The Singapore government is looking to boost blockchain development in an effort to improve financial inclusion for Southeast Asian countries.
In opening remarks for a meeting with finance ministers from Southeast Asian countries on Friday, Heng Swee Keat, Singapore's minister for finance, highlighted the government's plans to foster innovations such as blockchain to improve access to finance in the region.
"In particular, we will support digital innovations like fintech. For example, the underlying distributed ledger technology presents us with many opportunities for cheap and secure transactions. This can promote financial inclusion for underserved and underbanked segments in ASEAN," the minister said.
Although Heng did not disclose precise details on any blockchain initiatives, his comments come at a time when governments in Southeast Asia have been stepping up efforts to develop and adopt blockchain tech in the financial sector.
As reported late last month, Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has launched a blockchain competition with government funds to boost blockchain innovation in the region.
Meanwhile, the neighboring nation of Malaysia is also moving to utlize blockchain technology to advance banking services across the region.
In a speech in March, the deputy governor of Malaysia's central bank indicated that nine banks in the country have already begun working with the central bank in developing blockchain powered applications for trade finance.
Similarly, Thailand's Siam Commercial Bank is building out a Ripple-based blockchain remittance platform for cross border payments.
ASEAN flags image via Shutterstock