2017 has been a transformative year for the financial industry in Asia.
Watch our video to get a quick overview of what have been the major accomplishments in Fintech this year that will shape the industry in 2018.
Trend 1: It’s been a crypto year from payments to fundraising.
Bitcoin’s price has grown by over 16x since January to reach a high of US$19,343 from just US$997 on 1 January.
This was helped by wider acceptance in places like Japan where it is legally accepted as currency. Over 4,500 stores in Japan accept it today and Japan now accounts for half of the global bitcoin trade volume.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have become the rockstar way of fundraising. Singapore alone accounts for almost 25% of the global amount raised by ICOs, ranking 3rd globally (the US and Switzerland come in first and second respectively).
TenX, a multi-cryptocurrency wallet for offline spending based in Singapore, raised US$80m in June and is the 8th biggest ICO of 2017.
In Asia, Singapore’s central bank the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has already partnered with both local and global banks to conduct successful blockchain projects
that can disrupt interbank payments and eKYC
Trend 2: Singapore is urging banks to transform and open their data.
Finance-focused Innovation labs have mushroomed in the city-state with over 15 today. They range from local banks (DBS, OCBC, UOB) to global players like banks (Citibank, HSBC), payment providers (MasterCard, VISA) and insurers (AXA, MetLife).
Singapore has also urged local banks to use application programming interfaces (APIs) to allow third-party app developers to have access to their data and build more useful apps for the community. The main banks OCBC and DBS have already released 43 and 155 APIs respectively.
Trend 3: India’s homegrown tech solutions move it closer to its financial inclusion goal.
In November 2016, India demonetised 86% of its currency. This prompted a shift to digital wallets. Today, that has allowed India to move closer to its financial inclusion goals. According to some estimates, 99% Indian households now have access to the formal banking system.
Other countries – Russia and Morocco – are taking inspiration from India and plan to replicate their biometric ID system.
Trend 4: Every Asian app now has its own payment system.
The WeChat “one stop app” model is being replicated by unicorns outside of China.
Indian mobile wallet Paytm has already expanded into e-commerce, travel and banking services. The app is on its way to become the WeChat of India. Unsurprisingly, the startup is backed by the Chinese e-commerce geant Alibaba.
Trend 5: 2017 is normalizing face and voice recognition
Alipay has launched “Smile To Pay” in a few KFCs across China. The client simply places his order at a self-service kiosk, and pays by letting a 3-D camera scan his face to verify his identity. For additional security, users are also required to key in their mobile numbers.
In Singapore, OCBC bank also introduced voice recognition to make transfers. Done via Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled personal assistant, the technology will enable 120,000 business banking customers to perform banking transactions on the go.
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