How ‘green’ is green FinTech? A critical enquiry into the growth of data centres in Southeast Asia
with Karen Lai (Durham University, Department of Geography)
Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER)
Maison des Sciences Humaines
11, Porte des Sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette / Belval
Salle de conférence (1st floor)
11:00 am
12:30 pm
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There is growing industry interest in using FinTech to achieve green finance and sustainability goals. These range from consumer-oriented offerings—such as digital banking or financial services that offer tree planting ‘rewards’ based on financial transactions, to data solutions for corporations—such as using artificial intelligence (AI) and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) to improve measurement and monitoring of risks and compliance with Sustainable Development Goals. All of these are characterised by heavy demands for data storage and processing, and drive the growth of data centres. With growing FinTech economies in Asia, companies such as Ant Group, Amazon, Facebook and Tencent have been setting up data centres in Malaysia, Indonesia and even in land-scarce Singapore. Other than physical infrastructural requirements (e.g. availability of land, utilities and network connections), the location of data centres is also influenced by different jurisdictional and data legislation. This seminar presents early research in our critical enquiry of data centres, focusing on two dimensions. First, growing demands for data centres have important environmental impacts that could prove contradictory to the goals of green finance. Second, examining the growth of data centres in Southeast Asia and the patterns and rationale behind their development reveal differentiated roles of data centres in the region based on different data protection laws, environmental regulation and legal environments. We therefore highlight the need to bring data centres out of the background of finance research, especially in terms of spatial arbitrage in the regional configurations of data centres.

Supported by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (RESCOM/2021/16537536)

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