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Full text of SUSS professor David Lee's opening address on the first annual SUSS Convergence Forum

Mandy Zhao • 2019-08-01 • Hot: Share

Summary:Blockchain and distributed networks can be a part of financial and non-financial solutions that improve human dignity for years to come.

Welcome, everyone, to the first annual SUSS Convergence Forum. I am honored that distinguished leaders from the public and private sector and from Asia, Europe, and North America can join us today in Singapore. The future of distributed networks is at a critical juncture for a number of reasons – uncertainty with regards to how blockchain will fit into existing financial and corporate structures, concerns regarding the new relationships and channels for information intermediation that blockchain will bring about, and ever-growing privacy worries regarding the accumulation and dissemination of personal data. 

Prof David Lee, SUSS

Blockchain and distributed networks can be a part of financial and non-financial solutions that improve human dignity for years to come. Such a desirable outcome, however, depends on well-intentioned industry actors, informed policymakers, and a well-connected community of innovators, technologists, academics, entrepreneurs, investors, and public sector leaders.

Here at SUSS, we actively work to build that community. Our blockchain and fintech group brings together some of the best minds in the world studying blockchain – indeed, our fellows include top regulatory officials at the MAS, the founders of leading distributed token networks, and researchers at top universities in the U.S., Singapore, and China. Together, we train young students and mid-career professionals in emerging fintech technologies, publish books and articles to guide the public debate and the work of policymakers, and organize events to bring together industry leaders. In our undergraduate programme, we have no fewer than five courses that are directly related to FinTech and Blockchain. In graduate programmes, we have 10 courses related to FinTech and Blockchain with many hands-on labs in Multichain, Bitcoin, Ethereum, financial cryptography, design thinking, blockchain security, and privacy. FinTech and Blockchain are also areas pursued by doctorate students. Our two-day workshops on contemporary blockchain and deep technology topics are conducted by leading practitioners and top academic researchers in the areas and funded up to 90pc by government agencies and free to our students.

Today’s event represents a culmination of those efforts. Amongst us, we have former and current policymakers and officials from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Infocomm Media Development Authority, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, the People’s Bank of China, the Bank of Thailand, the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office, and the Taiwanese legislature. We have academic and government advisors from the US, China, and Korea gathered here. Prominent investors and projects at today’s event hail not only from Singapore, but also from the U.S., Mainland China, and Hong Kong. Major corporate leaders, as well as emerging token projects, focused on overhauling financial market infrastructure are both present. Prominent lawyers of foundations and associations are also present among us.


I am hopeful that today’s conference will leave us with a better understanding of several core tensions facing the blockchain industry:

1)  How tokenized networks can proliferate without running afoul of the U.S. and other jurisdictions security laws that were first introduced before colour television was invented – let alone the internet – even existed. The failure of regulators to adapt in certain jurisdictions is depriving outstanding, innovative projects of both talent and capital.

2) How can blockchain converge with emerging technologies such as 5G and AI to expand human dignity by protecting privacy, lowering costs, creating new business models, serving new customers, and expanding inclusion?

3) How can tokenized networks, through convergence with these emerging technologies, enable emerging markets to develop efficient and reliable information networks and financial systems at a pace that enables these jurisdictions to have access to cheaper investment capital and leapfrog developed markets?

4) Across emerging markets and developed markets, how can blockchain improve the efficiency, reliability, and stability of financial market infrastructures, such as payment systems, security markets, digital assets exchanges, and decentralised digital tokens trading avenues?

5) How can industry and regulators work together in order to enable the proliferation of tokens and financial services that leverage blockchain in such a way that improves consumer choice and access to beneficial financial products and assets, while guarding against money laundering, fraud and fintech illiteracy?

6) How can we fractionalise and tokenise non securities and dead capital such as livestock, and guard against tokenising overowned, over-valued, complex or illiquid toxic assets for public investment?


I am hopeful that our distinguished speakers and panelists will help us identify answers to these pressing questions, and am thankful to all who made this event possible. Firstly, thank you to our president, and especially our provost and our Dean,  and the leadership of SUSS who enable this university to serve as a clearinghouse of critical thought leadership. Thank you also to this event’s sponsor, Jenga BCG, for their generosity, and to our event partners: ACCESS, the Blockchain Enterprises & Scalable Technologies Association, the Foundation of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, Singapore Fintech Association, and the British Blockchain Association. I am also deeply thankful to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which continues to support a fruitful and healthy digital token ecosystem in Singapore, and works diligently to advance financial inclusion. Special thanks to Enterprise Singapore and Infocomm Media Development Authority for helping to build the ecosystem, advancing education, and funding blockchain projects. Thanks also to our many panelists and guests, some of whom dealt with long flights to make it here today. Thanks to our SUSS fellows who are always present to support the events. Finally, thank you to our SUSS team that made this possible – Sherry, Cheryl, Caroline, Swee-Won, and especially Robert, who is a Fellow at SUSS. Finally, to all who are present today and those watching the Livestream, we thank you for giving SUSS the strong support.


I now hand over the microphone to Robert, who is bilingual, to deliver some brief remarks on research that both of us recently published in the Journal of the British Blockchain Association, which inspired this event, and to introduce our keynote speaker, United States SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce. Thank you very much.

Source:blocksina Author:Mandy Zhao / Editor:Mandy Zhao

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