Over the past decade, the financial services sector in Southeast Asia has seen growth that is nothing short of impressive. A more integrated approach in this sector has facilitated great strides in economic prosperity, with an increase in the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) standing as a testament to the methodical planning among ASEAN member countries.
Ever since the financial crisis of 1997 swept Asia, many observers felt that some of the affected countries would never fully recover. Southeast Asian countries were among the victims, with Indonesia and Thailand among the worst hit. The currencies of both these countries were hit hard by speculative attacks which devalued them severely.
20 years ago, no one could have accurately predicted the huge impact that inventions like the smartphone and the World Wide Web would have on humankind. As technology advances at a breakneck pace, the same could be said about blockchain technology.It’s a common misconception to conflate blockchain with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Indonesia’s financial services authority, Ororitas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation in fintech and to foster innovation in financial services between the two nations.
Microfinance is a service where financial institutions back small start-ups and would-be entrepreneurs with small loans, often times referred to as microloans. Such initiatives are most popular in the poorest parts of the world. By distributing small loans and accepting small savings amounts, microfinancing empowers those below the poverty line to improve their livelihoods.
Microfinance is described by the Financial Times Lexicon as a service where financial institutions will back small start-ups and would-be entrepreneurs with small loans, in the poorest parts of the world. In Southeast Asia, the biggest microfinance players currently include Asia Pacific-based LenddoEFL, Singapore's CredoLab and the Philippines’ Lendr, for example. To add to this mix, Singapore-based ride-hailing service Grab will now join the fray.
Asia, which houses 43% of the world’s population holds only 13% of total global insurance premiums as of 2016, according to the 2017 UBS report, ‘Shifting Asia’. Out of this 13%, ASEAN countries make up just 3.8%, according to the Asia Insurance Market Report 2016 by advisory firm Willis Towers Watson.