Singapore Fintech Festival 2017
By Lea Jakobiak
Why Singapore Fintech Festival is in a league of its own.
What really makes an event great is the guest list, right? And in that respect, Singapore Fintech Festival did not disappoint. The likes of Christine Lagarde, Head of the IMF, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands were there, to name a few! Not bad given that this is only the second year the event is running!
With Around 30,000 participants from over 100 countries, it’s the world’s largest Fintech Festival. So why is Singapore such a hot spot for Fintech right now? I caught up with Ghela Boskovich, Founder of FemTechGlobal, who explained: “I think Singapore is a natural hub for Fintech to spring fertile because you have all the necessary ingredients; an engaged regulator, banks actively making tech changes, and a government policy that attracts and makes it easy for new businesses to start”.
Also enthusiastic about Singapore was Karthik Lyer, CEO of e-Chat, a decentralized multi-tasking Messenger with capabilities of a multi-currency crypto wallet. He told me that e-Chat’s next move is to expand in Singapore because of the “huge opportunity it represents and because there is an openness here towards cryptocurrencies that appeals to us”.
Indeed, potential for growth for Fintech businesses in the region is significant. Last year, Fintech investment in Asia exceeded North America for the first time, led by blockbuster deals in China, including Alipay. And this year, total fintech investment in South East Asia is poised to exceed $338 million (UOB). So it’s only natural to want a slice of that pie!
But Fintech is also used as a tool for financial inclusion, which is applicable on a large scale in Asia. The continent is home to over more than half of the world’s population thanks to China and India, but in 2014 over half of the adult population in ASEAN still didn’t have access to basic banking services. This is what Queen Maxima was there to highlight, and she believes Fintech innovation will help improve this.
And for the sceptics, Mr Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Minister for Education and second Minister for Defence, assured that Fintech and innovation is not to be feared. He told us reporters that “Fintech is not about robots and AI replacing people, but about how technology can help create a so called Smart Nation”.
IMF’s Christine Lagarde tweeted that Singapore Fintech Festival offered a ‘glimpse of the future’. And just like her I am eager to witness how Asia will embrace Fintech and how this will transform that part of the world.
In the meantime, thank you Singapore Fintech Festival for a fantastic event!
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