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Fintechs that help you save, invest or insure conveniently from your smartphone

Fintechs that help you save, invest or insure conveniently from your smartphone
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When consumers want any financial product, from savings accounts and loans to investments and insurance, they have usually turned to a bank, insurance company or broker.

The market has been upended, though, as financial technology firms, or fintechs, offer faster and more convenient services that are often cheaper.

The number of fintechs in Singapore is indeed growing fast, with consulting firm EY finding at least 490 of them here by the end of last year.

Investments in fintechs here hit more than US$365 million (about S$492 million) last year, a report by consulting firm Accenture stated. 

While many of those fintechs are invisible to the average consumer, providing complex services such as regulatory technology or blockchain support to financial institutions, there are still plenty of services available to individuals. These include insurance, payments and personal financial management.

Most of them offer digital applications that make getting financial services easier, quicker and often less expensive.


One of the best places to start if you are looking for alternatives is comparison websites.

While they don’t provide services directly, nearly a dozen sites let you compare services, prices and benefits from fintechs and banks in one convenient location.   

One of the largest is SingSaver, which has an app and online tool that shows features and rates for credit cards, loans, insurance and bank accounts. The site also has money-saving ideas, financial advice, and a newsletter.

Another is GoBear, which similarly enables consumers to compare services ranging from accounts and money transfers to insurance and robo-advisers. GoBear also provides financial information and insights.

You will need to compare information on these or other sites carefully, though, since some receive fees from service providers and could have biases. Cross-site comparisons can make sure that you save as much as possible.


One of the biggest challenges for many individuals has been sending funds overseas cost-effectively, as traditional money transfer operators can charge 8 per cent or more.

Paying S$15 or more takes a big chunk of your funds when you are only sending S$200, whether it is a direct fee or a cost hidden in poor foreign exchange rates.

Now, however, fintechs offer an alternative.  

Singapore-based fintech Instarem, for instance, uses mid-market rates from Reuters and says it adds no margin, charging a fee that can be S$2.50 or less. Money often arrives in a day or two.

Global fintech TransferWise offers a similar service and also updates customers with an email at each stage of the transfer. TransferWise also uses the mid-rate and says its transfers cost one-fifth of the fees at banks.


Another challenge for many consumers has been figuring out what to do with the money they save.

Savings accounts and even time deposits pay low rates, unit trust charge fees that can be 2 per cent a year, and insurance-based investments may charge both upfront and annual fees. Robo-advisers, with starting amounts as low as S$50 and algorithms that help select investments, may offer better alternatives.

Robo-adviser Smartly, for instance, leverages algorithms that use information you provide about your goals, willingness to take risks and time horizons to select exchange-traded fund (ETFs) that can help you achieve your goals. Fees are 0.5 to 1 per cent a year.

Stashaway similarly selects ETFs and automatically rebalances your portfolio to optimise returns, at even lower fees of 0.2 to 0.8 per cent a year. You can use it to build a personal financial plan and select portfolios that reflect your preferences., another robo-adviser, can give you access to a broader variety of assets that can include equities, ETFs, bonds and gold.

Seeing the opportunity, banks have started getting into the game, too.

OCBC’s Roboinvest, for instance, charges 0.88 per cent a year to select investments and rebalance your portfolio quarterly or semi-annually.

If you want to invest funds more directly, crowdfunding platforms such as Funding Societies and MoolahSense allow you to lend to small businesses and potentially receive double-digit returns.

It is not without risk, as some of the companies may go out of business, so you will need to evaluate the opportunities carefully.


While there are plenty of big insurance companies here, it can be hard for consumers to figure out which one is best .

PolicyPal, a digital direct insurance broker, helps consumers find the information they need and select affordable insurance.

SingLife has gone even further and is licensed to provide life insurance, with a digital platform that allows consumers to sign up online, receive real-time quotes and see policy features.  

You can look out for online insurance companies and brokers as well.  


Even foreign exchange is fair game for fintechs, with companies such as Thin Margin promising better rates than 95 per cent of the moneychangers here.

Send them money with PayNow and they will deliver foreign currency to you, albeit often a couple days later.

If you want to go to a moneychanger yourself, the Get4X app compares foreign-exchange rates among nearby shops and lets you know where you will get the best deal.

There is no shortage of financial services for consumers from these and a multitude of other start-ups.

You can reduce risks by making sure the firms you give money to are licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and also by reading online reviews.

Along with saving time and effort, using these fintechs can save you money, too.    

Related topics

fintech app finance insurance banks

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