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Summary: Singapore Fintech Festival 2021

November 22, 2021

The Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) was a virtual event that took place November 8-12, 2021. The event is organized by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The theme for this year’s event was the impact of Web 3.0 on financial services. From the event website:

“Over three days, we will bring together global knowledge sharing from leading academics, practitioners and thought leaders across 45 reimagined sessions covering designing, building and ensuring sustainable financial services for Web 3.0.”

I attended the event and found it quite interesting. In this post, I’ll share takeaways from some of the sessions I attended.

Shaping the Future of Financial Services with Decentralised Finance

Is Decentralised Finance taking over the banking world? That question was explored by this panel:

  • Dr Ben Goertzel, Chief Executive Officer & Founder, SingularityNET Foundation
  • Sudhir Pai, Executive Vice President & Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Capgemini
  • Justin Amos, Chief Executive Officer, Lygon
  • Anjali Kapoor, Decentralised Marketing (DeMar) Chief & Former Media Executive, Alt Key Theory (Moderator)

The panel noted that AI can be used in decentralised finance to create efficiencies and engage better with consumers across different products and use cases. They also discussed additional benefits of AI:

  • Efficiency and speed of transactions
  • Opportunity for newer players to participate
  • More liquidity in the market
  • Fraud detection and the creation of more choices

Digital Currencies: The Missing Puzzle Piece?

The next session I attended focused on digital currencies. The panel:

  • Cuy Sheffield, Vice President, Head of Crypto, Visa
  • Eric Anziani, Chief Operating Officer, Crypto.com
  • Kevin Lim, Director, Temasek
  • Yusho Liu, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Hako Technology Pte Ltd
  • Sharon Paul, Head of Payments, Southeast Asia Xfers (Moderator)

The event description:

“Why is there a need for digital currencies to fully harness the value of blockchain use-cases? We’ll examine the current state of play with examples and case studies of live usage, and how central banks are exploring the adoption of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and the future of digital currencies.”

The panel discussed the challenges of digital currencies, including changing narratives, complex user interfaces, and the transition from traditional currencies. They also discussed the challenges of wholesale banks: the digitization of B2B transactions, alternative payment methods, and the need for central regulations to maintain order.

Internet of Things (IoT)

I attended a conversation about the application of IoT in financial services and how it might be complemented by technologies like 5G, edge computing, and blockchain. The participants:

  • Derrick Loi, General Manager, International Business, Intelligent Technology Business Group, Ant Group
  • Manisha Tank, TV Anchor & Correspondent (Moderator)

Derrick noted that post-pandemic, IoT has a larger addressable market due to the need for more automated and advanced products. The emergence of AI and 5G can further advance IoT. New developments include:

  • Processing of collated data and making trusted decisions
  • More bandwidth and less latency in the last mile
  • Real-time, shorter response

Exploring the Future of Payments Technologies

Next, I attended a panel discussion about the future of payments technologies. The panel discussed the trends shaping the payments innovation of tomorrow, which factors are driving change, and what the next phase of innovation in payments technology looks like.

The panel:

  • Arik Shtilman, Chief Executive Officer, Rapyd
  • Chris Yeo, Managing Director, Head of GrabPay & GrabRewards, Grab Financial Group
  • Lawrence Chan, Chief Executive Officer, NETS
  • Gautam Aggarwal, Senior Vice President, Regional Chief Technology Officer, Operations and Technology, Mastercard (Moderator)

The panel noted that the future of payments technologies requires that companies ensure they have policies to safeguard consumer interests and provide uniform tools to manage compliance across different products and different countries. What determines the winners and losers in this space?

In the short term, players that support new payment methods win. In the long term, the winners are players that acquire and consolidate platforms globally.

The Future of eCommerce in Web 3.0 World

I attended a panel discussion about the future of eCommerce in the world of Web 3.0. The panel:

  • David Hardoon, Managing Director, Aboitiz Data Innovation
  • Rachmat Kaimuddin, Chief Executive Officer, Bukalapak
  • Sangeet Paul Choudary, Founder, Platformation Labs Pte Ltd
  • Navin Suri, Chief Executive Officer & Founder, Percipient (Moderator)

The panel first discussed the limitations of Web 2.0:

  • Design based on incentives over technology
  • Advertising-based revenue models
  • Power centralized in a few platforms

They then discussed the potential of Web 3.0:

  • Analyse the impacts and improve our technology
  • A fully decentralized architecture
  • Online marketplaces
  • Bricks and mortar merchants can participate and have access to services

Wrapping Up

There were so many amazing sessions at the Singapore Fintech Festival. While I couldn’t attend all of them, I can take advantage of my on-demand access to watch a few that I missed. I’m looking forward to next year’s conference.