Despite the disruption of Covid-19 - or perhaps because of it - SFF x Switch 2020 saw a strong turnout of more than 3.5 million viewers over five days round the clock. In total, 60,000 participants were drawn to the event from over 160 countries, making it the biggest Singapore Fintech Festival and Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology yet organised.
According to a joint press release from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG), over 2000 speakers and 1300 exhibitors were drawn to the forum. Speakers included luminaries like New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as well as his predecessor Bill Gates. Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee also made an appearance.
There were also 27 international pavilions in addition to 45 satellite events hosted by partner cities worldwide. “More than 4,400 business meetings were facilitated through SFF x SWITCH, including over 1,000 virtual meetings between technology seekers and providers conducted through IPI’s TechInnovation platform,” the release continued.
Beyond the sheer number of participants, the event also proved to be a landmark event due to a number of industry and cooperation initiatives announced at the event.
Notable among these include the $12 million Singapore Blockchain Innovation Programme by ESG, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). Supported by MAS, the programme sought to strengthen Singapore’s local blockchain ecosystem.
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Additionally, MAS announced the launch of the Singapore Financial Data Exchange, jointly developed with the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group and key retail banks to enable individuals to consolidate financial information across different banks and government agencies. MAS also launched Project Greenprint to promote a green financial ecosystem.
In terms of international cooperation agreements, MAS announced a first-of-its-kind national faster payment systems linkage between Singapore’s PayNow and Thailand’s PromptPay, which is expected to go live by mid-2021. It also commenced talks with the Bank of Ghana to adopt the Business sans Borders open hub of platforms and work on a complementary Financial Hub corridor to ensure mutual connectivity between SMEs in both countries.
At a multilateral level, MAS also agreed to team up with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development to provide SMEs with financial and digital tools. The initiative seeks to help these smaller businesses leverage data and access financial solutions more effectively.
ESG, meanwhile, added Manila and Shanghai to its Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) network to help Singapore’s innovative startups and SMEs into key global innovation nodes. With the addition of both cities, GIA now comprises 15 cities globally across Asia, Europe and the US.
SFF x Switch 2020 also saw the launch of new innovation challenges. This includes the Food Waste National Innovation Challenge by the National Environment Agency (NEA), JTC Corporation and ESG was launched to bring about sustainable and automated segregation, disposal and treatment of food waste.
“I can tell you that this is perhaps the best fintech festival we have ever done,” said MAS Chief FinTech Officer Sopnendu Mohanty in an interview with The Edge Singapore prior to the event. In light of the high turnout and significant announcements during the 2020 edition, it is clear that his confidence has not been misplaced.
Next year’s Singapore Fintech Festival is expected to be held on Nov 8-12, 2021.