Financial solutions need to be embedded in people’s lives: MAS Ravi Menon

Financial inclusion is no longer just about improving access to bank accounts – rather, it has evolved into enabling well-informed usage of the accounts.

For financial inclusion initiatives to stick, central banks and regulators need to ensure that FinTech offers interoperable solutions.

At the same time, these solutions must be embedded in the broader context of people’s lives and the daily operations of businesses, said Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Ravi Menon, managing director of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Photo courtesy: MAS
Ravi Menon, managing director of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Photo courtesy: MAS

Speaking at a roundtable at Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) x the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH) 2019, Menon highlighted the important evolution taking place in financial inclusion.

He noted that according to The World Bank’s Global Findex Database, 20 per cent of bank account owners have not used their accounts in the past 12 months.

While user acquisition is easy, user retention is the true test of the utility that a product provides, Menon said in his opening remarks. “Products need to be designed with the end-user in mind, to delight rather than to perplex with technology."

Highlighting Singapore examples such as MyInfo and PayNow, he explained that as people are more likely to continue using digital payments if they can do so without regard for the recipient’s mobile provider or bank. “Payments is the most basic financial service. In Singapore, in the case of both identity authentication and payments, we have striven to make the user experience seamless and delightful.”

He also noted that countries such as India, Estonia and the Nordics have also created advanced industry-wide digital infrastructures. “A next step would be to learn from one another’s experience in developing public digital infrastructures.”