Telum vox pop: Challenges in covering FinTech and key trends in 2021
Singapore FinTech Festival, the world’s largest financial technology event, takes place on 7th to 11th December 2020. Ahead of the festival, which brings together financial technology thought-leaders and FinTechs from around the world, Telum spoke to journalists in Southeast Asia about the challenges of covering FinTech and the FinTech trends they will be watching in 2021.
Christian König, Founder / Editor, Fintech News Singapore (Singapore)
The sub-sectors of FinTech that interest me the most are wealthtech as well as capital market solutions. These days there are so many up and coming startups and we are bombarded with press releases and updates from a lot of them. This makes it that much harder to filter out the noise to ensure that we are covering the relevant and most in-demand news in the ecosystem. My team is very diligent in ensuring that we sniff out the most exciting news and vet the information carefully before we publish anything on our portal. Next year I think we can anticipate that online insurance solutions and pension solutions will be some of the key and emerging FinTech trends.
Richard Hartung, Freelance Writer (Singapore)
A key challenge is simply the range of sectors and sub-sectors. With FinTech driving solutions in more than three dozen sub-sectors in countries around the world, keeping track of all the developments and figuring out whether a new idea in one country will work in multiple markets or just domestically in one market requires constant vigilance and analysis. While the far more rapid customer adoption of digital financial solutions has tremendous benefits, the speed of change also creates a challenge in that new FinTech scale up far faster and discovering or covering them needs to happen more quickly than before. One trend is likely to be customisation of solutions using AI and data analytics. While it has been talked about for a long time, consumers still get lending, payment, wealth management and other products or services for broad groups. AI is getting to the stage where one-to-one marketing and customised products will soon be available. The other is partnerships and ecosystems. While Alipay and WeChat Pay in China are super-apps, other markets have more often had individual services on apps. Now, apps such as Grab or Gojek are creating apps with a full range of financial - and non-financial - services. Banks are also building ecosystems through partnerships so that they can offer dozens of financial and non-financial services to SMEs or provide a full suite of property purchase or lifestyle services to consumers. In terms of sectors, new customised solutions in insuretech will likely continue. Wealth management, from robo-advisors and insights for the wealthy to enhanced financial literacy services and savings solutions the bottom of the pyramid, should see significant advances.
James Zhang, former Editor of CompassList / Associate Fellow of Wuhan University Centre for Economic Diplomacy (Singapore)
The single biggest challenge is the extent FinTech has reached, from earth to space, from payment to entertainment. Fintech is quite knowledge-demanding. As a journalist, I have to find out the news-worthy stuff from them in a brief time.
Poovenraj Kanagaraj, Deputy Editor, Business Today (Malaysia)
At Business Today, the FinTech segment that truly caught our interest was the new payment gateways that were coming up for both the SME and education segments. Respective players like Revenue Monster and Nium for instance have played an important role in utilising financial technology. FinTech is no longer just about e-wallets. The pandemic has definitely pushed existing players to push the boundaries. To us, the topic of FinTech has mostly surrounded e-wallets but now with the pandemic, we are seeing FinTech penetrate new segments, particularly education. That’s refreshing to see and cover as well. And with more focus on SMEs now and definitely in 2021, I foresee new innovative FinTech solutions to aid the segment to offer a more seamless experience for users in their respective countries.
Melissa Lopez, News Writer, CNN Philippines (Philippines)
I am always excited to report about mobile wallets because I have seen how these have disrupted payment and deposit-taking services. It is also the way forward in furthering financial inclusion. The Philippines was among the leaders of this concept in Asia (dating back to the 2000s) through our telco providers, and we are seeing a resurgence now as more Filipinos go cashless amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Big banks and e-wallet providers are really stepping up, and it is refreshing to see both as a financial journalist and a consumer. FinTechs are always ahead in terms of innovation and it is challenging to understand the behind-the-scenes of emerging technology. I have to know it well enough for me to relay it to readers in a manner which they would also understand. It takes effort but it is definitely fulfilling every time you get the job done. I believe more convenient payment channels will emerge in 2021. There should also be reinvigorated and more targeted approaches against fraud to counter the more aggressive schemes which thieves use to dupe the public.
Aditya Hadi Pratama, Journalist, Tech in Asia (Indonesia)
The challenge in covering FinTech is that financial is a highly regulated sector, so the players tend to be careful in revealing numbers and insights. Thus, we have to be creative in getting those numbers and reveal insightful analysis of the current landscape to the readers. It is interesting to see how FinTech players expand their penetration to rural areas, especially to tackle informal loan that still happened in Southeast Asia. I think those are two key trends in 2021.
Tania Perera, Editor (Content Lead), FortuneZ (Singapore & Malaysia)
I am most keen on crypto and blockchain among the sub-sectors of FinTech. We have been seeing many new developments in that arena. It can only continue to take off and that to me, is something we can all look forward to. The key trends I think will pop up in 2021 will be open banking and autonomous finance.