By Priscilla Tan | “If you think you’re done, then maybe it’s time to go home,” Google VP Next Billion Users Diane Layfield says about innovation. If there was a contest for the best noteworthy quote at Money20/20 Asia 2018, this would be the champion.
The March 13-15 Asian edition of the global series was off to a grand start. FinTech leaders and enthusiasts from 50 countries attended the three-day event in Singapore at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. These pioneers share one belief – innovation is a necessity when it comes to molding the future of money.
It was an impressive line-up right from the start. Big shots and indomitable thought leaders from GO-JEK Founder and CEO Nadiem Makarim from Indonesia to Stripe CFO Will Gaybrick shared their insights on topics ranging from financial inclusion to breaking away from the status quo. Money20/20 Asia 2018 was packed with plenty of big announcements, to boot.
Grabbing The Unbanked And Underbanked
Grab Group CEO and Co-founder Anthony Tan and GrabPay Managing Director Jason Thompson announced Grab Financial Services Asia, a new partnership with Japanese credit card company Credit Saison. The platform provides lending services to the unbanked and underbanked consumers, micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses across Southeast Asia.
Grab has a lofty goal: to create income opportunities for 100 million people across the region by the end of 2020.
15 Startups And One Winner
The Startup Pitch Final was an unsurprising match. Each finalist was given three minutes to pitch their startup to the crowd and a panel of judges. First up was Moin, a remittance service based in Seoul that uses blockchain technology. Next was Brankas, a startup from Indonesia that automates bank transfer payment. Pitching last was Chekk, a startup that aims to empower everyone to own their digital identity and control the data they share.
The stage lighting was of little match to the judges’ grueling questions. The live polls were shown – from then on, it was clear which startup was going to walk away with the US$30,000 grand cash prize. Sure enough, Chekk was announced as the winner.
Collaboration, Regulation, Innovation, And Empathy
As the competition ended, PayPal EVP Chief Business Affairs & Legal Officer Louise Pentland came to the stage and talked about the qualities that fuel the company’s mission: empathy and collaboration. Towards the end, Pentland reinforced PayPal’s belief on moving the FinTech ecosystem forward inclusively. The active supporter of diversity added, “It is not a utopia. It is not idealistic. It is a fact.”
Granting The Gift Of Space Travel
Eunice Olsen from Space for Humanity, a non-profit organization that partnered with Money20/20 Asia, dropped several astounding facts about space exploration. The biggest of them all — it takes NASA US$40 million to send one person into space. “At Space for Humanity, we believe that everyone can go to space, and space shouldn’t be just a playground for the rich and famous,” Olsen says.
A montage of citizen astronauts vying for a spot in a spacecraft was shown on the screen, then a name was announced. WafaGames Co-founder and CEO Kathy Gong will continue to the next round of an all-expenses-paid journey to space. When asked about her interest in space travel, the nominee eloquently put, “Curiosity gets us humans up to space, but it’s humanity that keeps us part of the universe. And we need more fearless women up there.”
A Different Kind Of Ewallet
When AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes showed up, he walked on stage with booming music playing in the background. Sporting his signature red cap, he immediately admitted that he knew little about the FinTech industry then cracked jokes and poked fun at AirAsia’s competitors.
The business mogul segued into BigPay, a new initiative and an ewallet that “disrupts the remittance market and money-lending business”. Fernandes introduced the BigPay Co-founders sitting in the front row, Salim Dhanani and Christopher Davison. Using AirAsia’s database of 63 million passengers, Fernandes believes BigPay could very well be worth more than the US$19 billion airline company.
The inaugural Money20/20 Asia 2018 ended on a sky-high note and set the tone for next year’s event (March 19-21, 2019 in Singapore). At its crux, forging the future of money depends on how innovators make the leap from static to growth. Constant innovation is the recipe for an extraordinarily successful future.
Fernandes concluded his talk with a remarkable and fitting reminder. “Believe in the unbelievable, dream the impossible, and never take no for an answer.”
About The Author
Priscilla Tan is Jumpstart’s Journalist In Residence (JIR) for Singapore. [email protected]
Image credits: Money20/20 Asia