The inaugural combined Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) x Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) concluded on Friday, 15 November 2019.

The event attracted more than 60,000 participants and centred around the theme of sustainability and climate change. To this end, it was pleasing to see the Monetary Authority of Singapore share details about its US$2b green finance programme. Education Minister Ong Ye Kung described it as a package designed to prepare for the fight against “the ultimate challenge for humankind.”

However, as I reflect on the event after the dust has settled, it is clear to me that one other central theme existed in conversations across the floor of the Singapore EXPO Centre. Businesses were actively seeking to partner with others to achieve a magical 1+1=3 equation.

Incumbent financial institutions and FinTechs know that combining strengths under partnership models can accelerate growth. This approach has resulted from the understanding that doing it alone is unlikely to be competitive in the fast-moving industry.

Now, I have to point out that such conversations took place with an air of apprehension because identifying partners, agreeing on commercial terms, integrating workflows and navigating organisational culture is a challenging process. But as Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO said in his book, Hit Refresh, “sometimes we have to bury the hatchet with old rivals, pursue surprising new partnerships, and revive longstanding relationships”.

A recent survey by Finextra in association with The European Banking Authority (EBA), confirms the observation, it says that “81% of banking executives would collaborate with partners to execute digital transformation most effectively”.

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