Asean fintech funding tripled between 2020 and 2021: Report

  • Rebound in fintech funding by deals, accounting for US$2 bil total funding
  • Late stage fintech firms received highest amount of funds

Asean fintech funding tripled between 2020 and 2021: Report

Financial technology (fintech) funding in Asean has more than tripled to a record high of US$3.5 billion (RM14.5 billion) in the first nine months of 2021 compared to the full-year of 2020, according to a joint FinTech in Asean 2021 report by UOB, PwC Singapore and the Singapore FinTech Association (SFA). 

In a statement the SFA said the rebound in FinTech funding was driven by 167 deals including 13 mega-rounds, which accounted for US$2 billion (RM8.3 billion) of the total funding.

[RM1 = US$0.24]

According to the report most investors showed strong interest in late-stage fintech firms which secured 10 out of 13 mega-rounds this year.

This trend signals a shift in the strategy of investors across several Asean markets as they take a more cautious and risk-adverse approach of backing mature firms that are seen as standing a higher chance of emerging stronger from the pandemic, it said.

On the back of growing adoption of digital payments in Asean, investors placed their confidence in, and injected the highest amount of funds into, late-stage FinTech firms from the payments sector, it noted.

Janet Young, head of group channels and digitalisation UOB, said the revival of investments in Asean's FinTech industry has seen funding break through US$3.5 billion this year. 

“Looking beyond this strong rebound, the opportunity to forge strong win-win-win partnerships between incumbent banks, fintech firms and ecosystem platform players and expanding across the region will remain instrumental in propelling the sustainable growth of Asean’s FinTech firms,” she said.

Singapore retains top spot

Asean fintech funding tripled between 2020 and 2021: ReportThe report states that Singapore-based FinTech firms continued to attract the strongest funding in Asean, securing almost half (49%) of the total 167 deals, amounting to US$1.6 billion in funding. This includes six mega-rounds worth US$972 million in total. 

The report noted that Indonesia retained its second position this year, raking in US$904 million in funding (26%), followed by Vietnam which rebounded sharply to US$375 million in funding (11%) as a result of two megarounds. 

Fintech firms in Singapore and Indonesia received funding in almost every category , an indication of a vibrant and growing industry with an active investment scene, the report highlighted.

Mr Shadab Taiyabi, president at SFA, said, “A key driver of this resurgence was the pandemic, which has catalysed digital adoption in Singapore and across the region, driving the rise in digital payments and accelerating the shift towards digital channels within the financial services sector.

“Singapore, in particular, has seen the most robust funding, supported by a growing number of FinTechs looking to set up their headquarters here due to the strong regulatory support, opportunities for regional collaboration and a flourishing startup-focused investor ecosystem,” he said. 

Funds injected to investment tech and cryptocurrency firms in Asean saw the strongest growth this year, taking both categories to the second and third place respectively after payments, the report noted.

This is also the first time in six years that alternative lending has been edged out of the top three spots in terms of funding given the increasing interest in digital investments and digital currencies among consumers, the report indicated. 

Asean fintech funding tripled between 2020 and 2021: ReportCompared with 2020, funding for investment tech firms grew by six times to US$457 million this year, in line with growing consumer interest in the use of digital trading and wealth management tools.

According to a survey conducted by UOB, PwC and SFA, six out of 10 Asean consumers have used digital tools such as robo-advisers and online brokerage platforms for their investment needs.

Funding for cryptocurrency firms came in third at US$356 million as they attracted five times the funding received in 2020, the report said.

Given that nine in 10 Asean consumers have started or plan to use cryptocurrencies and central bank digital currencies , the share of cryptocurrency firms in the region is expected to grow as players tap into consumers’ rising interest, the report added.

Payments remained the most funded FinTech category in Asean this year at US$1.9 billion and continued to make up the majority of FinTech firms in most countries, except for Singapore (cryptocurrency) and Thailand (alternative lending), the report noted.

Funding into these firms will accelerate the usage of e-wallets, debit and credit cards and mobile banking apps which are already the most popular payment methods among Asean consumers after cash.

Wanyi Wong, fintech leader, PwC Singapore, said companies that have embraced FinTech are reshaping the marketplace.

He said with digital payments becoming the norm, and areas such as wealthtech and crypto assets fast gaining interest, research findings are indicative that consumers in Asean have come to embrace a wide range of FinTech solutions along with the digital experience, and that they are ready to take on the digital future. 

“The question is no longer whether fintech will transform the business landscape, but how to best adopt and embed a fintech-centered strategy, underlined with inclusion, trust, transparency and accountability, to emerge as market leaders,”  she said.

Download a copy of the FinTech Talent Report here.


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