Singapore's Grab is rolling out a suite of digital financial services in a bid to become Southeast Asia's preeminent app. The services including micro-lending, micro-insurance and payments. Like China's ubiquitous messaging app WeChat has done, Grab wants to build an ecosystem where consumers can bank, order food and shop - not just chat and hail rides. Asean's large underbanked population makes it an attractive market for fintechs.

Myanmar is an intriguing market for fintechs. It is one of the fastest growing of all Asian economies. Annual GDP growth has exceeded 6% in recent years. The government has embraced digitalization and to a certain degree, foreign investment, a remarkable turnaround for a country that had been closed to the world for decades.

South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) has announced it will set up an open interbank payment network this year in a bid to strengthen the country's nascent fintech industry. The FSC hopes that the move will help facilitate the rise of new digital finance powerhouses such as the payment apps Kakao Pay, Naver Pay and Toss.

Japan is the world's No. 3 economy and known for its tech prowess, yet the Japanese people prefer cash over other forms of payment. Just one in five transactions in Japan are cashless. Some analysts say that Japan can learn from its giant neighbor China when it comes to cashless payments. In less than a decade, China has gone from cash reliant to nearly cash free. In 2017, nearly half of the world's digital payments were made in China.

March 13 2019

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2019 could be the year of the securitized token. In February, Thailand became the latest country to amend regulations to pave the way for tokenized stocks, bonds and mutual funds on the blockchain. The tokenized platform is likely to be implemented this year, according to Tipsuda Thavaramara, deputy secretary-general of Thailand's Securities Exchange Commission.

January 01 2019

Media Coverage 2019

2019 June 6th - FinTech Magazine - Taking the risk out of expansion
2019 May 20th - Fintech Innovation - Is there a market for virtual banks in Singapore?
2019 May 20th - Bloomberg - U.S. Banks Are Terrified of Chinese Payment Apps
2019 May 8th - Financial Times - China's online banks adapt to state domination
2019 Apr 2nd - CNBC - Major cryptocurrencies are soaring after bitcoin made its first big jump in months
2019 Mar 29th - Bitcoin Exchange Guide - Ripple Insights Puts Spotlight on Why Southeast Asia is the Cradle of Payment Innovation
2019 Mar 21st - Finextra - Money 20/20 Asia: Leveraging data to provide the unbanked with credit
2019 Mar 19th - TechNode - China’s crackdown on internet finance hurts online lender Dianrong
2019 Mar 5th - South China Morning Post - Outbound travel market may be best bet for Visa, Mastercard should they finally gain access to China
2019 Mar 1st - BARRON'S - Don’t Count on Visa and Mastercard Winning in China
2019 Feb 27th - CKGSB - To solve the trade war, the US needs to understand China’s point of view
2019 Feb 22nd - Deutsche Welle - China's peer-to-peer lenders face crisis, investors face ruin
2019 Feb 22nd - Reuters - Cryptocurrency companies use 'backdoor' listings to ease into mainstream
2019 Feb 21st - TechNode - China’s online P2P lending industry is undergoing a massive shake out
2019 Feb 19th - Aljazeera - Is China taking social monitoring too far?
2019 Feb 15th - TechNode - Ant Financial’s global expansion plan bounces back with WorldFirst buyout
2019 Jan 28th - CNBC - China wants to boost loans to small businesses. Tech companies may be the answer
2019 Jan 14th - FintechInnovation - Facial recognition tech expand Chinese merchants payment options

If at first you don't succeed in buying a money-transfer company, try again. Just make sure you go shopping in a friendly jurisdiction. That strategy paid off for the Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial as it acquired the UK's WorldFirst for $700 million in mid February.

Despite its embrace of advanced technology, Japan is a country that likes cash, settling 80% of transactions with paper bills and metal coins.  It is not uncommon to find restaurants and bars in the capital city of Tokyo - the world's largest metropolitan area - that do not accept any other form of payment. If the shop is small and family owned, don't expect to pay with a credit card.

The cryptocurrency winter is getting frostier, but a blockchain spring may be around the corner in South Korea. Seoul's prudent approach to distributed ledger technology - less draconian than Beijing's but stricter than Tokyo's - just may represent the happy middle ground. A year ago, Seoul moved to ban anonymous virtual currency trading in a bid to quash crypto related crime, but stopped short of shutting down exchanges as China has done. Meanwhile, although Japan has also banned anonymous trading, it allows crypto to self-regulate, for better or worse.

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