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Singapore’s MAS introduces world’s first centralised digital solution to advance its financial system defence

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Azunta Gaviola

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2 months ago

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Singapore – As part of its efforts to advance the nation’s financial system defence, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has recently announced that it has inaugurated the first centralised digital platform in the world, ‘COSMIC’.  

This initiative follows the public consultation conducted in October 2021 and the amendment of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2022 in May 2023, laying the foundation of the project’s legislative framework. 

In this project, participant financial institutions may share their customer information with another participant only if certain objectively defined indicators of suspicion, or “red flags,” are present in the customer’s profile or behaviour. This move enables them to share information on potential criminal behaviour while simultaneously protecting the majority of legitimate customers.

The FSMA’s role, in this regard, mandates the participant financial institutions to have policies and operational safeguards in place to protect the confidentiality of shared information. 

Meanwhile, customers are further encouraged to provide timely responses upon request for clarification of their risk profiles or transactions, assisting them in making informed risk assessments. 

Speaking about the endeavour, Loo Siew Yee, assistant managing director (policy, payments, and financial crime) at MAS, said, “COSMIC will enable FIs to warn each other of suspicious activities and make more informed risk assessments on a timely basis. It complements the industry’s existing close collaboration with MAS and law enforcement authorities to combat financial crime.”

“This will strengthen Singapore’s capabilities to uphold our reputation as a well-regulated and trusted financial centre,” explained Loo.

The said initiative was also co-developed by MAS and six major commercial banks in Singapore, including DBS, OCBC, UOB, Citibank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank. These banks will serve as the participants during the platform’s initial phase. 

At present, information sharing is voluntary and focuses only on three key financial crime risks in commercial banking, such as the misuse of legal persons, misuse of trade finance for illicit purposes, and proliferation financing.

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