Fintech and Blockchain Struggle to Take Off in Vietnam

Fintech and Blockchain Struggle to Take Off in Vietnam

by June 10, 2016
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Next week, BlockFin Asia in collaboration with Viet Youth Entrepreneurs, will bring together regulators, bankers, investors and fintech experts to discuss the future of finance.

The event, which will occur in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) on June 15 and 16, 2016, is one of the very first conferences in Vietnam dedicated to exploring the opportunities and challenges of financial technology.

Timo Vietnam CardFintech is still in its early days in Vietnam, and while a great number of innovative payments services have emerged in recent years, just a few of them have managed to gain international recognition. Notably, MoMo, a service of M_Service, has landed a US$28 million investment round from Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs in March.

Timo, the country’s first digital bank, has had a successful launch earlier this year, on-boarding some 4,000 customers so far in Ho Chi Minh City. Led by German-native entrepreneur Claude Spiese, Timo is planning to open a Timo HangOut in Hanoi in October.

A notable initiative is the Fintech Club, a coalition of fintech startups and financial services firms that launched in October last year aimed at strengthening the domestic fintech scene and fostering the ecosystem. Fintech Club, too, is involved in BlockFin Asia 2016, highlighting the private sector’s commitment to developing the Vietnamese fintech sector. Fintech Meetup Vietnam which organizes meetups (run by fintechnews.sg) is supporting partner.

BlockFin Asia 2016, which will feature speakers such as Nathan Lane, Economic Section Chief at the US Consulate in HCMC, Diep Nguyen, Executive Vice Chairman of MoMo, Tom Moyes of the Asian Development Bank, Sean Preston of Visa, and Eddie Thai of 500 Startups, will tackle a wide range of topics including regulation, investment, payments technology, financial inclusion, and blockchain tech for AML compliance.  (get 10% Discount with Code “FTVNSAVE10″

Blockchain Struggle to Take Off in Vietnam

Blockchain has become the buzzword in the financial sector in North America, Europe, but also in Asian financial centers such as Hong Kong and Singapore. Yet, Vietnam is lagging behind in this regard, and, still today, Bitcoin Vietnam remains the only locally registered company offering Blockchain-related services to the domestic market.

Blockchain in vietnam

Image credit: Digital currency coin, by RealCG Animation Studio, via Shutterstock.

In comparison, Singapore has a dozen of blockchain startups that are applying blockchain technology for use in trade finance, remittances, data protection, as well as banking and settlement infrastructures.

Singapore’s burgeoning blockchain tech scene could well be explained by the rather innovation-friendly stance of the government. This is heavily influenced by the country’s ambition to become the world’s first Smart Nation and a Smart Financial Center.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank and financial regulator, has funded a blockchain recordkeeping project back in July 2015 as part of its five-year $225 million investment plan aimed at financial technology. MAS has named mobile payments, cybersecurity and distributed ledgers, as some of its top priorities in fintech.

Vietnam’s public sector, on the other hand, has made no public announcement on blockchain technology, nor has it encouraged development in the field.

At Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology Innovation Conference in Hanoi in March, US Ambassador David Thorne, encouraged the development of new financial technology, including blockchain and distributed ledgers, mobile banking, and so, to “provide a backbone to the e-commerce activity” in the region.

“These kinds of tools naturally encourage fiscal and business transparency, not just for start-ups but for everyone, which is key to reducing corruption and improving efficiency,” Thorne said.

Unless Vietnam wants to miss out on the fintech opportunity, the country’s public sector may want to start getting involved and show some commitment. Given how government support has helped the likes of London to become a world leader in fintech, it is now undeniable that startups and angel investors aren’t enough to turn a country into a frontrunner in digital finance.

 

Featured image: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, by magicinfoto, via Shutterstock.com.

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