Two-thirds Asians Used Fintech Services in 2019 - Study A Robocash study recently revealed that more than 60 per cent Asians used online credit, while 67 per cent used fintech services for payments

By Aparajita Saxena

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Asia is a high-growth market for any fintech company - whether it's old, or new. With internet technology now reaching even the most rural parts of the region, financial institutions are betting big on fintechs to capture the underbanked market.

A recent survey revealed that over 60 per cent Asians applied for loans online at least once in the past year, while 67 per cent used e-payment and digital wallet services in 2019.

India and Vietnam led the pack in the most loan applications on fintech platforms, thanks to higher consumer spending, even though the two have the lowest income per capita. The Philippines recorded the lowest usage of online credit services, the survey said.

Most people who applied for a loan online did so due to an immediate, unexpected need, the study said. Borrowers in India and the Philippines were mostly the ones looking for urgent fintech financing, versus other countries.

But only one in ten people across the region borrowed online regularly, owing perhaps to mostly high interest rates in the region.

Other fintech services, like e-wallets and online payment services fared better than lending, with more than half the people surveyed making digital payments more than two times a week.

Digital investment services did the worst, with only 8 per cent using fintech platforms to make any sort of investments, mostly because the average daily wage in Asia is lower compared to that in the West.

The survey highlights the fact that even though Asia is adopting fintech services and platforms quickly, some financial services still don't have takers. In the poorest parts of Asia, daily wages are still handed over in the form of cash, which earners then store as cash itself, to be spent only when needed.

However, that could improve with financial literacy and inclusion, the research suggests.

The study by Robocash Group was conducted in the second half of January 2020, and covered India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Fintech in Asia

Of the 400 million adults that live in Southeast Asia, only 104 million are fully "banked", and have full access to financial services, which leaves 198 million people that do not have even rudimentary access to financial institutions, a joint study by Google, Temasek and Bain & Co showed.

Very basic problems like infrastructure costs, absence of public registers and reliable credit information, along with stringent financial regulations, make it difficult for institutional banks and insurers to penetrate the region in a meaningful way.

Fintechs have tried to plug that gap, and using Asia's rapid tech innovation, boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry in the region, serving tech savvy millennials, and undocumented Asians alike.

Digital payments are expected to cross $1 trillion by 2025 in Asia, and account for nearly one in two dollars spent in the region. The market for e-wallets is expected to grow even faster, from $22 billion in 2019, to $114 billion, a more than fivefold jump, by 2025, the Google joint study said.

Aparajita Saxena

Former Deputy Associate Editor, Asia Pacific

Aparajita is Former Deputy Associate Editor for Entrepreneur Asia Pacific. She joined Entrepreneur after nearly five years with Reuters, where she chased the Asian and U.S. finance markets.

At Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, she wrote about trends in the Asia Pacific startup ecosystem. She also loves to look for problems startups face in their day-to-day and tries to present ways to deal with those issues via her stories, with inputs from other startups that may have once been in that boat.

Outside of work, she likes spending her time reading books (fiction/non-fiction/back of a shampoo bottle), chasing her two dogs around the house, exploring new wines, solo-travelling, laughing at memes, and losing online multiplayer battle royale games.


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