Do you enjoy the convenience of paying for your bubble tea with GrabPay or Fave and racking up points, or the ability to check on your Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) on your phone so you don’t FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)? And who could imagine that now, you can simply transfer money overseas without going to the bank? Welcome to the world of FinTech.
FinTech, or financial technology, is among the fastest-growing sectors of Singapore’s economy. In the past few years, companies like Aspire, Grab, Syfe, and dozens more have completely transformed the way consumers and businesses manage their finances.
Keen to get into the exciting, fast-paced innovation-driven world of fintech? Well, there’s no time like now.
More than 40% of Southeast Asia’s fintech companies are based in Singapore, according to the Singapore FinTech Landscape 2020 report with more than 10,000 people working in the FinTech sector in 2020 compared to just 1,100 in 2015.
Some of them have even made it to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2021 list for Finance and Venture Capital, of which 17 of the entries are FinTech founders or senior executives. Among these, five are based in Singapore, including 28-year-old Vardhan Kapoor (Head of APAC at Remitly) as well as Vishvesh Suriyanarayanan and Dylan Tan (co-founders of Split).
Here are four ways you can break into Singapore’s FinTech sector:
1. Target growth areas in FinTech
Most of the population in Southeast Asia do not have access to traditional banking services; this means massive opportunities for consumer solutions in digital payments, alternative lending, and insurance.
Payments (mobile wallets and remittances): Think firms like CardUp, YouTrip, and xfers, which enable cheaper, faster payments in multiple currencies, even without a traditional credit card. This is the most funded category in ASEAN, with US$470 million in investments in 2020.
Alternative Lending: Think firms like Aspire, Atome, and Funding Societies. These companies make it easier for individuals and businesses to get loans or pay for purchases by instalment, even without a traditional credit history.
InsurTech: Think of services like Gigacover, SNACK by Income, and Singlife. InsurTechs use technology to offer more customised coverage at more competitive premiums.
While many fintech companies are start-ups, joining one of them may give a huge boost to your career as start-ups constantly grow, expand, or merge with more established players. For instance, StashAway has just expanded into insurance, while Singlife merged with insurance giant Aviva in 2020.
Of course, there’s also Grab, which in April announced its plans to go public in the US at an estimated valuation of US$39.6 billion. While this decacorn (startup with a valuation of more than US$10 billion) made its start in transportation and delivery services, it’s swiftly turning into a super app and has even formed a consortium with Singtel to secure a digital full bank licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
2. Use transferable job skills for in-demand FinTech roles
FinTech focuses on using technological innovations to provide better financial services to businesses and consumers. That’s why experts in blockchain development, machine learning, programming, and product management are in great demand. However, companies still require talent in different areas of business.
These are some other roles in the sector that you can do using your other existing skills:
Cybersecurity. As banks and financial services firms go digital, so must their security measures. In fact, cybersecurity expertise is in high demand not only in FinTech, but across all industries. If you’re NOT a risk taker but one who knows how to manage risks, this is one route you can consider.
Sales/business development. All companies need more customers in order to profit and grow, and sales and business development professionals play a vital role in selling fintech products and solutions to businesses and consumers alike. If you’re good with people and can talk your way out of anything, here’s where you can play to your strengths.
UI/UX design. Face-to-face interactions are increasingly reduced from our lives, especially with the pandemic raging on. FinTech platforms will benefit from an expertly crafted digital-first experience, which ensures users can follow complex steps easily and feel safe about putting their money into an intangible space. Put your creative and technical skills to work in a user experience role.
3. Enrol in Train-and-Place Programmes
If you don't have the relevant skills above, fret not. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has given an even bigger push to initiatives that help job seekers move into high-growth sectors — and fintech is definitely one area with programmes available. Here are two that you can consider:
(i) Tech Immersion and Placement Programme (TIPP)
This programme by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is a great option for both fresh graduates and professionals looking to up-skill. The courses are offered by various partner institutions, and some cover areas like data science, user experience design, software engineering, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence.
Through this programme, you’ll create a portfolio that showcases what you’ve learned and also receive career support and networking opportunities through the partner institutions. If you’re deemed eligible for the programme, you’ll enjoy a subsidised course fee.
(ii) NUS-FinTechSG Programme (2 months; full-time)
Launched by the NUS FinTech Lab, this intensive full-time course will equip you with strong fundamentals in FinTech and business. But that’s not all: through this programme, you can apply for an optional, nine to 12-month traineeship with leading financial institutions and companies such as Bank of Singapore, Razer, and UBS. Time to get your foot in the door to a career in fintech!
4. Boost your qualifications to further your career
Given its skyrocketing demand for talent, the FinTech sector offers unparalleled growth opportunities for fresh graduates and mid-career professionals alike.
Short Professional Courses by NTUC Learning Hub
There are short, professional courses you can take to level up your skills — perfect for those who are looking to switch to a more fintech-focused role within their company. NTUC LearningHub offers a variety of related courses. Choose from certified cybersecurity courses, finance-related courses, data analytics or Microsoft Azure’s cloud programme.
FinTech also involves designing a seamless experience for users and ensuring that your service solves a need or problem. That’s why, these courses in innovation excellence and process excellence will come in useful as well to give you an edge over others.
If you have a great idea for a fintech solution and want to have a go at it, you can also start by learning how to make your own app at any of these mobile app development courses.
The government has also partnered research and educational institutions to develop a stronger fintech ecosystem. Here are some fintech courses and programmes that you can consider to get the skills needed:
(i) FinTech Foundation Course (4 weeks; 4 to 6 hours per week)
This introductory course by the Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship is designed for anyone interested in fintech. It was designed by four senior university lecturers and includes insights from 16 business leaders in the fintech world.
Best of all, 90% of the course fees can be funded by the IBF Standards Training Scheme.
(ii) FinTech certificate programme(2 months; 4 to 6 hours per week)
Offered by NUS Business School (in partnership with online education provider Emeritus), this fully online fintech course is designed for business consultants, service providers, and those in business development roles.
SUSS Graduate Diploma in Financial Technology
(iii) SUSS Graduate Diploma in Financial Technology
According to the Singapore University of Social Sciences, their Graduate Diploma in Financial Technology caters to “entrepreneurs, mid-career bankers, executives and finance professionals to deepen their knowledge of finance, financial technologies and financial innovations.” One unique feature of this course is that the credits from the course are stackable and count towards the university’s Master of Finance programme.
If you’re serious about a career in fintech, a graduate degree programme will equip you with a greater breadth and depth of knowledge for senior-level positions. These include NUS’s MSc in Digital Financial Technology and PhD in Digital Financial Technology, NTU’s MSc in Financial Technology, and SMU’s MITB Financial Technology (FinTech).
Whether you’re a graduating student or an experienced young professional, there are a wealth of opportunities for you in the FinTech sector.
LIT DISCOVery 2021 (27 - 30 July) returns with an exciting 4-days line-up of career programmes!
To learn more about what skills are in demand and how to get into this sector, as well as meet FinTech industry experts and leaders, check out the FinTech-themed topics that will be tabled during LIT DISCOvery 2021 on 28 July.
LIT DISCOvery is a four-day virtual symposium and marketplace organised by Young NTUC, powered by National Youth Council and in collaboration with SkillsFuture month. Happening from 27 - 30 July, it features keynotes from industry leaders, masterclasses, mentorships, career profiling, networking, featured job vacancies, and access to career resources for graduating students, professionals, managers, and executives.
Keen on entering the world of FinTech? Sign up for LIT DISCOvery 2021 now.