Traditional financial services are significantly impacted by the COVID-19 wave, requiring lockdowns and endangering the global economic recovery and constantly disrupted with the acceleration of technology.
The Chair of ASEAN Business Investment Summit 2021, Haslina Taib emphasised Fintech evolution has shifted banking preferences to a more affordable, convenient, easily accessible digital experience.
“The emergence of these new technologies, the increasing demand of expectations, regulatory revisions, availability of digital wallets and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these trends,” she said.
This was underlined during the opening of the ASEAN Roundtable on Fintech and Financial Literacy 2021 hosted by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council as part of Brunei’s Chairmanship of ASEAN.
In the first quarter of 2021, fintech startups raised $22.8 billion, more than half compared to 2020. Meanwhile, the use of cash has reduced more than 42% in the U.S. since 2019.
According to iTechArt, there are over 26,000 fintech startups as of February 2021, double the number than in 2019, with most of the funding going to top sectors such as mobile wallets, payments, insurance, and digital banking.
Fintech has also expanded during the pandemic, such as consumer banking, partnering with Fintech companies, and increasing digital banking innovations.
“We hope the discussions around Fintech and Financial Literacy have a balanced approach on how ASEAN must embrace the new world we now live in and how important it is to be inclusive in its ease of onboarding for all levels of financial literacy,” she said.
She further highlighted the increase in Digital Banks attract specific niche market segments, including teens, nomads and freelancers – that are typically underserved by the traditional banks.
“The future is Digital. Therefore, it is important for ASEAN to adopt sustainable Strategies and Priorities for an inclusive new era in financial services,” she said.
She explained that organisations such as banks continuously modernise the system, which can make payments seamlessly through all the platforms. However, this also highlights the importance of a secured framework of the technology’s architecture and the robust policies and regulations needed around fintech for and across ASEAN.
With the emerging of digital as the catalyst for sustainable transformations, the BIBD Managing Director and CEO Mubashar Khokhar said, “At BIBD, digital has always been the cornerstone of how we do business. Our digital banking ecosystem provides a range of cashless payment methods, many of which have been a first for Brunei,”
“BIBD QuickPay, our QR-code based payment system, for example, has become even more relevant in this current climate, with contactless and cashless payments being preferred in the wake of the pandemic,” he said.
Over 300 participants from Southeast Asia and beyond participated in the virtual discussions that featured senior figures and experts from both the public and private sectors.
Other prominent speakers included the Deputy Governor of State of the State Bank of Vietnam Nguyen Kim Ahn, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic, and Chairman of Brunei Darussalam Central Bank Dato Seri Paduka Awang Ahmaddin bin Haji Abd Rahman.
The roundtable featured two panel discussions where; the first discussion on Fintech for inclusive and Sustainable ASEAN focused on ways Fintech can provide solutions to help ASEAN recover stronger, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting growth in ESG investment and the policies needed to further accelerate financial inclusiveness.
The Chief Fintech Officer at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Sopnendu Mohanty, made the point that for Fintech to develop in the region, skills, abilities and talent of the people in public and private sectors in ASEAN needs to improve; and the growth and benefits for the region will follow.
The Fintech and financial literacy roundtable is based on a new paradigm of which back-end and front-end systems will progress forward. The next Roundtable will be on Skills for a Digital Age, which to be held on September 29.