Asia’s Top 100 Fintech Leaders — and the 100s more to come

Asia’s next generation of emerging fintech leaders need to step up now!

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This week, we released the first Fintech Asia 100, a list the top leaders in banks, startups, investment, tech and more, as part of the development and leadup to the 2016 Fintech Finals conference, to be held in Hong Kong on January 25–26.

Most global fintech lists are too US or Europe centric. We thought it was time to change that. There are recognised leaders from every corner of the region that we know are doing great work — from Simone McCallum at ASB Bank in New Zealand to Shikha Sharma at Axis Bank in India; John Owens at USAID in the Philippines to Melissa Guzy at Arbor Ventures in Hong Kong.

The Fintech Asia 100 is a great list, and is the first of its kind for Asia.

We selected the people we admired, and that represent the many pockets and facets of the industry — not just the most senior bankers, and not just the rockstar startups. There are many people working behind the scenes or fanfare, or in adjacent roles and businesses helping the industry to grow.

Given the pace of growth of fintech in the region, these people have been instrumental in both their pioneering work and ongoing thought leadership. This is not a ranking — no one person is really better than the next — more a collection of peers that we think are doing great work for the Asian region.

A few of these people are worth calling out, as I admire their journeys to their position as a fintech leader, as well as their passion and dedication.

Here is a small selection of leaders from the 2016 Fintech Asia 100 list (in alphabetical order):

Alex Scandurra, the CEO of Stone & Chalk (Australia), has quickly adapted from his time at Barclays working on the Techstars accelerator program to being at the centre of the New South Wales government’s efforts to make Sydney a genuine fintech centre for Asia. He has helped set up a terrific space, community and program to foster fintech startups based in Sydney, and is building good connections into the rest of Asia. For a man juggling all types of stakeholders and a rapidly growing sector, he displays the passion needed to lead the industry forward.

Brad Jones is the CEO of Wave Money (Myanmar) a joint venture established between Telenor and Yoma Bank. The venture will provide mobile financial services to the mass market in Myanmar, and aims to commence operation in the fourth quarter of 2015. Brad is an experienced executive — a very good operator and leader — specializing in digital finance, mobile money and business transformation in developing markets, including Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and builds strong loyal teams, intent on making very positive impacts in markets that need it.

Chanda Kochkar is CEO & Managing Director of ICICI Bank (India), India’s largest private sector bank. She is widely recognised for her role in shaping the retail banking sector in India and for her leadership of the ICICI Group, as well as her contributions to various forums in India and globally. Her focus on “mobile banking” in rural areas to reach more clients has been praised as a model for low cost expansion in a country with a burgeoning middle class. She has also been an outspoken proponent of clearer banking laws. She is a leader looking for democratic solutions in the industry that help all Indian consumers.

Lucy Peng is the CEO of Ant Financial (China), the finance arm of the huge Alibaba empire founded by Jack Ma. Ant Financial started life as Alipay, the payments business, but it has expanded into a full-scale financial services firm. It now includes a money-market fund, a peer-to-peer lending service, and a microloan program for online entrepreneurs. Like Jack Ma, she is an ex teacher — though she lacks a typical management background, Ma picked her to oversee Alipay because of the principles she holds from her teaching days: humility and passion.

Matt Dill is SVP, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships at Visa (Singapore). Matt is focused on identifying, developing and commercializing relationships with strategic non-FI partners capable of extending the reach and utility of Visa’s payment network on behalf of consumers, issuers and acquirers globally. Matt’s quick grasp of both technical capabilities, and deep business objectives, coupled with an ability to cut through to the simple needs or insights make him a hugely valuable asset to Visa, and a true thought leader globally.

Piyush Gupta, the CEO at DBS Bank (Singapore) is now well known for his stellar leadership of the large Singaporean bank over the past 5 years (full disclosure he is my boss but that’s not why he’s listed here). Not only have the positive numbers been consistently building, the bank is also building a culture of strong innovation and customer experience focus. Piyush has stated publicly the need for his bank, and indeed all banks, to embrace the digital transformation ahead — and is creating true action to follow it up. He must also be one of the few bank CEOs to have created and run his own startup in his banking career.

Wei Hopeman is a Managing Partner at Arbor Ventures (China) and brings with her a unique perspective in finance and technology spanning the Silicon Valley, Greater China and Southeast Asia. She is bringing a wealth of corporate and startup experience to the investment community there in China, from her previous time at Citi Ventures and other organisations. A prominent thought leader and advocate for women in the industry, she is constantly pushing the industry to do better.

There are many others from the list, and can all warrant a mention in the same light. The seven above offer a cross section of the talent we have in the region, and the way in which they have come to their positions of influence. We need them all to be an ongoing part of our industry here in Asia.

The Asian banking community could very easily allow these few people to do all the heavy lifting in re-envisioning the future.

Stand up, get involved, get active.

But it’s time for the rest of us to really step up. It’s time for Asia’s emerging fintech leaders to step forward and play very positive roles in making finance better for consumers, businesses and economies.

This will take the hard work of many to embrace the fintech future we all face, understand their roles and see the opportunities, then make a commitment to build better solutions to the many problems or legacies the industry has.

I’d like to see the 35 year old experienced banker start the business he’s always thought might work; I’d like to see the 55 year old senior banker mentor the young fintech entrepreneurs building new ideas. I’d like to see the typical VC tech investor deep dive into fintech specifically, and see how she can pick the right investments. I’d like to see government leaders follow the lead of Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney and create open, interactive communities and policies to allow fintech to flourish. We should see more females in pure fintech roles and startups too.

I’d like all of you to be a part of the dialogue, and contribute to the conversation through events like the 2016 Fintech Finals, and in your connections, speaking, writing and interaction.

The more we all stand up, the faster we can progress towards a really exciting fintech future. Maybe next year your name will be added to the Fintech Asia 100!

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We’ll be discussing this and more at the 2016 FinTech Finals conference and pitch competition on January 25–26 in Hong Kong. Book your tickets and see the schedule at FintechFinals.com

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