Singapore Government Bankrolls $9 Million Blockchain Innovation Program
Singapore is well-known as a crypto-friendly destination. Now, the government is investing even more in the country's blockchain ecosystem as it looks to leverage the technology's unique capabilities.
Bolstering Trade and Expanding Blockchain's Use
Earlier today, the Straits Times reported that several parties had come together to launch the Singapore Blockchain Innovation Program, an initiative seeking to consolidate blockchain development across companies and industries.
The program was reportedly launched by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Enterprise Singapore (ESG), and National Research Foundation (NRF). The ESG, a department in the Prime Minister's Office, will bankroll the effort, which is expected to cost the government $12 million ($9M USD).
The program will engage about 75 local firms to conceptualize multiple blockchain projects within the next three years. The project will focus primarily on the trade and logistics sector, although developers will need input from companies in the information technology sector as well.
Along with the project development, the program will also focus on improving blockchain adoption in sectors with high transaction rates.
Peter Ong, the Chairman of Enterprise Singapore, explained that the coronavirus had emphasized the need for companies to transition much faster into the digital world. With blockchain, companies can trust applications, thus improving efficiency in areas like logistics, supply chains, and digital identities.
Blockchain's Increasing Use in Singapore
Lew Chuen Hong, the chief executive of IMDA, also explained that Singapore had primarily seen significant success with applying blockchain to the traditional finance sector. Last month, HSBC Bangladesh successfully issued letters of credit on the Contour blockchain platform following a purchase of 20,000 tons from United Mymensingh Power, the United Group's Singapore subsidiary.
Md Mahbub ur Rahman, HSBC Bangladesh's chief executive, described the transaction as a showcase of the firm's commitment to using cutting-edge technology for supporting cross-border trade.
“I believe this will usher in a new era of routing international trade transactions as businesses and governments recognize transparency, security, and swiftness in performing tasks using blockchain technology,” he added.
As for expanding blockchain applications, Singapore has a blockchain-based payment network running. The network, known as “Project Ubin,” was developed in July by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in collaboration with JPMorgan and investment giant Temasek.
Ubin will focus on improving international payment settlements. It can provide settlements in several currencies, conduct foreign exchange transactions, and settle foreign currency-denominated securities.
Ubin is in its fifth and final development stage, and a final product is expected soon.