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Speech by MOS Low Yen Ling at RHTLaw Asia's Webinar - Demistifying blockchain technology: A conversation on leveraging the practical benefits and exploring its legal pitfalls

Speech by MOS Low Yen Ling at RHTLaw Asia's Webinar - Demistifying blockchain technology: A conversation on leveraging the practical benefits and exploring its legal pitfalls

Introduction

1. Good afternoon, I am delighted to join you in this exciting webinar organised by RHTLaw Asia on leveraging the benefits of blockchain technology and also avoiding its legal pitfalls. These salient topics offer useful insights to the business community as companies accelerate their technology adoption and position themselves for the next phase of digital evolution. 

Importance of Digitalisation and Innovation in Emerging Stronger from the Crisis

2. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, not just in Singapore, but globally.

3. Businesses, both big and small, MNCs as well as SMEs in Singapore, are discovering that digitalisation and innovation are critical for business continuity and recovery in a post-COVID world. Amidst increased competition and evolving consumer preferences, businesses that leverage technology and go digital are better placed to compete globally and more able to capture growth opportunities. Increasingly, companies are leveraging blockchain technology to scale up and improve their productivity.

4. MTI, ESG and EDB are heartened that many companies have heeded the call to evolve their business models and overcome the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Local companies like Artisan Bynd and Jade Life and Wellness are here with us to share their digitalisation journey. 

5. I am glad that webinars such as today’s, by RHTLaw Asia, are being organised  to equip and support businesses venturing into leading-edge and emerging technologies. Despite the ongoing crisis, Singapore continues to attract global companies. This is a result of our commitment to invest in our digital connectivity, infrastructure, robust intellectual property regime and strong support for innovation. 

6. On behalf of MTI, I want to assure the business community that the Government remains fully committed to supporting our local enterprises in your digital transformation journey. Allow me to share with you two key Government initiatives that will support your companies’ digitalisation efforts: 

a. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO)-as-a-Service scheme helps SMEs identify and access resources that you need to digitally transform. 

b. SMEs will be able to access a new one-stop Web application that can assess their digital needs, and recommend suitable digital solutions.

c. SMEs that need more in-depth digital advice can tap on a shared pool of skilled CTO-equivalents or digital consultants. We know that some startups and SMEs do not have the scale or resources to hire a full-time CTO. This helps by providing that shared pool of skilled CTO-equivalents or digital consultants to support you in your digitalisation journey. They will help SMEs to identify their digitalisation needs, select useful digital solutions and also project manage the solution implementation. Deciding to go digital is only the starting point, then you have to decide what is your current stage of development, what are the gaps, what digital solutions you need, and many of you think about how to project manage. This is the purpose of the CTO-as-a-Service scheme, to support you. 

d. In addition, the Emerging Technology Programme is another initiative that will support our SMEs. It will co-fund the costs of trials and adoption of leading-edge innovations in areas such as 5G, artificial intelligence and trust technologies. 

Blockchain Technology and its Potential

7. Blockchain is one of the emerging trust technologies that businesses cannot ignore if they wish to maintain their competitive edge.

a. A key advantage of blockchain lies in its ability to allow businesses to conduct speedier and more efficient transactions at lower risks and costs, without the need for intermediaries. 

b. Globally, blockchain trials are taking place in different fields, as public and private sector organisations test out its use in areas such as healthcare records, electoral rolls and digital identities. 

c. As blockchain technology is still relatively new, webinars and sessions like today’s are useful for businesses to gain a better understanding, a deeper appreciation of its potential and implications, including the legal aspects. 

8. The Government is committed to supporting our companies’ drive to scale up in blockchain technology. This enhances Singapore as an attractive destination for blockchain ventures. Several initiatives and programmes have already been launched to promote collaborations and a conducive blockchain ecosystem. 

a. IMDA’s OpenNodes is a digital engagement platform that serves as a nexus to foster a community where regulators and innovators, solutions-seekers and solutions providers come together to do three things. One, share their perspectives. Two, align their interests, and three, collaborate to create blockchain-based solutions. 

b. Other initiatives such as IMDA’s Blockchain Challenge and the Singapore Blockchain Ecosystem aim to encourage more companies, SMEs, startups, to innovate in their business models and transform through technology.

c. To meet industry needs and support research on real-world application of blockchain technology, the Singapore Blockchain Innovation Programme is focusing its efforts on blockchain scalability, interoperability and security. 

d. All these developments offer exciting growth opportunities for our blockchain innovation landscape and support Singapore’s journey towards becoming a trusted, digital economy.

Women in Tech

9. Before I conclude, I want to highlight the overwhelming female composition of our panel today. Given that the tech sector is traditionally male-dominated, the level of female participation and representation at today’s event is very encouraging.
   
10. Among the panellists is Ms Elise Tan, VP of LongHash Ventures, a blockchain incubator that seeks to nurture more successful blockchain startups in Singapore. Another panellist, Ms Zann Kwan, co-founder of Bitcoin Exchange, blazed a trial by bringing in a bitcoin ATM to Singapore in the early days of the technology.

11. We hope to see more women entering the infocomm and technology (ICT) sector. The SG Women in Tech by IMDA seeks to attract and develop more women talent in the technology sector. 

Conclusion

12. In closing, let us continue to push the boundaries of transformation and new technologies. We want to encourage our companies to tap on the available Government initiatives to digitalise, innovate and co-create new solutions. For those of you who have made it, we hope you make time to mentor and create more opportunities in the STEM sector. To thrive in a post-COVID world, let’s keep being open to new opportunities and also capturing the possibilities ahead of us. 

13. I thank Ms Sharon Chong for inviting me and I am very certain we will have an insightful and fruitful seminar. Thank you. 

 
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