Singapore FinTech Festival 2017
Insights from the World's Largest FinTech Festival by Klareco Communications
SINGAPORE, 24 November 2017 – Back by popular demand, last week’s Singapore FinTech Festival was attended by some 25,000 people, more than twice the number of people who attended last year. Representatives from 100 countries gathered in our tiny little red dot to talk, live and breathe FinTech – everything from financial inclusion to artificial intelligence to blockchain, payments and big data. Amongst the buzz, three key themes stood out: cryptocurrencies, cybersecurity and communications.
The debate surrounding cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs) was especially notable. One of the event’s keynote speakers, Joi Ito, Director of MIT Media Labs, described cryptocurrencies as essentially a way to transfer value, but cautioned against speculators inflating the prices. Given its volatility, speakers in other discussions said, cryptocurrencies may be better viewed and treated as commodities, as the underlying value of currencies is dependent on trust.
Ravi Menon, the Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said the regulator has to strike the right balance between regulation and innovation. He used virtual currencies as an example, saying that MAS does not regulate virtual currencies. In fact, the regulator welcomes them as an innovation that can potentially reduce the cost of financial transactions. But he said MAS does regulate the activities surrounding virtual currencies if these activities pose specific risks, such as money laundering or terrorism financing. He succinctly captured the current ambivalence that investors, businesses, academia and governments have towards cryptocurrencies – or more importantly, how their potential can be harnessed for good, rather than evil.
Given the recent cyber breaches, it is no surprise that cybersecurity is another key topic for speakers and participants alike. As Singapore strives to be a Smart Nation powered by a digital economy, naturally cybersecurity and risk management will play an important role. Consumers’ confidence and trust in the system to protect them from financial losses is key in encouraging increased adoption of digital payments options such as e-wallets and cashless peer-to-peer funds transfers.
One of the six strategies for a smart financial centre unveiled by MAS was on building a safe and secure cyber environment. Most discussions pointed to a consensus that in this digital day and age, it’s not a matter of whether a cyberattack happens, but when, so early detection and solutions are critical.
Underlying all the discussions is the need to communicate and demonstrate how FinTech innovations are enabling and transforming lives. Klareco Communications ran a workshop for FinTech startups on building trust in a brand, especially during times of crisis. Our Singapore’s Managing Director, Mark Worthington, provides his insights on this aspect in this video: