There are plenty of defining years in the history books, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s almost certain that the global pandemic will ensure that this year is featured prominently. With events cancelled, launches delayed, and country-wide lockdowns, the way we work has changed forever. Still, for financial technology and surrounding industries, this was also a year of challenge and opportunity.
This December, The Fintech Times is asking industry leaders for their ‘View from the Top’ to gain an insight into the decisions behind the last 12-months. Today, we’re looking at fintech in Asia, hearing from Lee Li Meng, Mohammad Ridzuan Abdul Aziz and Manu Rajan on their 2020 thoughts, plus a look ahead to 2021. Will there be a Happy New Year? Read on…
To many, Asia is thought of as leading the fintech revolution globally. With a huge amount of fintechs based on the continent, Asia is the hub that’s setting the pace for industry innovation. In this View from the Top, companies Razer, Fintech Association of Malaysia and Wing outline their own 2020 experience.
Lee Li Meng is CEO of Razer Fintech, one of the largest online-to-offline digital payment networks in SE Asia. In his opinion, digital banks are going to be the next trend in the Asian landscape.
“Seeing that digital banks were a concept originated from the west, I believe it will be the next big thing of the fintech landscape in Asia. This is also due to how local regulators have been supportive to encourage consumers to adopt digital financial services, coupled with continued support for players to innovate and accelerate growth in areas like e-KYC infrastructure.
“Given the current trend of increased acceptance of digital financial services in Southeast Asia, I also believe the future fintech landscape would entail even more collaboration between fintech players and financial institutions. Coupled with Asia’s relatively higher levels of unbanked populations such as in Indonesia, there is much room for synergy between smaller domestic players, and foreign financial institutions.
“This trend of collaboration is likely going to continue in the long run, where at Razer Fintech, we believe in our vision to cater to the underserved needs of our audiences in our B2C and B2B businesses – this is where the importance of building partnerships comes in. We have connected with companies, particularly SMEs, to Funding Societies (a P2P lending firm providing financing solutions to businesses) via our B2B platform Razer Merchant Services in Malaysia. On top of that, we are collaborating with Franklin Templeton to build a digital wealth management platform. And on the B2C side, we have most recently announced the upcoming launch of our Razer Card, in partnership with Visa.”
Mohammad Ridzuan Abdul Aziz is President of Fintech Association of Malaysia (FAOM), a national platform to support Malaysia to be the leading hub for fintech innovation and investment in the region. He thinks digital platforms and Islamic finance will trend in 2021.
“I think one of the three things that will happen is the focus on having a more collaborative digital platform that has multi-dimension value. I’m not just talking about fintech as a vertical, but actual multi-dimension values that will also come on to that digital platform so that they can grow together and give education to the consumer in terms of how they can leverage the digital platform to get better value in their transactions.
“The second trend that I see going forward in 2021 is the establishment of more higher-value Islamic Finance, something that has not been explored widely. The pandemic has shown that if we collaborate and work together, which is basically the foundation of the Islamic economy, a lot of parties could actually benefit each other. There is a lot of Islamic finance elements that can be used to facilitate collaboration between different parties.
“Finally I think that there will be more focus in terms of the domestic economy in Asia, with the understanding of fintech and how it can be used will lead to other technology being used in other economic activities.”
Manu Rajan is the CEO of Wing, a Cambodian mobile banking services provider and one of the few specialised banks in the world. In his opinion, collaboration will be a large factor in fintech going forward
“Fostering the right partnerships to meet the needs of people and driving collaborative growth will be a trend in 2021. The old boundaries that defined competition are likely to be blurred and new partnerships between brands will be forged to help accelerate the adoption of digital payments being the new normal.
“The banked population may seek convenient and safer ways to fulfil needs which may require more than just facilitating digital payments. One can anticipate forward and backward integrations in the market that will be done to fulfil the newfound needs of these customers.
“Last-mile fulfilment might just become a normal expectation since digitalization could be expected to bring customers more than just mere convenience.
“Our partnerships will be crucial as this paradigm shifts. Wing, with more than 500 corporate partners and over 200 APIs connected to its platform, will undoubtedly be in a stronger position to cash in on that.
“Wing has reached out for partners in all industry sectors. Wing’s partners include banking, insurance, telecom, transportation, utility, food delivery, eCommerce, FNB, ERP and invoicing solution partners, SME solutions, supply chain partners, technology firms, educational institutions, ISP & TV Stations, NGOs and many more.
“With a wide range of international partners like MasterCard, Visa, MoneyGram, Western Union, Tranglo, AliPay, WeChat Pay and many others, Wing is well poised to open up the world of digital opportunities to Cambodian customers in 2021″