Singapore Fintech Festival
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Singapore Fintech Festival 2021: Day 3 Review

This week sees the return of the Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF). Now in its 6th year, the festival is being broadcast to a global audience from 8 to 12 November 2021, as well as holding a number of in-person talks and sessions.

Laying claim to the title of the world’s largest FinTech event, this week provides a unique opportunity for the global FinTech, innovation and business communities to connect, collaborate and network, and features more than 350 sessions, over 700 speakers, over 260 exhibitors, and 14 international pavilions, with another 60,000 streaming the event ‘live’.

Day Three of the SFF was the final day of sessions that was fully in-person, with the event shifting to a more hybrid form for the rest of the week. As in the previous days at SFF 2021, we take a look into some of the major highlights from across the sessions, panels, and talks.

Session Highlights from Day Three

In conversation with Ben Horowitz

In this intimate fireside chat, Vikram Pandit, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, The Orogen Group talked to Ben Horowitz, Co-Founder & General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz, in an intimate fireside chat covering everything from his investment thesis in crypto and his leadership insights into how to build, sustain and even change culture.

They also touched on Web 3.0 and the future of the internet, with Ben commenting that “We really think it’s gonna be transformational. You know, it’s very much like the internet in that it’s, you know, it’s a platform for permissionless innovation.”

We are starting to embrace such transformative innovations and technologies more and more in the modern world. With regards to that, Ben briefly touched on the interesting concept of ‘intermediate technology’, technology and products that provide an ‘intermediate’ step between the physical and the virtual world. He used the example of DocuSign – a more technological solution than physical ink signatures, but not a full solution, as opposed to a cryptographically strong digital signature. Our world right now is full of these ‘intermediate technologies’, but the next step is moving to the fully-virtual solutions.

Moving on to discussing Asia and technological development, he said that, with a country like India, there is “[a lot of excitement] about the ability to open their economy up to the virtual world, saying that “this is a country with so many genius-level people coming to work,” and that “They’ve got great digital competency and now […] I think it’s going to develop really, really fast.”

Singapore Green Finance

Scaling Sustainable Finance for a Green Recovery

Speakers on this panel included Marty Dropkin, Head of Asian Fixed Income and Hong Kong Investment, FIL Asia Holding Pte Limited; R. Raghunathan, Chief Executive Officer, WWF-Singapore; Zoë Knight, Managing Director and Group Head of the HSBC Centre of Sustainable Finance, HSBC; and Sasja Beslik, Head of Sustainability, SDG Impact Japan. Amit Gupta Chief Executive Officer & President, Ecosystm and TiE Singapore, was moderating.

The backdrop for this discussion was the fact that the market for sustainable finance has been rapidly growing in response to the climate emergency. Despite impressive recent growth, the sustainable finance market has a long road ahead to reach maturity. It faces competing initiatives, uneven coverage by geography and asset class, misalignment of definitions and a mismatch between supply and demand.

The panellists discussed how the financial sector can adequately respond to these global concerns, the role of finance in the green recovery and attempts by the public and private sectors to collaborate in order to scale credible ESG investments? In addition, they raised interesting points about the most innovative financial products and instruments that aim to deliver social and environmental benefits alongside attractive returns.

Amit Gupta explained that we have a limited time to achieve net-zero goals: “Climate financing will have to grow over the next three decades, by five to eight times its current volume,” he said.

Zoe Knight highlighted that HSBC is working on a public finance initiative called ‘Fast-Infra’, which looks at ways to accelerate a sustainable transition in infrastructure. “The key is to provide a labelling system that helps institutional investors cut through what sustainability really looks like,” Knight said.

“The next 20, 30, 40 years are going to be really exciting for mankind,” said Raghunathan. “The scale of transformation we are likely to witness is going to be unprecedented – this is the start of the new industrial revolution.”

Green Investments Into ASEAN

In line with the theme of “Sustainable Financial Services”, global management consultancy Oliver Wyman invited viewers to tune in to their live session and create lasting sustainable impact – by having a tree planted on their behalf.

The live session at Oliver Wyman’s virtual booth was a fireside chat with Peter Reynolds, Partner and Sustainability Platform Lead, Asia Pacific, Oliver Wyman leading the discussion, joined by Mitch Carpen, Head of Risk Management and Compliance from the Green Climate Fund. They discussed the investment landscape for green projects in Asia, mobilizing private sector finance, the trade-off between development and climate, and reflections from COP26.

With sustainability and climate change at the top of mind for business leaders, Oliver Wyman works alongside clients to create breakthroughs for a net-zero future and is the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero’s (GFANZ) knowledge partner and is supporting the GFANZ to make a clear positive step in climate finance and the transition to net-zero.

“Oliver Wyman is committed to carbon neutrality. In the past, conferences with people travelling were often a source of material carbon footprint. But the virtual Singapore FinTech Festival shows us a new way! We thought it would be appropriate to encourage participation in this virtual approach to conferences and celebrate participants through the planting of trees,” said Peter Reynolds.

Latest Company Announcements

Talos, an advanced technology provider for the institutional trading of digital assets, today announced its expansion into Asia with the hiring of Samar Sen as Head of Asia-Pacific. Additionally, the firm announced plans to open a Singapore office imminently.

Over his 20-year career, Sen has worked in a variety of product, strategy, and technology leadership roles at capital markets firms across the industry. Sen’s appointment is the latest senior hire for the firm following a $40 million Series A funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz.

“As a technology firm focused exclusively on helping institutions around the world safely and efficiently access the digital asset markets, it’s important that our team brings the proper understanding of the challenges our clients and prospects face,” said Anton Katz, Co-Founder and CEO. “With his background as a capital markets technologist, Samar most definitely fits the bill. We’re excited to add someone of his caliber to lead our APAC growth strategy, and look forward to his future success as we grow into 2022 and beyond.”

Developed in 2018, Talos’s platform is built exclusively to support end-to-end trading

of digital assets – from onboarding to price discovery, execution and settlement – including bilateral access to liquidity providers.

iLex, Asia’s first multi-dealer electronic market for corporate loans, has announced that it has $3 billion of assets listed on its platform, onboarded 70 bank and non-bank lenders and is providing connectivity to an additional network of 235 financial institutions, since its official launch in January this year.

The loan assets listed on iLex range across 17 geographies and 18 industries, in both the primary and secondary markets. The iLex platform matches listed assets with buy-side counterparties who have registered indications of interest in assets of similar characteristics or participated in similar deals previously. Several enquiries have also been initiated by buyers on the platform, choosing from a repository of over 20,000 reported deals through iLex’s proprietary electronic trading protocols.

“Today’s announcement marks several significant milestones accomplished in the short 10 months since our platform went live. In addition to delivering our platform for our clients, we have also been focused on achieving a critical mass of both assets listed and market participants. We hope to continue with this strong momentum and look ahead to fantastic growth prospects,” said Bertrand Billon, CEO and Founder of iLex.

Billon added, “We are also pleased that several global syndicated loan bookrunners have joined iLex‘s Partner Bank group to help drive innovation in loan capital markets and support the transformation of this asset class. In the near future, we hope to share some of the new initiatives we are currently working on with our partners in this journey to digitise the corporate loan market.

 Mastercard

In partnership with Mastercard, three leading cryptocurrency service providers in the Asia Pacific region will be launching crypto-funded Mastercard payment cards. For the first time, consumers and businesses in this part of the world will be able to apply for crypto-linked Mastercard credit, debit or pre-paid cards that will enable them to instantly convert their cryptocurrencies into  traditional fiat currency, which can be spent everywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world.

The three digital asset service providers that Mastercard is partnering with are Amber Group, Bitkub in Thailand, and CoinJar in Australia, all of which offer cryptocurrency purchase and exchange services in  their respective domestic markets.

“Cryptocurrencies are many things to people—an investment, a disruptive technology, or a unique financial tool. As interest and attention surges from all quarters, their real-world applications are now emerging beyond the speculative,” said Rama Sridhar, Executive Vice President, Digital and Emerging  Partnerships and New Payment Flows, Asia Pacific, Mastercard. “In collaboration with these partners that adhere to the same core principles that Mastercard does – that any digital currency must offer stability, regulatory compliance and consumer protection – Mastercard is expanding what’s possible  with cryptocurrencies to give people even greater choice and flexibility in how they pay.”

The Crypto Card Program is part of Mastercard’s strategy in the digital assets space to help provide customers, merchants and businesses with more choice in how they move digital value. As part of the Crypto Card Program, Mastercard supports participating fintech companies by reducing barriers to entry, streamlining the onboarding process and offering access to dedicated fintech and digital asset experts, and in-market teams to accelerate their growth and execution.

Hybrid Events

Wednesday’s sessions brought to a conclusion three days of exciting, in-person events that were focused on all things Fintech and Web 3.0. For the remainder of the week, SFF 2021 will have a slightly different look, with a combination of live, virtual and hybrid panels that will cover a range of different topics.

These events, separate from the main one, include the SFF Innovation Lab Crawl, where Innovation Labs will open their doors and showcase their up-and-coming FinTech innovations, and the Elevandi Forum, which is a series of five exclusive forums that covers innovative and impactful topics across the spectrum of FinTech evolution.

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