Singapore banks offered $21M in funds to boost cybersecurity capabilities

Monetary Authority of Singapore is dishing out S$30 million (US$21.88 million) in a new grant to help local financial institutions boost their cybersecurity operations and skillsets, funding up to half of such expenses.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Financial institutions in Singapore now have access to a S$30 million (US$21.88 million) grant that they can use to boost their cybersecurity operations and skillsets.

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) unveiled the new Cybersecurity Capabilities Grant that it said aimed to beef up the local financial sector's cyber resilience and help banks develop local cybersecurity talent.

Funded under the country's Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme, the grant would facilitate the development of "advanced cybersecurity functions" such as cyber threat surveillance and intelligence gathering, computer forensics, and malware research and analysis, MAS said in a statement Monday.

The funds could be tapped to defray up to 50 percent of a financial institution's expenses for qualifying functions, with a cap of S$3 million.

Financial companies that have established their global or regional cybersecurity centres of excellence in Singapore also are eligible to apply for the grant, as are those that run key global or regional cybersecurity functions and operations in the city-state.

MAS said it hoped the grant would further encourage local financial institutions to upgrade the skillsets of their workforce through cybersecurity-related training programmes.

The industry regulator's chief cybersecurity officer Tan Yeow Seng said: "The Singapore financial sector has made significant progress in recent years in building up cyber resilience and managing cyber risk, but the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve and we have to constantly strengthen our cyber capabilities. The [grant] will support financial institutions in advancing their cybersecurity technology and manpower needs."

MAS in June 2015 launched the Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme to drive innovation in the local financial sector, setting aside S$225 million to fund such initiatives.

Tapping data analytics to fight financial crime

In a separate statement last week, MAS released a study detailing the benefits of using data analytics to fight financial crime, specifically, money laundering and financing of terrorism.

The report outlined how major banks tapped data analytics tools and offered examples of ways to improve the effectiveness of such applications, such as one specific bank's ability to reduce its false positives by 40 percent and improve true positives by 5 percent.

The study was developed by Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Industry Partnership (ACIP), which was set up in April 2017 to bring together local financial sector, regulators, law enforcement agencies, and other government entities and collectively combat money laundering and terrorism financing risks.

The group is co-chaired by MAS and the Singapore Police Force's Commercial Affairs Department.

According to MAS, the paper also provided practical suggestions and experiences of major banks in addressing key governance and implementation issues, including audit and data analytics models.

In addition, it put a spotlight on how private and public organisations could collaborate to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism activities, such as working with the Institute for Banking and Finance to develop career paths and skills designed specifically for analytics specialists.

MAS' assistant managing director of banking and insurance Ho Hern Shin said: "MAS strongly encourages the use of data analytics in anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, which has the potential for bringing about transformative change in our approach to combating financial crime."

The Singapore Police Force's director of commercial affairs David Chew said: "Data analytics is an invaluable tool in identifying and preventing financial crime, by helping financial institutions sieve through the large volumes of data generated daily to identify suspicious transactions.

"The industry must be ever vigilant against the abuse of our financial system and we hope that the paper will encourage the industry to build robust data analytic capabilities to strengthen Singapore's resilience against such threats."

Editorial standards