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8 october 2018

A small country that became a global tech hub. The case of Singapore

Фото: Александр Глебов, probusiness.io
Фото: Александр Глебов, probusiness.io

The close collaboration of the government, businesses, and start-ups lift Singapore up to one of the innovation leaders in Asia. Joe Seunghyun Cho has some insight on the matter. He is the co-founder and the president of the Marvelstone Investment Group and also the founder and managing partner of one of the world's largest financial technology hubs Lattice80. Joe describes how the country became the Smart Nation.

Smart Nation is an initiative developed by the Singapore government and is implemented with the guidance of the Prime Minister of the country. The idea is straightforward — we are trying to make Singapore a more innovative and life-friendly state and the best place for work and doing business.
The program is mainly devoted to economy digitalization, but it is also aimed to improve living conditions, create advantageous job places and various opportunities for innovative growth.

This chart shows the main stages of development and implementation of the program.

Image: Joe Seunghyun Cho

We are trying to make Singapore a big hub in which innovations are introduced into the everyday life of every citizen. Our goal is to bring together different sectors of the economy and start-ups to improve the existing business ecosystem.

This chart shows essential innovative projects and their implementation in different areas of life.

Image: Joe Seunghyun Cho

Today we pay heed to various financial systems. About two years ago, Asian countries began to compete for the role of fintech hub leader in the region. Singapore was one of these countries. Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, and China also participated in this race. In a few years, Singapore has taken the leading position at the global level.

There are important factors vital to Singapore’s success in Fintech: the rule of law, low levels of corruption, and strategic location at the heart of Southeast Asia

The next fact is especially valuable. Every year South Korea spent $ 1 billion on fintech and $ 4 billion on startups. Singapore spent only $ 225 million in five years because the government launched the program called "Technologies and Innovations in the Financial Sector." So we had a kind of a head start in that race.

Image: Joe Seunghyun Cho

In total, the government invested about $1.7 billion in the Smart Nation program. With state support, such projects as an online transfer of various public services, smart homes, crewless vehicles, health research, and others are being implemented. Moreover, the government takes risks of introducing innovations, risks that commercial companies undertake.

I made three main conclusions during the implementation of the Smart Nation program.

1. Projects that are implemented by the government can be successful.

2. Small countries like Singapore can play the role of a global hub.

3. New players in the market can successfully compete with large companies.

Joe Seunghyun Cho

Joe is passionate about building a global fintech ecosystem to bridge Asia with the rest of the world. He is also a keen proponent of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies that are ushering in a new financial revolution.

"When we do invest in startups, it is on more strategic ways."