Global Impact FinTech Forum (GIFT)

Innovation for Impact and Inclusion - an article published in the 2020Q4 edition of the PCN magazine

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Global Impact Fintech (GIFT) Forum

                                          Innovation for Impact and Inclusion


The location was Singapore. The event- ConnecTech Asia. The venue: Marina Bay Sands. The year: June 2018

After an enriching panel discussion, the four panellists- Jeff Frey from Switzerland, Simon Wilson from Australia, Bettina Quimson from the Philippines and Sebastian Resano from Argentina, along with the moderator-Malik Khan Kotadia, sat together for dinner over the bay. Amidst the gentle breeze and the sights of the evening Singapore skyline, they brainstormed ways to continue the ‘dialogue’ and leverage this global expertise. Thus, came about the idea of the Global Impact FinTech (GIFT) Forum, a platform to bring together key stakeholders in the Fintech ecosystem for inclusion and impact.

This initiative has been recognized as ‘legend’ by PCN in June 2020.

About GIFT and its charter

Global Impact FinTech (GIFT) claims to be the most diverse and inclusive FinTech forum globally, with members from 40+ countries across all regions.

As a global non-profit think tank, incorporated and headquartered in Singapore, GIFT’s goal is to work with varied stakeholders to help collectively find solutions to humanity’s critical challenges by leveraging disruptive tech, with a primary focus on innovation for impact and inclusion.

The members include ecosystem leaders from Governments, Regulators, Multilateral Agencies, Industry, Banks, Fintech and Blockchain companies, Academia and thought leaders.

GIFT Forum engages with policymakers and Fintech/Blockchain/Digital leaders for knowledge and best practice sharing, community building, collaboration, and ecosystem development.

Talking to co-founder and Chairman Malik Khan Kotadia, we are certainly curious to find out more about GIFT.

Q: “Looking back at that dinner in Singapore, how would you describe the subsequent ride?”

A: “Even though our aim has always been to bring together thought leaders on a global scale, it isn’t a coincidence that our initiative has seen maximum traction in Asia so far, given the presence of emerging markets, where FinTech has the potential to be a game-changer in people’s lives. To facilitate inclusion is a key objective for us, especially post-pandemic. And in this regard, we want to ‘walk the talk’ – Malik.

At the same time, as a non-profit forum, we work on GIFT in our spare time, driven by a joint vision: ‘to be the world’s most diverse, inclusive and impactful Fintech community, for thought leadership and ecosystem development’. It is incredibly inspiring and rewarding to engage with passionate FinTech professionals all over the globe, towards this shared vision and mission.

To bring this vision to life, our key initiatives are guided by 4 pillars: Content, Community, Collaboration and Causes.

  • Content: Thought leadership and knowledge sharing. By being at the cutting edge of the curve by leveraging the collective knowledge pool of members from 40 countries.
  • Community: Connections, communication, networking – through an invite-only forum to (virtually) connect like-minded Fintech evangelists and enthusiasts coming from diverse backgrounds.
  • Collaboration: Among ecosystem stakeholders for deepening and widening the impact of the fintech space.
  • Causes: leverage technology for impact, inclusion, and upliftment.

Malik is joined by Jeroen van Dijk, a GIFT ExCo member from Amsterdam, who nominated the forum ‘as our legend’.

Jeroen: “In the summer of 2019 I attended Seamless Asia in Singapore, looking for inspiration and a different perspective on FinTech. The event was hosted by Malik and attended by some of his fellow GIFT members. The thing I remember most is the relevance and impact of FinTech innovation in Asia. Next to making a business digital, efficient, user friendly etc. the topic of inclusion is always top of mind. Inclusion means making a significant impact on people’s lives, offering them chances to build a small business, a living, a future. In short, I was inspired by my change of perspective, and as an active and enthusiastic participant, I was nominated to join the Forum -which I consider to be a true gift”.

Malik and Jeroen continue to talk about how GIFT is gradually organizing itself to start making the difference they are aspiring towards. The Forum has a marquee and diverse Board of Directors, supported by a Global Exco and Advisory Board, all pro bono.

To drive key initiatives across regions and verticals, working groups for ‘Financial Inclusion’, ‘AI Ethics’, ‘RegTech’ and ‘CBDC’ have been set up, with members from all over the globe. At the same time, the first Regional chapter of GIFT was established in South Asia covering 7 countries in July – Malik is hugely enthused by this launch “It is an amazing example of what we can achieve together”. 

Jeroen adds: “who could have thought I would participate in the panel discussion celebrating this launch? What a privilege to talk with thought leaders from our industry. I remember our moderator Syed Musheer Ahmed summarizing the discussion ‘spot on’ as follows: ‘We need Trust, followed by Sharing and Collaboration to stimulate the inclusion of Thought, Technology and Growth’. Well, how about that!”

When asked about other significant GIFT milestones, Malik needs no time to think. “GIFT has partnered with the Cambridge Judge School Center for Alternative Finance (CCAF), to support their joint Covid-19 impact study for the Fintech sector with the World Economic Forum and World Bank. We are also in discussions with the UN Secretary General’s task force report on Digital Finance, and how we can support it.”

Looking ahead GIFT wants to grow as a Forum, attracting more like-minded FinTech professionals by invitation only and building strong relationships with FinTechs, Financial Institutions, (semi-) Governments and Regulators, Academic Institutions and Students.

Malik: “Launching more regional chapters will be our next step. We have plans for South-East Asia (ASEAN) by end 2020, and Northern Europe and Eastern Europe/Central Asia by H1 2021” Malik adds, We want to be the Fintech ecosystem catalyst for impact across the globe. Thus, we welcome the support of Financial institutions, Associations and Fintechs, and welcome new, like-minded members.

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