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Google Cloud Ramps Up ESG in Asian Fintech With Updated Point Carbon Zero Programme

Google Cloud introduces three key updates to its Point Carbon Zero Programme, including the formation of an advisory board, the launch of a climate finance accelerator and the onboarding of several high-growth technology firms.

Google Cloud launched the programme back in July, through a partnership with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

The programme seeks to catalyse the incubation and adoption of climate fintech solutions in Asia over the next three years.

The programme’s latest updates, which were unveiled this week as part of the Singapore Fintech Festival, seek to further the ambitions and scope of those achieving net zero in the region.

Here we discuss the updates and what they’ll mean for the future abilities of the programme.

Formation of the Point Carbon Zero Programme advisory board

The first update includes the appointment of an advisory board, which will work together to guide the programme’s ecosystem engagement strategy and initiatives.

The board comprises 12 senior executives of the region’s foremost finance and technology companies, including Goldman Sachs, HSBC and KPMG Singapore; among others.

The board’s selection intentionally consolidates sustainability and finance experts from the private sector, public service, academia and civil society.

This diversity reflects the integrative approach required to facilitate efficient flows of environmental, social and governance (ESG) data.

The board will design data-driven solutions and financial instruments to advance organisations’ decarbonisation agendas.

The board has played an important role in refining the mechanics for the Point Carbon Zero Climate Finance Accelerator and will serve as the programme’s executive sponsors, mentors and judges.

Climate finance accelerator 

Organised by Google Cloud in collaboration with MAS and KPMG in Singapore, the inaugural Climate Finance Accelerator aims to channel capital toward companies with market-ready climate fintech solutions.

It also seeks to facilitate financial institutions’ adoption of these solutions to impact multinational corporations (MNCs) and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The Accelerator is actively seeking solutions developed by climate-conscious fintechs to address problem statements co-crafted with stakeholders

These problem statements reflect the following real-world challenges faced by financial institutions:

  • Identifying and quantifying synergies and trade-offs between the social and environmental aspects of ESG, so organisations can more effectively access and adopt transition financing.
  • Harnessing retrospective and forward-looking datasets to help organisations create achievable, science-based transition pathways that can be assessed against codified taxonomies.
  • Standardising the calculation, verification, and disclosure of carbon emissions data across industries to allow clients – especially those in hard-to-abate sectors – to monitor and manage their financed emissions.
  • Automating the resource-intensive process of pooling validated carbon emissions data from an MNC client and its suppliers, so a relationship manager can make an efficient and reliable assessment of how the client is faring against its net zero commitments.
  • Integrating ESG impact analysis into staff performance metrics to incentivise actions that reduce carbon emissions across an organisation and its supply chain.
  • Enabling relationship managers to provide SMEs with bespoke financing solutions that are tied to their implementation of sustainable business practices.

All eligible applicants will be given the opportunity to tap cloud computing credits of up to $100,000, each year for two years, under the Google for Startups Cloud Programme.

By January 2023, up to 15 finalists will be shortlisted and matched with problem statement owners for a six-week programme.

During this six-week pairing, finalists will work to refine their solutions; receiving mentorship from the board and Google Cloud’s technical subject matter experts.

Once polished, the finalists will pitch their solutions to the board, the problem statement owners, venture capital and asset management firms, and Google Cloud’s technology ecosystem partners at a demo day hosted at the Google Singapore campus.

The demo day will be followed up by industry engagement sessions between the finalists and financial institutions at the recently launched ESG Impact Hub.

Submissions for the Accelerator will be open until 3 December this year.

“No one organisation can solve a complex and constantly evolving challenges like climate change on its own,” comments Dr Darian McBain, MAS’s special advisor to the Point Carbon Zero Programme.

“Collaboration and partnerships are critical, whether it’s getting granular ESG data to understand problems that are unique to this region, or addressing problem statements on where and how sustainable finance can incentivise change,” continues McBain.

Anton Ruddenklau, partner and global head of innovation for financial services at KPMG International, added: “It’s encouraging that companies worldwide, especially in Singapore, have been ramping up sustainability efforts.

“A greater push for a significant transition to a net zero economy will require corporates and financial institutions to partner in new ways to develop robust ecosystems capable of system-wide transformation.”

Building and scaling digital offerings on carbon neutral cloud infrastructure

Technology firms that provide digital solutions to drive financial inclusion or sustainable development in various ways are also aligning with the Point Carbon Zero Programme to scale their offerings using Google Cloud’s carbon neutral infrastructure and services.

By migrating critical IT workloads and applications to the cloud, firms will inherit Google Cloud’s carbon neutrality and improve their sustainability profiles.

They include:

  • AgriG8, an agri-fintech platform that is connecting institutional lenders with the underserved smallholder farming community.
  • Capture, an application that helps consumers to track and reduce the carbon footprint associated with their daily lifestyle activities.
  • Climate Impact X, a marketplace and exchange for quality environmental credits.
  • Fando, a tokenisation and decentralised finance (DeFi) platform and marketplace for content creators to stake in the business decisions of sports brands.
  • ZA Tech, an insurtech company that is enabling traditional insurers and digital lifestyle platforms to offer digital insurance solutions to consumers.
Sherie Ng, country director, Singapore and Malaysia, Google Cloud,
Sherie Ng, country director, Singapore and Malaysia, Google Cloud

“Southeast Asia is one of the regions that is most exposed to the risks and consequences of climate change, and its digital economy is projected to produce 20 million tons of carbon emissions in 2030, according to the latest e-Conomy SEA 2022 report,” said Sherie Ng, country director, Singapore and Malaysia, Google Cloud.

Ng also acts as chairperson of the Point Carbon Zero Programme Advisory Board.

“Through the Point Carbon Zero Programme, we’re making a concerted effort to direct capital flows toward sustainability projects in Asia and deliver digitalisation solutions that minimise – or reverse – this environmental impact.

“Digital transformation and decarbonisation can happen in tandem and at scale as congruent imperatives within every organisation.”

Author

  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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