The third instalment of BCYC Knowledge Exchange Collective (KEC), an interactive platform for members to share and discuss topics or trends in relation to Singapore and China, was held on 16 August 2020. BCYC member Ian Loh shared about his passion for banking and finance, as well as his work experience in Greater China, particularly his observations about the Fintech space.
Fintech in Greater China
Fintech is an emerging industry that taps on technology to improve financial activities. There are five main pillars in the Chinese Fintech industry – Robo-advisors, consumer lending, digital banks, Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP), and Blockchain Service Network (BSN).
Robo-advisor limits human interaction by using algorithms to provide virtual financial advice or investment management services. Consumer lending leverages big data analytics for peer-to-peer lending. Digital banking services are offered by the three major players in Chinese Fintech sector (i.e. ‘Three Horses’) – Alibaba Group’s Ant Financial, Tencent Holdings’ We Bank, and Ping An Insurance’s One Connect. DCEP utilises distributed ledger technology to reduce the time taken for financial transactions and bolsters overall efficiency. BSN is an infrastructure project that will provide the inaugural public foundation for hosting blockchain applications such as tokenisation in a single cohesive system. This expedites trading, reduces costs, and boosts accessibility for Chinese citizens.
Ian illustrated the remarkable construction of a Chinese Fintech ecosystem with the Alibaba Group. Valued at US$150 billion, it is built upon its core business (Taobao and TMall) and synergised by its peripheral operations across the finance value chain ranging from consumer lending to insurance and wealth management. Alipay builds ‘trust’ for payments, Zhong An Insurance offers insurance for damaged products, Ant Fortune assists consumers with cash management, My Bank helps Small and Medium Enterprises with working capital management, and Ant Check Later boosts the spending power of consumers.
China is leading the way in its Fintech developments, especially in bitcoin and blockchain, of which the latter serves as a national strategy in expediting the payment system to promote better synchronisation and stock exchange.
China endeavours to implement digital currency electronic payments through a multi-tiered operation system. This pilot project involves the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), ‘Three Horses’, four state banks, and three key telecommunication enterprises. At the bottom tier, instead of ‘collateralisation’, the issuance of token averts potential disruption to money supply in the economy. By utilising the DCEP wallet and token access, this standardises the value of transactions vis-à-vis fiat deposits. The ease of circulation through contact points and eradication of Wi-Fi or web services for transactions contributes to the overall internationalisation of RMB. This is especially pertinent in the wake of the recent collapse of Wirecard as digital currency can enhance security and ensure greater transparency of transactions, thereby facilitating the PBOC’s regulation of the industry.
Perceived as a catalyst for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the pandemic arguably reduces usage of fiat currency, and promotes higher adoption of contactless payment in China.
FinTech in Singapore
FinTech in Singapore has grown rapidly in the past few years. Investors, regulators and various FinTech companies have worked closely with each other to create a vibrant field for the FinTech industry in Singapore. Despite its small market size and relatively fragmented e-payments scene, according to SGX’s market updates on 17 July, Singapore has managed to establish itself as the ASEAN capital of Fintech and is estimated to be the base for over 40% of all Fintech companies in Southeast Asia, with more than 750 entities. Looking ahead, Singapore has long built its prosperity on presenting itself as a reliable Asian hub for international business. Whilst the city state has largely followed this same approach with regard to Fintech, it has also taken some bold regulatory decisions especially in blockchain and cryptocurrencies. As the Fintech market matures it seems likely that the boundaries of ‘finance’ and ‘technology’ will continue to blur and that Fintech will be increasingly integrated into existing businesses, creating new value chains and linking old and new industries. Singapore has positioned itself well to take advantage of these changes.
If you are passionate about learning more on FinTech or considering a career in the FinTech sector, you may wish to find out more from Singapore FinTech Festival, Fintech Singapore, Singapore Fintech Association and My Career Future.
About Business China Youth Chapter
Business China Youth Chapter (BCYC) is a voluntary group of youths that envisions to be the leading Singapore-based community that inspires youths to be China-savvy and facilitate their connections with China. Supported by Business China, BCYC has a vibrant calendar of activities which serve the needs of the BCYC community.
To join Business China Youth Chapter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is contributed by Business China Youth Chapter Member Suzie Zhang.
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