From 26 to 28 June, the Swiss State Secretariat for International Finance and Singapore-based Elevandi are hosting the international Fintech Conference Point Zero Forum in Zurich. In this interview, Elevandi’s executive director explains the cooperation between Singapore and Switzerland.
Let’s start with your organisation Elevandi, a Singapore-based non-profit organisation set up by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Can you explain what Elevandi is doing?
Our mission at Elevandi is to bring the public and private sectors together and the purpose here is to advance FinTech in the digital economy. We are doing this for about a year and a half now. We are still a very young company. One of the key things we are trying to do is to bring policymakers and regulators into the conversation with the industry – whether this is the investment community, the technology crowd or even the FinTech founders and leaders that are driving change and innovation. It’s our raison d’être to bring these communities together and find new ways to create a dialogue. Over the past six months, we’ve been doing this through a series of roundtables. We’ve also been doing this with opportunities – such as the Capital Meets Policy Dialogue that brings policymakers and regulators together with investors. They really can come closer together to understand what are some of the policy choices over the coming years, which will in turn impact some of the capital employment choices that investors are looking to make.
You bring people together not only in Singapore, but also elsewhere. Your main initiative in Europe is the Point Zero Forum Conference in Zurich, organised together with the Swiss government. Can you tell us how this initiative has come about?
It was the dream of two individuals. Like all great stories it starts with two different nationalities. Someone of Singapore and someone from Switzerland came together and had the idea that there was an opportunity to bring some of the magic of the Singapore FinTech festival which has been running for eight years now, to Switzerland. And so things started to gather more momentum when in 2021 the Swiss finance minister brought a delegation to the Singapore FinTech Festival. The momentum started to build. There was a strong appetite to bring together a conference that would be a bridge between both regions, but also give more of a need to the industry. When we looked around Europe, we felt that there was a strong desire to have policy-tech dialogue. And so, as the time went on, we started to develop this idea and that is how the first Point Zero Forum was born in 2022. We believe that this is a great opportunity to bring those two key ingrediencies – policymakers and regulators – together with the industry to really advance some of the thinking around the new technology – whether it is digital assets, technology in sustainability or genuine artificial intelligence. These are some of the dialogues you hope to hear at Point Zero Forum this year.
Why is Switzerland in your view a good location to host such a FinTech conference?
Historically, it is neutrality. It is a great place which neighbours also with some key markets as well. You know you have a great driving FinTech ecosystem – certainly, on the digital assets and the tech side. We felt that Switzerland was the ideal location to bring together innovators, bright minds and large corporates within Switzerland and also the neighbouring countries. I think there is a great affinity between Singapore and Switzerland. We felt that the appetite and desire from the right people within Switzerland matched our own appetite and our own desire. So far, it has been a great partnership.
Let’s talk specifically about the next edition of the Forum which is taking place in fairly disruptive times for the financial industry. How has this disruption influenced the focus of the next Forum?
When I think about last year, there was huge disruption. The backdrop of the first Point Zero Forum was set against a war going on and sadly is still going on. It was set against a backdrop of a crypto winter. For me and for both of the teams on the SIF side and also within Elevandi, we see disruption as an opportunity to find clarity and to chart a path forward, but also importantly, as an opportunity to identify new areas that can create growth. You know, where the industry is in a status of flux is the time to do new things. There are new segments, new communities and new verticals. In the same way that during the financial crisis in 2007 and 2009 lead to the wave of new FinTech businesses. If you think about it, FinTech as a term did not exist before then. But it was born of the financial crisis and the whole web 2.0-movement. It all came from that period of time where mobile, social and cloud came together and you saw these huge tech giants born from this (AirBnB, Uber). When we look at the power of the Point Zero Forum, the challenge for us is how we can come together as an industry and overcome some of these challenges. It is important that we take advantage of these opportunities (Web 3.0, new opportunities for artificial intelligence or digital currencies and digital assets). So, when I see a disruption, I see it as an opportunity. There is a famous recent quote that says we live in a time of multiple crises, but they are also multiple opportunities.
You have said before that the next edition of the Forum is especially consequentially important, why?
It is that dialogue that needs to happen. If we want to leverage technology in financial services and give innovators the wings to really fly, they need to having a dialogue with policymakers and regulators. That is part of the consequential dialogue we are having through main stage opportunities and also these roundtables, which bring together public and private sectors. There will be a series of workshops. One of the most important things we have learned at the first Point Zero Forum is the opportunity to network. Networking in a smaller, exclusive environment with senior leaders can really help shape your thinking. For us, that is the consequential part of the Point Zero Forum.
Finally, how can Swiss companies or organisations become a part of the next Point Zero Forum and to which participants are you going to especially reaching out in this last month leading up to this conference?
We are calling out to all parts of the ecosystem to rally around and come to the Point Zero Forum. It is an opportunity to validate your thinking and it is an opportunity to be a part of these important dialogue between the public and private sector. But it is an opportunity to learn new things as well. We are looking to bring the community together and also bring the outsiders in the community as well. Trying to create a serendipity where there are new ideas and a kind of cross pollination of thinking and opportunities. That is the piece of the Swiss community. In terms of organisations that we are looking to reach to is, I see a great opportunity for tech companies and in particular those for a bias for artificial intelligence. I see a great opportunity for those in digital asset space and in particular around custody services. Stable coins, I think that is an interesting area there.