The largest ever Fintech delegation from Denmark visited Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) in November, comprising a total of 30 companies and 60+ people, exhibiting in the dedicated Danish booth area.
At SFF, the world’s largest Fintech event, Denmark’s Ambassador Dorte Bech Vizard cut the ribbon, assisted by Copenhagen Fintech Association’s CEO Thomas Krogh Jensen.
Copenhagen FinTech’s vision is to develop Copenhagen as one of the leading Fintech hubs in the global financial services industry by supporting and catalyzing the next era of technology-led corporate and start-up innovators.
To this end it is partnering with other Fintech stakeholders abroad and has established a Global FinTech Alliance Advisory Board. This Board comprises leading strategic financial experts from around the world. Among them are: Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore; Dr Justo A. Ortiz, Chairman of the Board Union Bank of the Philippines; and Ray Ferguson, Chairman, Singapore Life.
Also, the annual, promotional Copenhagen Fintech Magazine is published in English in partnership with the Danish business newspaper Børsen.
Among its content in 2019 they gathered six Danish Fintech companies, representing 1.6 billion euro in valuation and more than 500+ jobs created in Denmark, that exemplify what makes new Nordic innovation unique – the combination of technology and human-centred design.
“They solve real problems for real organizations and real people. Fintech matters, and for Denmark and Copenhagen, it has become a position of strength that we need to nurture and develop further,” states Singapore Fintech.
“It’s in English because it needs to have a wider audience and we use it for events, visitors etc. throughout the whole year. It’s a pretty good way to communicate the status of the Fintech ecosystem and the companies, so it works well for us. We help them with the content and some of the articles are paid media and some real content that we produce,” Thomas Krogh Jensen explained to ScandAsia as the big Singapore week 2019 was coming to a close.
Copenhagen FinTech’s engagement with Singapore and the rest of Asia keeps on growing.
“I think us having a pavilion this year shows how things have progressed; the first year we were a few companies coming and a smaller presence, starting to build our network here. In 2018 we had a bigger delegation with close to 30 people representing some 15 companies. In this year we have 60 people from 28 companies. So our network has grown a lot here. We’ve seen the first partnerships here; we have companies that established their go-to-market in Singapore. We have also signed MoUs and also did some partnerships here. We established a global advisory board with representatives from Singapore. So we have a strong local network and have partners. The embassy has helped us a lot to accelerate that network. And we have some of the Danish Fintech companies, Nordic companies actually, doing business here now,” the CEO summed up the progress so far.
“We are very happy with how it has progressed – but it’s a relationship-building region and it takes time to build those connections.”
Among his first conclusions from the expanded presence at SFF during 2019 was that having a physical presence at SFF was really good: “We had a lot of visitors and the companies were very happy about it. We had arranged beforehand that some of the big financial institutions and some of the investors and other people would come and visit, so we already had visitors planned to visit the pavilion. And we could see that there was a big interest. We had one of the companies, Solstroem, that is doing this real-time carbon offsetting, being mentioned in the media by the minister here in Singapore.”
Thomas also mentioned Matter (which offers a fully automated sustainability screening and reporting solution) among the companies getting a lot of attention.
“It has certainly been good for us to have the pavilion. Key persons are coming and we’ve had key persons here from ADB and major local financial institutions from all over the region, so it’s a really good way for us to build our network in the region, but also outside – the Middle East was heavily represented, and of course many of the European banks have a Singapore presence so we also engage with them while we are here.”
“I think it’s a very efficient way for us to engage with the whole of Southeast Asia. For instance, we have a Union Bank Philippines representative in our advisory board that we met here last year. And we’re also tapping into the ecosystems in Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia etc., and then we know that in order to really do business we need to go there, but it’s a good way of starting relationships,” he added, while it has also been “resource-demanding and time consuming”.
The Embassy of Denmark in Singapore, together with the Copenhagen FinTech Association, also arranged three events during SFF and the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH).
‘The Art of Partnering for Innovation’, held at ING Innovation Lab, was a workshop focusing on how one can use strategic partnerships and other vehicles to accelerate one’s innovation as a larger financial institution. The Nordic perspective was presented, based on both research on the topic as well as having three cases sharing their experiences with partnerships.
A ‘Sustainability Thought Leader Forum’ was also held for the first time in Singapore by Denmark, zooming in on how financial technology can help solve some of the world’s pressing environmental challenges. Denmark and the Nordics are front runners in sustainable development, where their shared vision reflects a longstanding Danish and Nordic tradition of pursuing solutions that are sustainable in the long run, now bridging also with Southeast Asia to learn from each other.
Finally, ‘Ethical AI’ was hosted by SAXO Markets. Denmark and the Nordics aims to be front-runners in responsible development and use of artificial intelligence – benefitting individuals, businesses and society as a whole. The Danish National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence seeks to create a framework for companies, researchers and public authorities that allow them to exploit the potential of artificial intelligence with a high level of responsibility.
“The ethical AI event was super good with one Singapore university professor as speaker. Around 250 people attended the three side events,” said Thomas.
Looking ahead he commented: “We will evaluate; but we got really good feedback so far and the engagement with Singapore works very well. We’re looking into how we can build on that even more in 2020. Also, I think the next steps for us will be to look at how we can build a more continuous presence and on a more continuous level send out companies, and make them to go to market in Asia and Southeast Asia and keep on building that network and those relations here.”
A few Danish companies have also already, or are about to establish own presence in Singapore.
“We definitely see that if there’s one region that Danish/Nordic companies should be looking towards, it’s Asia. The importance of Asia and the volume and how much this region is evolving is just massive. The markets are super interesting, but also very diverse. China, Singapore, Japan and Philippines – just to mention a few that are very different countries. It’s difficult to just say ‘Asia’ as a whole but it’s a very big market and so much is happening here so we’re very engaged with Asia in general. It’s definitely the region where we throw in the most resources by far. I think it should be shifted; Asia is more interesting at least in some areas than the U.S.”