This interview is part of a series of interviews featuring Fintech influencers who are doing work that advances our efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
LATTICE80, in collaboration with FinTech4Good, presents the complete list of Top 100 Fintech for SDG Influencers who are leveraging the power of fintech and blockchain technology to create a positive impact on the future. LATTICE80 is launching our accelerator programme based in Hong Kong to help SDG-focused startups build blockchain solutions. Are you a SDG-focused startup? Click here to indicate your interest.
Disclaimer: The interviews are published on a rolling basis and the order by which they are published by no means representative of any rankings.
1. Tell us more about what you do and how your role or project is making an impact. How do they support the SDGs?
I am a strong advocate for sustainable finance and climate change solutions. After completing my PhD in international climate change law and policy at the University of Hong Kong, in the autumn of 2018 I joined Arabesque. I had closely followed the progress of the company since its early days and was immediately drawn by the fascinating interplay between finance, technology and sustainability, which Arabesque seamlessly integrates in its operations. Leveraging the potential of these three fields will be crucial in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda of the UN, which is embodied by the SDGs. I also dedicate some of my free time to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (Youth) as a project officer and mentor, where I work on fostering youth-led SDG entrepreneurial ecosystems. Moreover, last summer I participated in Climate KIC, the Journey, the world’s largest climate innovation summer school where my Team won the best business idea prize for our solar energy & storage project powering refugee camps in Greece.
2. Why do you see Fintech and/or Blockchain in particular as an important enabler in creating a social impact?
We live in a time of ceaseless innovation and breakneck speed of technological change. However, the potential of technology to drive positive social and environmental impact has so far remained largely underutilized. A lot of the technological advancements of today have been used to perpetuate a system underpinned by consumerism and rising inequality.
I believe in the transformative power of technology to enable positive social and environmental outcomes for all – the ever-elusive win-win scenario. Examples of use cases are numerous: from solutions enabling financial inclusion such as mobile payments and banking, microfinance and investment services via robo advisory channels, to blockchain-powered monitoring and verification tools that can monitor greenhouse gas emissions reduction in a transparent and open manner. Properly deployed, harnessing financial and technological innovation can result in tangible and widely distributed benefits for people, profit and the planet.
3. What are some challenges you face along the way?
In order to fully realise the potential technology has to bring, it is crucial that the 4.0 Industrial Revolution be underpinned by a sound legal and regulatory framework. Numerous challenges stand in the way, including the ability of regulators to proactively identify risks and opportunities, violations of personal data privacy, technology monopolies and of course – successfully managing the transition towards automation and the future of work. Addressing these challenges will require a sustained response by lawmakers, corporates and civil society alike. Invoking the allegory of the Chinese character wēijī (危機), danger can also represent an opportunity. The technological revolution of the 21st century can hence serve as the perfect occasion to rethink the model and values on which global society is built, allowing for a more inclusive, prosperous and equitable future.
4. What more do you think is needed in the ecosystem to support and facilitate creating a greater social impact?
From the perspective of promoting an inclusive and entrepreneurial FinTech ecosystem, what is important is to encourage synergies and collaboration between different players. One often finds that multiple organisations focusing on the same objectives don’t talk to each other and sometimes even operate at cross-purposes. Working towards the global sustainable development agenda requires breaking the silos between and within institutions, and encouraging stakeholders to adopt an integrated approach to problem-solving. This process would certainly not take place overnight and entails an enormous cultural shift. Yet, it is essential for different sectors, disciplines and ecosystem players to work together towards achieving the Global Goals. Channelling financial flows, human capital and technological capabilities towards building and scaling efficient SDG solutions will be key over the coming years.
5. What do you hope to see or achieve in 10 years’ time?
I am highly critical when it comes to evaluating my own impact. I am driven by the mission to make a tangible difference to alleviating the problems that permeate modern society, chief of which are environmental degradation and social inequality (the two being closely interlinked). The way I measure impact is by the transformational positive change I have managed to create through my work and interaction with people.
Currently, I do this by working in the field of sustainable finance and fostering youth-led entrepreneurial SDG solutions. However, achieving scale requires continuous and targeted interaction with various stakeholders and members of the public. I am confident in the empowerment through education and disseminating knowledge. Thus, I strive to continue my efforts towards implementing the SDGs by continuous knowledge-sharing and building a strong network of change-makers. In 10 years’ time (2029) we will nearly have reached the deadline for fulfilling the Global Goals and my sincere hope is that we will have managed to achieve the vast majority of them. Evidence currently points to the contrary. This is one more reason to stay humble and keep working even harder.