The Fintech Times - Edition 31

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The Changing Payments Landscape in Asia Pacific In Asia Pacific non-cash payment transactions are growing faster than anywhere else in the world, with this growth comes innovation Marcus Hughes, Head of Strategic Business Development at Bottomline Technologies


uch like the rest of the world, the payments landscape in Asia Pacific is a fast-changing environment. The region has more than 60 per cent of the world’s population and in payment terms, its non-cash payment transactions are growing at more than 30 per cent a year. That’s faster than anywhere else in the world. The scale and pace of economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region are impressive. 26


Edition 31

According to McKinsey’s Global Payments Report, Asia Pacific is the growth engine of the recent 11 per cent increase in global payment revenues and constitutes almost half of the value. Marcus Hughes, head of strategic business development at Bottomline Technologies, visited Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China to explore this fast-growing regional payment landscape in more detail. “All these countries are exciting and for different reasons,” comments Hughes. “It’s a centre of innovation in payments, creating a new generation of digital banks and payment institutions.” One thing that stands out is how the introduction of the new rules and payment systems is reflected in already-established schemes and innovations in the UK. Given the rise of fintechs, the adoption of real-time payments and the introduction of Open Banking, there are many parallels

with the rapidly-changing payments landscape of the UK market.

The adoption of Open Banking

Although Open Banking initiatives across the Asia-Pacific region are fragmented and at different points of evolution, they are all heading in a similar direction of travel. Many Asia Pacific countries already have some form of application programming interfaces (APIs) in place, but in most cases, these schemes are unregulated and without common API standards. For this reason, the Asia-Pacific region is attractive for UK technology companies. Being able to export our expertise in Open Banking and real-time payments from the UK to countries, such as Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, offers exciting opportunities. However, it’s not just a matter of replicating the UK and European tactics elsewhere. Instead, Asia Pacific countries are developing their own approach to

Open Banking, reflecting their markets and policy objectives, and in some cases developing cross-industry strategies beyond financial services, like in Australia. Hughes goes on to suggest that Open Banking initiatives fall into two broad categories: market-driven and regulatory-driven. In some countries, such as Australia, Open Banking is driven by the government to increase competition within a regulatory framework. In other parts of Asia Pacific, such as Singapore, Open Banking is primarily driven by banks and fintechs that want to remain competitive or grow market share. And this is backed by gentle encouragement from the regulators, but not new regulations. ■

Looking at market-driven countries: India, Japan and Singapore do not currently have formal or compulsory Open Banking regulations. But their policymakers are

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