APAC geeks dominate fintech uptake: study

Digital-savvy consumers in the Asia-Pacific region are more likely to adopt new financial technologies than their peers around the world but the same consumers in Australia are lagging below their Asian neighbours, a new study has found.

High incomes and increased government support for fintech in countries like Singapore and Hong Kong have led to a take up of services like money transfer, insurance and borrowing relatively higher than the West, EY Partner Anita Kimber told BlueNotes.

" I think we've seen a really active focus on fintech in Hong Kong and Singapore from the local governments."
Anita Kimber, EY Partner

“I think we've seen a really active focus on fintech in Hong Kong and Singapore from the local governments," she said. “We also saw correlation in the study between people being willing to try things and high incomes. I think some of that explains what you are seeing in Hong Kong, Singapore and to some extent even Australia."

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EY's study into digitally active consumers in six countries across Asia, North America and Europe, showed an average of 15.5 per cent of people have used at least two fintech services in the past six months. These services include products developed by non-bank, non-insurance and online companies.

The research shows fintech adoption in Hong Kong at 29.1 per cent, Singapore at 14.7 per cent and Australia at 13 per cent. By comparison, in Europe, the UK is at 14.3 per cent while in North America the US is at 16.5 per cent but Canada is at 8.2 per cent.

Surprised by the findings, Kimber said the noticeable gap between Australia and its Asian neighbours was due to a number of factors, including Australia's comparatively slow take-up of fintech products.

“The other thing which doesn't get talked about as much is… we are a pretty demanding country," she said. “We expect something a bit different in Australia."

“People are also waiting for something that's really going to be different. The study showed in Australia the highest takeup in fintech was around investment products, things like online stockbroking and spread betting."

“The people using it now are quite savvy, but to more from early adoption to early majority I think Australians are looking for something a bit different. “

Kimber is confident Australia can close the gap on Asia's fintech frontrunners. EY said responses to its survey indicated global fintech adoption rates among the digitally active could double in 2016.

“There is no reason [Australia can't compete], as long as we get the product innovation, but that's the big 'if'," she said.

“Australia has proven itself over the years as being willing to give it a go. We spend a lot of time talking to these guys and we're seeing potential for huge takeup."

Shane White is senior production editor at ANZ BlueNotes

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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