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Embracing the Southeast Asian digital revolution in financial technology, FinTech seems to be exploding with quite a lot of startups having been established from 2009 onwards. The breadth and depth of solutions across FinTech is quite impressive and clearly signifies that the Southeast Asian digital revolution has arrived in the financial services sector.
Post-2009, Southeast Asian FinTech startups started to take bold steps to engage with emerging innovations. Singapore, the FinTech hub in Southeast Asia, is reinventing itself as a FinTech leader with strong support from the regulators. As a part of Singapore’s plan to become the world’s first ‘smart nation,’ several initiatives have been introduced to fostering the FinTech sector and build a Smart Financial Center. Other countries in the region — such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia — are seeing rapid advancements when it comes to their economies due the sheer size of their populations and investments in technology and infrastructure. Regulators in these countries are supportive of FinTech initiatives and are enhancing regulations to facilitate the growth of the FinTech ecosystem.
We take a look at the top* and emerging** sectors in the various countries of Southeast Asia:
Top Sector: Investments Platform, Payments, Lending
Emerging Sector: Personal Finance Management
Example of some FinTech Startups: Funding Societies, Fastacash, MatchMove Wallet, M-DAQ, Lenddo, Connexions Asia, Codapay, MoolahSense, TradeHero, and BitX.
FinTech businesses intending to set up in Singapore can seek advice through The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). MAS is a progressive regulator and is taking many steps for the development of this sector:
- Last year, under the “FSTI” scheme, MAS committed S$225 million (US$164.2 million) over the next five years to foster the innovation ecosystem in Singapore.
- In March 2016, MAS mapped out a plan which showed the central bank’s move toward an open Application Programming Interface (API) architecture.
- In April 2016, MAS and the National Research Foundation announced the establishment of a dedicated FinTech office to facilitate the use of technology and innovation in the financial sectors (FinTech office to review, align and enhance FinTech-related funding schemes across government agencies).
- In June 2016, MAS released a consultation paper on proposed guidelines for a ‘regulatory sandbox’ that will enable financial institutions (FIs) as well as non-financial players to experiment with financial technology (FinTech) solutions.
- In June 2016, MAS and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) inked a partnership to help FinTech companies from their respective countries scale into each other’s markets and help reduce regulatory uncertainty and time to market. MAS is also striking such partnerships with other countries as well.
- In August 2016, MAS announced the opening of its FinTech Innovation Lab called the Looking Glass.
- In August 2016, MAS released a consultation paper on proposed changes to the payments regulatory framework and establishment of a National Payments Council, whose key initiatives are to promote interoperability and adoption of common standards.
- MAS has announced the Singapore FinTech Festival to be held in November 2016.
Top Sector: Online Funding Platforms, Payments, InsurTech
Emerging Sector: Investments Platform
Example of some FinTech Startups: Piggipo, Omise, T2P, DeepPocket, Claim Di, Investorz, Red Swoosh and Krevido.
FinTech companies interested in initiating in Thailand should seek Bank of Thailand’s (BOT) registration and regulations:
- In December 2015, the Cabinet approved in principle the National e-Payment Master Plan which comprises of five projects: an AnyID payment system; an e-tax system and e-transaction documents, expansion of the use of electronic cards; e-payment of government entities; and building awareness. BOT supports the government’s initiatives to promote the nationwide electronic payment system.
- Thailand financial regulators, including SEC and the Bank of Thailand (BOT), launched an SME private equity trust fund to help drive capital to SMEs.
- To support the FinTech ecosystem, the Thailand government passed a new law, which is now under the National Legislative Assembly review, called the Payment Systems Bill, which will make businesses to verify the identities of the clients and a new payment standard called the Quick Response Code.
- The central bank’s Financial Institutions Policy Committee has also relaxed investment by financial institutions in FinTech businesses in terms of venture capital and private equity trusts.
- Also, an amendment to the law governing the National Credit Bureau (NCB), which is now waiting for the approval from Finance Ministry of Thailand, will allow P2P lenders to become members of the agency, giving them access to consumers’ credit data for loan risk assessment as part of longer term viability of the market.
Top Sector: Payments, Online Funding Platforms, InsurTech
Emerging Sector: B2B Banking and Payments
Example of some FinTech Startups: iMoney Group, Billplz, SkolaFund, CrowdPlus, SimplyGiving, Jirnexu, and Tune Insurance.
- The Malaysian government, in collaboration with the New South Wales government, initiated an accelerator program (The Rise of FinTech Innovation and Disruption) through the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) in April 2016 to develop the growth and innovation of the country’s FinTech sector. MaGIC accelerator program provides an incentive to encourage international players to participate in this program, fostering greater cross-border collaboration and help participants become ‘investor ready.’
- Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) is enhancing its regulations to facilitate the development and adoption of FinTech solutions. In this regard, the bank (BNM) plans to introduce a regulatory sandbox framework under which the financial institutions regulated by the bank (financial institutions) and FinTech companies may be granted certain regulatory flexibilities to experiment with FinTech solutions in a production environment.
- In June 2015, BNM established a Financial Technology Enabler Group (FTEG), whose responsibilities include formulating and enhancing regulatory policies to facilitate the adoption of technological innovations in Malaysia. FTEG will also serve as the bank’s contact point for any FinTech-related queries.
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