What role does technology play in advancing Singapore’s ESG drive?

Subhashish Bose
Director, Financial Services Industry, Asia Pacific
October 13, 2022|3 min read

Last month, The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Singapore Exchange (SGX) launched ESGenome, a portal for SGX listed companies to report Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data that can also be accessed by investors. Just a few days earlier, DBS Bank – the largest bank in Southeast Asia, had announced decarbonization targets to finance seven industries and data coverage targets for two other sectors. DBS Bank also recently launched a feature called LiveBetter as part of its digital app that predicts the carbon footprint of the consumer on a monthly basis based on their card transactions.Singapore is indeed playing a leading role both regionally and globally in Green Fintech and making the most of ESG Finance, assets of which are estimated to hit US$53 trillion by 2025, or roughly one-third of total global AUM. MAS’s Project Greenprint to develop digital platforms for better ESG data to support sustainable finance utilizing Blockchain, IoT and APIs is a great step towards fueling that ambition. Even the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix which concluded on October 2nd 2022 utilized carbon neutral sources of energy where possible.

So, what role can technology play in reducing the carbon footprint of businesses beyond its enablement to begin with? What can financial services companies do to reduce their own carbon footprint beyond scrutinizing the ESG data of the businesses they are financing?As organizations create smarter platforms like digital banking and electronic payments, e-commerce apps, commodity and stock exchanges, gaming, and online brokerage services, and so on, they must utilize personalization through customer 360, AI/ML for fraud checks and need to provide faster, better online fulfillment of customer needs.Central to enabling these services is data, and organizations are piling up volumes ranging from thousands of terabytes to hundreds of petabytes. As a result, investments in database technology are growing to power split-second real-time decisions and in-memory-based NoSQL databases are particularly skyrocketing. Other than the spiraling license costs, it is the huge amount of infrastructure, on-prem or cloud, that organizations must procure to manage the data. And costs apart, these data centers generate a carbon footprint that dilutes the ESG objectives of those businesses.

A smarter choice of database technology which is the nervous system of datacenters can help alleviate these concerns. For instance, Aerospike has developed a unique Hybrid Memory Architecture that reduces infrastructure requirements by as much as 80-90% compared to most other in memory databases or caching technologies. The resulting reduction in carbon footprint can be as much as 84% in terms of kg CO2 equivalents for 1 Petabyte of data, as shown by my colleague Behrad Babaee in his research paper recently published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It is rhetoric to point out the cost reduction which can be as much as US$ 8m annually as he further notes for the cited data volume.

The Aerospike database is designed to provide sub-millisecond responses at data volumes ranging from gigabytes to petabytes, scaling from hundreds to millions of transactions per second at industry-leading uptime and resiliency. This, when combined with reductions in costs and emissions makes a compelling case, and as a result, hundreds of businesses have adopted it worldwide.

In conclusion, a smarter choice for something as quintessential as a database goes a long way not just in saving costs and ensuring future readiness as data volumes grow but also paves the way for better ESG data which over time might soon be a decisive factor for an organization to get access to competitive financing options.