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A new innovation within Singapore’s finance world is changing the way citizens and Singapore-based financial services professionals conduct business, according to Anton Casey. The primary goal of the new innovation, called Fast and Secure Transfers (FAST), is to increase the speed of financial transactions. This increased speed has the potential to bring a new level of service with around-the-clock transactions and improved commerce.

A recent article from Channel NewsAsia reports that the new upgrade recently made its way to the payment and banking infrastructure of Singapore. FAST is intended to speed up the ability for banks in the country to transfer money between one another. Rather than waiting for the next business day or longer, the new program allows instantaneous transfers at any time of day. This means that more transfers can happen during a 24-hour period and represents a massive innovation within the country’s financial system.

The FAST system brings Singapore up to speed with how banking works in other countries around the world. The country’s prior system, called GIRO, was an old fashioned method that used primarily out-of-date technology.

Channel NewsAsia contributor Linette Lim notes that the change is huge for a country that has not changed the way it does financing for the past three decades. “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,” Lim says.

With the implementation of FAST, this has changed. As Anton Casey explains, international finance managers are especially excited about the change to instantaneous transactions, since the huge delay with the GIRO system often caused headaches for bankers and citizens alike. The processing delays prevented the country from competing with other nations within Europe and other parts of Asia.

Thankfully, FAST makes it so these types of headaches are a thing of the past. Professionals across Singapore’s finance network are calling FAST a progressive step toward reinventing the country’s ability to service customers and clients with less hassle than before. Pranav Seth, head of e-business and business transformation at OCBC Bank, believes that the new changes will help Singapore’s international presence in finance.

“With this advance payment infrastructure, this definitely puts Singapore on the map of countries with advance payment networks, like South Korea and the United Kingdom,” Seth says.

Subba Vaidyanathan, the regional head of retail banking and products at Standard Chartered, adds that the higher speed means increased productivity. He notes, “[FAST] also dramatically improves the way we look at productivity… [I]n a more digitized world, this should be the natural way in which we should be doing banking.”

While bankers and industry professionals are excited about the new payment system, many residents of Singapore have expressed apprehension over the changes. Experts understand that this is a common feeling because change is often a difficult process to accept and implement, particularly when it has something to do with finances. However, experts believe the change is necessary to keep Singapore’s financial sector successful and competitive in the world market.

Mark Jansen, a risk and financial services partner at PwC Singapore, recently explained that the move to adapt FAST within the country will help position the country into a more competitive global spot. He added, “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.”

More and more financial firms will likely improve their business operations with the widespread adoption of the FAST system. While the system is currently restricted to domestic transactions, the move still represents an important step in keeping Singapore in good position within the global community. When the FAST system’s restrictions are relaxed, this position may be further improved.

Banks and financial professionals across Singapore are readjusting their business models to reflect the change in the new system as it rolls into effect across the country. Bringing transfers to an electronic medium with instant results is a big jump for the country that will help it be more globally competitive. Anton Casey and fellow hedge fund managers like him look forward to the increase in speed for doing business and the correlating increase in potential for commerce.


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