Fintech in Asia: From Payments and Lending to the Challenge of Financial Inclusion

If there is one region where “A Tale of Two Fintechs” applies, that region is Asia.

From blockchain-based innovations in trade finance to leveraging mobile to better serve the historically underbanked, fintech’s role in Asia is not just a tale of economic and technological development. Increasingly, it is a story of leadership in solving real world problems, as well.

As Finovate returns to Singapore for FinovateAsia next week, we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to look at some of the notable numbers and key trends in fintech in the region.


  • Singapore is home to 500+ fintech startups and 40+ innovation labs
  • Fintechs in Singapore picked up more than $370 million in funding in 2018
  • The fintech adoption rate by consumers in Singapore topped the global average this year.

When it comes to fintech, Singapore is clearly punching above its weight. With a smaller population, fewer local customers, and a modest pool of tech talent to draw from compared to the U.S., the U.K., and China, the fact that Singapore was ranked fourth in a listing of global fintech hubs – after the U.K., and the east and west coasts of the U.S. (judged separately in a report from Ernst & Young) – is a testament to the vibrancy of Singapore fintech.

How does Singapore do it? Close alliances and mentorships, including private-public partnerships and a willingness to work with other countries and fintech hubs around the world are one factor. The city-state’s central bank and financial regulatory body, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, has pledged to commit $168 million over the next five years to support collaborations between financial institutions and fintechs. Singapore has also begun issuing more digital banking licenses in recent months. Could a booming challenger bank industry be far behind?

At FinovateAsia, be sure to check out:

Mentoring Power Panel: What Every Start-up Needs to Know About Fund Raising, Winning Investors, Marketing, Building Scale & Overcoming the Hurdles to Form Fruitful Partnerships in Asia.


  • $25.5 billion in fintech deals in 2018 according to Accenture; 44% of all fintech investments worldwide
  • Top Deals in 2018: Ant Financial’s Alipay raised $14 billion, Baidu spinoff Du Xiaoman Financial raised $4.3 billion, Lufax raised $1.3 billion
  • Four of the top 10 fintechs in the world are Chinese according to H2Ventures and KPMG

Payments dominate Chinese fintech: 34 out of top 100 fintechs are payments companies. And with ecommerce driving much of fintech innovation in China, many are wondering what the next big thing in the industry will be? Some have suggested that wealth management, catering to a new generation of Chinese investors, may be the next frontier for innovation in Chinese fintech.

At FinovateAsia, be sure to check out:

Keynote Address: The Exponential Rise of B2B and B2C Fintech in China – What’s Next for the World’s Most Progressive Fintech Market?

Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong-based fintechs received $545.7 million in funding in 2017
  • Host to more than 550 fintech companies, Hong Kong has a 67% fintech adoption rate
  • 80% of publicly-funded tertiary educational institutions have fintech-related programs for undergraduates or graduates

Public-private partnerships are a key driver of fintech innovation in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s launch of its Faster Payment System in 2018 paved the way for instant fund transfers between the Chinese renminbi and the Hong Kong dollar, as well as the issuance of eight virtual banking licenses this year. The Monetary Authority is also responsible for introducing a trade finance platform based on blockchain technology.

At FinovateAsia, be sure to check out:

Fireside Chat: How Financial Institutions Can Successfully Collaborate with Fintechs.


  • The overall transaction value for the Indian fintech industry is estimated at more than $66 billion in 2019 by PwC
  • Indian fintechs received $1.8 billion in venture capital funding across 97 investments in 2018
  • With a fintech adoption rate second only to China’s, India surpassed China in the number of fintech deals in Q2 of 2019

India is often overlooked in the conversation on Asian fintech. But the most notable aspect of the country’s experiment with mobile payments, its unified payment interface (UPI), has been a dramatic display of the power of interoperability. In the three years since UPI was launched, the service facilitated 800 million monthly transactions. More than 140 Indian banks are participating in UPI and both Alphabet’s Google and Facebook’s WhatsApp offer instant payments via the technology.

At FinovateAsia, be sure to check out:

Fireside Chat: India is the Second Highest Fintech Adopter Globally – Where Do the Opportunities Lie?

ASEAN at Large

  • The ASEAN region is the third largest region in Asia and consists of Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia
  • In Southeast Asia, less than 30% of adults have access to formal banking services. Approximately 33% of SMEs lack access to business financing
  • Market growth of the fintech market in Southeast Asia is expected to reach as much as $70 billion by 2020

The fintech industry of Southeast Asia is increasingly gaining the attention of analysts and investors alike. Earlier this year, Indonesian e-commerce payments and lending innovator Akulaku picked up a $40 million investment from Ant Financial. The #1 payment app in Vietnam, Momo, closed a Series C investment at the beginning of the year valued at $100 million.

And while financial inclusion is a huge theme for the underbanked in this region, innovations in a variety of fintech subcategories should be recognized, as well. For example, fintechs like Jitta in Thailand are bringing digital investing solutions to the region while Malaysia’s mortgagetech innovator MHub offers networking and collaboration solutions for property developers and financial services professionals.

At FinovateAsia be sure to check out:

Strategy Roundtable: Capturing the Opportunities in Emerging Asian Markets – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Korea.

Still don’t have your ticket to FinovateAsia? There’s still time to register for the event, taking place October 14 through 15 in Singapore.

FinovateAsia Sneak Peek: Arnexa

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateAsia on October 14 through 15, 2019 in Singapore. Register today and save your spot.

Arnexa’s Binbox is the world’s first phishing-free secure messaging platform focused on the needs of businesses and governments.


  • Phishing-free
  • End-to-end encryption
  • APIs available for easy integration

Why it’s great
Arnexa offers the world’s first phishing-free messaging platform.


Sridhar Ramakrishnan, Founder
Ramakrishnan is an engineer and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley with over 30 years of experience. He obtained his B. Tech in CS from IIT Mumbai and MS CS from the University of New Hampshire.

FinovateAsia Sneak Peek: Compliy

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateAsia on October 14 through 15, 2019 in Singapore. Register today and save your spot.

Compliy is an AI web-platform that simplifies and automates regulatory change and risk management processes for compliance teams in financial institutions through collaboration and centralized data.


  • Review AI regulatory insights, write, and share your regulatory interpretations
  • Map business units to key regulatory requirements
  • Compare regulatory clauses and requirements across multiple jurisdictions

Why it’s great
Compliy uses smart automation to empower compliance teams to quickly collaborate to review, implement, and monitor regulatory requirements in APAC, all while centralizing regulatory practices for the company.


Adrian Latortue, Co-Founder and COO
Latortue is a former APAC City Launcher at Uber, Country Manager at Easy Taxi Vietnam (Rocket Internet), and Fulbright Scholar (2010 to 2011). He received his B.A. from Yale University.

Anthony Mai, Co-Founder and CEO
Mai has been a serial entrepreneur since he was 18 years old and is former CEO/CTO of Quodisys Software Development. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

FinovateAsia Sneak Peek: The WAAY

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateAsia on October 14 through 15, 2019 in Singapore. Register today and save your spot.

The WAAY’s Lifestyle Banking platform helps banks understand people and become a Lifestyle Assistant for their customers.


  • Deeply personalized lifestyle content based on VALS (values and lifestyle) profiling with over 300 attributes
  • Lifestyle first, money management second
  • Micro-value every day

Why it’s great
Banking soon will shift from a traditional, commoditized approach to a new, non-banking premise and The WAAY’s platform would be the core personalization engine to talk to customers about the things they want.


Ivan Kochetov, CEO
Kochetov has spent many years in data analysis labs with a focus on understanding people’s behavior based on data that banks have inside.

Kirill Lisitsyn, CBDO
Lisitsyn has spent 11 years in operational and management consulting for the financial sector, including working for major players such as Accenture and Mastercard.

FinovateAsia Sneak Peek: PearlPay

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateAsia on October 14 through 15, 2019 in Singapore. Register today and save your spot.

PearlPay’s mission is to create a unified payment network in the Philippines by providing an end-to-end payment solutions framework that will allow institutions to transform digitally properly.


  • Affordable
  • End to end
  • Aggregated – each PearlPay solution integrates into a larger unified network allowing users and institutions alike to access more beneficial financial services

Why it’s great
PearlPay offers an end-to-end solutions framework that addresses basic institutional concerns down to the cultural and behavioral aspects that have long stood in the way of financial inclusion.


Precious Valerie Silva, Chief Strategy Officer
Silva has more than 10 years of experience in research, marketing, and strategy. She has overseen teams across USA, EMEA and APAC regions.

FinovateAsia Sneak Peek: Xen

A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateAsia on October 14 through 15, 2019 in Singapore. Register today and save your spot.

Xen is transforming the alternative asset management industry by creating a fintech solution which allows accredited investors in Asia fractionalized access and tradability in alternative investments.


  • Secondary trading of illiquid assets
  • Fully digital KYC / onboarding
  • Built-in compliance and AML

Why it’s great
Xen offers access and liquidity in private market opportunities.


Katrina Cokeng, CEO
Cokeng is CEO of Xen and previously was co-founder of digital finance company Oriente. She brings over 16 years of experience from McKinsey, Merrill Lynch, Pomona Capital, and Estee Lauder.

Andrei Karpushonak, CTO
Karpushonak is CTO of Xen and has extensive experience in blockchain and software architecture for fintechs and exchanges. He has previously worked for Motorola, BetVictor, and Coral.

FinovateAsia is Heading Back to Singapore!

600+ attendees. 35+ firms demoing. 100+ expert speakers.

Insights and connections to the Asian fintech community you will only find at Finovate.

Save the date for FinovateAsia 2019! We’re moving back to Singapore this October 14 through 16, with a show that will feature demos of new fintech solutions, key insights from thought-leaders and influencers, and networking that delivers meaningful connections with fintech decision-makers.

Lowest price to attend ends Friday, May 31!

The agenda is packed with the latest fintech innovations, industry titans, and up-and-comers. The first day will feature digital trailblazers and disruptors analyzing the latest trends in fintech and financial services digital transformation in Asia. The stellar speaker faculty will debate the big issues facing financial institutions and fintechs in the new tech driven world. And the second day will feature Finovate’s signature live demos from 35+ fintech innovators.

Plus, don’t miss the two add-on Summits on October 16 that will give you the chance to take a deeper dive into Artificial Intelligence or Blockchain Applications.

It’s not just what you see and learn. Make essential business connections with the 600+ senior decision makers at the event. You can arrange meetings using the networking app before the event to make the most of your time there.

Register by Friday, May 31 and save up to $1,100. Book online here today or contact our customer services team at +1 (888) 670-8200 or

Make it at FinovateAsia!

Whether a new innovation or service, partnership or brand pivot, you’ll reach an audience of 600+ of the most influential people in fintech. Finovate’s format of seven minutes on stage, exhibition stand, attendee introductions, marketing exposure, and more delivers you a fantastic ROI.

The demo application process is competitive, so apply early to give your company the best chance of getting on stage. Plus, secure the lowest possible rate if chosen to demo.