Last week, the Red Dot Museum in downtown Singapore played host to Visa’s first ever FinTech Asia event which brought together more than 250 leaders in the fintech (financial technology) community, the banking industry, and technology companies from around the world.
According to Accenture, global investment in financial technology ventures have more than tripled in the last five years — from under US$930 million in 2008 to more than US$2.97 billion in 2013. An event like this being held in one of the most financially dynamic nations, Singapore, makes a lot of sense as the uptake of new financial tech here is among the highest in the world.
The initiative boasted brilliant speakers and companies with snazzy devices. This included a wearable smartwatch made by a firm from Hong Kong called Connected Device that was more akin, in functionality at least, to a smart wallet. The device can be used at point of payment terminals for quick and easy transactions instead of doling out cash or waiting to sign a credit card receipt. Another standout was Singapore-based MoolahSense, a web-based crowd lending platform connecting investors to startups that might need capital without going through the traditional investment model.
Another of the interesting exhibitors was InAuth, a security company that creates advanced security products for mobile and browser, and collates device intelligence. This intelligence helps to detect fraud and authenticate that a customer device is clean.
Stockpile Investments was another company of note. Its founders describe the service as the “world’s first brokerage platform that makes it easy and affordable for anyone to give, get, and own stock in any dollar amount. Companies of all kinds — financial institutions, loyalty companies, employee benefits companies, retailers, and fintech providers — can leverage their platform to offer Stockpile services and drive customer acquisition, engagement, and revenue.”
According to Stacey Pinkerd, Senior Vice President, Head of Products, Asia Pacific for Visa, “Financial services innovation will accelerate and impact more people and economies positively when banks and retailers work hand in hand with the emerging fintech community. The power of open innovation will help create new products and services to meet the evolving needs of an increasingly sophisticated and technologically connected digital consumer.”
The event also featured panels discussing a variety of topics such as risk aversion, crowdfunding and crowd-sharing.
Overall, the event and its message was best encapsulated by Paul Bennett, the Chief Creative Officer of IDEO, one of the top design houses in the world whose list of clients include Apple. He said, “The future of fintech will not be found in the newest technologies or the most sophisticated banking products. Putting people at the intersection of banking and technology will allow the real breakthrough of ideas to emerge and FinTech Asia provides an excellent platform for such collaboration between banks and technology companies.”