Ambassador what is your role in connecting Singapore and Denmark in the financial and technology sectors?
Fintech is hot in Denmark, with investments increasing seven-fold between 2014 and 2017. The current year shows even more promising investment rates. Singapore is the preferred destination for forays into Asia by Danish fintech companies due to the great fintech ecosystem and regulatory framework here. I try to help connect the dots and facilitate partnerships at both a government and commercial level.
Furthermore, fintech can act as a catalyst for achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, which is a key policy objective of the Danish Government. Bringing mobile pay solutions to people who never had a bank account, helping people invest their pensions in green finance and securely registering shared ownership of small assets – such as a cow –in distributed ledgers are just some of the examples. Singapore is a great hub to bring fintech solutions out to the wider ASEAN region and help meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
Singapore and Denmark have tech-savvy citizens and ambitious plans to future-proof our economies through digital developments and are great test beds for new technologies, making us natural partners in the fintech space.
It has been one year since Denmark and Singapore formalized fintech relations, has much been achieved?
Denmark and Singapore formalized fintech relations with two agreements last year in May, and since then we have experienced a growing interest by our companies in collaborating. Several Danish fintech companies have already set up regional offices in Singapore.
In order to further boost the collaboration, we have recently added a new element to our fintech toolbox. We call it the 'DanSing Bridge', which is a fast-track concept for go-to-market, scaling and innovation between our countries and within the Nordics and ASEAN.
"DanSing Bridge" was launched two months ago during a visit to Singapore by Danish Minister for Business, Industry and Financial Affairs, Rasmus Jarlov. DanSing Bridge aims to help financial institutions access new partnerships and talents. It supports fintech startups from Denmark and Singapore through a targeted program that provides access to matchmaking, technology partnerships, funding, talent, advisory services, data and participation in the regulatory sandbox. I hope that this new and exciting initiative will help more companies from both countries scale and grow in Europe and Asia respectively.
What is the current state of Danish fintech in Singapore and other Asian financial hubs?
All good preparation starts at home. A lot of effort and investment has been put into creating a dynamic eco-system in Copenhagen and the number of fintech start-ups has nearly tripled since 2015. More than 17,000 people now work within fintech.
Greater Copenhagen is home to some of Europe's largest asset owners and Denmark has a vibrant investment industry with an attractive talent pool. We have a booming start-up community and a strong regulatory support for fintech innovation. Now is the time to execute on global partnerships and extended collaborations. We are very much open to business.
The 'DanSing Bridge' is a sign of what is to come. One of our fintech pioneers, MakerDao, recently signed three bank agreements creating a direct link to greater Southeast Asia and financial access for people in the region's rural areas. Through the lens of sustainability, by creating banking options for the unbanked and by taking lead on technology development, the scale of Danish and Asian fintech collaboration will boom.
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) puts the figure of global unbanked at 2.5 billion – many of whom live in Southeast Asia. If our joint fintech innovations helps to strengthen the financial nervous system, commerce and enterprise will flourish and the entire body of healthier development will waterfall into our other business areas and strongholds.
This factor will push even closer fintech-ties in Singapore, across Southeast Asia, in Hong Kong, in China and in India, and across all of Asia.
Will we see a Danish representation at the Singapore Fintech Festival?
The biggest representation to date. Fintech is one of the areas where the strong Singaporean-Danish collaboration is growing at a fast rate. Representatives from 15 Danish companies, start-ups and financial institutions will join the festival for five exciting days in Singapore with innovation lab crawls, workshops, pitching sessions and hopefully the birth of several new partnerships.
I expect this edition of Singapore Fintech Festival to be another highlight of the impressive footwork done by fintech players from both our nations. I am personally excited to be part of the festival and support our continuous journey as strong partners and fintech trendsetters.
Dorte Bech Vizard has been Denmark's Ambassador to Singapore since September 2016. She has held several positions in government and the diplomatic corps since 1999, except for a two-year stint as a consultant with Deloitte. In 2013, Dorte received the Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog. A lawyer and graduate of Aarhus University, Bech Vizard is a major supporter of fintech.