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Global FinTech Festival 2021

This year, the 2nd edition of the Global FinTech Festival (GFF) has been specifically conceptualised to harness some of the best minds to deliver strategic insights on the current transformation of the strategic insights on the global Fintech ecosystem.

With the theme of FinTech: Empowering a Global Digital Economy, GFF 2021 aim to provide an in-depth understanding of the latest business, policy, investment and technology developments within the global FinTech space FinTech landscape globally.

NUS Alumni Ventures is proud to be part of the Global FinTech Festival. Read on to find out more about the 2 panel discussions that we have moderated! Read on to discover insights from what was shared during the segments.

Fintech for the Underserved: The Truth from the Customers

Joining the stage for this segment, we have 4 insightful speakers. Moderated by our very own NAV member, Kok Chung, we invited 4 distinguished speakers to share candidly about the challenges that the undeserved community face amidst the fast-paced global fintech movement. The four speakers are : Terence Ng, Head of Core Marketing APAC (Instarem), NIUM, Sanjeev Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Spice Money (banking, payments, lending), Sanjeev Agarwal, Director, Dvara Smart Gold and Scott Krivokopich, Managing Partner at 1982 Ventures. And in this segment, we have our NAV member Kok Chung, moderating this conversation.

Key Takeaways from Speakers’ Sharing

There has been much buzz about the potential for fintech to serve the financially underserved, from innovations in remittance, payments, credit, to the insurtech space. How has the progress been thus far? Are the latest innovative Fintech solutions really benefiting the underserved segments of society (e.g. the underprivileged and the poor in rural parts of the world)? Are there remaining gaps to be plugged?

In todays’ era, shifting from offline to online? And domestic to international encapsulated this change.

How can we leverage new technology to find new ways to remit money to countries such as India, Myanmar and others? Instead of perceiving technology as a disruption, why not view it as an opportunity for change? Technology can help the underprivileged working in modern cities by reducing the time taken to remit money back to their home country. This saves time, money and promotes efficiency as more and more workers as well as employers jump on the bandwagon to do cross-border transactions. That being said, it is worth noting that there are challenges that come along with this new change. Service providers need to be more prudent and cautious especially when emitting large sums of money between countries and various stakeholders. A relationship of trust and confidence is critical to ensuring a smooth and safe transaction.

In order to cater to customer pain points and tap on opportunities that exist in the market today, some companies are coming up with innovative ways to address such challenges. One such example would be Western Union, which aims to create an omni-channel e-transaction method combining digital and retail transactions, allowing senders and receivers to engage in fuss-free transactions whenever and wherever they need it.

As we zoom into the topic on ‘rural fintech’, Sanjeev Kumar mentions that there has been a significant challenge for rural consumers to find the nearest ATM to draw cold hard cash for the purposes of purchasing essential items amidst the pandemic. At this juncture, it is apposite to consider whether Artificial Intelligence (AI) can serve as a useful tool to help increase accessibility and efficiency for the underprivileged in rural areas. Could AI enable BANKING-As-A-Service [BaaS] to rural people?

Scott brought up an insightful fact that the unbanked population have difficulties communicating in English and can only converse in their own native language. How about making use of an AI based app to assist users to get their banking needs answered through voice. Examples of common enquiries include “Where is the nearest ATM? What’s my savings account balance?” Such use will not only increase efficiency by doing away with additional 24h customer service hotlines and customer service centres, customers can also receive immediate, real time updates when engaging in financial transactions. This ensure consumers to have their enquiries answered in quick time, in case of emergency.

The various innovative ways for individuals to invest, borrow and transact currency come with challenges as well. In order to better understand the challenges by the underserved community, we had Ritch Ho, representing the Silver Economy & Wesley, representing local student & NSF community in our panel talk.

Digital Literacy-Silver Economy trust with Digital Inclusion

Ritch shared with the audience about ‘digital literacy’, the main challenge faced by the silver economy. We are still looking out for new fintech trends to suit customers' needs. There is still a long way to go in this space and we are still looking out for new fintech trends to suit customers' needs. Providers of fintech should think about the purpose behind their platform, the other services that they can provide and the problems that can be solved with new technology. Imagine having an application that can provide customer service in 38 languages around the world. Afterall, overcoming the psychological hurdle to become active digital participants can happen only through access to guided learning programmes which are often link to ‘hearing and performing’. This way, we can be active participants in today's fast-paced and ever-growing digital economy.

Buy Now Pay Later - How does this model support students?

Wesley, representing the NSF and student community, Wesley shared about the problems that he has faced when trying to gain access to extra credit. Due to his lack of credit worthiness as a student, he was unable to receive additional loans to kickstart his e-commerce business.

One of the emerging term in the market today ‘BNPL’ has gained much popularity especially among students. In fact, the term ‘buy now pay later’ and the concept of buying something but deferring payments has been around for years. BNPL is a type of financial service that has been integrated into online shopping or e-commerce. The main feature behind this service is its ability to delay the payment and still provide the goods or services in a fast and easy manner, increasing consumers welfare.

Such services address the main challenge faced by students like Wesley who are in urgent need of goods or services to kickstart their business but are unable to afford a one lump sum payment. Such flexible loan repayment solutions such as BNPL can serve as a great alternative for students and business owners like Wesley who require urgent credit but are not credit worthy (according to banks' standards). The pandemic has also accelerated this trend, causing more individuals to engage in such services.

While digital fintech has opened fresh domains of knowledge and awareness for individuals, the opportunities arising out of the ubiquity of the internet are not shared evenly, and a larger segment of the population is left wondering what the digital revolution is all about. Afterall, digital inclusion is about transforming users of technology into participants of the internet revolution. Providers of fintech ought to think about how to create that customer experience that promotes efficiency and user-friendliness without the impediments that come along with it.

Career in FinTech

The FinTech segment has evolved rapidly over the last few years, with start-ups and other new market entrants offering innovative solutions and disrupting the financial services industry along the way. As a result, it has generated a lot of interest among job seekers, who are keen to pursue exciting roles in the FinTech space.

For this panel discussion, we have our very own NAV Relations Head Director, Vanessa Ho, to moderate the session. We have invited a diverse panel of speakers from various backgrounds in FinTech to present the key skills needed to thrive in the FinTech space as well as the challenges and opportunities that fresh graduates can look out for. Firstly, we have David Z Wang, a ex-investment banker from Morgan Stanley turned founder of FinTech and ConsumerTech-focused Principal Investment firm, 33 Capital, and Co-founder & Group CEO of FinTech Private Investments Firm, Helicap. Next we have Patrick Tan, a lawyer-by-training, entrepreneur and the CEO and General Counsel of Novum Alpha, a leading digital asset management firm that helps clients navigate the cryptocurrency markets and lastly, we have Yogesh Sangle, once a Mechanical Engineering graduate and current Global Head of Consumer Business at Instarem. He was formerly from Citibank, Barclaycard, Paypal and Moneygram.

Key Takeaways from Speakers’ Sharing

The FinTech space offers exciting opportunities to aspiring individuals. A few of the noteworthy ones include: educational institutes, fintech startups, incumbent financial institutions, advisory firms & accelerators.

Our panelists engaged in a robust discussion on the various ways an undergraduate can best prepare for his or her future in the FinTech space.

Yogesh mentioned that it is paramount to be 'big and bold. Change is the only constant." Change is the only constant. The world of fintech is changing so much that it's hard to keep up with the latest trends that are shaping the industry. What is the current problem? How can you come in and fill the gap?

David on the other hand, shared about the types of conversation he would have with potential candidates. He would ask them questions pertaining to their life long goals and ambition as well ask they key motivation that keeps them going. Although specific skills sets does matter, the FinTech industry has become so diverse such that soft skills are needed and in fact, more important than just technical skills. For instance, an individual that is passionate about consumer goods or FMCG, can venture into the e-commerce industry while an existing e-commerce service provider can consider expanding the scope of services to include digital banking.

Undergraduates can leverage their enthusiasm and innovative spirit to solve the problems that most sectors face today. They have to figure out the tools available to attract consumers' attention and adapt to this constantly evolving world.

This ties in with the main character of candidates that Patrick looks out for. Possessing ‘intellectual curiosity'. Do you have the willingness and desire to "dig deeper" and go beyond the surface to learn new skills and value add to the business or are you doing things because it is simply a chore or an item on the checklist. One might not have the technical skill. That’s fine. As long as the candidate has the intellectual curiosity, this is crucial to developing a beginner's mindset. Try to avoid starting sentences with "And"... Suggestion: With the growth mindset, the individual can capitalise on his or her intellectual curiosity and learn from mistakes, allowing future problems to be solved expediently.

The essence of it all: ‘You have to be obsessed about solving the problem.’

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