Since its independence in 1965, Singapore has shared good diplomatic relations with Denmark that has strengthened over the years. Both nations boast well-educated and skilled populations with shared goals to advance digital innovation and sustainable development.
The latest partnership with Copenhagen Fintech and United Nations Development Programme to bring some of the brightest Nordic startups to Singapore, demonstrates the importance of building networks that are open and connected with the world to address challenges collectively.
Digital finance and innovation as a force for good
The world is facing some of the most pressing sustainability issues. To remain relevant and survive the long term, companies, including startups, need to ensure they are making a difference in what they do for employees, customers and the communities they operate in.
With our roots as the former Development Bank of Singapore, we have always firmly believed in being purpose-driven and take our responsibility to society seriously. This sense of purpose continues to guide our actions today.
One of our sustainability pillars is responsible banking and a key focus is financial inclusion which we approach through digital finance. In developing markets, we increasingly use our digital finance platforms to extend our reach where viable. These encompass the use of technologies such as Big Data, artificial intelligence, mobile platforms, blockchain and the Internet of Things. Through digital finance, the cost of transactions, acquisitions and networking processes can now be reduced significantly. This enables an expansion in customer reach to underserved populations.
In Singapore, we engage individuals and communities, assisting them through raising awareness and educating them on financial planning, and in keeping up with advancements in digital finance, and its associated benefits.
For example, to drive financial inclusion empowered by financial literacy, we are preparing children to be future-ready. Smart Buddy – the world’s first in-school savings and payments wearable on children’s wrists – includes features such as fitness tracker health rate reminders, goal setting and reward stamps to cultivate good savings habits. Also, by digitalising meal vouchers for underprivileged children, they are no longer easily identified, reducing potential discrimination.
We partnered Halcyon Agri Corporation Limited to build the HeveaConnect integrated digital marketplace for the trading of sustainably processed natural rubber. Natural rubber producers and consumers are able to track pricing and supply information and transact directly on HeveaConnect, which promotes greater price transparency.
We also partner and contribute to the Sustainable Digital Finance Alliance and the UN Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs.
Building a sustainable fintech bridge
In nearly every example of transformational change, no single business has the combination of skills, vision, expertise, distribution network and customer reach to go it alone. Through the DBS Startup Xchange, we tap into the rich fintech ecosystem to accelerate and co-create niche products and services for both our employees and customers. Further, the DBS Startup Unleashed programme scales high growth startups with a comprehensive suite of banking and professional services, mentorships with digital solutions experts, and global networking opportunities.
For us, collaborating with fintech startups holds promise to exponentially increase the availability, attractiveness and accessibility of sustainable financial solutions across markets. An opportunity would be to address the issue of transparency especially further upstream in the supply chains, such as fair labour, sustainable resourcing and the environment, and accelerate solutions in traceability for a more sustainable economy and society. With Denmark’s long tradition in advancing SDGs locally and internationally, as well as deep tech skills, we are confident that our collective efforts will create significant positive impact in advancing SDGs.
As Singapore’s largest bank, we look forward to extending our expertise and regional insights to the participating Nordic fintechs and plugging them into our innovation and sustainability ecosystem, to build a sustainable fintech bridge.
Chief Sustainability Officer, DBS Bank