Welcome Remarks by
Datuk Ranjit Ajit Singh
Chairman of Securities Commission Malaysia
at the World Capital Markets Symposium in Kuala Lumpur
on Thursday, 3 September 2015

Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak,
Prime Minister of Malaysia;
Yang Berhormat Dato’ Sri Mustapha Mohamed,
Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia;
Yang Berhormat Senator Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar,
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia;
Excellencies, esteemed speakers, distinguished guests;
Members of the media, ladies and gentlemen.

1 A very good morning to everyone. I am extremely delighted to welcome you to the World Capital Markets Symposium 2015 and a very warm “Selamat Datang” to all of our international guests.
2 I hope that you will enjoy your stay in Kuala Lumpur, and that you would get the chance to sample Malaysia’s diverse heritage and cuisines while taking advantage of all the shopping opportunities nearby and contribute to our economy!
3 Over the next two days, we will have the opportunity to listen to an exciting line-up of speakers:

  • Lord Paddy Ashdown is an iconic figure who has played a pivotal role in some of the most defining chapters in modern international history;
  • Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys, is one of Asia’s most renowned entrepreneurs;
  • Dr Marc Faber of course commands a very large global following for his unique take on global market and economic developments; and
  • Many more prolific speakers including corporate leaders, financial technology founders and entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors, market experts and policymakers who will take us through issues ranging from the impact of technology on markets and businesses, as well as the challenges arising from digitisation.
4 At the same time, we are also privileged to hear from a high-level panel of eminent ASEAN Ministers, who have been instrumental in driving our regional integration agenda. Rounding off proceedings will be a special session on the markets including an assessment on current conditions and future prospects, which particularly pertinent given the present context.
5 I am particularly grateful for the support that we have received from the Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, who has graciously accepted our invitation to speak at the Symposium this year, and who has been a strong proponent of WCMS and our capital market development efforts.
6 I would also like to thank our main sponsors: Maybank, Nomura and Amundi, as well as our media partners, including Bloomberg, our international broadcast partner. Their contributions have been invaluable in making this event a success.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Symposium as a global platform for thought leadership
7 When the idea for the Symposium was originally conceived, the Securities Commission had envisioned a meeting-place of minds – an avenue to showcase ground-breaking ideas that have the potential to shape global capital markets for many years to come.
8 This motif is reflected in the evolution of the themes for this event, which traced the post-crisis narrative in 2009, before identifying leadership and governance as the key ingredients for reform in 2010, and proposing a way forward by placing the greater good of markets and society at the very heart of the global financial system.
9 Therefore, this year’s focus on the transformative powers of technology on financial markets is a natural extension of our efforts to continuously enhance the ability of the capital market to serve the real-world needs of individuals, businesses and organisations.
10 While infusing high finance with a social conscience was a relatively novel construct in the more advanced markets prior to the global financial crisis, such policy and regulatory activism was not uncommon in Malaysia as well as many other emerging markets.
11 The sustained commitment displayed by emerging markets towards structural reforms that further broaden and deepen their capital markets have imbued them with greater resilience, thus paving the way for orderly adjustments even in the face of heightened stress and significant volatility. Such resilience has been further reinforced by efforts made by the global regulatory community to strengthen arrangements for international coordination and cooperation.
Nevertheless, ladies and gentlemen,
Fintech holds tremendous promise for global financial markets
12 For markets to fully serve their economic role they must not only be safe, but also purposeful and accessible to the millions of consumers and businesses whom together constitute the real economy and form the backbone of our future prosperity. However, naturally occurring market failures such as information asymmetry and monopolies result in pockets of under-served users of the financial system, which dampens the dynamism of the overall economy.
13 A potential solution to this issue may lie in technology, which is transforming the capabilities of financial markets and disrupting the traditional value chain of businesses with breathtaking speed. By improving the customer service experience while broadening access and reducing costs, technology may potentially result in significantly more efficient and inclusive markets.
14 The steady increase in the number of tools that aim to bring finance right to the pocket of the man on the street suggests that entrepreneurs have swiftly capitalised on this opportunity. From mobile payment systems in Africa to e-commerce portals in East Asia, as well as P2P lenders and robo-advisors, access to personalised financial services is now at the tip of our fingers – quite literally, in the case of smartphones – thus democratising markets and reducing cost for consumers.
15 Fintech, the widely-used moniker for financial technology, is not only a growing trend but one which is here to stay – given its significant potential to disrupt the business model of incumbents and appeal to a wider audience by promising user-friendly services that transcend demographic, geographical and infrastructure barriers.
16 Given the promise of fintech, it is not surprising to see policymakers from a number of jurisdictions playing an active role in encouraging the development of this industry. In the United Kingdom and Australia, for example, initiatives such as the Financial Conduct Authority’s Project Innovate and Sydney’s Financial Services Knowledge Hub are helping to build a conducive ecosystem to foster aspiring entrepreneurs.
17 This year, Malaysia became the first country in the region to legislate equity crowdfunding, with six platform operators registered so far. It is clear that the on-going wave of fintech innovation offers tremendous scope for expansion and, in the US alone, has been estimated to divert $4.7 trillion in revenue from traditional financial services providers.1
18 Nevertheless, while we remain strongly supportive of greater digitisation in markets, it is also crucial for potential risks, such as those that pertain to cyber-security, investor protection and market integrity, to be identified, understood and appropriately mitigated.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Drawing policy lessons from interdisciplinary discussions
19 For the anticipated growth in fintech to become a reality, it is essential for policymakers and the private sector to work together in nurturing this nascent segment of the market.
20 As a regulator, I strongly believe that that we could play a facilitative role in a number of ways – be it by assisting businesses in navigating the regulatory environment, sponsoring accelerator programmes or strengthening the venture capital and private equity ecosystem to provide much-needed financing for fintech entrepreneurs.
21 The identification of such opportunities and risks associated with this rapidly growing sector shall be the underlying theme of our conversations throughout this Symposium, and I hope that we shall come away with a significantly enhanced appreciation of what may potentially lie ahead as we stand on the threshold of the Age of Disruption.
22 Stephen Hawking once observed that in less than a hundred years, mankind has gone from believing themselves to be at the centre of the universe, to now orbiting an average-sized sun, which is just one of millions of stars in one of as many galaxies.
23 May the discussions we have over the next two days prove equally illuminating in changing the way we perceive the world, and the extent to which technology could reshape global financial markets as we know it.
Thank you.

1 Goldman Sachs estimates