Bridging the Asian and Nordic fintech ecosystems
By Sharmila Ganapathy-Wallace June 22, 2017
- LATTICE80 and NFI will be exclusive fintech hub partners in Norway and Singapore.
- LATTICE80 will open in more Asian cities, have strategic locations in Europe and the Middle East
IN EARLY June Singapore-based fintech hub LATTICE80, which is run by private investment firm Marvelstone Group, signed a memorandum of understanding with Nordic Finance Innovation (NFI).
According to the Marvelstone Group, the agreement includes six benefits to each party:
- Raising the awareness of fintech potential between Asia and the Nordics (including via online platform The Fintech Brief by NFI – www.thefintechbrief.com);
- Office space sharing;
- Events collaboration;
- In-country exclusivity (LATTICE80 and NFI will be exclusive fintech hub partners in their respective markets, i.e. Norway and Singapore);
- Exchange programs for members;
- The leveraging of mutual contacts and networks.
Digital News Asia spoke to LATTICE80 chief executive officer and Marvelstone Group chairman Joe Seunghyun Cho (pic) for insights into the partnership and the long-term goals involved. Relating how the partnership came about, Cho says that NFI contacted LATTICE80 and brought a delegation from the Nordic region to Singapore for a visit.
“I showed them around LATTICE80 and shared with them about the ecosystem in Singapore and Asia and they introduced themselves and fintech in the Nordic region. So we thought it was quite interesting, and saw the similarity in culture between the Nordic region and Asia and we promised them we would visit them.
“They’ve invited us to Oslo to meet up with their partners and we’re meeting again in Copenhagen next week. So that’s how we started to talk and came up with a partnership to help both sides to link the community in Asia and the Nordics.”
Cho explains that NFI plans to establish a fintech hub in Oslo to connect all the stakeholders in the Nordics.
“We’re in discussions about opening a space in Oslo. NFI is planning their own fintech hub, we will be partnering for their own space, to connect both sides.”
The partnership is expected to bring synergies to startups from Asia as well as the Nordic countries.
“For startups coming from Asia to the Nordics, NFI will help us and we will help their startups coming to Singapore and the rest of Asia. For instance, if companies from the Nordic region want to come to Asia, we can help them set up the company in Singapore and find partners and investors in Asia.
“They (NFI) will do the same for fintech companies out of Singapore. NFI is backed by a couple of initiatives -- 100 financial institutions are connected together and they have all the connections in the Nordics. And since Chris Skinner is the chairman of NFI, he can link us to other European countries too. So we thought the partnership is quite strategic,” Cho explains.
Bringing the benefits home
How will Singapore startups benefit from the tie-up?
Cho explains that the Nordic region has made advances in green energy and green data. “That is a quite interesting approach and the society itself is interesting: they are pretty much cashless and are really going into mobile.
“And they are bringing innovations and have the infrastructure, they have things that Asia doesn’t have and Asia has things they don’t have. They are also in need of going beyond their domestic market and Asia is definitely the best market that they can look at. Our value systems are quite similar as well.”
Why did LATTICE80 decide to partner with NFI as opposed to a partnership with North America or other European countries?
Cho explains that LATTICE80 has divided Europe into three markets: London, Nordics and the rest of Europe. He adds that the Nordic countries are quite different from other European markets and in many ways, their culture and system is quite close to Asia. That’s why it made more sense to partner with them after their visit to Singapore and ensuing discussions, he says.
When asked what other initiatives will be kicked off for startups from Singapore and the Nordics, Cho explains that one of the common projects is that the two parties are building a database for both sides and conducting research to have a better understanding of both markets, as well as investors and partners.
“That will be our initial approach. We will also bring delegations from both sides to visit one another to connect the ecosystem players and stakeholders. We will bring startups from both sides to link to investors and banks,” he adds.
Commenting on the longer-term goals of LATTICE80, Cho says that they will continue to open in more cities in Asia, in order to connect them to each other. “Our mandate is to give access to the whole of Asia.”
LATTICE80 has already one space in India and is opening another in the country, Cho says. “For LATTICE80, we will continue to open in more cities in Asia, in 10 cities as soon as possible, and we will have strategic locations in Europe and the Middle East to connect the different regions. Our intention is to find partners in different sub-sectors and geographic continents and we will continue to grow.”
He adds that NFI will do the same in Nordic region so they can pool the different Nordic capital cities to come together as a group. “We are trying to build a bridge between both sides,” he concludes.