After the financial technology (FinTech) industry’s start in the West, notably in Europe and in the USA, its innovations have established themselves across various markets. FinTech has also experienced adoption and high growth in China. But if we are searching for financial technology’s next hot region, it would be Southeast Asia.
Why is Southeast Asia poised for the rapid growth of FinTech? Right now, the region has favourable conditions that would spur adoption and expansion. Below are four of them.
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The population is huge
Southeast Asia has an enormous population of 630 million people, 50% of them under the age of 30. Southeast Asia’s urban population is expected to expand to 373 million people by 2030. The young, urban demographic is generally digital-savvy, with many of them partial to convenient mobile solutions for financial services and personal finance tools – this makes the Southeast Asia region fertile ground for the entrance of FinTech.
Mobile phone connectivity
Mobile connectivity has been growing rapidly in the region, especially in Cambodia (173%), Thailand (133%), Vietnam (131%), and Myanmar (93%). Mobiles have become the most popular communication devices in Southeast Asia and every month, there are around 3.8 million more Southeast Asians connected to the Internet. In Thailand alone, a consumer spends an average of 4.4 hours per day on social media.
Financial technology, with its innovations of mobile-based money transfers, e-wallets, alternative financing, and other online-based finance tools, is likely to capture the digital savvy population of Southeast Asia. In fact, financial technology opens opportunities to those previously underserved, as FinTech services are often online-based, without having users enter a brick-and-mortar location.
The opportunity to serve a large unbanked market
According to the World Bank, 2 billion people around the world don’t have access to formal financial services, with over 50% spread across Asia. While the statistic is not a pleasant one for the market, it opens opportunities for the FinTech industry to grow in Asia, including Southeast Asia. FinTech’s digital-based solutions can be one of the most cost-effective methods of delivering financial services to those previously unserved.
Consumption rate is increasing
In 2025, the middle class of Southeast Asia is predicted to increase to over 440 million people. This will lead to growth across most consumer sectors, especially for e-commerce. With easier access to online shopping, thanks to higher mobile penetration, better logistics, and improved infrastructure, FinTech companies can provide another piece to the infrastructure by providing inclusive financial services through e-commerce channels, while cross-border payments can harmonize regional payment flows.
These four factors will shape the face of FinTech in Southeast Asia, as well as ensure that the region is at the forefront of financial technology.