February 18, 2020

Upgrade Pack at FinTech Festival 2018

Craig Unsworth

Summing up the largest FinTech event in the world is an almost impossible task. With 70 sessions exploring over nine core themes including The Future of Banking, The Future of Money, AI in Finance, Cyber-Security and Financial Inclusion to name only a few, Singapore FinTech Festival (still only three-years old) went ‘deep’ into the burning issues pertinent to each of these topics. However, there were definitely words that were pretty much universal and applied consistently across all topics – those being disruption and innovation – as well as, of course, blockchain!

As the CEO of a business that helps banks innovate in order to attract, retain and reward their most valued clients I was particularly keen to hear more about this and the event attracted many forward-thinking financial services providers from ASEAN with stories to tell in this area.

Within this, the future of digital finance and payments was a big talking point. The event was a launchpad for two not dissimilar payments-based collaborations. First Singapore-headquartered bank DBS announced a regional tie-up with Go-Jek ahead of the fast-expanding ride-hailing firm’s beta launch in the city. In turn, United Overseas Bank (UOB) announced a partnership with regional rival Grab to offer its payment solutions directly from the Grab app. Both deals are aimed at ‘enhancing’ the customer experience for Grab and Go-Jek’s users whilst also broadening each provider’s access to customers – and future share of wallet opportunities - through preferred partner status.

Clearly these banks are actively taking opportunities to build and develop their customer base through such tie-ups but it is not always so simple as legacy IT can still hinder progress for many banks. This led me to reflect on our own proposition, which has been built with this very much in mind.

The consensus challenge for banks globally is their ability to offer flexible, scalable and robust platforms that support a variety of payment technologies. A platform of APIs if you will. We faced this challenge head on at Upgrade Pack when building our loyalty and rewards platform, with our challenge being the integration of multiple global airline and hotel partners rather than payment providers.

In developing a pureplay technology solution – one that is not tied to banks’ legacy systems – we have mitigated potential integration headaches whilst also offering a platform that can scale and grow in line with the banks’ ambitions to continuously embrace new technologies.

It was great to see such a focus on banking at the event and the opportunities that fintech based solutions can afford are massive – not only in terms of how they can help banks become more efficient but also in helping them as they continually evolve in order to attract and retain the right client fits for their model.

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