INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Asia-Pacific financial technology investments seen quadrupling this year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 November, 2015, 5:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 November, 2015, 5:01am

Financial technology investments across the Asia-Pacific are poised to quadruple this year as venture capitalists, financial services companies and start-up incubators sow the seeds for rapid growth in this field.

A new report released today by Accenture, one of the world’s largest management consulting firms, estimated that investments in 122 Asia-Pacific financial technology deals reached US$3.46 billion in the first nine months of this year, up from US$879 million spent on 117 projects for the whole of last year, as the amount of funds being allocated in projects rose higher.

It said innovative “fintech” ventures in payments and lending took the largest share of those investments from January to September this year at 40 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively.Accenture executives said the participation of large, non-traditional financial services companies as investors in innovative payment ventures have boosted the overall value of fintech projects in the region the past several months.

 In September, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding and affiliate Ant Financial Services Group made a capital infusion in Indian mobile payment services provider Paytm, which various reports speculated to be worth between US$600 million and US$700 million.Mainland China peer-to-peer lending provider Lufax, which is backed by Ping An Insurance (Group), raised US$485 million in a funding round it completed in April.

“The increasing deal size should serve as a wake-up call to financial services companies in China and across the Asia-Pacific that if they do not offer truly useful, customer-friendly digital solutions, competitors will step into the breach not just on the retail front but also in commercial transactions,” said Beat Monnerat, Accenture’s senior managing director of financial services for the Asia-Pacific.

Traditional banks are seeking to engage with fintech start-ups to help streamline their operations, drive new business growth and comply with changing regulations. Targeted innovations include cloud computing, cybersecurity and blockchain technologies. Blockchain is the underlying ledger technology that supports digital currency Bitcoin.

Many banks have turned to start-up accelerator programmes to identify such innovations. Standard Chartered Bank teamed up with Baidu and co-working space operator TusPark Global Network for their accelerator, while DBS Bank (Hong Kong) partnered with local venture capitalist Nest.  

Citibank has launched its own accelerator, while Accenture’s “FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific” is supported by 12 banks.

Raymond Cheng Siu-hong, HSBC’s chief operating officer for the Asia-Pacific, said the bank’s work with the fintech community have helped it provide more competitive products.

“Our collaboration with FinSuite, an Australian start-up, helped launch BizAnalyzer, an automated financial spreading product which improves our ability to make efficient lending decisions,” Cheng said.

Kevin Mak, founder of local start-up Ironfly Technologies, said FinTech Innovation Lab has sharpened his company’s focus on data-insight solutions that “deliver immediate value to large financial services institutions”.