Last week I attended the Singapore FinTech Festival. Let me share you what I took back home to Europe.
1. SuperApps as the new frontier of Retail FinTech
What's a Super App? The term was new to me too. Super apps are the equivalent of a Swiss army knife. Apps that are combining many functions into one single app. The best known example is WeChat, where you can chat with friends, book a train, pay for your lunch, play games, ... all within the app. They are the gateway to your daily interactions. A local friend at the conference told me: "FinTech is a subpart of e-commerce". Although at the time I disagreed. This statement couldn't be truer when it comes to SuperApps. At the FinTech Festival, you noticed every Asian region scaling its own Superapp. Grab - a ride-sharing app and now 3th in KMPG FinTech 50 list- is rapidly expanding its set of functions. Releasing a digital payments solution, GrabPay at the conference. One conference hall further, Malaysian Superapp Yippi presented it's Wave functionality. A "scientifically" proven sound transmitter that provides a detox to users. It's not only WeChat out there and they are all more than a way of communication. These Superapps are putting every aspect of your digital life in their chat box and this at rapid speed. In Asia these super apps are becoming the future of retail FinTech. Will and can this transpose to European markets?
2. Southeast Asia's booming digital-first FinTech ecosystem
South East Asian is a promising region. With a growing mobile penetration rate of 51% monthly active users, and an unbanked population of 73%, this region will be booming for FinTech. Local FinTech startups are clearly tapping into this market. At the conference I saw same great companies working on micro-credits, consumer lending, simplified POS solutions for merchants,… Using alternative ways of scoring or collecting paper trails of people that have yet to get one. All going through mobile phones obviously. Nothing new under the sun, nothing revolutionary nor new…but addressing real customer needs in this booming markets. It was energizing to see these entrepreneurial talents. . But why make it difficult if you can do it easy? :)
3. The ICO's cowboys are gone
It was just a year ago when at a conference, I got bombarded with a circus of ICO. It felt more like a stock market than like a conference. As well on stage as around the startup booths. I remember closing one conference noticing a carpet of ICO leaflets as we navigated towards the exist. However, this week, at ASEAN's largest FinTech conference:: Nothing. Note that Singapore is even a region where cryto is somewhat regulated. Are blockchain companies and crypto economies back where they should be? Last week gave the impression that the first bubble popped. Yes, there were new crypto exchanges, crypto funds, and blockchain payment infrastructure companies displaying their goods. Yet, in a more civilized way, having actual -sometimes corporate- clients accompanied by business model that made sense. Blockchain companies often remain looking for problems to fix with their solutions. Think a crypto POS tool or a Visa card which allows you to spend 0,0000001 Bitcoin for a coffee. However, quotes of the Ripple CEO, that they are taking-over Swift in terms of transactions gives an indication that things are shaking up. Yes, it felt like the Cowboys were back in their ranch. Finally.