How FinTech hubs will shape the future of our financial industry

As FinTech startups gain prominence and are starting to make a bigger impact on consumers, financial institutions and economies grow more interconnected within this complex ecosystem.


The best practices and lessons learned from ecosystems around the world, particularly in emerging markets, can help stakeholders (FinTech companies, consumers, financial institutions, investors, regulators, and educational institutions) work together to deliver financial services at lower costs, higher speed, and better qualities.

Ecosystems or hubs have shown particular value in emerging markets. In the 26 hubs and emerging markets across eight geographic clusters, we see different drivers, notable players, and opportunities for growth but also common themes and best practices for success.

ASEAN: fast growing economies with large populations make a unique playground.

Connecting China and India, ASEAN brings together large local and global players with innovative but still cautious regulators. With large population bases in some of the world’s fastest-growing and most dynamic economies, innovation in ASEAN is key to meeting the increasing demand for better quality services.

Latin America: opportunities in an underserved market.

With governments considering financial inclusion to drive sustainable economic development, Latin America is ripe for collaboration among companies, investors, and governments.

Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe and Central Asia (CESA): leveraging a strong talent base.

CESA’s strategic location, strong infrastructure, sizeable talent base, and access to a large unified market make the region an attractive location from which homegrown companies and incoming investors can service the EU market.

Middle East: government support and capital are driving FinTech growth.

Sovereign and private investors are making major capital commitments in the Middle East as the region focuses on diversifying economies and servicing Islamic banking needs.

Africa: leapfrog innovations.

Service providers have huge opportunities to leapfrog generations of technology development to deliver cutting edge solutions to Africa’s unbanked and underbanked populations, in particular via the region’s deep mobile penetration and service delivery innovations.

Asia: the rise of independent Finlife ecosystem platforms in Greater China, and India brings out the best from East and West.

FinTech is the “way of life” in China, where supportive regulation and a confluence of market factors have taken e-commerce and chat platforms into full-scale financial service providers with room for further expansion and growth in global markets.

In India, the unique government-led digital infrastructure, along with rapid urbanization and mobile penetration, are driving developments, particularly in payments.

In each cluster, common pillars unite successful FinTech ecosystems. To create a strong, scalable, sustainable enabling environment, clusters must facilitate collaboration, allow easy access to local and international markets, and feature government and industry support.

The ecosystem must be able to access, train, and retain the highest quality talent. Consumers, corporations, and financial institutions must form the backbone of sustained demand. Companies must be able to access risk, growth, and strategic capital.

Finally, FinTech laws must allow an overall regulatory environment that eases operations (including credit availability, taxation policies, visa policies, and regulatory sandboxes) and encourages competition.

Singapore is a particularly successful story, and its continued success as a FinTech hub goes hand in hand with the overall strength of the industry. Singapore’s central bank established the Financial Technology and Innovation Group in 2015 with the vision of establishing Singapore as a smart financial center.

The country also committed SGD$225 million (US$166 million) for FinTech projects from 2015–2020, established a regulatory sandbox, introduced blockchain to interbank payments, issued guidance on ICOs, and plans to issue guidance for use of artificial intelligence in the industry.

The annual Singapore FinTech Festival brings together close to 45,000 participants from 130 countries and 5,000 companies. Matchmaking at the festival in 2018 resulted in a groundbreaking investment of USD$6.2 billion pledged to FinTech startups which will be realized in 2019, and an additional USD$6 billion earmarked for the next two years.

As FinTech evolves, it is clear that it needs to have strong ecosystems. Startups and scale-ups, regulators, governments, traditional institutions, investors, and talent institutions are all key players in the constantly evolving ecosystems that will drive competition and innovation while maintaining the safety of the financial system for today and tomorrow.

Image by dolgachov

The views reflected in this article are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.


Right Place, Right Time – Chinese Fintech


There is probably no country in the world as advanced in FinTech as China. From WePay to QR code payments to new modes of credit scoring, Chinese entrepreneurs and financial institutions have changed the way companies use technology. Join our panel of fintech experts as they break down some of the major trends in Chinese FinTech.

Moderated by: Anson Zeall, Co-Founder, ACCESS

–          Igor Pesin, Investment Partner, Life.SREDA

–          Varun Mittal, Regional Head – Operations & Merchant Product, Hellopay

–          Wenjian Huang, PPmoney

–          Joe Cho, CEO, Marvelstone Group

Key topics discussed in the panel were following –

  1. How China Uses Fintech
    1. Describe some consumer use cases
    2. Describe some enterprise use cases
    3. Describe cross border use cases
  2. Where are the hotspots for Fintech startups and why are they based there?
  3. Why has it evolved differently from China
    1. Mass adoption of Smartphones, was this a main driver?
  4. How can the outside world learn from China in this space?
    1. Vice versa i.e. how can China learn from the outside world?
  5. What are the challenges?
    1. Regulatory, Adoption, Scaling, Global Integration?
  6. What does the future hold for China fintech?


New Economy Business Models – Making Money in New Ways


As the economy is progressing towards models in which companies don’t own assets and focus on services. Alibaba doesn’t own the goods it sells, Facebook doesn’t own the content it shares and Airbnb doesn’t own the houses it rents. A lot of startups have followed them by creating opportunities in segments which never existed before. The session focuses on analysis of some of these new players.

Panel – How Do You Drive Further Adoption of Mobile Wallet Application in Asia


Event – 4th Annual Mobile Wallet Conference

Date – 26-29 September

Place – Jakarta, Indonesia

Panel Discussion: How Do You Drive Further Adoption of Mobile Wallet Application in Asia?

  • Identifying past, present and future ecosystem of mobile wallet
    • Where do banks, Telco, merchants, payment processors and others stand now?
    • Role of Bitcoin and disruptive technologies in mobile wallet
  • Overcoming risk and challenges of mobile wallet adoption
    • Regulatory constraints
    • Intense competition
    • Consumer acceptance
    • Increasing market share
  • What is the real driver behind getting a mobile wallet strategy?
  • How to balance innovation, customer engagement and satisfaction?
  • What’s the future of Mobile Wallet in Asia Pacific?

Jun Won Jerry Choi, Director, Business Development, American Express, South Korea

Richard Oh, Head of Payments, Asia, PayPal, Singapore
Shubhrendu Khoche, VP, Senior Business Leader: Enterprise Partnerships, MasterCard, Singapore
Varun Mittal, Group Head, Partnership and Marketing, helloPay, Singapore
Amit Lakhotia, Vice President – Business, Tokopedia, Indonesia


Fintech 101 – IDA codeXtremeApps

Humbling experience to share Fintech 101 with 70 Polytechnic and High School students at OCBC Open Vault with Altona Widjaja

Key topics discussed with student about Fintech were –

–  Concepts relevant to Fintech

–  What makes it hype? What makes it real?

–  How can you make a difference


Exploring the future developments in customer experience


Customer Experience in Financial Services: Asia Pacific 2016

Venue – 7th & 8th June, Suntec, Singapore

Exploring the future developments in customer experience

  • FinTech: exploring the challenges and opportunities
  • Aggregators: how to differentiate on CX in a premium price war
  • Will current metrics be a satisfactory measure of customer experience in the digital age?
  • How will regulators affect customer experience in the future?
  • Millennials: how will their needs change the face of experience?
  • Sensors and the rise of wearables
  • Social media and its developing role in customer experience

Moderator – Iqbal Singh, Managing Director, Citibank


  • Wendy Lee, Director, Digital Solutions, Ageas
  • Marnix Zwart, Senior Vice President – Product & Business Development, GoBear
  • Varun Mittal, Group Head, Hellopay Partnership & Marketing, Alibaba Lazada

Emerging Markets: How Mobility Is Dealing With The Unbanked Community

nus-innovest-2016Panel Title: Emerging Markets: How Mobility Is Dealing With The Unbanked Community
Date: 18th May,
Location: The Singtel Innov8 FinTech Forum Stage, Innovest Unbound
Moderated by: Varun Mittal, Group Head Partnerships and Marketing, helloPay

  1. Anthony Thomas, COO, Mynt
  2. Joo Wong, Venture Partner, Vickers Venture Partner
  3. Gina Heng, CEO, Marvelstone

Career Crossroads: Startup versus Corporate – INSEAD


Theme – Career Crossroads: Startup versus Corporate

Venue – INSEAD

Host – Entrepreneurship Cell, INSEAD

Moderator – ESTRELLA Carlos, INSEAD Student


  • Varun Mittal, Group Head, Partnerships and Marketing
  • Henry Chan, Head of Business Development,
  • Qiuyun Song, Head of Corporate Finance


SPH PnP Corporate Panel – Startup Corporation Relationship


SPH PnP Corporate Panel – 14 April, 5pm @ BASH Blk 79 Ayer Rajah Crescent Level

Moderator – Varun Mittal, helloPay


  • Teck Moh Phey,  CEO at Xpanasia Pte Ltd
  • Tuck Oon Choong, Director, NTUC Income 
  • Ervin Lim, Manager, Corporate Development, CapitaLand Limited

Key topics

  • Different ways that corporations engage with startups (licensing, acquiring etc)
  • Pros and cons of working with large corporations
  • How should early stage startups engage with and sell to corporations
  • How to navigate the complex procurement cycles of big companies
  • How to manage the middle management which has most incentive to say NO
  • How to plan for long sales cycles and engaging early/have enough buffer runway