On 26 April 2018, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (“IPOS”) launched a new FinTech Fast Track initiative (“initiative”) which facilitates a faster patent application-to-grant process for financial technology (“FinTech”) inventions. At no additional application fees, businesses can expect to be granted FinTech patents in as quickly as six months instead of the usual two years for normal applications.

The new initiative will complement the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s S$225 million Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) funding scheme which is designed to boost FinTech development in Singapore.

Further details of the initiative is provided in IPOS’ Patents Circular No. 3/2018 on “Launch of FinTech Fast Track Initiative: An Accelerated File-to-Grant Service for Financial Technology Patent Applications” (“Circular”). The Circular sets out the criteria to qualify for the incentive. For example, the patent application must relate to a FinTech invention, i.e. the application should fall under the International Patent Classification (IPC) of G06Q 20/00 and G06Q 40/00 and has to be first filed in Singapore.

The Circular also provides guidelines and examples on FinTech inventions. Some examples include:

•    Electronic payment: Patent applications relating to transaction methods on technology realised for transaction of goods and services over a network are considered to be FinTech. Other examples of electronic payment include mobile payment, streamlined payment, integrated billing and mobile money.

•    Investment platforms: An investment platform which adopts data analytics to improve the efficiency of viability assessment of funding opportunities for companies is an example of an investment platform that could be classified as FinTech.

•    Insurance technology: The use of matching systems, utilising network technology, for consumers to interact directly with insurance providers, as well as platforms implemented using machine learning to provide automated advice and wealth management are examples of FinTech inventions.

•    Blockchain and banking: The incorporation of blockchain technology to improve the security and efficiency of clearing and settlement across borders for transaction and payment is deemed as a FinTech invention.

•    Security, fraud and authentication: The utilisation of machine learning and big data analytics to prevent fraudulent payment transactions is considered a FinTech invention. Other applicable examples include the use of artificial intelligence solutions to provide digital identification and verification.

Effective and expiry date

The initiative is effective from 26 April 2018 for a period of 12 months. A notice will be put up on IPOS’ website (www.ipos.gov.sg) three months before termination of the initiative.

Practical impact

The success of most FinTech products depends on the speed to market of the product. Hence, granting expeditiously the patents related to a FinTech product would help to boost the competitiveness of that product.

This initiative by IPOS aligns with this strategy as it opens up a way for a Singapore FinTech patent to be granted in as quickly as six months. The Singapore FinTech patent may then in turn be used to expedite grant of corresponding patent applications in its patent family.

For example, the Singapore FinTech patent may be used together with the ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC) programme, the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (“GPPH”) programme or the IPOS PPH-partner programme to expedite grant of corresponding patent applications. This will be very helpful for businesses with interests in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Japan, the United States of America, Korea, China, Europe, Mexico or any other countries whose IP offices participate in the GPPH programme.

In summary, FinTech businesses should consider obtaining a Singapore FinTech patent through this initiative as it will greatly assist them in expediting grant of most of their corresponding patent applications.

Should you have any queries as to how these developments may affect your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch with any of the following:

Adrian Ang
+65 6890 7710
[email protected]

Dr Stanley Lai, SC
+65 6890 7883
[email protected]

Low Pei Lin
+65 6890 7516
[email protected]

Tham Kok Leong
+65 6890 7526
[email protected]

Isaac Tung
+65 6890 7522
[email protected]

Alexander Yap
+65 6890 7627
[email protected]

Allen & Gledhill FinTech Practice

Allen & Gledhill’s FinTech practice harnesses the strengths of our recognised leading lawyers in financial regulatory, technology and intellectual property to present novel legal solutions in an area which challenges traditional legal and regulatory boundaries. The team is active in all areas of the FinTech ecosystem and has been involved in advising on financial “disruptions” since before the commencement of Singapore’s Securities and Futures Act in 2002. The practice has been identified by Who’s Who Legal in their Banking 2018: Fintech Analysis research, as the leading firm operating in the FinTech sector globally (excluding Europe and North America).

Clients of the practice range from venture capitalists, traditional fund managers, global banks, mature and emerging FinTech companies, and start-ups, to technology service providers. The lawyers are often in dialogue with regulators and FinTech facilitators such as incubators and infrastructure providers and believe that this provides a holistic view of the workings of the FinTech ecosystem, with greater clarity on its development.

Allen & Gledhill Intellectual Property Practice

Allen & Gledhill’s Intellectual Property (IP) practice is consistently voted as one of the leading IP practices in Singapore. The team provides advice on a broad range of IP matters, both contentious and non-contentious, and is qualified in a diverse range of disciplines and technical expertise.
The IP capabilities of Allen & Gledhill have expanded into the ASEAN region through its regional network which comprises its local office in Yangon, Myanmar and Rahmat Lim & Partners, its associate firm in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The regional network of law firms allows Allen & Gledhill access to the relevant domain experts to advise its regional and international clients on all aspects of IP protection, offering them an enlarged IP footprint into other countries within the region.