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Staying resilient, viable, and valuable

The Edge Singapore
The Edge Singapore • 6 min read
Staying resilient, viable, and valuable
With a looming global economic slowdown, the fintech ecosystem is finding more ways to stay resilient and relevant / Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua
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Come Nov 2 to 4, tens of thousands would again throng the cavernous halls of the Singapore Expo as the Singapore FinTech Festival is back as a physical event. This comes after two years in which the SFF was first held as a virtual event, and subsequently, a scaled-down hybrid event because of the pandemic.

During these couple of years, much of the world has changed. What has remained constant is the desire of the global fintech community to exchange fresh ideas and perspectives among themselves and with their stakeholders. With a clear eye on the wider ecosystem, fintech players see the bigger need to find a deeper purpose and create more real value in what they do.

SFF2002 is organised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Elevandi, in partnership with Constellar (a global player in the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions industry), and in collaboration with The Association of Banks in Singapore.

The Edge Singapore has been associated with the festival since 2017 and we are proud to be yet again one of the five official media partners of the festival. Just a few years have passed but new trends have come and gone, new players have emerged and faded away.

Throughout this, the fintech ecosystem has only become more vibrant, and more ready than ever to adapt, or even transform, in a bid to stay resilient, viable and valuable — which is exactly the theme of SFF 2022: “Building Resilient Business Models amid Volatility and Change”.

One such epitome of a company staying resilient and viable is Ingenico. Founded more than four decades ago, the France-based company started as a provider of point-of-sale payment terminals provider and is today better described as a point-ofcommerce solutions provider, offering complete payments software and as-a-service related solutions to enable banks, acquirers, software providers and merchants.

See also: MAS pilot Project Orchid displays promise for further Web 3.0 development

With risks of a global recession and other economic and market woes as a backdrop, speakers and other participants of the SFF 2022 will examine three key questions. First, viability: How are organisations building and redefining business models that can be more resilient to volatile market conditions?

Next, responsibility: How are organisations balancing corporate responsibility and profitability in order to achieve greater stakeholder satisfaction and engagement? And last but not least, inclusiveness: How are organisations designing inclusive business models that cater to the needs of the unbanked and underbanked?

“As the leading global knowledge platform for fintech, SFF 2022 will focus on bringing best-inclass experts to share industry insights to build business models that remain viable and resilient amid the crisis,” says Sopnendu Mohanty, chief fintech officer at MAS and chairman of Elevandi’s board.

See also: Asean FinTech sector resilient at US$4.3 bil for 2022: UOB, PwC and SFA report

He points out that the format of the festival this year has been enhanced to add numerous intimate and interactive sessions, to foster deeper discussion between the public and private sector stakeholders.

“The return of an in-person SFF will energise all stakeholders in the FinTech community to stay strong and purposeful despite the strong headwinds ahead of us,” adds Mohanty.

Jean-François Quentin, group CEO of Constellar, calls the SFF community a “special” one, given how it has continued to connect and collaborate on the festival’s hybrid event platforms in the past two years. “With live events back in full capacity, the return of SFF in-person will enable personalised and immersive event experiences to catalyse new innovations, strengthen networks and build impactful partnerships,” he adds.

As befitting a global fintech event of this scale, the organisers have lined up a list of speakers with a common interest in fintech but with a great diversity in terms of backgrounds and roles they play.

Naturally, there are founder-type figures of fintech setups, such as Changpeng Zhao of Binance; Brian Armstrong of Coinbase; Kristo Käärmann of Wise; Julian Hosp of Cake DeFi; Yusho Liu of Coinhako; and Ang Xing Xian of alternative supply chain financing platform CapBay. Making another appearance will be Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of cryptocurrency Ethereum.

Of course, there are the Singapore politicians and government officials, with Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong leading this group, given his other hats as finance minister and deputy chairman of MAS. There are also MAS’s managing director Ravi Menon and deputy managing director Leong Sing Chiong.

Regulators and officials from other jurisdictions will be present as well. They include Alla Kantar Levy, head of finance, from Israel National Digital Agency; and Valerie Szczepanik, director of the FinHub at the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

A few of the new start-up digital banks will be at the festival to help raise their own profile. They include Toh Su Mei, CEO of ANEXT Bank, one of the two wholesale digital bank licence awardees, and also Dwaipayan Sadhu of TrustBank, a digital-only joint venture between Standard Chartered Bank and NTUC.

The incumbent financial industry players, of course, are joining the fun. Piyush Gupta of DBS Group Holdings is making yet another appearance, presumably keen to brandish the bank’s credentials in its digitalisation journey.

Other CEO-level speakers from this group include Mark Fitzpatrick, CEO of Prudential; Dennis Tan, managing director, strategic business group of Prudential and CEO of Prudential Singapore; and Lawrence Chan, group CEO of NETS, Singapore’s cashless payment system pioneer, who will help address new skills gap in financial services.

There’s a particularly big showing from United Overseas Bank. They include Kevin Lam, head of UOB TMRW and group digital banking; Lawrence Loh, head of group business banking; and Janet Young, head, group channels and digitalisation, strategic communications and brand.

For a global event of this scale, which can reach out to a global audience on top of its tens of thousands of expected attendees, it will be graced by the presence of individuals with global recognition. Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is slated to speak on Nov 3 on the topic of designing an ecosystem for women’s financial inclusion.

Indeed, financial inclusion has been a constituent of the wider ESG agenda that the financial services industry is embracing. ESG thought leaders such as Esther An and Eric Lim, chief sustainability officers of City Developments and UOB respectively, will be speaking too.

For a potential session of robust debate on ESG-related topics, look for Stuart Kirk, a former HSBC executive who left the bank after he, in his own words, suggested in a “polemical speech” earlier this year “that the risk to investment returns from climate change was over-hyped, Miami becoming Amsterdam was nothing to worry about, and central bank doom-mongers were ‘nut-jobs’”.

Karolina Bielawska from Poland, who was Miss World 2021, will show that beauty, brains, and a sense of mission for wider social causes do go well together. The First Class Honours graduate in business management will speak on how Web 3.0 can impact the multi-billion dollar influencer market, citing actual use cases.

With this rich diversity gathered on this common platform, The Edge Singapore wishes all festival participants a fruitful time.

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