Financial technology (fintech) adoption has doubled in the past two years, with China leading fintech adoption globally. Continuing regulatory support and corporate partnerships with fintech companies have spurred on the adoption of financial technology in Asia.
The average percentage of digitally active consumers using fintech services is around 33% across 20 key markets – this represents a doubling over the past two years when fintech penetration was recorded to be around 16%. The findings are noted in the EY Fintech Adoption Index, which surveyed 22,000 people online in 20 countries.
The report further shows that China leads the world with 69% of consumers using some form of fintech service, which is unsurprising given the ubiquitous adoption of payment platforms WeChat Pay and Alipay in China. Alipay and TenPay (WeChat Pay) together make up for 92% of the mobile payment market, and mobile payment transactions increased 381% in 2016 to 58.8 trillion yuan, according to iResearch.
China’s adoption rate was followed by 52% in India, who cajoled its citizens onto e-payment platforms with the forceful shove of demonetization. Following India, adoption was 42% in the UK and 40% in Brazil. Emerging markets such as Mexico and South Africa had an average adoption rate of 46%, indicating the openness of financially underserved developing communities to embrace newer and nimbler technologies.
In Asia, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been active in pushing for more fintech experimentation. Last year, the regulatory body set-up its regulatory sandbox for fintechs, offering start-up companies a chance to develop their financial products in line with MAS’ legal and regulatory framework. Since then, financial regulators in Australia, Hong Kong and Thailand have developed sandboxes, with the Central Bank of Bahrain being the latest to do so.
Originally, fintechs were seen as disrupters, but have reshaped their image to become collaborators aiming to leverage on the user base of incumbent companies. Mutually beneficial partnerships between traditional companies and fintechs have helped spur their growth. In April Deutsche Bank acquired 12.5% in fintech TrustBills, an electronic marketplace for trade receivables. As another example, the framework for Citi’s CreditCheck app is based on a concept from Hong Kong-based fintech Mtel. The fintech was one of the winning firms of Citi’s 2015 Mobile Challenge.
As a result of the growth, fintech awareness has shot-up in recent years. Back in 2015, only 62% of consumers had awareness of fintechs, compared to 84% recorded in 2017, according to the EY data. In an attempt to sustain the fintech dialogue in Hong Kong, a group of fintech enthusiasts recently established the Fintech Association of Hong Kong. “The whole idea is to be the voice of the fintech community in Hong Kong,” states Henri Arslanian, board member of the Fintech Association of Hong Kong and PwC’s fintech and regtech lead for China/Hong Kong.