With a population of over 600 million and financial technology (fintech) funding reaching US$ 3.5 billion last year, Southeast Asia is becoming a top place for fintech, attracting numerous entrepreneurs trying to fill in the gaps left behind by traditional financial institutions.
Winsley Bangit, Chief Customer Officer of Mynt, which operates the country’s top e-wallet platform GCash, shared the trends he sees in the region. This includes democratizing access to financial services via fintech, especially in developing countries like the Philippines, the rise of super apps, and lending growth.
Bangit joined a diverse panel at the FinTech Fireside Asia’s webinar on “Unlocking FinTech Opportunities in Southeast Asia.” The discussion dissected the latest trends and developments within the region’s vibrant fintech ecosystem.
“I think a lot of fintech will move into providing access to the unbanked and underserved. Again, that’s where access is going to be more important, both in providing democratized affordable solutions and delighting customers,” he said.
Bangit added that fintech is now a tool for greater financial inclusion. Access to financial services may be currently unevenly distributed, but fintech can serve as an equalizer and a key to bringing the whole region into a very different space in the near future.
Countries like the Philippines, which suffers from very low bank penetration, have the opportunity to leapfrog through democratized access. GCash, for instance, was able to provide financial access and an inclusive digital lifestyle to more than 50 million Filipinos, or 70% of the adult population, many of whom are unbanked.
A super app like GCash is also becoming a trend as people shift online for their essentials. Bangit said pure-play fintech and regional app players have evolved and expanded to become fintech-led super apps that can provide multiple services from e-commerce and financial transactions to online communications.
“What’s good about Southeast Asia is that there are a lot of categories ripe for digital disruption – transportation, logistics, e-commerce, retail, etc. And every day, consumers are looking for the right solutions,” Bangit explained.
He added: “Because various formal and informal categories are under-penetrated with regards to digital services, I believe Super Apps have a role to play in making things either accessible in one space or making transactions seamless across all categories.”
Another trend in financial services that Bangit believes will lead growth in the region is consumer and business lending. “I think that’s a very big space. We see it being adopted not just by local players but also by players moving into the region,” he said.
Many people and micro businesses do not have proper documentation to get a credit score and uplift themselves. With its vision of access and inclusive finance, GCash has introduced various innovations in lending – from installments, Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solution, personal loans, merchant loans, and short-term credit.
“We’re trying to explore the range of how we could empower individuals and help make their dreams or goals come true. We also want to empower businesses, especially the small ones,” Bangit said. So far, GCash has tapped and digitized more than five million local businesses.
Although Southeast Asia is a mix of markets, Bangit said the spotlight has begun to shine on developing countries, not just the region’s powerhouse. Investors are already capturing such opportunities.
“There’s a thriving startup scene in Indonesia and Vietnam. And in a span of half a year, the Philippines gave birth to two unicorns, one of which is GCash. I think that the appeal of other Southeast Asian markets is already there. As fintech players, we will continue defining the industry and creating a lasting impact. I think that’s where the genius and magic of fintech will be, particularly in the region,” he said.
To learn more about GCash, visit www.gcash.com.