Nordic fintechs aim to unlock ASEAN’s sustainable development potential
Partnerships are front and center of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships at the global, regional, national and local level. Singapore and Denmark already have such close fintech partnerships in place through three collaboration agreements.
Acting as regional gateways, the Singaporean and Danish fintech associations offer matchmaking and funding opportunities, advisory services and technology partnerships in our neighbouring markets. By bridging start-ups from the Nordics to challenges in ASEAN, we seek to solve issues where they matter the most.
ASEAN is one of the world’s fastest growing regions and home to many of those with the greatest need for change. Financial inclusion is amongst the most urgent issues with roughly half the population still excluded from formal financial services. These often marginalised individuals in Indonesia, the Philippines and the wider Southeast Asia are left out of the formal economy with no access to credit, insurance and payment services. Services that can be delivered via mobile platforms and fintech. Agriculture can also look to fintech technologies to empower smallholder farmers through crop insurance and fund sustainable production initiatives via crowdfunding. Blockchain can give consumers information about when and how their vegetables were grown, paving the way for informed and eco-friendly choices.
The Nordics can potentially provide many of the digital solutions to unlock ASEAN’s sustainable development potential. With a strong legacy for human-centric design and a thriving fintech tie-up with Singapore, time is ripe to push the needle on tech for good.
The new Global Impact Partnership aims to connect, inspire and promote partnerships between Nordic startups, institutional partners and global banks to drive fintech for green transition and sustainable development in Southeast Asia. In practice, we will team-up to empower low-income employees with financial services and literacy, accelerate decentralised, deep-tier financing and support impact ratings on SMEs for more sustainable investment portfolios.
Digital disruption creates a historic opportunity to reshape finance
A thriving Nordic fintech start-up scene is leading the way in finding new financial solutions towards a society fit for the future. Right now, almost 200 fintech start-ups from the Nordic countries are developing tech solutions aimed at solving the 17 SDGs. In close collaboration with the Nordic fintech hubs, Copenhagen Fintech and the consulting firm Implement have mapped the entire landscape of Nordic fintech companies (link to the report).
Many of the startups are already in fruitful partnerships and are planning to scale their solutions beyond the Nordics – Tradeshift, Chainalysis, 2021.ai, Coinify and MakerDao just to mention a few examples – and many more are looking to enter. They focus on topics such as accelerating the use of savings for long-term development, collecting and interpreting data for ESG screening, making SDGs count in global financial markets, financing small and medium enterprises, promoting SDG-aligned consumer spending or ethical application of AI. There are many challenges to pick from and much important work to be done.
Copenhagen Fintech and the Danish Embassy in Singapore have worked hard on connecting Nordic fintechs with Singapore and the wider ASEAN region. Through close dialogue and several Danish delegations, it is evident how the region is building up an impressive momentum and, in many ways, represent the future of financial services and technology. The numbers speak for themselves. Fintech is Southeast Asia’s largest venture capital investment category by number of backed startups. Last year, $1.6B was invested in fintech startups. We believe that cross-pollinating our two ecosystems with a focus on sustainability has an enormous potential for creating real and lasting impact.
With this first blog post, we hand over the ‘baton’ to the other participating partners – UNDP in Singapore, Citi and DBS Bank. In the coming three weeks you will learn more about their strategies and actions in this area and why this program is exciting for them.
Sandra Jensen Landi
Ambassador of Denmark to Singapore
Thomas Krogh Jensen