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.