SC Ventures: And it's a wrap on this year's innovation festivals!

Mariah Alexis Neubronner
19th Dec 2023
SC Ventures: And it's a wrap on this year's innovation festivals!

A massive thank you to all of our speakers and everyone who came down to connect with us at this year's Singapore Fintech Festival and Hong Kong Fintech Week. Across the festivals, we saw our high conviction themes including Online Economy & Lifestyle, SMEs and World Trade, Digital Assets, and Sustainability and Inclusion feature consistently. We’re excited about the opportunities that lie ahead on our journey to reconnect society and banking through greater collaboration in these areas.

Here are our highlights:

1. We launched Libeara, our tokenization platform democratizing investments. In partnership with FundBridge Capital, Libeara will aid the creation of the 1st tokenized Singapore Dollar Government Bond Fund for investors!

In celebration, we partnered with the Singapore British High Commission to host a digital assets focused event. Our group CEO Bill Winters, British High Commissioner to Singapore Kara Owen, and Alex Manson opened the session: addressing the potential of real-world asset tokenization to drive financial inclusion and the evolving regulatory landscape. Highlighting the strong linkages between UK and Singapore and our shared commitment to support entrepreneurship, they emphasized the importance of close partnerships to advance a compliant and mature ecosystem.

2. audax, our digital banking technology solutions provider, won the Singapore Regionals of this year's Dubai Fintech Summit FinTech World Cup! 🏆 
With 10 fintechs pitching their innovative solutions across themes of tokenisation, digital identity,  SMEs, embedded finance and more, it was an exciting showcase of the rich diversity and deep expertise propelling innovation in finance. A huge hats off to all the participating teams, including our ventures Libeara, TASConnect, and, whose solutions are setting high standards and elevating the caliber of innovation across the ecosystem. audax will be heading to Dubai for the semi and grand finals at the Dubai FinTech Summit in May next year - stay tuned!

3. We launched our immersive gamified experience, “Standard Chartered Verse” on The Sandbox. 

With quests that range from exploring the wonders of digital assets, to uncovering financial education and wellbeing lessons with our venture Autumn, it was great to see the community engage with us through our first foray in the metaverse. We're looking forward to getting feedback and reiterating to better engage with the ecosystem in this new virtual world.

Missed the events? Check out the highlights and panel recordings from HKFTW and SFF below!

Singapore FinTech Festival

Panel 1 | Fixed Income: The Convergence of Crypto and Fiat markets

Speakers: Yoann T. , Co-founder of WintermuteKevin Lepsoe, CEO and Founder, Infinity Exchange; and Gakim Solomons, SC Ventures

Panel Summary: Kicked off our first panel at our Innovation Lab Crawl with industry’s top builders and trading firms to discuss the future of Fixed Income and the convergence of crypto and fiat markets. We deep dived into opportunities to complete more of the crypto financial markets in fixed income, the convergence and unification of financial markets, and building #trust in the new system.

Panel 2 | How can we bridge the trust gap in sustainability reporting?

Speakers: Lynette Lee, CEO of, our platform demystifying ESG due diligence; Boris Or, Head of Enablement, Sustainable Finance at Standard Chartered BankAlexandru Popa, Business Incubation APAC lead at Schneider ElectricSiddharth Satpute, Senior VP and Head of Digital at Nupo Ventures, and Harald Eltvedt, SC Ventures

Key Takeaways:

  • 🌱 It's an ecosystem play, and it's imperative that we incentivize #SMEs and bring them along the journey. Corporates and financial institutions have a big role to play here - from supporting their suppliers to reach net zero, participating in industry efforts for standardizing disclosures, and offering sustainability-finance solutions.
  • 🌱 #Data remains critical. To develop a clear roadmap and comprehensive strategy, we need data to measure baselines, identify areas to work on, and measure progress across initiatives.
  • 🌱 We can't do this without #technology. From creating high quality carbon credits, to leveraging #AI to capture and analyse highly unstructured sustainability data, and automating manual processes - technology is critical to bring everyone along the journey.
  • The overall consensus? While the proliferation of standards and frameworks persists, we're seeing a global collaborative effort to streamline across private and public players. We're on the right path and we're seeing great momentum across the ecosystem to collectively reach our sustainability goals.

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Watch the full panel recording

Panel 3 | How are trade and supply chain finance catalysing SMEs’ growth?

SpeakersKingshuk Ghoshal, CEO of TASConnectSidharta Sircar, Partner, International Growth Practice at PwC Singapore; and Apurv Suri from SC Ventures, explored the factors impacting how SMEs drive socioeconomic development in Southeast Asia, whether SMEs can rely solely on traditional banks for financing and business growth given the evolving financial technology landscape, and strategies SMEs can employ to fully harness the power of digital.
Key takeaways:

  • ⚡️ Covid has exacerbated a lot of issues in supply chains - including delays of shipments, uncertainties of supplies, and cashflow problems. As corporates have limited end-to-end visibility of their supplier groups, it's critical we undertake a tech-first approach to revamp today’s supply chain set up, and help treasuries be more proactive.
  • ⚡️ While #digital is a priority for #SMEs, there remains skepticism around ease of adoption and generated value of digital adoption. Solutions need to come from the top and they need to be #interoperable to bring SMEs along. Many tech solutions today are driven by financial institutions and anchors - we need interoperable systems with anchor programs talking to one another and once we reach that, #sustainability will follow.
  • ⚡️We need more #dynamic data leveraging technology to provide insights to real time performance - #data-driven decision making is what will drive a smooth, connected and resilient supply chain.

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Watch the full recording of the panel

Panel 4 | The Rise of AI – How can we balance between innovation and risk?

SpeakersLokesh Sharma, CEO of letsbloom, our cloud platform-as-a-service; Nitesh Uppal, Asia Financial Services Industry Lead at Google Cloud, and Lorena Carbajo González, SC Ventures

Key Takeaways:

  • In the evolving landscape of AI, #personalized experiences stand out as a transformative trend. While challenges arise in initiating AI adoption, especially in sectors like banking where data security concerns prevail, there's immense potential for tangible business outcomes. The integration of AI in banking, akin to the impact of digital transformations like Netflix, promises a future where personalized, tech-driven experiences redefine our interactions with financial institutions, fostering holistic connections and actionable intelligence.
  • Amongst other #risks#unconsciousbias can ruin products. Models are made by the data we feed it so there needs to be structural ways of managing this - it takes #education with the goal of making AI explainable and transparent.
  • We need to ensure the entire landscape is secure and compliant, and provide evidence of this on an ongoing basis to convince institutions to use these new technologies. At letsbloom, we look at cloud service, data and personas to provide observability in real time - ensuring compliance and security - so organizations are have confidence to build respective use cases.
  • How can organizations get started? Build #competencies - it's critical to upskill our workforce so we can ride the wav to come. Clarify your #criteria for success: what are we solving for? and #CulturalTransformation - we must get leadership buy-in to develop, design and deploy responsible #AI.

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Watch the full recording of the panel

Panel 5 | Investing to Disrupt – How can corporates build a blueprint for venture building success?

SpeakersHarald Eltvedt, who leads venture incubation at SC Ventures; Jonathan Chan, Head of Global Innovation at Julius BaerAlvin Cai, VP New Ventures and Head of Venture Building at Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB)Chetan Karkhanis, SVP, Digital Advisory and Wealth Management at Franklin Templeton; and Priya Venkat, SC Ventures

Key Takeaways:

  • 🚀 Building a culture of innovation requires exploring new approaches beyond the core business. Collaborating with external ecosystems, including government agencies and startups, is crucial. At SC Ventures, one approach we take which works well for us is pairing intrapreneurs, who have business expertise, with external talent, who can navigate challenges in agile ways, and seeking external validation throughout the journey.
  • 🚀 Corporate-Fintech Engagement: Fintechs engaging with corporates should emphasize clarity on what sets them apart, and articulate how they are solving specific problems, rather than just their technology. At the same time, corporates need to be clear on their innovation strategies, demonstrate maturity, and highlight their innovation priorities - for a successful corporate-fintech partnership.
  • 🚀 Defining qualities of a successful venture building team? Our panellists highlighted the following: Business expertise around the problem statement they are solving for, and the ability to balance optimism and risk-taking with practicality and effective planning.
  • Ultimately, innovation isn't an option; it's a necessity to avoid disruption. To stay ahead, companies must allocate resources, embrace calculated risk-taking and recognize that failure is a part of the process 💪🏽

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Watch the full recording of the panel

Panel 6 | From obsolete to absolute, how is #BankingasaService driving customer acquisition and new revenue streams for financial institutions?

SpeakersMike Breen, Head of Sales & Partnerships, audaxAndreas Neidhart, Head of Sales Engineering APAC, Thought MachineFelix Thummernicht Banking go-to-market specialist, Amazon Web Services (AWS); and Emmanuel Coucke Partner, Bain & Company
Key takeaways:

  • ⚡ #BaaS has moved beyond the hype. Customer expectations are steering the shift, prompting all banks to reimagine their customer experiences. The winning approach involves adopting an #ecosystem mindset, with various banks exploring BaaS partnerships to create innovative and real-time financial services.
  • ⚡ #Partnerships between traditional banks and ecosystem players are reshaping customer acquisition strategies. Rising interest rates and high customer acquisition costs are prompting banks to rethink their outreach. Ecosystem partners offer a solution, enabling banks to outsource marketing costs and tap into diverse demographics through fintech collaborations. The challenge lies in overcoming legacy infrastructure hurdles to capitalize on the potential.
  • ⚡ Creating #stickiness, both for digital and traditional banks, hinges on seamless integration into everyday operations and customer journeys. The emphasis is on delivering exceptional customer experiences.
  • Looking ahead, the winners in this space will be banks that understand BaaS is a scalable business proposition that can serve internal lines of businesses and external ecosystem partners, with speed to market and strategic partnerships driving success in the coming years.

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Watch the full recording of the panel

Panel 7 | CVCs vs. VCs: Who should fintechs take money from?

Speakers: In an engaging conversation with Puiyan LEUNG, Partner at Vertex Ventures SE Asia & IndiaNikhilesh Goel, Co-founder and Group CEO of Validus; and our very own Alex Toh and Elisabeth Zhang, we explored the different investment approaches undertaken by Corporate Venture Capitalists (CVCs) and Venture Capitalists (VCs), the pros and cons of working with either, and top tips for startup founders when choosing an investment partner.
Key takeaways:

  • CVCs are driven by both #strategic and financial returns. On the other hand, VCs are more focused on returns, operating with a clear playbook and faster decision-making capabilities. Fintechs must understand investors' reasons for existence and find a partner that is right for them.
  • CVCs can offer more than just capital. At SC Ventures, we partnered with Silent Eight to co-create their initial offerings, validating the product through our compliance needs. The advantage lies in the #scale and #user insights large institutions can bring. Though the process might be slower, it propels startups into the stratosphere by guiding them through the intricacies of selling to global corporations.
  • Despite a backdrop of uncertainty, the investment mandate for early-stage companies remains dynamic. Vetting portfolio companies to discern risk elements and identify fundraising opportunities is a priority. Overall, a disciplined approach should be maintained, aiming to consistently pace investment amidst market fluctuations.

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Watch the full recording of the panel

Hong Kong FinTech Week

Digital Assets: How do traditional financial service providers claim their seat at the table?

Alex Manson joined fellow industry leaders to share insights on how traditional financial service providers are claiming their seat at the table. 

It was great to see the industry come together to reiterate the need for a safe and robust digital asset infrastructure, which financial institutions are well positioned to provide. For us at SC Ventures by Standard Chartered, this is reflected in our commitment to building institutional-grade digital asset businesses - Zodia Custody, our digital asset custodian (which recently expanded into HK); Zodia Markets, our digital asset brokerage and exchange platform; and SWIAT, our joint venture enabling real time settlement and trading of traditional and digital data, assets and transactions.

We also spoke about the importance of making clear the use cases and utility for clients, and forging partnerships and co-opetition within the ecosystem. Through this, we can transform existing market structure and enable new asset classes and ways of trading for our clients that weren’t previously possible – in a safe, secure and trustworthy manner.

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GFT x Metaco Panel: Building Digital Asset Infrastructure 

Harald Eltvedt spoke about how we're building the financial infrastructure of the future, on a panel organized by GFT Technologies and Metaco, discussing: 

✅ How #DigitalAssets custody fits within the broader #DigitalTransformation agenda of financial institutions
✅ #Regulatory frameworks impact digital assets and their evolution
✅ Rise of institutional adoption of digital assets
✅ Emergence of new digital asset #UseCases
✅ Growing popularity of decentralised finance

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