Unbanked millions and high internet access rates, together with state and venture capital support, makes Southeast Asia a prime candidate for fintech innovation. Photo: iStock
Unbanked millions and high Internet access rates, together with state and venture capital support, makes Southeast Asia a prime candidate for fintech innovation. Photo: iStock

More than half of banking and financial clients in Asia and across the globe now use fintech products and services, according to the findings of a recent deVere Group survey. Fintech is computer technology used to support or enable banking and financial services.

Around 55% of those polled confirmed they “regularly use financial technology to access and manage their money.”

A total of 883 people in Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Australasia participated in the survey.

The results point to a significant growth in fintech use in only two or three years, and underscore the remarkable rate of the digitization of our everyday lives. From self-driving vehicles and genetic bio-editing to artificial intelligence, new technologies affect every part of our lives, and our finances are no exception.

Fintech companies are filling the gap left between what traditional financial services firms are offering and what customers now expect, particularly in regard to the customer experience. One of the key benefits of fintech is immediate around-the-clock access to and management of personal funds through personalized, on-demand digital services. Furthermore, this all comes at a lower cost.

In recent years we have also witnessed fintech becoming a major disruptive presence within the financial-services sector. This is a trend that is only set to grow as so-called “digital natives” become more influential in the workforce and in social and political roles.

Emerging markets across Asia, Latin America and Africa are quickly becoming the largest growth areas for fintech participation.

Indeed, in 2016 DBS Bank in Singapore released a report in which China was declared the “undoubted center of global fintech innovation and adoption.” Since then, nations and markets across Asia have been developing major tech ecosystems, and the finance sector is a major part of this trend.

In 2016, total fintech investment in the Asia-Pacific region reached US$10.5 billion, the highest amount recorded since 2010, and now, every bank across the globe is focused on Asia, and in particular, China.

Four of the biggest fintech unicorns are in China, whose pioneering policies and startup-friendly environment put it a step ahead of the rest of the fintech world. Meanwhile, in India, more than half the population is reportedly using fintech, in comparison with a worldwide average of 33%. Thanks to this remarkable growth in the use of digital services around Asia, the fintech industry in the Asia-Pacific region is forecast to exceed $72 billion by 2020.

Typically, fintech offers more cost-effective solutions when compared with traditional financial services. In addition, because these Asian regions are home to many of the world’s 1.7 billion citizens without resort to any or adequate bank accounts, fintech helps resolves this pressing issue for more than 25% of the world’s population.

Other prominent trends revealed by the survey include: 67% of respondents used fintech apps to send remittances and money transfers; 46% used fintech vehicles to monitor investments and/or accounts; and 28% used them for storing and managing cryptocurrencies.

India received more than $78 billion in remittances last year, making up 3% of the country’s gross domestic product, while the Philippines received more than $33 billion, accounting for 10% of GDP. Countries like these depend on remittances to bolster their economic growth, and fintech helps to make this happen.

Indeed, fintech, widely considered a major part of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, is a positive force for three main reasons.

First, it caters to a clear and increasing demand for on-the-go services.

Second, it accelerates the advance of financial inclusion on a global scale. Helping individuals and businesses successfully manage, save and invest their money will only result in a better society for everyone.

Third, fintech allows companies the ability to diversify, reduce costs, meet regulatory requirements and enhance the client experience, which will all help toward forming long-term relationships and, above all, trust.

All of which makes fintech the new normal.

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