Anthony Sar founded Finnovasia in 2015 aiming to create an independent platform, which brings together the fintech community in Asia and globally and organized over 80 events across the regions. Finnovasia is the officially appointed organizer by InvestHK of the Hong Kong FinTech Week, the flagship industry event in Asia with over 15,000 attendees from more than 130 economies. Anthony is also the founder of FinTech Club, an exclusive community for senior executives in Hong Kong, and FinTech Basketball League which brings together 18 teams among the industry professionals in Hong Kong.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
KrASIA (Kr): Finnovasia has been around for 5 years. Can you share how it all began?
Anthony Sar (AS): To give some context, I was born in Siberia, Russia. My first job was being a journalist for one of the leading business newspapers in Moscow. After five or six years of working, I got into a MBA program in school. And it was a brand new school in Moscow called Skolkovo. They organize modules in different parts of the world, such as India, Brazil and even learning opportunities in conjunction with MIT in the US. The idea was to get acquainted with the most advanced knowledge and cutting-edge technologies found in emerging markets.
I flew to Shanghai to complete a module that I had picked. In those years of studying new innovations, my greatest discovery was truly the convergence of technology and finance—fintech—also one of the hottest topics of 2015. In order to understand the use of technology in finance, I attended some free conferences in Hong Kong, supposedly a top financial hub in the world. But the only thing I learned was that these conferences are actually crap. There was really not much to learn, minimal networking and almost zero knowledge. I was shocked.
I set out to make a difference. I met people from the fintech industry, interviewed them on innovation, then rolled out a series of videos. I gave the name ‘Finnovasia’ which refers to Finance Innovation in Asia. Over time, I realized there was no good place for interested audiences to meet these fintech leaders, to learn, and consult, and ideate. I felt it would be great to put the key figures on stage, with a larger scale event for fintech. That led to my first event in 2015.
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