Mobile banking is becoming increasingly popular in Asia. Photo: iStock
Mobile banking is becoming increasingly popular in Asia. Photo: iStock

Mobile banking in Asia is set to boom within the next five years. “Asia is a fertile ground for digital innovation in banking,” Ravi Menon, the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said at the Symposium on Asian Banking and Finance this week.

It was also revealed that high economic growth rates are predicted in Asia in the medium term, at an average of 6%, compared with the global average of 3.7%.

As such, as Asian incomes increase, so will the demand for financial services.

That said, financial inclusion remains low across most of Asia. However, it is predicted that placing onus on the financial-technology sector to enhance inclusion will boost growth further still, by between 9% and 14%, in locations such as the Philippines and Indonesia, and as much as 32% in Cambodia.

Indeed, since the launch of my firm’s challenger bank, deVere Vault, in April, the level of interest in our e-money app has surprised even us. We now predict that more than 40,000 people will download the app by the end of this year, with the majority of this demand coming from Asia.

While in both Indonesia and Vietnam only a third of the population access banking services, mobile-phone usage is a different story. With mobile-phone penetration rates above 100%, the majority of people use more than one phone. This, together with a young, tech-savvy population, is the prime environment for mobile banking.

As we can see around us every day, the world is changing. Technology is taking over almost every aspect of our daily lives. This is certainly the case in the fintech sector.

It would appear that the days of traditional banking are coming to an end, as nearly all financial management is much simpler, far more accessible and decidedly more dynamic using mobile-app banking.

The advantages to app-only banking are substantial.

Anytime banking

Your bank is, in effect, in the palm of your hand, 24/7. Mobile banking allows you to take control of your banking, even when you’re on the go.

You can access your financial records any time, anywhere; check deposits, send transfers, review your balance, pay bills, block stolen cards and monitor your transaction history, among many other services, all in a matter of seconds. Naturally, this is far more convenient than traveling to your bank or the nearest cash machine.

As such, the efficiency of mobile banking is unquestionable. It saves time and reduces paperwork, both for banks themselves and for their customers.

Another key advantage of app banking is fraud reduction. People tend to monitor their account(s) far more regularly from their smartphone or tablet than they would by visiting a branch, so any fraud attempts can be recognized sooner.

Furthermore, banking apps have advanced encryption technologies to ensure your details are secure. Indeed, even if your phone is stolen or you misplace it, your banking information will be safe. Data is protected by numerous pass codes and other ID verification checks. In addition, smartphones can be disabled remotely from your desktop computer or laptop.

As mobile banking is set to enter a rapid phase of growth – forecasts are for 1.8 billion users by 2019 – Southeast Asia is predicted to be a key driver of this trend. As more and more people are opting to live international lifestyles, coupled with businesses becoming more global-minded, the mobile-banking sector is most certainly on the up. And up.

Nigel Green

Nigel Green founded deVere Group in 2002 from a single office in Hong Kong after discovering a niche market for expatriates in the financial services sector. Since then, it has grown to become one of the largest independent financial advisory organizations in the world with offices and clients across the globe.