Fintech In Personal Banking Landscape in Southeast Asia

Fintech In Personal Banking Landscape in Southeast Asia

by September 23, 2016

After Singapore’s central bank made the decision in 2015 to turn the country into the fintech hub of Asia, fintech has suddenly become the new buzzword across the South East Asian region. South East Asia has long been at the coat tails of the international development of financial technology, but with member countries rolling out new regulatory frameworks, the region is poised to become a new fintech leader worldwide.

All is well and good, but in a region where millions are still living without any bank accounts, one can’t help but wonder how exactly will fintech change the landscape of personal banking in ASEAN. Looking at the regions’ newly emerging fintech startups, here are a few possible ways fintech will impact how an individual will manage his or her finances:

Personal Finance Management Will Be a Big Thing

One of the biggest financial issue plaguing the region is that people have problems trying to keep their financial affairs in order. Currently, if you plan to have an organised financial strategy with savings goals, the best thing for you to do is to engage a financial advisor. There is a significant demand for an automated platform where a person can input his or her expenditures, bank statements and bills and set up a savings plan.

With the arrival of fintech, startups and banks are working towards creating an online personal management system akin to and Banks have an advantage here, tying up the dashboard to a users accounts will eliminate a lot of the input hassle. Also, with the subsequent arrival of the gamification trend, it is foreseen that the integration of achievements and badges, would create a non threatening platform that would appeal to many in the region.

Payment and Lending Will be Critical

In countries where a majority of the population has no bank accounts, payments and lending will be critical areas of development, bringing financial services to rural areas. A big majority of the ASEAN rural populace struggle with payment for work done and establishing a credit line. Big cash transactions are risky and robbery-prone. For years, banks have tried to penetrate this market with little progress due to difficulty in setting up physical branches and logistics costs.

With the advent of smartphones, many rural areas now has data access and this brings up new possibilities like virtual wallets and online credit. Enter companies like FlexM. FlexM is advocating payroll through virtual wallets and prepaid Mastercard. This makes it possible for clients and employers to pay employees without resorting to large cash transactions. Payments are visible instantly and trackable by both employer and employee. This also creates an environment where cashless transactions for goods in rural areas practical and convenient.


Growing Demand For Personalised Investments Platforms

With more and more people wanting to control their investment portfolio, we can expect to see a shift from banks and investment advisors managing a client’s account to providing advisory services and tutorial at a charge. With developments in machine learning, investments algorithms analyse a client’s financial strength and goals and suggest schemes and programmes that best fits their need.

The initial step in this direction would be akin to what Tradehero is doing. By using real life data in a virtual environment, traders get advice from experts on trading real stocks but using virtual money, thus providing zero risk. Knowledge sharing by real experts and via crowdsourcing grooms these rookie traders into expert capital investors.


Accelerator Programs And Fintech Integration From Banks

One of the biggest issues that arise with the newfound popularity of fintech faced by banks is the unbundling of their products and services by startups. Steps have been taken by traditional banks in order to become competitive such as launching accelerator programmes like UOB’s Finlab. In this programme financial technology startups receive seed money in exchange for equity stake. From the view of personal banking, one improvement that this will lead to better consumer-facing interfaces.

Customers might be encouraged to use services by employing gamification techniques coupled with easily understandable and clear UX/UI. There will be advances made in personalised financial and investment management as well with banks integrating these services with user accounts and credit cards; giving clients greater control over their portfolio while opening new revenue channels for banks via advisory and tutorial services.


New Products With Expanded Services

Ultimately, with banks facing greater competition from fintech sites, more and more financial schemes will be made available in order for financial institutions to remain competitive. Suddenly there will be a whole range of new financial schemes and programmes that will be available to the end user. This will create a niche for online comparison sites like Jirnexu to capitalise. There will be demand for a portal where individuals and businesses can compare and contrast between different schemes and find the ones that fit best with their requirements. Currently limited to credit card offerings and loans, expect this sector to develop more to include mutual funds, insurance and others. The fintech wave also will benefit price comparison and discount sites like Saleduck as well, as financial institutions turn to these deals site to advertise special deals or discounts that they have for their services.




In conclusion, what fintech has done is to disrupt the financial monopoly of traditional banks. By taking a careful look at ignored niches and customer demands, fintech startups cater to end user wants to make their services competitive. This has created applications and portals that are visually appealing to users with ease of use that was previously lacking in banking sites. From the viewpoint of personal banking, this has resulted in raising the bar of what a customer expects from a financial site. Opening up new financial markets in rural areas and previously ignored demographics, personal banking is poised for an exciting future thanks to the current developments in the financial technology sector.

Featured Image: From AseanUp