New initiative to fast-track Fintech patent application-to-grant process in Singapore

The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has launched a new Fintech Fast Track initiative which provides expedited patent application-to-grant process for Fintech inventions.

The Fintech Fast Track aims to encourage innovative Fintech enterprises and start-ups to develop solutions to meet the surging demand for Fintech solutions in ASEAN, as well as operate effectively within the ambit of Singapore’s well developed financial infrastructure and supportive regulatory policies.

Under this initiative, Fintech patents will be granted in as quickly as six months, compared to at least two years for normal applications. This will support the growth of Singapore’s financial technology (Fintech) sector by helping businesses bring their Fintech innovations to the market more rapidly.

Fintech areas covered under the Fast Track initiative include, but are not limited to:

  • Electronic payment: Patent applications relating to transaction methods on technology realised for transaction of goods and services over a network (examples include mobile payment, streamlined payment, integrated billing and mobile money)
  • Investment platforms: Example would be a platform which adopts data analytics to improve the efficiency of viability assessment of funding opportunities for companies.
  • Insurance technology: The use of matching systems, utilising network technology, for consumers to interact directly with insurance providers, as well as platforms implemented using machine learning to provide automated advice and wealth management are examples.
  • Blockchain and banking: The incorporation of blockchain technology to improve the security and efficiency of clearing and settlement across borders for transaction and payment is deemed as a Fintech invention.
  • Security, fraud and authentication: An example in this area could be the utilisation of machine learning and big data analytics to prevent fraudulent payment transactions. The use of artificial intelligence solutions to provide digital identification and verification could also be valid examples.

Fintech inventions could also involve alternative due diligence, virtual exchanges and smart contracts, as well as market information platforms among others.

This initiative is in line with Singapore’s industry transformation map (ITM) for financial services and the Republic’s Smart Nation agenda. It will complement the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)’s S$225 million Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) funding scheme which is designed to boost Fintech development in Singapore. Through the scheme, MAS provides funding support of up to 50-70% of qualifying costs (dependent on project type), up to a maximum of S$200,000, for up to 18 months to Singapore-based FIs as well as technology or solution providers working with Singapore-based FIs for the early stage development of novel solutions to financial industry problems. The scheme is meant to fund POCs (proof-of-concept). 

The initiative was announced by Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Education, at the 2018 World Intellectual Property Day (World IP Day) Event held earlier today which saw more than 200 participants from the creative and innovation community gather to celebrate World IP Day alongside 191 member states across the world.

Mr Daren Tang, Chief Executive of IPOS, said, “Singapore is a place where great ideas from anywhere in the world can be commercialised. By significantly reducing the time needed for grant of a Fintech patent, our innovative enterprises will be able to compete effectively through their intellectual property and use these intellectual assets to scale up and enter the world’s market. At the same time, we hope to see the emergence of more Fintech innovations that will improve the way we transact in our daily lives, bringing greater value and convenience to our people, and paving the way to achieve our national goal of becoming a Smart Nation”

Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer of MAS, commented, “In an industry where time-to-market is critical, the expedited process for Fintech patents will enable businesses to commercialise their products and services more quickly. The Fintech Fast Track will make Singapore more attractive as a destination for Fintech firms, and help further strengthen Singapore’s Fintech ecosystem.”

Mr Chia Hock Lai, President of the Singapore Fintech Association, said, "The Singapore Fintech sector is growing rapidly. With innovation at its heart, a swifter patent application process will help companies come to market faster. The Fintech Fast Track is an excellent initiative, and one that will support and aid in further growing our community."

Mr Branson Lee, Co-Founder of Morpheus Labs, which provides Blockchain-Platform-As-a-Service for Enterprises, said, “This is great news for the Fintech community and we appreciate such a pro-business and forward-looking initiative. As we develop more sophisticated Fintech solutions, the expedited patent application process will help companies with rich innovations, such as ours, gain a headstart in bringing our technology and brand to the market.”

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