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Having just recovered from Token 2049 week, Singapore has braced itself for the second busiest week in the crypto calendar: Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF).
The festival promises to be buzzing with the brightest minds in finance, policy, and tech, with a focus on "Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Financial Services."
International Monetary Fund managing director Kristina Georgieva led proceedigs on Day 1 with "The Digital Finance Voyage: A Case for Public Sector Involvement." Her speech provided an overview of the state of development on central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, globally. She said that while many countries have started investigating CBDCs and are developing regulation to guide digital money developments, there is still more space for innovation, and called for countries to continue exploring CBDCs.
"If anything, we need to raise another sail to pick up speed. The world is changing faster than most imagined," she said.
Georgieva also said the tokenization of financial assets, such as bonds issued on blockchains, opens another door to CBDCs, potentially in wholesale form, to pay for those assets.
Other than yours truly, gracing the event is none other than Mr President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who gave Blockhead an honourable nod as he strolled on by.
The fireside chat with President Tharman centered on another key theme of the conference – language models (LLMs) and artificial intelligence (AI), and their impact on the financial sector.
"It's going to be faster than previous technologies in replacing human tasks and enabling humans at the same time... The basic attitude we have to take is, how do we use technology to help humans flourish?" he said, noting the continued importance of human judgement and decision-making. AI technology will also help ease the challenges of Singapore's limited talent pool, Shanmugaratnam said.
Here are some of highly anticipated announcements that took place on Day 1:
IMF's CBDC Handbook: The IMF launched a CBDC Handbook, which collects and shares knowledge on CBDCs for policymakers around the world.
Solv Foundation: The team behind the Singapore-based on-chain fund platform unveiled Project DESFT, a blockchain-based platform for digital credentials, with the support of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Bank of Ghana. DESFT aims to enhance global trade access for developing nations' micro, small, and medium enterprises, with unique features like "Controllable Transparency" and alignment with Universal Trusted Credential standards. "Given its incorporation of the UNDP Universal Trusted Credentials, it has the potential to transform how MSMEs tokenize their value and open up new access points towards more inclusive and accessible financial services," MAS chief fintech officer Sopnendu Mohanty said.
Oasis Pro & InvestaX: The strategic partnership announced at SFF will see the US-based and Singapore-based tokenization and digital asset trading platforms increase accessibility for investors and issuers. InvestaX is a real-world asset (RWA) tokenization and security token trading platform, licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Oasis Pro is an infrastructure provider evolving capital markets by enabling multi-asset digital security issuance trading and services.
Rakkar Digital: The firm, backed by Siam Commercial Bank’s SCB10X, announced a strategic partnership with OpenEden. As part of the partnership, Rakkar will be integrating with OpenEden’s tokenised RWA Vault, which will provide Rakkar’s institutional clients access to TBILL, OpenEden’s RWA token, that provides yield opportunities and exposure to US Treasury Bills.
Defactor: The RWA tokenisation ecosystem introduced "Pools," enabling businesses to access liquidity via decentralised lending campaigns. The firm also announced a strategic partnership in Latin America with QCredit.
FOMO Pay: The Singapore-based payments firm, which is building Asia’s first licensed gateway helping institutions and businesses to connect between fiat and digital currency, announced that it has obtained a Money Service Operator (MSO) License issued by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. With the new license, FOMO Pay is planning to launch payment and remittance businesses in Hong Kong.
Pundi X: The blockchain point-0f-sale developer introduced "Pay via Email" on its XPOS platform, allowing customers to use email addresses for crypto payments, eliminating the complication of operating their hardware wallets and also allowing users to "pay later at home" using their preferred wallets.
Blockhead is a media partner of the Singapore Fintech Festival.