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Citi, DBS link Singapore fintech to Nordics

The United Nations is bringing Nordic fintech with ESG experience to the Singapore Fintech Festival.



Citi and DBS are partnering with the United Nations to establish a “sustainable fintech bridge” between Singapore and Denmark.

UNDP’s Global Center for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development in Singapore, UNDP’s Nordic Office, UNDP SDG Innovative Finance (UNSIF) in Bangkok and Copenhagen Fintech are bringing Nordic fintech startups to Singapore to support cross border collaboration and exchange of technology and innovation.

“This is an important and timely collaboration that will foster more relevant sustainability-driven innovation far beyond the financial industry. We look forward to supporting this ambitious initiative that we see as a key contributor to business growth and driver of economic development in future,” said Victor Alexiev, Asia Pacific head for programs and strategic partnerships, Citi Ventures. 

Mikkel Larsen, chief sustainability officer at DBS, said, “We look forward to extending our expertise and regional insights to the participating Nordic fintechs and plugging them into our innovation and sustainability ecosystem.” 

Bringing Nordic ESG fintech

The aim of the program is to help fast-track their journey towards commercially scalable and sustainable impact-oriented ventures in the ASEAN region. Local startups tackling some of the world’s most urgent challenges and program partners will also be involved to foster new partnerships and even stronger ties between the two regions. 

Read here for MAS’s vision of ESG fintech

These include the impact of climate change in the form of drought, extreme rainfall, floods, and wildfires; and the impact of the global pandemic.

The UN Secretary General’s Task Force on Digital Financing of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has just issued its final report ‘People’s Money: Harnessing Digitalization to Finance a Sustainable Future’. It has concluded that the fintech revolution offers major opportunities to accelerate financing of the all the SDGs with more and better data, reduced transaction and intermediation costs, and innovative business models.

The Task Force has also outlined an Action Agenda, which outlines key catalytic opportunities, steps to evolve sustainable fintech ecosystems, and the necessary digital finance governance innovations. 

“This reflects a global vision: that in order to achieve the SDGs we must work closely with the most innovative and creative entrepreneurs around the world to incorporate sustainability into the core of business,” said Bradley Busetto, director of the UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainability. 

Greening fintech

The Danish and Nordic financial technology (fintech) sector has long been driven by a quest for change. This puts companies in a favorable position now that the green agenda has become a global one. The Nordic countries have a long tradition in advancing the goals of sustainable development nationally as well as internationally. 

”Denmark is fully committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and we are at the global forefront in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. However, no country is yet on track to achieve all 17 SDGs. There is a great need to scale and fast-track viable impact solutions,” said Ambassador of Denmark to Singapore, Sandra Jensen Landi. 

Singapore is widely recognized as one of the leading fintech hubs in the world and a great supporter of the global fintech community. The yearly Fintech Festival is a testimony to exactly that. The world’s largest and most important gathering of fintech startups, financial institutions, academia, investors and thought leaders. 

The program will bring up to six carefully selected Nordic fintech companies to Singapore for a weeklong stay. They will be selected based on challenges formulated by UNDP, Copenhagen Fintech and the program partners. 

“The idea was born at the Singapore Fintech Festival and this will further accelerate the close collaboration between our two ecosystems,” said CEO of Copenhagen Fintech Thomas Krogh Jensen. 

One of the key partners supporting the program with strong expertise and local market insights and knowledge is the global bank Citi. 

“The success of the program will be instrumental in the development of SDGs, an area where Citi has strong commitment globally, and further boost the collaboration between the Nordic and ASEAN ecosystems,” said Rudi Baxter Warman, country head for Citi in Denmark. 

Simon Zadek, Head of the Secretariat, UN Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs, said, “The Task Force calls for harnessing digitalization to transform finance to serve people and their needs, expressed in the SDGs. This cross-regional initiative is a great example of fintech startups, banks, and development institutions partnering to do just that”. 

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