This week CFTE began its Asian Fintech tour of the region’s biggest Fintech hubs including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore.
The potential for Fintech in Asia is massive.
From serving the under-banked, through increased access to financial services, to improving economic prosperity for millions, the potential for Fintech to have a positive impact in Asia is huge.
The good news is that a number of key developments (other than the growth of China!) are creating strong tail winds to enable the Fintech sector to grow and allowing entrepreneurs, startups, and financial institutions to bring more innovative financial solutions to market.
So before we dive into what we’ve been up to this week and our plans for the coming weeks, it’s worth having a look at some of the developments contributing to the growth of Asia’s Fintech ecosystem…
The jigsaw starts to take shape
The region has a huge base of predominantly mobile users, which is increasing year-on-year, with the estimated number of digital consumers expected to reach 1.7bn by 2020, according to a report published by McKinsey & Company.
The trend of growing digital adoption combined with a less developed conventional banking infrastructure makes the region ripe for new Fintech solutions that provide more accessible banking services, especially for the millions of under-banked in the region.
In addition to demographic and economic factors, Asia’s regulators are giving the Fintech sector a big boost.
Note: with the financial industry being so heavily regulated, regulatory support is vital for allowing Fintech development to advance.
Singapore pushes the SMART city initiative
A forerunner for innovation in regulation in Asia, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has been quick to adopt best practices from London, the world’s no.1 Fintech hub.
They have implemented a number of initiatives to create a favourable environment for Fintech growth. Initiatives such as the establishment of regulatory sandbox, which is a programme designed to allow Fintech solutions to be tested in a controlled environment, plus an increased focus on job creation and public-private sector collaboration is allowing homegrown and foreign companies to use the city-state as a platform to expand into the rest of Asia’s fast-growing economies.
Hong Kong building momentum
Singapore is not the only forward-thinking territory looking to capitalise on Fintech opportunities. Regulatory sandboxes have been implemented in both Malaysia and Hong Kong as both countries look to spur the growth of their respective Fintech ecosystems.
For example, Hong Kong has taken steps to implement progressive policies that seek to animate Fintech activity. The annual Hong Kong Fintech festival attracts thousands every year from across the world and the Fintech innovation hub serves as a focal point for collaboration between different actors in the industry
Malaysia pushing towards Fintech ambitions
Similarly, in Malaysia, Government-linked bodies such the Malaysian Economic Development Corporation (MDEC), the Securities Commission and the Central Bank of Malaysia are all working to create a framework to allow for increased Fintech innovation.
For example, in addition to implementing a regulatory sandbox, they have also taken steps to progress guidelines on key areas of Fintech development such as cryptocurrencies and e-KYC (Know Your Customer, which allows customers to open an account online without face to face verification).
These policies are laying the groundwork for Fintech startups to bring new solutions to market and pressing incumbent financial institutions to develop new Fintech solutions. A report from PWC notes that 51% of incumbents now collaborate with Fintech startups.
Vietnam sowing the seeds of change
Vietnam has also taken important steps to accelerate the growth of its Fintech sector. Earlier this year a Government-backed Steering Committee outlined a roadmap to build their ecosystem.
As with other regions progressing in Fintech, a sound regulatory framework forms a central component of their plans to support an ecosystem that already has startups offering services in P2P Lending, mobile payments, wealth management and blockchain.
CFTE’s Asia tour
As Fintech becomes a central focus for many of Asia’s economies, education, the cornerstone of human endeavour, has a central role to play if Fintech is to reach it’s potential in Asia.
It’s a fundamental point. Without the right knowledge, entrepreneurs cannot be made, startups cannot grow and incumbent financial institutions cannot deliver more innovative digital solutions.
Thus investing in human capital is a crucial pillar in nurturing the growth of Fintech.
With this in mind, CFTE is in Asia, to fulfil our mission of collaborating with the very best partners to deliver education at scale, globally.
Stop 1: Hong Kong
Our first stop was in Hong Kong for start of HK Fintech Education week.
The week kicked off with ‘Fintech Education Day’, where Prof. Douglas Arner, Janos Barberis (both on the academic board of CFTE), CFTE’s Co-founder Huy NGUYEN TRIEU and Joelle Woo, took to the stage for unveiling the launch of HKU Fintech MOOC.
We are very proud and honoured to be associated with the first Fintech MOOC in Asia and to be working together with HKU and SuperCharger on this project to democratise the knowledge of Fintech.
Stop 2: Malaysia
For the second leg of CFTE’s ‘Asian Fintech Tour’, we arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Malaysia is making huge strides to turn itself into a Fintech hub for the ASEAN region. Amazing government support from the likes of MDEC and new partnerships with ecosystem builders such as SuperCharger Fintech Accelerator is helping build momentum for more Fintech solutions to come to market.
This week, in partnership with SuperCharger it was an absolute pleasure for us to deliver a Masterclass to senior leaders from Malaysia’s finance community to support their objective of building a vibrant Fintech sector.
Stop 3: Vietnam
Next week, CFTE’s co-founder, Tram Anh Nguyen, will join Huy as they arrive in Vietnam on Monday the 9th for the annual Vietnam e-payment Forum,
As hinted above, with mobile use proliferating in the region, new mobile payment solutions represent a significant growth channel for Fintech, especially in Vietnam.
This year’s event will feature a number of keynote speaker including Huy. Senior leaders from Vietnam’s finance community and some of the world most renowned Fintech entrepreneurs will join him. For more information on the event, click here.
Stop 4: Singapore
The final leg of the tour will see both co-founders in Singapore for the Singapore Fintech Festival – a weeklong event that brings together the Fintech community from across the globe to promote knowledge sharing and the uncovering of new opportunities in Fintech.
During the festival, CFTE will be hosting a very special event in partnership with LATTICE80, the world’s biggest Fintech hub.
CFTE’s Co-founders, Huy Nguyen Trieu and Tram Anh Nguyen will be joined by prominent guest speakers such as Gina Heng (CEO of LATTICE80), Janos Barberis (Founder of SuperCharger Fintech Accelerators) Veiverne Yuen (Co-founder and CIO of tryb) and Choy Siew Kai (MD at GIC) for an “Evening of Conversations”.
Discussions will focus on the future of finance and the digital skills that professionals need to learn in order to set themselves apart in a financial landscape increasingly being re-shaped by Fintech.
The event is free of charge so if you’re in Singapore, please do join us!