IN 2017, Singapore and Denmark planted the seeds for a strong fintech bond. Three collaboration agreements later, cross-border cooperation is blooming and several Danish fintech companies are setting up regional offices in Singapore. Through exchange and via new ways for our tech innovators and financial institutions to join forces, we shape the gateways to future expansion in the wider Asean region and the Nordics. The time is ripe to harvest fintech's sustainable potential.
In the recent history of fintech, Singapore has been the trendsetter in Asean. With excellent digital infrastructure to nurture financial technologies, Singapore is, as a key player, connecting the region to global innovation and commercial opportunities. By promoting innovation, developing smart as well as simple regulations, firms have an ideal playground to test, grow and open Asean to advancements in technologies from around the world. Denmark is determined to join the journey.
Denmark is ambitious about developing models for effective government support to help fintech entrepreneurs. Investments increased seven-fold between 2014 and 2017 to create a dynamic ecosystem in Copenhagen as a gateway to the rest of the Nordics. Figures from 2018 are even more promising.
Backed by strong regulatory support for fintech innovation, the number of startups has nearly tripled since 2015. More than 17,000 people now work within the sector. Copenhagen is home to some of Europe's largest asset owners, and Denmark has a vibrant investment industry with a large, attractive pool of talent. All good preparation starts at home and the scene is now set for wider impact through global partnerships. The Singaporean link is central.
Both our nations enjoy well-educated and tech-savvy populations, and we share extensive plans to put digitalisation at the forefront in future. Serving ready-made launch pads for foreign firms looking to do global business, Singapore and Denmark are natural partners in the fintech space.
BUILDING A FINTECH BRIDGE
The latest step was adding a new element to our fintech toolbox. We call it the "DanSing Bridge": A fast-track concept for go-to-market, scaling and innovation to support more companies from both countries to grow in Europe and Asia respectively.
The bridge was launched two months ago during a visit to Singapore by the Danish Minister for Business, Industry and Financial Affairs, Rasmus Jarlov. DanSing aims to help financial institutions access new partnerships and talents. It supports fintech startups through a targeted programme that provides access to matchmaking, technology partnerships, funding, talent, advisory services, data and participation in a regulatory sandbox.
The new collaboration is the second of its kind between the fintech sectors in Copenhagen and Singapore, adding to the existing collaboration between the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority inked last year. The "DanSing Bridge" is a way forward to catalyse the next era of technology-led corporates and innovators and develop leading hubs within global financial services. By pooling our talents, we can define new ways to form partnerships linking commercial interest to sustainable development.
This week, the fourth and biggest Danish fintech delegation to date joins the Singapore Fintech Festival, and the festival is an ideal occasion to accelerate the journey of inclusive growth and sustainable finance to those at the margins.
Fintech is, simply said, new tools fulfilling old functions for present issues. It provides an entry ticket to attain livelihood for those left behind. The United Nations Capital Development Fund estimates that 2.5 billion worldwide remain unbanked - many of whom live in South-east Asia. A new sustainable financial vein to ensure commercial opportunities remain responsive and active is key to inclusiveness. Finance is the central nervous system running through all industries and enterprises and it is defining for sustainable development. If we bring financial services and technologies to more people, we can lower the cost to break down entry barriers faced by individuals and small-scale businesses at the margins.
Mobile pay solutions to people who never had a bank account, helping people invest their pensions in green finance, and securely registering shared ownership of small assets - such as cattle - create a healthier body of development.
Practical and customer-oriented solutions, such as payment applications, credit financing and money transfers or remittance, benefit ordinary people. Exploiting the potential of such financial technologies is therefore a must to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
We are in positions to take the lead, and as companies and markets continue to mature, more opportunities for Singapore and Denmark will arise. Opportunities to learn from each other. Opportunities for our firms to create value together. Opportunities to drive the global vision of sustainable development through people-centric technology. The Singaporean-Danish fintech partnerships are a potential driver for inclusive growth.
- The writer is Ambassador of Denmark to Singapore.