As Asia’s Paytech landscape continues to accelerate, The Fintech Times sat down with OnePay‘s James Faulkner to garner an insight into the intriguing current state of the continent’s Paytech capabilities.
James Faulkner currently serves as Head of Business Development and Marketing for OnePay Company Limited. He has been working at the organisation for over 2 years since the official launch in August 2019.
James first became involved with OnePay as Head of Marketing but as the organisation grew, his role and responsibilities expanded to include Business Development and Acquisition for merchants, agents, and users. Prior to taking his role at Onepay, James was interim Head of Marketing for AGD Bank, and has over 7 years’ experience working in Marketing and Sales across Myanmar and Singapore.
James is a graduate and holds a BA(Hons) degree in Marketing and Management from the University of Kingston.
When discussing the dynamics of Asia’s current Paytech landscape in Asia, James explains:
Asia Paytech is rapidly advancing – it is the leading continent.
The Asian market is highly competitive, with almost every Asian bank having a mobile app, each with quite a high adoption rate.
However, non-banking sectors are now launching their own Paytech apps at an exceptional rate. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Paytech start-ups across Asia (especially in Southeast Asia).
Paytech in Asia is in double-digit annual growth. I see digital payments becoming the preferred payment method for nearly half of all people in Asia in the next five years. By 2025, Asia Paytech will surge past the $1 trillion mark, accounting for 50% of all transactions.
However, Paytech in Asia needs to make sure that it taps into the 300 million adults across Southeast Asia who either do not have a bank account or lack proper access to credit, investment, or insurance. Paytech is encountering issues in poorer Asian countries such as Myanmar and Malaysia.
There is less financial inclusion and a lack of financial infrastructure in these countries, which can be improved via mobile banking, improved access to power, and internet penetration.
Countries like Myanmar have a lot of catching up to do with the rest of Asia. The country is largely dominated by financial institutions. For example, there are about 15 compared to about 150 in Vietnam, and over 490 in Singapore.
In the more developed Asian countries like Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and China – Paytech is already widely accepted as a concept. However, technological advances have meant emerging markets like Myanmar and The Philippines are beginning to catch up.
Are there any specific countries/regions that are outperforming the others in terms of Paytech, and if so, why do you think this is?
You would have to say China and India due to the sheer size of both these countries.
They are the largest Asian countries in terms of financial service consumers, totalling 36% of the global population, with the total GDP reaching $16 trillion. With the sheer population and the amount of money in these countries, we are seeing heavy investment into Paytech solutions.
In fact, many of the top global Paytechs hail from China or India; Ant Group (China), Ping An Technology (China), JD Digits (China), and Paytm (India).
However, Singapore is the key disruptor in the market and is becoming somewhat of the world leader in Fintech. Key players in Singapore include Grab, Capital Match, Better Trade Off, Toast, and Singlife.
Hong Kong is up there next, I would say. They are trying to push to be at top of the Paytech tree. I believe there are around 600 Paytech apps in Hong Kong, and there are huge efforts from the HK government; who pledged hundreds of millions of HKD to create thousands of fintech jobs in 2020.
Japan and South Korea are also extremely well equipped when it comes to Paytech adoption.
I would say other promising Paytech markets include Indonesia, The Philippines, and Vietnam. These countries are part of the fintech boom – but the poorer, less tech-savvy countries in Southeast Asia such as Cambodia and Laos are quite far behind.
What is the most exciting development you’ve witnessed in Asian Paytech within the last year?
Digital wallets and lifestyle mobile apps, such as OnePay, are tackling national issues in Myanmar where there are large unbanked populations, especially in the rural regions.
This is the real innovation to me – not just the technology alone! In these countries, there can be as little as only 23% of adults with a bank account.
Digital wallets help people perform mobile transactions and help these unbanked people establish a credit rating so that they can access finance in the future. They also offer new forms of security for users, as there is no need to carry large amounts of cash.
I also believe the increasing support and investment (as opposed to resistance) from Asian governments, banks, and financial regulators has been exceptional. Asia is a brilliant space for fintech to benefit from government backing and funding.
What advances can we hope to see in Paytech within the next year?
We are still analysing the future of blockchain and cryptocurrency, so you will continue to see advancements in those areas. However, Paytech around decentralised finance is not a priority and adoption will remain limited.
We need to continue to push for improved Paytech financial regulation and encourage more vendors to accept cashless payments. In terms of technological advancements – the increased use of AI/Machine Learning within Paytech apps; particularly within chatbots and automatic fraud detection. Predictive analytics and tools that support consumer financial health will also be a key advancement.
How can consumers better protect themselves and their finances against fraud in an age of increasingly digital payments?
Like any online activity, PayTech opens the door to heightened risks of fraud. We are seeing this a lot with peer-to-peer fintech apps and crowdfunding platforms.
Although we are seeing the growth of regtech, there are several ways consumers can better protect themselves against fraud.
Consumers are safer using apps with biometrics (fingerprint verification) and tokenisation. If consumers want to be uber-careful, some apps use liveness detection technologies; such as facial recognition and selfies for example.
But consumers need to apply common sense. You must know who you are sending money to and understand your customer’s behaviour if you’re a business (payment locations, password resets, and purchase volume/frequency).
Consumers should also always apply some basic security principles, such as:
- only connecting to digital wallets by connecting to public WIFI’s you trust
- do not submit personal data into any links you do not trust
- never leave your card exposed
What does the relationship between regulation and Paytech in Asia currently look like? Could it be improved?
As the Paytech market grows, we are seeing more Asian banks committing to digital transformation.
I think we are seeing strong regulation progress across Asia, but this is disproportionate across the countries. Overall, we are quite a way of the UK in terms of Paytech and cryptocurrency regulation who are the current leader in fintech regulation.
The key areas I would like to see improved are the regulation of virtual currency exchanges. Also, I believe BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) platforms need to move closer to financial services regulation to ensure thorough consumer credit checks that prevent debt traps.