Latest Reports

  • Breaking Borders
    Breaking Borders Despite progress in payment systems, the absence of a unified, cross-border Real-Time Payments (RTP) network means that intermediaries play a crucial role in facilitating connectivity. This report examines the ongoing complexities, challenges, and initiatives in creating a seamless payment landscape across Asia.
  • Innovate to Elevate
    Innovate to Elevate In the dynamic and diverse financial landscape of the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, banks are at a pivotal juncture, facing the twin imperatives of innovation and resilience to meet evolving consumer expectations and navigate digital disruption.
  • Catalyzing Wealth Management In The Modern Era
    Catalyzing Wealth Management In The Modern Era Hyper-personalized wealth management presents a paradigm shift from traditional models relying on static, generalized segments. Developing tailored investor personas based on psychographics, behaviours and fluid financial goals enables financial institutions to deliver rich and tailored customer experiences that resonate with next-generation priorities.

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Although the narrative in the financial industry is that digital is better, that is not always the case. Many rural economies across Asia operate on a largely informal and cash basis. A few factors are driving this. Firstly, there is often a lack of infrastructure to support cashless payments, such as limited internet access or banking services. Secondly, the rural populations often have a general distrust or lack of familiarity with digital payment systems. Additionally, the informal nature of many businesses in rural areas lends itself to cash transactions, which are perceived as more straightforward.

South Korea’s digital banks are the exception to a rule in East Asia’s advanced economies: They are extremely successful by multiple metrics instead of redundant. While the relative weak digital offerings of incumbent banks in Korea helps explain the phenomenon, it is not the main reason. We believe that South Korea’s three digital banks – Kakao Bank, K Bank and Toss Bank –  have been able to develop truly competitive products, in contrast to their counterparts in the other Asian tiger economies of Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, and gradually have made themselves indispensable to many Korean retail customers.

While the buy now, pay later (BNPL) concept has proven immensely popular with consumers worldwide, developing a sustainable business model as a BNPL focused fintech is a challenging endeavor. For that reason, it is always noteworthy when a BNPL firm reaches the profitability milestone. The Philippines’ Billease, founded in 2017, appears to have done so in 2023.

Digital banks have sprung up across Asia in recent years. In many cases, they are having little impact on the overall banking market. Affluent societies like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan are not lacking banking options. Even middle-income countries like Malaysia and Thailand have limited financial inclusion needs.

Vietnam is one of the most promising markets for fintech in Southeast Asia, with the payments segment continuing to lead the way. While talk of Vietnam going truly cashless is premature, there is a steady transition to digital payments in the country. Data compiled by the State Bank of Vietnam show that non-cash payment transactions increased by 63.3% in volume and 41.45% in value in January, compared to the same period in 2023. Many Vietnamese banks now have over 90% of their transactions conducted via digital channels.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, China emerged as the top green bond market globally. Sales of internationally aligned green bonds in China reached US$21.83 billion in the final three months of 2023, up 131% on a quarterly basis, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative data. This was well ahead of the No. 2 market, the U.S., which had green bond sales of US$12.87 billion and No. 3 Germany, which recorded sales of US$7.14 billion.

Ant International’s global expansion efforts have grown increasingly strategic since the launch of its Alipay+ and its pivot to boosting interoperability among e-wallets in Asia. While it is difficult to measure the financial success of these efforts, the growth of Ant’s international payments network in the last 18 months has been impressive and the company has smartly pared back its presence in certain markets due to geopolitical pressures. With international travel having recovered to pre-pandemic levels, Alipay+ likely has significant room to grow, especially in neighboring countries.

Singapore-based payments fintech Nium has been busy expanding internationally as it seeks to put itself in the most favorable position possible ahead of a planned IPO in 2025. In recent months, Nium has expanded on multiple continents, from South America to different parts of Asia.

The tumult in Indonesia’s P2P lending industry should not come as a surprise. It is exceedingly difficult to both regulate this industry fairly and allow it to maximize financial inclusion benefits. Strict regulation such as is practiced in Taiwan and South Korea (though Seoul may make some changes soon) minimizes malfeasance but also limits the usefulness of the platforms. Amid the current meltdown of P2P lending platforms, which is hitting retail investors hard, the sector faces an inflection point in Indonesia.

With Thailand finally getting its digital banking application process underway, it is worth taking a closer look at the prospective applicants. As expected, startups are nowhere to be found. Instead, the likely applicants – and winners – are a mix of Thailand’s ultra-wealthy tycoons, prominent incumbent banks and Asian tech giants.

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