Wednesday,22 May 2024

AWS Leadership Conversations: Spotlight on Singapore

5 min read

The financial services industry (FSI) is a cornerstone of ASEAN’s economy and in this FSI Leadership Conversation Series, we speak to the region’s industry leaders for insights on technology and its impact on driving innovations for future readiness

In this first edition, Spotlight on Singapore, we turn to Priscilla Chong, country manager for Amazon Web Services (AWS) Singapore.

TAB: Thank you for joining us, Priscilla. Could you share how AWS is supporting digital transformation in Singapore? What’s the vision driving your efforts in this space?

Priscilla Chong (PC): FSI is highly regulated, and it is also a sector that has seen much digital disruption from changing, innovative ways of doing business. As a top financial hub, Singapore must keep embracing new technologies to fight cyber crime and enhance workforce skills, ensuring it stays ahead in the digital age and is ready for the future.

Singapore’s FSI is increasingly turning to AWS to ensure they can fully benefit from the cloud. Let’s break down key areas where AWS is helping customers in digital transformation.

Security and compliance are job-zero at AWS: Security and compliance are priorities and come before everything else we do. We are committed to helping FSI meet and scale with changing regulations in maintaining resilience, data locality, data protection, and confidentiality. 

For example, Singapore-based Ergo Insurance has not only leveraged AWS to comply with the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s cyber hygiene and technology risk-management requirements, but also has achieved at least 99% uptime and low website latency, with 24x7 support from AWS partners. 

We help companies accelerate innovation and shorten time to market: Today, businesses don’t need to develop a multi-year business case and a large capital investment to try new ideas. At AWS, we embrace innovation, and importantly, we aren’t afraid of failure. We believe that businesses should have the culture and the tools to experiment quickly and drive innovation. 

Using the cloud, a business can experiment with developing products and solutions in months, weeks, or even days, and scale up to bring successful regulatory-compliant solutions to market. AWS empowers the industry to accelerate the process of bringing ideas to life with our comprehensive portfolio of services and solutions. 

Singapore’s Trust Bank, a digital-native bank and joint venture between Standard Chartered Bank and NTUC FairPrice, is using AWS to accelerate its growth and offerings, and improve the customer experience. Within two months of its launch, the cloud-native bank was able to deploy a user-friendly app that enabled 300,000 consumers to be onboarded for savings accounts in less than three minutes, and for credit cards in less than four minutes per customer. 

AWS helps customers build resilient and robust digital infrastructure: Migrating critical workloads to the public cloud can markedly increase resilience in FSIs, offering scalable, secure, and agile infrastructure that can swiftly adapt to new challenges and opportunities. 

Global FSI leaders such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have migrated their mission-critical workloads to AWS to modernise and innovate faster. Goldman Sachs’ natively-built applications on AWS have near-zero recovery point objective (RPO), or near-zero data loss after an unplanned data-loss incident, and less than two minutes of recovery time objective (RTO), that is, the maximum tolerable time that a computer, system, network or application can be down after disaster strikes. 

In Singapore, forward-looking companies like Singlife migrated its entire information technology (IT) infrastructure to AWS to enhance its capabilities to provide hyper-personalised digital financial services, seamless digital transactions and financial engagement for over 1.5 million customers, while also supporting its environmental, social, and corporate governance objectives.

Unlocking insights with data analytics: With AWS, organisations can turn their data into a trove of insights, helping them and their customers make smarter decisions. In Singapore, insurance company AXA uses AWS to deepen its customer engagement with data. AXA has developed a modern data lake on AWS that it uses to gain near real-time understanding of customer sentiments, enabling it to offer proactive, tailored solutions that cater to individual customers.

Finally, we need to build on Singapore and grow the local tech ecosystem through collaborations between the public and private sectors, and foster initiatives from enterprises and startups. To support this, we will be organising the 10th AWS Summit on 7 May 2024 where the brightest minds across industries will gather to discuss the future of Singapore’s digital transformation, and how we can leverage technology to further strengthen the country’s position as a major technology hub powering regional, and even global innovation and growth. 

TAB: You touched on an important topic on security. Today we are witnessing a significant increase in cyber crime across the world. How is AWS leveraging its cloud computing capabilities to enhance cyber security frameworks, especially in light of the increasing sophistication of cyber threats?

PC: The industry faces a constant battle against cyber fraud, and fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods, making it harder for financial institutions to detect and prevent cyber crime. 

According to recent research, fraud and cyber crime cost a staggering $6 trillion per year globally. AWS is enabling FSI to fight cyber crime by integrating generative artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) into their security strategies. These technologies provide advance analytics and predictive capabilities, enabling real-time threat detection and automated responses to potential risks. By harnessing the power of generative AI and ML, AWS is equipping the industry with the tools to not only respond to threats more efficiently but also to anticipate and mitigate them before they can cause significant damage. 

Today, thousands of institutions, ranging from rapidly growing fintechs to established players, are leveraging AWS to fight cyber crime. To give you some examples, Mastercard, uses AWS generative AI and ML services to improve fraud detection capabilities globally. The solution has enabled Mastercard to detect three times the volume of fraudulent transactions and reduce false positives 10-fold, leading to billions of dollars in merchant savings, and providing a better experience for customers around the world. 

Capital One, one of the world’s largest digital banks, is applying ML in fraud detection. Leveraging a broad suite of ML tools and frameworks such as TensorFlow on AWS, Capital One can analyse large volumes of data, which helps it detect and prevent fraud in real time. 

Similarly, Bank of Asia, one of world’s few fully digital banks, launched most of its services, including account opening, anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC), and transaction processing on AWS Cloud.

Fighting cyber crime will be an ongoing challenge for the industry as threat scenarios change constantly. At AWS, we are fully committed to helping our customers address the challenges of cyber threats and make the industry safer.  

TAB: One area where we have seen a lot of interest recently is generative AI and its impact across all industries, especially FSI. How do you see generative AI transforming the industry in Singapore?

PC: AWS has been delivering meaningful innovation in generative AI for years through services, partnerships, and developer tools—all grounded in giving customers what they need to build generative AI into their own projects. 

That’s why more than 100,000 customers already use AWS ML and generative AI services, and many of the leading generative AI providers like AI21 Labs, Stability AI, Hugging Face, and Alexa run on AWS. AWS is using generative AI to help institutions innovate by enhancing customer interactions with personalised services, improving worker productivity, accelerating product development, and detecting fraud.

“For example Verisk FAST, that provides predictive analytics and decision-support solutions to customers in insurance, energy and specialised markets, and financial services in 34 countries, collaborated with Amazon’s Generative AI Innovation Center to kickstart the development of AskMax, a conversational chatbot powered by Amazon Bedrock. AskMax gives customers quick contextual answers to support questions, eliminating hours of manual research. Its advanced retrieval-augmented generation architecture enables nuanced responses tailored to each query. By combining Verisk’s industry expertise with Amazon’s generative AI leadership through AskMax, the company is redefining insurance customer support.”

AWS makes it easy for clients to build and scale generative AI applications as they can choose from a range of generative AI technologies that supports all types of organisations in every stage of generative AI adoption and maturity. To further simplify the process, the AWS Generative AI Innovation Centre will connect AWS generative AI and ML experts with customers around the globe to help them envision, design, and launch new generative AI products, services and processes. 

We are still in the early days of generative AI and are excited to work with our customers and partners to drive transformational innovations in a safe and responsible way. 

TAB: With the rapid technological advancements in FSI, there’s a growing need for skilled professionals. How is AWS contributing to talent development and bridging the skills gap in Singapore? 

PC: Upskilling and training today’s non-digital workers, students, and out-of-workforce individuals with digital skills is important to achieve broader and more inclusive growth for Singapore’s economy. In collaboration with Access Partnership, AWS commissioned a research report titled Accelerating AI Skills: Preparing the Asia-Pacific Workforce for Jobs of the Future. The report found that Singaporean workers with generative AI skills and expertise could see salary hikes of over 25%, with workers in IT (35%), and research and development (34%) enjoying the highest pay bumps.

The report also reveals a looming generative AI skills gap that must be bridged to ensure the region is well-positioned to unlock the full productivity benefits of AI. Hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority for over four in five (81%) Singapore employers; 74% can’t find the AI talent they need. 

Since the launch of AWS Asia Pacific (Singapore) in 2010, we have invested more than $6.51 billion in local infrastructure and jobs across Singapore. To support skill development, AWS provides a range of free training opportunities, including more than 500 free courses, interactive labs, and virtual day-long training sessions that are accessible through AWS Training and Certification.

In November 2023, Amazon launched the AI Ready initiative that complements AWS’s commitment to provide free cloud computing skills training to 29 million individuals globally by 2025. Through AI Ready, we now offer a suite of free AI and generative AI training courses, aligned to both technical and non-technical roles, so that anyone can build AI skills.

AWS has trained more than 300,000 people in Singapore on cloud skills since 2017, but with the rapid adoption of cloud-enabled technologies like generative AI, more needs to be done to upskill the workforce at scale so organisations can innovate and grow in an AI-dominated future.

Keywords: Financial Services Industry (fsi), Technology Impact, Digital Transformation, Cybersecurity, Regulatory Compliance, Innovation, Amazon Web Services (aws), Generative Ai, Machine Learning (ml), Talent Development, Skills Gap, Customer Experience, Infrastructure Modernisation
Institutions: Ergo Insurance, Trust Bank, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Singlife, AXA, Mastercard, Capital One, Bank Of Asia, Standard Chartered Bank, Trust Bank, NTUC FairPrice, AI21 Labs, Stability AI, Hugging Face, Verisk FAST, Amazon Bedrock
Country: Singapore
Region: ASEAN, Asia Pacific
People : Priscilla Chong
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