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金融科技或可解决亚洲发展不平衡问题

金融科技是一种简称,指的是为一度保守的银行业注入创新、带来新的挑战与机遇的技术。在金融科技新格局中,未来营商模式、监管框架及如何联结金融科技从业者、投资方与受益人士等多个问题都成为了人们关注的焦点。

对政策制定者与企业家而言,无论其位于日本、新加坡还是印度,消除数字鸿沟、驾驭金融科技的好处显而易见。两相结合,这两种举措均能提升资本获取度,增强金融普惠性。

泰国显然同意上述观点。米尔肯研究所近期与泰国央行共同主办了"未来金融"圆桌讨论会,且将于本月晚些时候在洛杉矶第21届米尔肯研究所全球会议上继续就这一问题加以讨论。

从区块链到比特币与以太坊等加密货币,再到分配代币作为众筹手段的ICO,冲击主流银行与金融服务的词汇及革新似乎令其难以招架。然而,正如企业与消费者克服了对自动取款机的恐惧与忧虑一般,针对技术之于金融业发展影响的担忧并不应阻碍变革,应拥抱金融科技变革。

某日本数字先行者在评论中认可了此观点。

创企中心与创业生态体系Mistletoe投资人与创始人孙泰藏说道:"我们坚信代币经济与金融科技创新所引发数字转型的力量。然而,此类技术还可能催化本就不断扩大的收入鸿沟。作为创业者与创新人,在技术不断自动化的时代,我们需意识到自己在构建共情包容社会中所发挥的作用。"(孙泰藏是另一位科技先驱软银创始人孙正义的幼弟。)

然而,在不平等现象日益加剧的时代,又如何保证金融科技对亚洲人群产生积极且富意义的影响?

印度太平洋地区,中国大陆吸引了绝大多数风险投资。此外,该地区其他地区去年也出现了多个规模达百万量级的交易,如针对印度在线借贷平台Capital Float、香港数字钱包运营商TNG Fintech Group、以及韩国第二大加密货币交易所Korbit的投资。

印尼共享出行应用Go-Jek如今已正式成为估值超十亿的科技创企独角兽。Go-Jek收购支付门户Kartuku与Midtrans及存贷网络Mapan,使该公司不仅将成为数字支付领军企业,还可能影响东南亚第二大经济体印尼金融科技的格局与规模。

东南亚许多地区未满足基本银行服务占比大。咨询公司毕马威数据显示,2016年该地区6亿居民中,仅有26%拥有银行账户。因此此地区蕴藏通过金融科技发掘意义施加影响的机遇。

亚洲开发银行与奥纬咨询及MicroSave共同进行的《2017利用数字金融推进东南亚普惠金融》研究发现,为无银行账户人士敞开金融服务大门可带动菲律宾与印尼GDP增长3%,促进柬埔寨增长6%。

在柬埔寨等新兴经济体国家,仅有5%的人士可享有正式金融服务。无银行账户水平对该地区产生了负面影响。

许多亚洲人士享有的正式银行服务有限,或根本未享有此种服务,也就无法拥有储蓄账户等基本保护,收付款成本也就可能相对较高。世界银行数据显示,2016年该地区汇款额约为2360亿美元。

然而,只有创制并维持恰当的生态体系、可解决监管者忧虑并惠及创新者及消费者的体系,才能为我们持续带来裨益。随着手机拥有度的提升与互联网渗透率的增强,多种重要因素刺激消费者采用移动金融服务,缩小数字鸿沟仍将是一项基本需求。

其实,衡量金融科技成功与否的指标不应是交易规模或适量,而在于拓展广度。金融科技帮助曾经贫困农民家庭获得资金,将其产品卖入市场,或帮助小商家发展壮大,抑或为年轻创客提供启动资金,助其将创意变为显示,才算是真正的成功。

除却金融科技宣传与专业术语外,也不应忽略金融技术中的人文因素。评估金融科技时不只要罗列利润、其颠覆或创造的企业,还应考虑是否有人受益。

In the new landscape of finance — with the term “fintech” serving as shorthand for the technologies that are delivering innovations as well as new challenges and opportunities to the once staid banking sector — up for debate are future business models, regulatory frameworks and how to align fintech practitioners, investors and beneficiaries.

For policymakers and entrepreneurs whether in Tokyo, Singapore or New Delhi, the benefits of addressing the digital divide and of harnessing the power of fintech should be clear-cut. Taken together, both steps can increase the level of access to capital and financial inclusion.

That’s certainly a view that was shared in Thailand as the Milken Institute recently co-hosted a “Future of Finance” roundtable with Thailand’s central bank, and will be discussed later this month at the 21st annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles.

From blockchain to cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and Ethereum, as well as initial coin offerings that allocate “tokens” as a new means of crowdfunding capital, the language and disruptions buffeting the mainstream banking and financial services industry can seem overwhelming. Yet, just as businesses and consumers overcame fears and concerns about the advent of disruptions wrought by ATMs, fear of technology’s impact on an evolving finance industry should not hold back change. Fintech is a disruption to be embraced.

This is echoed in comments from one of Japan’s digital pioneers.

“We are strong believers in the power of digital transformation evoked by token economies and fintech innovation,” said Taizo Son, investor and founder of Mistletoe, a hub for startups and overall entrepreneurial ecosystems. Son is the youngest brother of another tech pioneer, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son.

“However, such technologies also hold the potential to promote the already widening income gap in our society,” said Son. “As entrepreneurs and architects of innovation we need to be aware of the important role we play in building a society that remains empathic and inclusive to all people in this era of increasingly autonomous technology.”

Indeed, at a time of growing inequality, how do you ensure a positive, meaningful impact from fintech on the people of Asia?

Across the Indo-Pacific region, with mainland China typically attracting the lion’s share of venture capital investments, fintech deals continue to make news. Multimillion dollar investment deals were reported last year in India into online lending platform Capital Float, in Hong Kong into “digital wallet operator” TNG Fintech Group, and in South Korea into that nation’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange, Korbit.

In Indonesia, motorbike delivery and ride-sharing app Go-Jek is now officially a “unicorn” — a tech startup valued at more than $1 billion. With Go-Jek’s acquisition of payment portals Kartuku and Midtrans, and savings and lending network Mapan, the company is poised not only to be a digital payments leader but also is in a position to influence the shape and scope of the fintech landscape in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

The unmet need for basic banking services is significant across much of Southeast Asia. Only 27 percent of the region’s 600 million inhabitants had a bank account in 2016, according to consulting firm KPMG. And herein lies opportunity to find meaning and impact through fintech.

The 2017 Accelerating Financial Inclusion in Southeast Asia with Digital Finance study, conducted by the Asian Development Bank and consulting firms Oliver Wyman and MicroSave, found that opening the door to financial services to the “unbanked” could increase the GDP of the Philippines and Indonesia by as much as 3 percent and Cambodia by 6 percent.

In emerging economies such as Cambodia, only 5 percent of the population has access to formal banking services. This level of “unbanked” has negative repercussions for the region.

With little to no access to formal banking services, too many people in Asia go without the basic protections of a savings account, and also may well face relatively higher costs for sending or receiving money. This, in a region where remittances were valued at $236 billion in 2016, according to the World Bank.

“Having access to basic financial services can reduce hunger, increase education and generally improve the quality of life,” Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the U.N. secretary-general’s special advocate for inclusive finance for development, said in her speech to attendees at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2017.

Yet, the sustained benefits of fintech will only be realized if a proper ecosystem is created and maintained — one that addresses concerns of regulators while benefiting innovators and most importantly, consumers. Narrowing the digital divide will also continue to be a fundamental need, with increased mobile phone ownership and internet penetration key factors in spurring consumer adoption of mobile financial services.

Indeed, the true measure of success for fintech should not be deal size or quantity but in expanded horizons. True success is when fintech helps once-poor farming communities access funds to bring their crops to market, or helps small shopkeepers to grow bigger, or provides seed money for a young entrepreneur ready to turn a great idea into a concrete reality.

Beyond the fintech hype and jargon, the human element of financial technology should not be forgotten. Assessments of fintech must go beyond counting fortunes made and businesses disrupted or created but also include a measure of people helped.


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