CFTE’S APAC Tour: What’s happening in Asia FinTech?

It’s been a whirlwind few days for us at CFTE as our APAC tour has taken us to several countries in the region where we spoke and presented about the impact our programmes can have on both corporate clients and consumers alike!


Money20/20 saw our CEO Huy Nguyen Trieu, and Head of Entrepreneurship Janos Barberis moderate and host a series of panels, workshops and speeches in a big to tackle the ever-present issue of innovation within banks.

On the first day at Money20/20 Huy delivered a short speech about “The Innovation Conundrum” where he explored the possibility for banks to build and innovate internally, or whether they should simply start from scratch or partner with an external party at the very least. Having looked at both sides of the argument, Huy highlighted that the key ingredient for companies looking to innovate are “the right people”, with these individuals key to cultivating and championing such efforts. Training is also a key part of the innovation process, with an entrepreneurial mindset encouraged in order to solve problems not just at ground level, but across the industry as a whole.

Later in the day, Janos and Huy shared the stage for an interactive CFTE workshop, where the audience was challenged to think about how they would push for innovation in a bank. Topics covered included the barriers to innovation within banks, as well as what it would take to change this. One key point was a list that Huy brought up, which showed the Top 50 most innovative companies in the world – the only bank on the list was placed at a lowly 26, highlighting how much work banks must do to catch up with innovation specialists like Amazon, Google, Alibaba and other tech companies.

We were also very excited as the Extrapreneurship programme was officially announced and launched onstage at Money20/20, which drew plenty of interest from both corporate clients and consumers seeking to upskill themselves to tackle the changing world of finance.

In the evening, CFTE hosted an engaging panel session at our Singapore office at the 80RR FinTech Hub, where the topic of “How to drive innovation in banks?” was discussed. Panel members included Ronit Ghose (Global Head of Banks Research, Citi), Cade Tan (Head of Engagement, DBS Group) and Joo Seng Wong (CEO, Spark Systems), with Huy moderating the session.

One highlight was Joo Seng Wong describing how he “felt humbled” in a startup, with employees paid in stock for a few months while he went hunting for funding. Through this experience, his mindset of the employer-employee began to change as they morphed into a unit that “stood up and took ownership”. Aside from helping each other out through solving problems together, they also spent time outside of the office together, which he described as the “entrepreneur mindset”.

There was also plenty of excitement for the launch of CFTE Local Chapters, which is a brand-new initiative to allow learners and our alumni to find opportunities through being more connected with their local CFTE peers. A special shoutout to Matthew Jackson, Neel Nilakantan, Celine Bourban, Laurent Desmartes and Rahul Dua who have graciously joined as coordinators for the Singapore chapter!

After the panel session, Janos introduced and explained more about the Extrapreneurship programme, which was also launched at Money20/20 just a day earlier. A key point highlighted was how the programme teaches you to think “like an entrepreneur” without having to build a startup in the process. Janos also strongly advocated how thinking like an entrepreneur would be beneficial when working for “your company or in a company.” Such an edge would no doubt serve many executives well, especially senior and C-level executives as the entrepreneur mindset will look to identify and solve problems for the benefit of the company as opposed to the individual.

This was followed by networking drinks, where the local CFTE chapter got to know one another better and reflect over the evening’s sharings.

Hong Kong

Huy and Janos then took the CFTE show to Hong Kong, where they introduced the Extrapreneurship programme to a whole new audience of aspiring leaders. We also had the pleasure of launching the second CFTE local chapter in Hong Kong, thanks to our coordinators Natalie Wong and Karin Chang. The intention of this is to give CFTE peers in Hong Kong a platform to develop themselves along with the rest of the network.

There was also an engaging roundtable discussion titled “Skills in an AI world”, during which Huy talked about the lack of skills in the field of AI within the workforce and discussed how to upskill such employees for the future. Participants in this discussion included Musheer Ahmed (General Manager of FinTech Association of Hong Kong), Douglas Arner (Kerry Holdings Professor in Law and Course Director of the HKU Introduction to FinTech MOOC), Henri Arslanian (FinTech & RegTech Leader, PwC China & HK), Urszula McCormack (Partner, King & Wood Mallesons HK), and Brian Tang (Managing Director of ACMI and Founding Executive Director of HKU LITE (Law, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship) Programme).

One of the key highlights was Urzula noting that a consensus was reached and agreed that “Deep Learning is not just for AI, but that we have to pivot, learn and innovate just as fast as the tech does.” This ties in and complements what we aim to push in Hong Kong through our Extrapreneurship programme as well as the local chapter launch.

All in all, the APAC tour has served to confirm that CFTE is having a positive impact not just through the power of our programmes, but also via the global communities of CFTE as well as our regional partnerships. As a global community, we certainly want to have an impact on the future globally and the launch of our Singapore and Hong Kong chapters are among the first steps in this goal to expand our community worldwide and shape the future of finance. This will only continue to grow, and go from strength to strength as the Extrapreneurship programme picks up steam!

About CFTE

We are a platform supported by senior leaders from the largest institutions, startups, and universities. We address the needs of professionals in finance to upskill in a rapidly changing industry being transformed by emerging technologies. More than 50,000 participants learn from our online courses, such as AI in Finance, Fintech Foundation or Extrapreneurship, a mini-MBA with fast-growing startups such as Revolut or Shift Technology.

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