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Driving digital into the heart of Asia’s financial services industry

The (uneven) road to an integrated future

In an effort to gauge the progress of digital integration within the Asian region, EY commissioned FST media as our research partner to conduct an inaugural survey to find out on the readiness of the financial services industry for the Digital Economy 2020. This study seeks to explore the impact of digital disruption on the local financial services landscape and each country’s capability and capacity to effectively support the region’s digital economic growth.

Some key topics that were covered in the survey include:

  • The rate of digital adoption within financial institutions and how they are optimizing digital partnerships
  • Critical factors to enable financial institutions to move towards an ASEAN integrated digital economy
  • Game-changing trends and the future of financial services in the next ten years

Respondent Profiles

Targeted at senior financial services industry executives including the C-suites, company directors, heads of digital and automation, and other decision-makers, we gathered a total of 141 responses from the six major ASEAN economies – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines) as well as Hong Kong-based executives with a regional remit.

EY - Respondent Profiles

The technologies that bind – embracing financial inclusion

  • Nearly nine out of ten organizations (86.6%) have adopted some form of digital initiative.
  • Over one in four (26%) have comprehensively implemented digital – majority are made up by the banking and wealth, fund and asset management sectors.
  • Of the developed regions surveyed, Hong Kong appeared to be lagging behind both Malaysia (36%) and Singapore (29%), with less than  one in five organizations (18.52%) fully embracing digital.
  • Vietnam was among the few to have a significant number of institutions retaining predominantly manual processes, with 33.33% still in the assessment phase for adopting digital.


EY - The technologies that bind – embracing financial inclusion

EY - The technologies that bind – embracing financial inclusion

Enabling digital transformation

  • While a majority (55.8%) see the harmonization of KYC, cloud computing policies and capital rules as the ideal path to integrating ASEAN’s digital economy, more than one-third of the sector (38%) also recognize the necessity of integrating the region’s varied payments platforms to drive integration further.
  • A majority of representatives from the banking, insurance and wealth industry revealed a preference for pursuing harmonization policies, with half of all payments providers — perhaps unsurprisingly — seeing the integration of the region’s payments network as key to furthering the region’s digital integration.
  • Regions were split relatively evenly between the two integration methodologies:
    • Malaysia (69.57%), Vietnam (66.67%) and Hong Kong (64%) favoring policy harmonization.
    • Developing markets of Thailand (66.67%) and the Philippines (62.5%) backed payments.
    • Singapore, one of the premier hotbeds of FinTech innovation, remained split between the two integration paths, slightly favoring policy harmonization (55.56%).


EY - Enabling digital transformation

EY - Enabling digital transformation

Into the looking glass – future prospects for FIs

  • Majority (77.2%) believed industry convergence as an inevitability, perhaps a recognition by FIs of the successful customer-centric approach of these start-ups and how they continue to influence consumer demands.
  • Yet most remained skeptical of the impact of big tech players (Alibaba, Tencent, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, etc.), with less than 1 in 10 respondents considering them a force to be reckoned with, despite the overwhelming advantage they hold in data aggregation and analytics capability.
    • Only Malaysia (20%) and Vietnam (16.67%) expressed notable unease over the influence of big techs.
    • Representatives from Vietnam remained most conscious over the encroachment of platform or on-demand companies (including Uber, Grab, and Airbnb) on ASEAN’s payments network.
  • A small portion of insurers and wealth managers were doubtful over the influence of both platform and big tech players, believing that disruption is ‘just a phase’ and that the financial services ecosystem will end up in a similar state with the same major institutions still dominating the industry.

EY - Into the looking glass – future prospects for FIs

EY - Into the looking glass – future prospects for FIs

Contact us

EY - Liew Nam Soon
Liew Nam Soon
Managing Partner,
EY ASEAN Markets Leader
EY - Brian Thung
Brian Thung
Managing Partner,
EY ASEAN Financial Services Leader

Country contacts

EY - Peter Picton-Phillipps
Hong Kong
Peter Picton-Phillipps
Financial Services Country Leader
EY - Danil S Handaya
Danil S Handaya
Financial Services Country Leader
EY - Evan K Wiradharma
Evan K Wiradharma
Financial Services Advisory Country Leader
EY - Hooi Lam Chan
Hooi Lam Chan
Financial Services Assurance Country Leader
EY - Shankar Kanabiran
Shankar Kanabiran
Financial Services Advisory Leader
EY - Vicky B Lee-Salas
Vicky B Lee-Salas
Financial Services Country Leader
EY - Christian G Lauron
Christian G Lauron
Financial Services Advisory Leader
EY - Roungkarn Sriprasertsuk
Roungkarn Sriprasertsuk
Financial Services Advisory Partner
EY - Ratana Jala
Ratana Jala
Financial Services Assurance Partner
EY - Duong Nguyen
Duong Nguyen
Financial Services Country Leader