The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced a brace of initiatives in the increasingly high-profile areas of ESG and sustainable finance.
MAS has this week cut the ribbon on an ‘ESG Impact Hub’ workspace to encourage co-location and closer working between ESG (environment, social and governance) fintech start-up companies, financial institutions and ‘real economy’ stakeholders.
The authority has also announced the establishment of a Sustainable Finance Advisory Panel to help guide MAS on its strategies and initiatives to build a ‘credible and vibrant’ sustainable finance ecosystem.
The ESG Impact Hub will anchor industry-driven sustainability initiatives such the ‘Point Carbon Zero Programme’ – an initiative between MAS and Google Cloud launched in July – and KPMG’s ESG Business Foundry, a six-month accelerator programme designed to help ESG fintech projects.
The sustainable finance panel, meanwhile, comprises 10 sustainability experts from financial institutions, academia and other stakeholders.
‘Critical milestone’ for Project Greenprint
The ESG Impact Hub is aiming to capitalise on what MAS describes as ‘strong industry interest’ in ‘Project Greenprint’ – a collection of initiatives, launched in December 2020, that aims to harness technology and data to enable a ‘more transparent, trusted and efficient ESG ecosystem to enable green and sustainable finance’.
It aims to help Singapore’s ESG ecosystem to grow in three ways: facilitating the ‘discovery, scaling and deployment’ of technology solutions to help corporates and financial institutions with their ESG needs, ‘notably in terms of accurate measurement, reporting and verification of climate and sustainability data’; engaging knowledge partners, financial institutions and investors to use the space as a base for ESG initiatives; and engaging what it refers to as the ‘Hub community’ to ‘deploy its programmes and solutions to drive material, quantifiable impacts that support sectoral transition efforts, with particular emphasis on the eight focus sectors identified by the [MAS convened] Green Finance Industry Taskforce (GFIT)’.
“The establishment of the ESG Impact Hub is a critical milestone in Project Greenprint’s journey to build a vibrant and robust ESG ecosystem in Singapore, underpinned by technology and data,” said MAS chief sustainability officer Dr Darian McBain.
She added that the move augments MAS’s plans to launch a digital ‘Greenprint Marketplace’ in 2023 to ‘catalyse the growth of the region’s online ESG community’.
The space is located in the Afro-Asia building – specifically in its ‘The Great Room’, which occupies three floors of the building and has almost 600 seats. Tenancy presently comprises includes 15 ESG fintechs and ESG-interested organisations, as well as non-ESG firms. MAS states that The Great Room is committed to work with the authority to grow the presence of ESG fintechs and firms.
Challenges around transition finance
The sustainable finance panel held its first meeting this week with MAS’s management.
Discussion focused on challenges around transition finance and the role of financial institutions, corporates, regulators and governments in achieving an ‘orderly and inclusive’ transition in the region, according to a MAS press release. Specific topics discussed included identifying incentive structures to promote data-sharing and ‘scaling up’ blended finance for projects that may not seem commercially attractive or have a high-risk profile.
The second meeting of the group – whose establishment follows MAS’s creation of a sustainability group and the recruitment of McBain last year – will be held in 2023.
Singapore is currently gearing up to host the ‘Singapore Fintech Festival’ from 2-4 November. The seventh edition of the Global FinTech Hackcelerator, an annual competition for start-ups that climaxes at the event, is themed ‘Accelerating A Greener Digital Future’. Last year’s Hackcelerator had the theme ‘Harnessing Technology to Power Green Finance’. Green finance is also among the current priorities of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub’s work programme.
*** The Point Carbon Zero Programme’s next phase will see MAS, Google Cloud, KPMG and ‘leading financial institutions’ collaborating to launch a ‘Climate Finance Accelerator’, which aims to channel capital towards green fintech initiatives.
‘Singapore and Indian authorities look to boost cross-border fintech innovation’ – our article (27 September 2022) on MAS and India’s International Financial Services Centres Authority signing a ‘fintech co-operation agreement’
‘Going green: governments look to fintech to help combat climate crisis’ – a write-up of Global Government Fintech’s ‘How Can “Green Fintech” Help Tackle Climate Change?’ webinar (held on 8 February 2022)
‘Singapore’s Menon becomes Network for Greening the Financial System chair’ – our article (17 January 2022) on Ravi Menon, the long-serving managing director of MAS, being appointed as chair of the Network for Greening the Financial System