Inclusive fintech in Asia: Findings and takeaways
11 November 2019
Data from the Inclusive Fintech 50 has illuminated several insights on the global fintech ecosystem, including funding concentrations and the need for common definitions and standards to bring clarity to the diverse field.
This data—collected from 400 applicants—also highlights the unique landscapes at the regional level, including South Asia and East Asia & the Pacific. Three key insights from these regions may help investors and fintechs navigate the space:
1. Funding for inclusive fintech varies widely from region-to-region with capital concentration highest in Asia compared to other emerging markets. Fintechs raised average annual capital of USD 872,000 in East Asia & the Pacific, and USD 626,000 in South Asia—well above the global average of USD 598,000 for the applicant pool.
2. In addition to capital concentration by region, capital is concentrated within regions. In East Asia & the Pacific, for instance, the average funding per fintech is USD 2.3 million. Fintech applicants in Indonesia nearly tripled that, raising, on average, USD 6.0 million while those in the Philippines raised an average of just USD 463,000. While market dynamics may explain some of this differential, investors may be overlooking innovative, inclusive products because they are not originating in well-known “fintech hotspots.”
3. Overall, women-led fintechs raised similar amounts as those led by men—but not in all regions. In our cohort of applicants, women-led fintechs in South Asia raised 92 percent of what was raised by men-led fintechs. But this varies by region. In East Asia & the Pacific, women-led fintechs raised just 39 percent that of their men-led counterparts.
In addition, women-led fintechs were more effective in reaching customers at scale than men-led. According to the data submitted by applicants, women-led fintechs composed 19 percent of the total applicant pool, but they reached 33 percent of the overall aggregate customers, raising interesting questions about what further investment in women-led fintechs could do in driving scale of inclusive fintechs.
These findings underscore both challenges and opportunities with the distribution of capital to early-stage inclusive fintechs in Asia. Using data to illuminate these funding gaps can ensure innovative startups throughout each region are able to scale effectively to advance financial inclusion and build more inclusive economies in Asia.
We recently co-hosted a Fintech in Asia event in Singapore with MetLife Foundation and LumenLab, MetLife Asia’s Innovation Center, to explore these three insights and gain additional wisdom from businesses and investors on the ground. During this event, investors such as Accion and later stage fintechs such as Coins.ph surfaced takeaways from their experience:
1. Expect to pivot. Innovation is fast, fintech leaders can’t afford to ignore new entrants and new solutions, which will in all likelihood drive one or more pivots over a company’s evolution.
2. Be smart about capital inflows. Early-stage companies should remain focused on proving out their product-market fit and business model, despite influx of funding.
3. Cultivate the regulators. Build relationships with and stay connected to policy makers as your company grows, evolves, and expands; this investment will pay off as you scale.
Through initiatives like Inclusive Fintech 50 and Fintech in Asia, we bring together investors, fintechs, and accelerators to address the challenges a lack of data standards and transparency presents to funders and fintechs when making investment decisions.
To learn more about Inclusive Fintech 50, visit www.inclusivefintech50.com.