The sixth edition of the Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) with the theme “Web 3.0 and its impact on financial services” concluded on 12 November 2021. The week-long event attracted 60,000 attendees, representing a 33% year-on-year growth.
SFF 2021 drew over 2 million views. Viewership was extended with live broadcasts on local and international television networks and social media. Of the more than 160 countries represented, 52% of the registrations came from outside of Singapore – reflecting the global appeal of the Web 3.0 theme, and the quality of the content.
SFF 2021, which comprised keynote speeches, panel discussions, meetings, online learning, live events and innovation showcases saw participation from over 7,500 organisations and featured more than 700 speakers who shared insights across 240 hours of content. More than 260 exhibitors set up virtual booths, including 14 International Pavilions and 11 World FinTech Festival partners who hosted international satellite events. In keeping with the SFF’s mission to promote dialogue, over 4,000 virtual meetings conducted through the business matching platform.
22 innovation labs hosted physical and virtual tours and meetings for 3,800 participants, while side events including OXYGEN by APIX, SME Day, 11 World FinTech Festival events, SFF Mini Symposium, Elevandi Forum and Deal Fridays, took place during the week.
The following are the key highlights of SFF 2021.
A platform for continued learning
In line with the theme of Web 3.0, SFF 2021 introduced a Web 3.0 certification programme to support learning, development and upskilling in Web 3.0 focus areas. Over 5,000 knowledge certificates were awarded digitally via blockchain technology to participants from over 80 countries. The certificates were issued by The Asian Institute of Digital Finance in partnership with the National University of Singapore. More knowledge certificates are expected to be awarded as the programme continues until 30 September 2022.
Also new this year was a dedicated SME Day where SME leaders and academics shared practical learnings on building strong and resilient businesses for the future. SME Day participants received a Digital Certificate of Knowledge. As of 14 November 2021, 84% of SME Day learners successfully earned a knowledge certificate. In collaboration with Digital Pilipinas in the Philippines, SFF supported the local community through the development of the I-ITERATE Digital Knowledge Certification. This programme focused on digital infrastructure to support Open Finance, RegTech, Risk & Cybersecurity, and InsurTech & HealthTech.
A new initiative launched at SFF this year is ATOMS, a not-for-profit initiative which provides a community where entrepreneurs connect and share meaningful insights. During SFF, ATOMS featured more than 45 short form videos across Asia-Pacific, USA and Northern Europe, that entrepreneurs can listen to and learn from in 120 second, bite-sized videos via a free mobile app.
Launch of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)’ tech and innovation initiatives
MAS and its partner agencies made the following announcements to bring about new digital efficiencies and benefits to the financial sector:
- National Artificial Intelligence Programme in Finance – MAS and the National AI Office (NAIO) launched the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Programme in Finance to build deep AI capabilities within Singapore’s financial sector to strengthen customer service, risk management, and business competitiveness;
- Phase two of SGFinDex – MAS and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group launched the second phase of the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex), allowing individuals to now view information on their investment holdings at The Central Depository as part of their consolidated financial position;
- Sandbox Plus – MAS announced Sandbox Plus, an enhancement to the MAS FinTech Regulatory Sandbox framework, to further catalyse financial innovation and FinTech adoption; and
- Retail Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) paper – MAS released a paper outlining MAS’ preliminary assessment of the economic case for a retail CBDC in Singapore, and its potential implications for financial stability and monetary policy.
Industry collaboration and innovation initiatives
Several industry collaboration and initiatives were launched to drive innovation in the future of finance:
- Digital platforms under Project Greenprint – MAS announced its partnership with the industry to pilot four digital platforms under Project Greenprint, to address the financial sector’s needs for good data on sustainability;
- ChekFin on APIX – ChekFin, a decentralised credentials platform to enable financial institutions to obtain verified credentials of FinTech firms, such as business references, awards obtained, and investor funding records. ChekFin is a partnership among the ASEAN Financial Innovation Network, BCG FinTech Control Tower, and Affinidi, with MAS as a founding partner;
- Cross-border digital payments – NETS announced integration of Alipay+ to enhance local merchants’ cross-border digital payments capabilities, and Western Union announced that it is supporting cross-border digital money movement with Singtel’s Dash; and
- Small business financing – Mastercard launched the world’s first “Buy Now, Pay Later” commercial card solution for small business financing in APAC.
SFF 2021 also saw the launch of two new innovation challenges to solve industry problems – the Global CBDC Challenge which seeks to identify and develop retail CBDC solutions that increase payment efficiencies and improve financial inclusion and the Global Veritas Challenge which aims to address key challenges in validating the fairness of AI solutions for specific banking use cases. SFF 2021 also celebrated the winning solutions of the Global FinTech Hackcelerator, the SFF Global FinTech Awards and the Most Innovative FinTech e-Gifting Award.
A number of important international cooperation initiatives were also announced at SFF 2021, such as:
- MAS and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas signed an enhanced FinTech Cooperation Agreement to facilitate interoperable payments between Singapore and the Philippines;
- Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer, in cooperation with finance.swiss, SFF and Elevandi announced the Europe-Asia FinTech Forum in Switzerland. This Forum will build a bridge between Asia and Europe and seek to bring together the very best technologists, with investors and leaders to develop innovative ideas and inclusive solutions; and
- SFF 2021 added new partners such as the World Economic Forum and a continued partnership with the Milken Institute.
SFF is organised by MAS and Elevandi, in partnership with The Association of Banks in Singapore and in collaboration with Constellar Holdings. The SFF organising team thanks all our sponsors, partners and participants for being a part of this year’s event. We look forward to continued collaboration with the industry to bring together an exciting and impactful SFF 2022, from 7 to 11 November 2022.