Pushing boundaries in Singapore

“It really pushed the students to think about the challenges that we can foresee and that we can already see happening”.

In November, a handful of students from a variety of disciplines and background came together in Singapore to immerse themselves in The Future of Finance and Fintech. We asked bootcamp instructor Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir about her impressions.

Can you describe the basic format of the Singapore Bootcamp? How was it created and how did you design it?
The faculty created the bootcamp and I developed the appropriate day-to-day format. It was a week in Singapore where the days were divided into two blocks. In the morning we had lectures and group work where I was facilitating with methods from both design thinking and future thinking.

Then in the afternoon the students visited the Singapore Fintech Festival for fieldwork, since the innovation week was going on at the same time. The students were able to go there to talk to experts, listen to keynote speakers and scan the field both for ideation in the beginning phase of their project, and then more for verification of their projects as the week went on.

What was the scope of your focus for exploration?
We worked with the Future of Finance as an umbrella and had Fintech as our focus, as an emergent within the field. To not make the project just a speculation about the world, we chose to look at the problem through the eyes of imaginary people, personas, living in Stockholm and Singapore. We were exploring how finance will influence how we live, love and work. What would be the global challenges that these people would be facing in their life? And how would fintech be able to address these challenges? The students had to relate their projects in accordance with the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Then with that as a base we had conversations and thought experiments.

How did they present?
We had two presentations, first there was a general rehearsal where we had experts coming in from the financial sector. The students were encouraged to be visual with their presentations, using storyboards and drawings to grasp the essence of their concepts. Then they had 24 hours to polish what they had and present it again to experts. It was pretty intense and the students were really brave taking a big step outside of their comfort zone presenting ideas in unconventional ways like that. I was really impressed seeing them being brave and taking it on and I think they will have a use for that mindset in various future contexts.

What were the results?
It turned out that the UN global sustainable development goals were quite a relevant framing, many people within the financial sector are already looking at them, and that gave us a good kind of anchoring. It really pushed the students to think about the challenges that we can foresee and that we can already see happening, both to identify where they are going and what the big drivers are, but also looking at it in a very human and individualised perspective. And in the now. How does it affect you and me? And how would we want the financial sector to support us?

The groups had different kinds of concepts, but the emphasis was the thought experiment itself, to grasp what is going on within the industry and what they could reckon from putting together signals and trends from the future. The concepts weren’t speculative speculative, like life on Mars. They were based on something that is familiar to the students, such as biases in the investment world. What most, if not all the concepts had in common was that they were looking at some sort of ecosystem where fintech helps people to be an effective piece of the puzzle. Fintech innovation that helps and facilitate people to do good.