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Flowing like water, strong like metal, reshaping like fire, growing like wood, grounded like earth – that’s Ravi Menon’s vision for the fintech sector in Singapore.

The managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore took to the stage on Day 2 of the Singapore Fintech Festival with the speech “FinTech in its Element: Water, Metal, Fire, Wood, Earth,” that applied wuxing – a conceptual scheme in Chinese philosophy and the building blocks for feng shui used to describe interactions and relationships between phenomena.

He tied the elements and their characteristics to five desired outcomes for fintech sector: instant remittance, atomic settlement, programmable money, tokenised assets, and trusted sustainability data.

“[They] remind us that everything we do in Finance, Technology, and FinTech must have a larger purpose. We want to expand economic opportunity, enhance social inclusion, reduce risks, and protect our planet,” Menon said.

Calling crypto winter an opportunity for “overdue cleansing of unsustainable business models, highly risky practices, and unviable use cases,” Menon said he expects the digital asset industry to emerge leaner and stronger.

The regulator announced a flurry of industry pilots at the event, including an initiative to explore the issuance of tokens linked to trade finance assets, and another that explores potential decentralised finance (DeFi) applications in wholesale funding markets.

Related: Standard Chartered to Lead MAS Pilot to Tokenize Trade Finance

There is also Ubin+, an expanded collaboration with international partners on cross-border foreign exchange (FX) settlement using wholesale central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and an initiative with the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub on Project Nexus – a multilateral solution to link countries’ real-time payment systems.

Related: MAS’ Ubin+ to Explore CBDC Settlement

Menon also shared that the essential feature of the projects the regulator is engaging to achieve its desired outcomes is collaboration – between the public and private sectors, between incumbent financial institutions and emerging fintech firms, and across borders.

“Like the five elements of Water, Fire, Earth, Metal and Wood, it is exchange and interactions that generate growth and new possibilities,” he said, wrapping up on an optimistic note.


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