There’s a new edition of The FinTech Times that has just been released.
It was designed to coincide with the Spring events in Asia that would be kicking off round about now but, as most of you now know, all events have been postponed. Nevertheless, with contributions from 11:FS, WeBank, Ant Financial’s AI team and more, it’s a great magazine to read whilst stuck at home socially isolated (I call it antisocial isolation). Oh, and if you didn’t notice, the guest editor is some guy called Chris Skinner.
I’m pretty well connected globally, which makes right now a bit weird, but still have friends giving me news updates so, before I share my overview of The FinTech Times, it gives me a chance to update you on my favourite case study story: Alipay. I just got the stats in the other day for their latest processing figures and they’re pretty staggering:
These stats are from the latest report published by independent market research firm iResearch on Chinese mobile payments for Q4 2019. The report estimates that the Chinese mobile payment market grew 13.4% y-o-y to RMB 59.8 trillion ( USD$8.43 trillion ) for the one quarter, and Alipay’s market share strengthening to 55.1%, followed by Tencent’s Tenpay (WeChat Pay + QQ Wallet) which owned 38.9% in the quarter. For the whole year of 2019, China’s mobile payment market reached RMB 226.2 trillion ( $31.88 trillion ), up 18.8% from 2018.
No wonder a free FinTech magazine covering all things Asia should be interesting. Here’s the low-down:
Living in a leapfrog world
When the FinTech Power50 guys asked me to be guest editor of the spring edition of The FinTech Times, I felt quite honoured. I’m not a journalist, editor or media guy, although many people view me that way. I’m actually a commentator, as I call it. An opinion person. Writing a blog is not the same as running a magazine or newspaper, but this is the job that I was asked to do and so I’ve done it.
At the time we set out to do this, the focus was on many of the Asian events coming up in the spring time. Then some big bug hit us all, and everything got cancelled, postponed or generally disrupted. In fact, the coronavirus is what a real disruption means. I find it funny how many people talk about banks being disrupted by technology, but technology has not been the coronavirus of banking. More like a summer cold. It’s made the banks sneeze a bit, but they’re not laid flat on the doctor’s table as many predicted. In fact many banks are thriving, and that’s something that I’ve spent the last two years working on by studying banks that are going through digital transformation. It’s not easy – in fact, it’s really hard – but they are doing it.
Anyway, as this was targeted at looking at Asian FinTech, we have a number of great contributions from friends in my network. Brandon Chung of 11:FS gives a great perspective of Asian FinTech developments and the way in which technology giants are taking over customer relationship while financial firms provide product. Zennon Kapron, founder of Kapronasia, questions the froth of FinTech in Asia as new virtual bank licenses are offered in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, whilst Henry Ma, the CIO of WeBank, discusses the rise of virtual bank licencing across Asia and the fact that “virtual banks must show a path to sustainability that profits from higher-volume, smaller ticket-sized transactions”. Dr. Jidong Chen, who leads all aspects of Ant Financial’s biometric identification technology business, talks about all things to do with customer authentication and onboarding, and how to overcome that awesome or awful challenge of KYC.
The FinTech Power50 also includes two heavyweights, alongside myself, namely Jim Marous and Brett King, who both recently travelled to China and saw the Chinese phenomenon of Big Tech Giants in banking in action. Jim reflects on this in his write-up of how tomorrow’s banking exists today. Meantime, Brett takes a wider perspective and looks at the paradox of whether FinTech unicorns are really worth their multibillion dollar valuations when they’re hardly making any money today.
I’m sure you will find something in this issue that makes you think. Overall, to be truthful, I hope you find something in this issue that makes you go Aha! I like Aha! moments. We don’t have enough of them. I had an Aha! moment years ago, when I first visited China. Since then, I’ve been all over Asia, Africa, the world and truly believe we are seeing a world of change driven by leapfrog economies coming from the Southern hemisphere and Asia. You’ll find that is the theme of my contribution to this issue, and the theme overall: we are living in a leapfrog world.
Thanks again to the FinTech Power50 for inviting me along, and trust you enjoy this special Asian edition.