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Financial technologies, or more often referenced as ‘fintech’ has seen its rapid proliferation in recent years. Perhaps stemming from the need to revamp traditional and archaic financial systems that do not seem to be able to keep in tandem with the speed and efficiencies demanded in the new digital economy. Or perhaps with increased activities and limelight in the startup space that bears the promise to be the ‘next big thing’ after Facebook, AirBnB, Grab and the like, entrepreneurship in various key domains have sprung up across global cities and with product propositions centred around technology as a common denominator.
Singapore being a financial hub has thus bred a relatively vibrant fintech landscape. It is a play not only involving disruptors, but also incumbents delving into the innovation fever and extending collaborations with technology partners and enablers. Associations and interest groups like Singapore Fintech Association supporting the fintech community, ACCESS rallying blockchain and cryptocurrencies, Women in Tech promoting diversity; are some of these that are lending energy to the ecosystem.
However, one noteworthy thought is: what is the end road for all these wonderful fintech advocacy and innovations? Creating an innovation with a sole purpose of an exit strategy in the shortest time is a great goal in itself but can we stretch it further and ‘do good, do well’ at the same time?
On a lookout for a Bigger Purpose
With the power of fintech to bring about greater efficiencies and benefits to the ecosystem, disruptors, enablers and incumbents alike should ask the question of what is the bigger purpose of all these. Fintech startups with a clear mission from day one and an “inclusive” one at that, may find themselves staying resolute despite challenges of market adoption and competition in the early days. It is akin to Jack Ma’s consistent priorities famously shared as: customers number one, employees number two and shareholders number three.
One of Singapore’s fintech trailblazers Professor David Lee from Singapore University of Social Sciences coined LASIC principles as the key ingredients for sustainable, successful fintech companies:
L: Low profit margins at the user level as the idea is to build a critical mass from early on and achieving profitability based on low margins but higher user volume. The initial period of little or no revenue -when executed with the right product and strategy – should see exponential growth later on coupled with other revenue sources.
A: Asset light businesses can scale and innovate quickly without the burden of fixed costs and inertia borne by traditional or asset-heavy businesses. This principle thus fits very well with technology companies.
S: Scalability of the technology and product offering is important and often means less about expanding physical presence in this new digital realm
I: Innovation, innovation, innovation both in product, operations and delivery to users such as with the use of mobile technologies.
C: Compliance-easy fintech solutions means less resources expended on compliance requirements, and more resources advocated to innovation instead.
Fintech can be exciting and lucrative; but purposeful fintech that impacts livelihoods elevates the meaning of success. Singapore being a financial hub will see us at the forefront of new trends, new technologies and thought leadership in this space. We wait with anticipation on a homegrown fintech success that can fly the flag on a global scale.
Daphne Ng, Founder & CEO of JEDTrade – a B2B fintech trade platform – lives by the importance of having a bigger mission and an ‘A’ team to execute it, as critical first steps for any fintech innovation to take off. JEDTrade’s key value proposition is to help businesses find and unlock financial value from their organic supply chains first, which is the easiest and most direct avenue to optimize trade and cashflow for their business. Nonetheless the underlying mission for JEDTrade is clear: It aims to create an inclusive trade and finance ecosystem to benefit all enterprises regardless of size.
In fact, Daphne advocates that the bigger boys can do more to help the smaller guys in the same supply chain because it helps with overall quality and sustainability of the whole chain – and why not?
Daphne Ng will be speaking at Women in Tech Conference Asia on 20th September at Marina Bay Sands Expo during Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology (SWITCH). https://womenintech.sg/
Featured Image: 123RF Stock Photography