12 hot Southeast Asian fintechs for the CIO watchlist

For payments processing, cross-border trade enablement, insurance platforms, and digital banking, Southeast Asia has plenty of innovative providers your company may want to partner with.

FinTech / electronic payments / banking / dollars / euros / pounds / yen
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Financial technology, or fintech, has been one of the fastest-growing tech areas in Southeast Asia—the largest venture capital investment category by number of backed startups. With applications such as personalised access to robo-advisors, mobile payment systems, and instant cross-border transactions, it has the capacity to touch and transform millions of lives in a region with 570 million people and 360 million internet users, plus 22 million people joining the mobile internet every year.

According to Dealroom, a data platform for investors and business developers, the combined value of Southeast Asia’s fintech startups is US$108 billion, with Vietnam’s VNPay, Indonesia’s Akulaku, Ovo, and Payfazz, and Singapore’s FinAccel being amongst the region’s most valued fintech startups, with a valuation more than US$250 million each. Within this ecosystem, Indonesia and Singapore are the most valuable countries, with tech ecosystems worth US$60 billion and US$35 billion respectively. Each country is home to six US$1 billion startups, a.k.a. ‘unicorns’.

In the region, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam have emerged as top hot spots of fintech providers. Singapore, with more than 490 fintechs, has cemented its leadership in this space owing to favourable factors such as the presence of a strong financial industry and investor ecosystem, friendly government regulations, and superior physical and digital infrastructure.

In Indonesia, the region’s largest economy, the adoption of alternative lending and e-money are driven by a young generation. E-money transactions jumped 173% from January 2019 to January 2020, Dealco estimated. Vietnam has also seen rapid growth in this sector, backed by government support and a booming e-commerce sector.

Southeast Asian fintechs have continued to attract funding despite the COVID-19 pandemic. According to financial analyst firm S&P Global, Asia-Pacific fintech firms scooped up $3.1 billion across 113 deals in the fourth quarter of 2020—the highest quarterly funding activity for the year. Total fintech investments in the region were $6.8 billion in 2020.

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