Asia | May 7, 2018

Can inclusion power Singapore’s fintech boom?

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, May 7 – The Monetary Authority of Singapore has made “financial inclusion” a top priority for the city-state’s booming fintech investment scene. Fintech firms in Singapore last year attracted a record $229 million in funding, defying the broader decline of fintech investing in Asia after a red-hot 2016.

That raises the question of whether a focus on lower-income and “unbanked” customers might open new market opportunities. “In Singapore and across Southeast Asia, financial inclusion is a big focus area, with fintechs focused on everything from micropayments and microlending, to remittances and even microinsurance,” says Chia Tek Yew, who heads KPMG’s financial services advising in Singapore.

Two small deals reflect the trend. CredoLab, part of the growing field of startups developing alternative methods of credit-scoring to help unbanked customers secure and manage credit, raised $1 million from Walden International for expansion in Asia and Africa. CredoLab tracks unbanked people’s “digital footprints” and uses predictive analytics to underwrite their credit risk.

Helicap helps wealthy and institutional investors funnel investment capital into the small business sector by analyzing investment opportunities in microfinance institutions, small businesses and peer-to-peer crowdfunding platforms. The company, which calls itself a “fintech investments platform that specializes in the alternative lending space in Southeast Asia and Oceania, raised $1.5 million, e27 reports.

  • Capital gap… More than 2.9 million small- and medium-sized enterprises in Southeast Asia and Australia face a credit gap of more than $187 billion.