Highlights & Takeaways from Singapore Fintech Festival 2018

Highlights & Takeaways from Singapore Fintech Festival 2018

The annual Singapore Fintech Festival has quickly become one of the world’s premier events in Fintech professionals’ calendars. Now in its third edition, over 35,000 participants from across a hundred countries flocked to the festival earlier this month, from November 12th to the 16th. CFTE, much like last year, attended the festival, as part of our continual promise to deliver our community the latest news at the forefront of Fintech.

This year’s programme featured great discussion from speakers on a wide range of trending topics in Fintech, including the role of Artificial Intelligence, insurtech, diversity in the industry, and more.

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) opened the event by outlining six components the regulator has been working on since 2015, when it dreamt of a ‘Smart Financial Centre’.

Ravi stressed six areas of focus which will accelerate Singapore’s success as a Fintech leader:

People – taking a multi-pronged approach in addressing the ongoing shortage of technology skills, and enabling higher learning institutions to adapt their curriculum with industry input to further develop future generations of Fintech professionals.

Identity – launching the National Digital Identity (NDI) programme, which includes MyInfo, a powerful digital service which authenticates citizens to allow external third-parties to access their personal data sitting across several government agencies.

Payments – Singapore has revamped its national e-payment infrastructure, which now includes:

Data governance – developing principles which guide responsible usage of data in financial services, as well as a set of principles to promote F.E.A.T (fairness, ethics, accountability and transparency) in the field of AI & data analytics.

Applied research – launching initiatives like a SG$27m grant scheme which supports R&D in AI & data analytics for finance, and establishing Fintech Fast Track for patents.

Platforms for innovation – connecting people via programmes that encourage innovation, such as: AFIN – the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network, which brings financial institutions together to develop solutions for financial inclusion. AFIN launched APIX – the world’s first cross border open architecture platform to improve financial inclusion.

On the importance of financial inclusion across Asia, he said, “It is a shame that in this day and age, so many do not have access to a bank account, secure and efficient means of payment, or insurance protection.” Gautam Bhardwaj of pinBox Solutions agreed with this, stressing his belief that technology can be used to “assist with [the] understanding” of financial literacy.

Partnerships were a recurring theme throughout the event, with Prudential Singapore CEO Mike Wells exploring their necessity, “In a lot of ways, tech is a prerequisite for us. If a customer wants to pay with mobile #payments, that’s their choice & we have to adapt.”

Similarly, Tan Hooi Lang, co-founder of Grab, and Janet Young, Managing Director at UOB Group, took the stage to announce a strategic alliance between the firms across ASEAN, which will provide digital services by extending bank operations to the Grab app.

Also present was CFTE co-founder Huy Nguyen Talk who spoke at length on Fintech trends, declaring ‘’I disagree with Tim Cook. Coding is not more important than English, and for professionals in finance, a combination of domain expertise and technology literacy is a winning combination.”

The multi-day event also saw great discussion of fintech’s future. Chris Colbert opened the second day at the show with a provocative talk “Technology is Dead”, in which he focused on the ethics of implementing technology, rather than the benefits of adopting innovation — “Innovation is about affecting adoption of the function [of behaviour.]”

As always, the festival continues to be the epicenter of exciting new developments in Fintech, which includes hosting new speakers that previously may not have been associated with the Fintech space. While the largest fintech festival in the world hardly needs a grander sense of scale, the third day was truly unique, as sitting India Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the stage to share his views on how technology affects the global economy. Modi’s statements on Fintech’s role in finance, while perhaps not pioneering, would undoubtedly have great reverberations in his region’s industry.

Modi affirmed the festival as a ‘festival of belief’, and claimed “we are in an age of a historic transition brought about by technology”, as “the character of [the] global economy is changing, technology is defining power in the new world.”

The India PM offered his thoughts on how his nation has been affected by digital transformation, saying “digital infrastructure in India has helped us launch the… world’s largest healthcare scheme.” He also noted the importance of upskilling schemes: “[the] talent pool in India benefits from schemes like Digital India & Skill India.” Over 300,000km of fibre optic network laid down in his nation is connecting people to credit, insurance and other accessible financial services. He reiterated that this would be impossible without the rise of Fintech and digitisation of payments.

Prime Minister Modi took note of India’s massive talent pool and supportive policies and initiatives which enable easier funding for Fintech start-ups. He outlined the six great benefits of FinTech: access, inclusion, connectivity, ease of living, opportunity and accountability.

Also present at the festival was Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, who opened by declaring “change is the only constant”, a message embraced by the ethos of the Singapore Fintech Festival. She focused on 3 key areas – the changing ‘nature’ of money, the role of central banks and how to minimise risk when utilising currency. She explored a potential downside of digital currency: the risk to financial integrity and stability. 

There remains a trade-off between privacy and integrity – Lagarde suggested a bank-designed digital currency wherein users’ identities are authenticated through diligence procedures, to ensure identities are never disclosed to third parties, including governments, unless required by law. 

In summary, Singapore Fintech Festival proved to once again be an event of great learning, networking and industry discussion. To learn more of the event, including CFTE’s presence in Singapore, keep a close eye on our platforms!

The annual Singapore Fintech Festival has quickly become one of the world’s premier events in Fintech professionals’ calendars. Now in its third edition, over 35,000 participants from across a hundred countries flocked to the festival earlier this month, from November 12th to the 16th. CFTE, much like last year, attended the festival, as part of our continual promise to deliver our community the latest news at the forefront of Fintech.

This year’s programme featured great discussion from speakers on a wide range of trending topics in Fintech, including the role of Artificial Intelligence, insurtech, diversity in the industry, and more.

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) opened the event by outlining six components the regulator has been working on since 2015, when it dreamt of a ‘Smart Financial Centre’.

Ravi stressed six areas of focus which will accelerate Singapore’s success as a Fintech leader:

People – taking a multi-pronged approach in addressing the ongoing shortage of technology skills, and enabling higher learning institutions to adapt their curriculum with industry input to further develop future generations of Fintech professionals.

Identity – launching the National Digital Identity (NDI) programme, which includes MyInfo, a powerful digital service which authenticates citizens to allow external third-parties to access their personal data sitting across several government agencies.

Payments – Singapore has revamped its national e-payment infrastructure, which now includes:

Data governance – developing principles which guide responsible usage of data in financial services, as well as a set of principles to promote F.E.A.T (fairness, ethics, accountability and transparency) in the field of AI & data analytics.

Applied research – launching initiatives like a SG$27m grant scheme which supports R&D in AI & data analytics for finance, and establishing Fintech Fast Track for patents.

Platforms for innovation – connecting people via programmes that encourage innovation, such as: AFIN – the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network, which brings financial institutions together to develop solutions for financial inclusion. AFIN launched APIX – the world’s first cross border open architecture platform to improve financial inclusion.

On the importance of financial inclusion across Asia, he said, “It is a shame that in this day and age, so many do not have access to a bank account, secure and efficient means of payment, or insurance protection.” Gautam Bhardwaj of pinBox Solutions agreed with this, stressing his belief that technology can be used to “assist with [the] understanding” of financial literacy.

Partnerships were a recurring theme throughout the event, with Prudential Singapore CEO Mike Wells exploring their necessity, “In a lot of ways, tech is a prerequisite for us. If a customer wants to pay with mobile #payments, that’s their choice & we have to adapt.”

Similarly, Tan Hooi Lang, co-founder of Grab, and Janet Young, Managing Director at UOB Group, took the stage to announce a strategic alliance between the firms across ASEAN, which will provide digital services by extending bank operations to the Grab app.

Also present was CFTE co-founder Huy Nguyen Talk who spoke at length on Fintech trends, declaring ‘’I disagree with Tim Cook. Coding is not more important than English, and for professionals in finance, a combination of domain expertise and technology literacy is a winning combination.”

The multi-day event also saw great discussion of fintech’s future. Chris Colbert opened the second day at the show with a provocative talk “Technology is Dead”, in which he focused on the ethics of implementing technology, rather than the benefits of adopting innovation — “Innovation is about affecting adoption of the function [of behaviour.]”

As always, the festival continues to be the epicenter of exciting new developments in Fintech, which includes hosting new speakers that previously may not have been associated with the Fintech space. While the largest fintech festival in the world hardly needs a grander sense of scale, the third day was truly unique, as sitting India Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the stage to share his views on how technology affects the global economy. Modi’s statements on Fintech’s role in finance, while perhaps not pioneering, would undoubtedly have great reverberations in his region’s industry.

Modi affirmed the festival as a ‘festival of belief’, and claimed “we are in an age of a historic transition brought about by technology”, as “the character of [the] global economy is changing, technology is defining power in the new world.”

The India PM offered his thoughts on how his nation has been affected by digital transformation, saying “digital infrastructure in India has helped us launch the… world’s largest healthcare scheme.” He also noted the importance of upskilling schemes: “[the] talent pool in India benefits from schemes like Digital India & Skill India.” Over 300,000km of fibre optic network laid down in his nation is connecting people to credit, insurance and other accessible financial services. He reiterated that this would be impossible without the rise of Fintech and digitisation of payments.

Prime Minister Modi took note of India’s massive talent pool and supportive policies and initiatives which enable easier funding for Fintech start-ups. He outlined the six great benefits of FinTech: access, inclusion, connectivity, ease of living, opportunity and accountability.

Also present at the festival was Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, who opened by declaring “change is the only constant”, a message embraced by the ethos of the Singapore Fintech Festival. She focused on 3 key areas – the changing ‘nature’ of money, the role of central banks and how to minimise risk when utilising currency. She explored a potential downside of digital currency: the risk to financial integrity and stability. 

There remains a trade-off between privacy and integrity – Lagarde suggested a bank-designed digital currency wherein users’ identities are authenticated through diligence procedures, to ensure identities are never disclosed to third parties, including governments, unless required by law. 

In summary, Singapore Fintech Festival proved to once again be an event of great learning, networking and industry discussion. To learn more of the event, including CFTE’s presence in Singapore, keep a close eye on our platforms!

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