By 2025, the Fintech industry in Southeast Asia is predicted to exceed USD 1 trillion in transaction value. At the moment the size of the Fintech Industry is valued at a whopping 11 Billion USD (as of 2022), according to a recent report. Increasing innovation will lead to digital lending becoming the primary revenue source for consumer and working capital lending. Moreover, increasing adoption of advanced technology will likely shift emerging Fintech companies’ focus from B2C to B2B.
Over the coming years, specialized infrastructure platforms will be needed to consolidate the market and other new products, including BNPL (Book Now Pay Later) services. Hence, it is expected that the fintech sector’s value will clock USD 60 billion by 2025.
Major SEA Fintech Players to Watch
In September 2020, Fvndit raised USD 30 million for the Vietnamese peer-to-peer lending platform eLoan. The Singaporean financial regulatory technology startup, backed by artificial technology, Silent Eight, raised USD 15 million. Moreover, LinkAja, an e-wallet platform, declared a USD 100 million Series B round led by Grab.
The financial arms of established tech platforms like Grab & Gojek, are leading challengers in the SEA region. In addition to supporting their company’s core operations, they have a greater reach and strong brand recognition in the Southeast Asia region. They are also diversifying into other financial services, such as banking..
Larger non-bank lenders are also investing in mobile services as urban customers demand a range of mobile services. Major banks are investing in digital services, with Singaporean banks setting the bar in the region.
According to a report by FinanceAsia, Telcos (regional telecommunications companies) have also contributed to fintech development. Over the years, companies like Malaysia’s Axiata, Philippines’ Globe Telecom and Thailand’s True and AIS have all launched fintech platforms. Furthermore, one of Singapore’s licenses for digital banks was obtained by a joint venture between Singtel and Grab.
Development of the Fintech Infrastructure
Payments and investment services played a pivotal role in developing the fintech infrastructure in the year 2021 and continue to do so even now. Companies such as VNLife and Mynt, which offer payment services, and firms like Ajaib and Bibit, providing investment services, achieved 150% and 400% Year-over-Year (YoY) growth in terms of deals, respectively. It’s companies like these that are leading the charge in shifting consumers away from a cash-only society.
Moreover, using payment gateways and APIs in the payment sector will be more easily accessible and will likely gain momentum, and credit scoring in the lending and investment sector will be prevalent, leading to more transparency in the sector.
As regulatory requirements evolve, regulatory technology like e-KYC (electronic know-your-customer) tools will continue to gain popularity. As a result, consumers, merchants, platforms, and regulators will need to collaborate on multilateral solutions.
Environmental Governance in the Fintech Industry
To foster sustainable development throughout the internet economy, some standard practices and consistent methodology are required for evaluating and certifying Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG). For the internet economy to reach net zero emissions, it is imperative to develop products and business models that are environmentally friendly (especially for O2O businesses) and that use clean energy.
The internet economy’s biggest players should proactively create green job opportunities for employees and establish a positive impact for consumers via carbon-neutral data centers and other initiatives.
Internet infrastructure, a key challenge in SEA
In Southeast Asia, 700 million people have access to the internet, and 400 million of them use it regularly according to FintechNews. While a large population of Southeast Asian users are already online, poor internet connections and access to affordable digital devices continue to be a barrier to digitalization. Hence, it is crucial to ensure that everyone has access to fast, reliable internet and increased outreach.
To ensure that the new “internet economy” works effectively, digital literacy and education remain crucial. Unserved and underserved customers must be given high priority for receiving the benefits of new digital services while being protected from fraud and cyberattacks.
As the fintech sector rapidly grows, a foundational data infrastructure is needed to support cross-border data flows, strengthen data protection and cybersecurity, and facilitate data-sharing. For consumer confidence to increase, local and regional data regulations must be strengthened – in accordance with international standards of privacy, data sharing, interoperability, and artificial intelligence.
For regional businesses to foster and scale in the internet economy, digital trade agreements must be established to link internet economies and reduce regulatory fragmentation.
Fintech adoption is accelerating across Southeast Asia, faster than anywhere else in the world. Among Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea, fintech adoption is 67%, well below China’s 87%. Furthermore, by 2025, Southeast Asia’s digital economy is predicted to reach USD 363 billion, with e-commerce growing to USD 234 billion.
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