Longevity, Culture, and looking to the Far East for FinTech

Theo Lau

We sat down with Theo Lau, co-founder of Unconventional Ventures at FinTECHTalents 2019, where she talks about longevity, the importance of culture and diversity and how everything is all about ‘Making banking better’.

Watch the video now:

What are the biggest trends you are hearing about at the moment?

Biggest trends? Obviously, the one we always think about and talk about is: What is the future of banking, right? Do we still go to see a big bank down the street? Are we going to see FinTech growing up and actually taking over? Or a Trojan horse? Who else is going to be out there – big tech players like the ‘Pays’ of this world, the Apple, the Amazon or the Ali pay? …  That’s always a big ongoing theme.

I actually ran a poll this morning, online, and asked people: What is the future of banking? Do we think it’s going to be a big tech, do we think it’s going to be a FinTech, is it something to be determined or is it going to be business as usual, a big bank? You want to take a wild guess? Most people say it’s going to be big tech, followed very closely by a FinTech, so let’s see what happens.

What are some of the transformation issues the banks are facing, culturally, when preparing for the future?

When we talk about digital transformation, it’s not so much so the tech is not the ones and zeroes, it’s the people. It’s the culture. Are you ready to change? How ready are you? How far are you willing to go? Not just the people, the mentality, but also as an organization. Because it’s moving a big tank, right?

This morning we heard from various different people – culture, people, is the key. Lifelong learning is important. It’s not so much just understanding your need to change, it is also: Do you have the skill sets equipped for it? How open are you to taking in some new ideas and taking in different people right from different walks of life? That’s the diversity coming into play.

What’s on your agenda for 2020?

It’s going to be an exciting one this year. We’ve started a new podcast series. We talked about topics on longevity, which, as you know, we’re getting older there’s no way around it and it’s not a bad thing. From a society perspective, from financial services perspective, how do we prepare for an ageing society? How do we provide more inclusive financing solutions that are right for people that are getting older – not just that, but also their adult children?

We’re going to continue that theme, to help banks and FinTechs evolve their ideas on: How do you serve as a wider group of demographics with different needs?

Also, the podcast talks about a different topic that a lot of people are interested in, which is FinTech in the Far East. What’s going on in the East and what can we learn from it. Because, typically when people think about China, Southeast Asia, we think about them copying what we do in the West. But as we’ve seen with the emergence of payments, it’s more like: ‘wait, we’re still on cards and they’re paying with QR codes and biometrics and everything else’. What can we evolve and how do we change to learn from them? That’s another thing we’re looking at. We’re also writing a whole lot more; we do have an opinion about pretty much everything. We’re going to continue on that.
I want to see how we can be more involved with different organisations that think alike on ‘How do we make banking better’.