept of mobility,” he said.

Besides providing monetary assistance to financial institutions to embark on digital innovation, the MAS is also supporting the development of digital and mobile payment systems.

“The larger picture is really about promoting a culture of innovation in our financial industry. Such innovation is not always about high-tech. It is about designing better work processes and creating new business models that will deliver higher growth, more enriching jobs, and better services for the consumer,” Mr Menon said.

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