In a region where wealth equals status, there’s a world of difference in the approaches people take to stashing their cash
By Amanda Saxton and Joana Tacken
Banking in Southeast Asia is a bipolar industry that reaches all manner of extremes – nearly 100% of Singaporeans over the age of 15 have a bank account, whereas less than 5% of Cambodians in the same age bracket do. Naturally, this has a lot to do with people’s incomes. With Singapore’s GDP per capita at purchasing-power parity sitting at a comfortable $49,754 and Cambodia’s at a meagre $1,818 in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund, the average Singaporean has much more opportunity to open a bank account and accumulate savings.
Banking’s latest fad – making payments online – is taking off in the region. However, access to the internet is a huge factor. This isn’t an issue for wired-up Singapore and Malaysia, or for major Southeast Asian cities such as Bangkok and even Phnom Penh. But out in the countryside it is a different story.
Other factors affecting savings and loans include consumer readiness and the regulatory environment – neither is particularly accommodating across the region.
Mobile payments, where money is transferred via mobile phone and deducted from mobile accounts, is a practical alternative to making online payments. The Philippines leads in this area, using the technology to complete a range of transactions, from remittances to bill payments.
“The caffeine king” – Brown Coffee’s Chang Bunleang says that education is the key to standing out in a crowded market
“The full Monty” – Priming CIMB Bank for regional economic integration, Nazir Razak is betting big on Asean
“Building blocks” – Are cash-rich pension funds the answer to financing Asean’s massive infrastructure upgrade?
“The next big things” – With ANZ establishing a presence in Myanmar this month, Grant Knuckey is investing his expertise in the region’s most exciting markets
“Back to the future” – Harald Link of B.Grimm Group will lean on his company’s rich history in Thailand as the conglomerate goes regional
“Better with age” – Chivas Brothers’ James Maxwell hopes to capitalise on Southeast Asia’s burgeoning love affair with Scotch whisky