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Establishing a Sustainable Fintech Bridge between Singapore and Denmark

The Fintech Accelerator

Fast-tracking Nordic companies’ sustainable and commercial journey in ASEAN.

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. 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.

Drought, extreme rainfall, floods, wildfires. Climate change and its consequences have dominated media headlines for a few years now, and children and young people across the world have protested to push for a faster green transition.

But climate change is not the only pressing issue we are facing. Obviously, the global pandemic has impacted economies, businesses and individuals all over the world leaving no one untouched.

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.

“Through its Impact Venture Accelerators UNDP is proud to support both established and start-up enterprises to scale up innovative technology and business-based solutions to drive sustainable development and respond to COVID-19. In this new partnership with Copenhagen Fintech, UNDP will help amplify the sustainability focus of the selected ventures and apply its proven impact measurement and management (IMM) methodology. 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,” says Bradley Busetto, Director of the UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainability.

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 and I am very pleased to see this partnership, which blends Singapore and Denmark’s strong government support to spur innovation and drive fintech for green transition, sustainable development and greater good,” says 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 6 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.

“We are super excited by this opportunity. Singapore and ASEAN region as a whole is a very interesting market for Nordic ‘impact’ fintech companies. The idea was born at the Singapore Fintech Festival and this will further accelerate the close collaboration between our two ecosystems,” says 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. “As a global partner to Copenhagen Fintech, we’re excited to contribute to another industry Leading project focusing on sustainable innovation, which aligns to Citi's recently announced 2025 Sustainable Progress Strategy. 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,” says Rudi Baxter Warman, Country Head for Citi in Denmark.

“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,” says Victor Alexiev, Asia Pacific Head for Programs & Strategic Partnerships, Citi Ventures.

DBS, a leading financial services group in Asia, has also signed on as a program partner given the strong synergy with the group’s own innovation and sustainability agenda. DBS' approach to sustainability is based on three pillars - responsible banking; responsible business practices; and creating social impact. DBS is also a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact and publishes its Sustainability Report annually to summarise its commitment and progress made on the Sustainability Development Goals.

Mikkel Larsen, Chief Sustainability Officer at DBS, says, “As a purpose-driven organisation, DBS is committed to leveraging the best of our strengths to help create a more sustainable future. We are advocates of developing meaningful solutions through collaborative partnerships. We have for instance been partnering with the Sustainable Digital Finance Alliance and the UN Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs to drive sustainable development. DBS is pleased to now join the United Nations Development Programme and Copenhagen Fintech on this exciting journey to nurture promising  innovations to support the global sustainability agenda. We look forward to extending our expertise and regional insights to the participating Nordic fintechs and plugging them into our innovation and sustainability ecosystem.”

Simon Zadek, Head of the Secretariat, UN Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs continues, “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”.