In line with Singapore’s vision to become a Smart Nation, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has launched a FinTech Fast Track (FTFT) initiative, effective from 26 April 2018 for a period of 12 months, in order to expedite the file-to-grant process for FinTech patent applications for as fast as 6 months. Normally, it will take an average of 42 months from filing before a patent application can be granted in Singapore.

The FTFT initiative aims to promote the advancement of FinTech innovations and to encourage companies to market and commercialize their technologies in Singapore.

There are no fees required to participate in this FTFT initiative but the following requirements have to be met:

(i) the application is related to FinTech;

(ii) the application is first filed in Singapore;

(iii) the filing of Request for Grant of Patent (PF1) and Request for Search and Examination (PF11) are done on the same day;

(iv) the application contains 20 or fewer claims; and

(v) a supporting document labelled as “Fast Track document” stating that the application is related to FinTech is furnished during the submission of the Request for Search and Examination (PF11).

Under this initiative, FinTech-related inventions include, amongst others, electronic payments such as mobile or streamlined payments, integrated billing and mobile money; investment platforms using data analytics; insurance technology; blockchain and banking; fraud protection; virtual exchanges and smart contracts. FinTech-related applications falling under the International Patent Classification (IPC) of G06Q 20/00 and G06Q 40/00 is also included.

As opposed to the regular track, qualifying applications under FTFT initiative could be granted as early as 6 months from the filing date. However, to facilitate this accelerated service, applicants should respond within two (2) weeks from the date of receipt of an adverse formalities examination report, if any, and within two (2) months from the date of receipt of a Written Opinion. Under the regular track, applicants are given up to two (2) months to rectify the deficiencies at formalities examination stage and up to five (5) months to respond to a Written Opinion at substantive examination stage.

Once a notice of eligibility to proceed to the grant of the patent has been issued, applicants should file a request for the issuance of a certificate of grant within 2 months from the date of receipt of the notice. Although the stipulated timeline remains the same for applications under the normal track, applicants are encouraged to file a request for early publication before or on the same day of filing the request for the issuance of a certificate of grant as patent applications will only be published 18 months from the date of filing without the early publication request.

With this initiative by IPOS, enterprises would have a heightened interest in having their FinTech inventions first filed in Singapore. With respect to start-ups, having a granted patent in Singapore would guarantee an additional selling point to potential investors. As such, this fast tracked processing in Singapore is expected to create a significant impact in the nation’s financial sector.