Inadequate access to basic monetary services — credit, insurance, and investment products — leaves the majority of Southeast Asians sitting on the sidelines of its bustling digital economy.
The region’s businesses want nothing more than to fill the void as millions of potential customers await digital inclusion. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of companies to distribute compelling invitations.
SEA’s Internet economy continues to shatter record after record for economic growth. However, with only 104 million of 400 million adult Southeast Asians entirely banked, opportunities still abound.
As identified in Google’s recent 2019 ‘e-Conomy SEA’ report , digital payment services hold the key to escorting unbanked citizens into the world of mainstream finance.
Current obstacles facing unbanked populations include a lack of accurate credit info, ID systems, and public registers. Without this vital data, financial institutions have no choice but to ignore and deny account applications.
Astute organizations overcome challenges with bank-free products and services. Moreover, modern solutions run on the latest technology and align with SEA’s world-leading rate of mobile Internet adoption.
Due to a lack of experience with traditional accounts, unbanked citizens may be hesitant or unwilling to participate in the Internet economy. As such, familiarity is a critical component of drawing users into a bankless ecosystem.
In Southeast Asia, no technology is more familiar than the ubiquitous smartphone. Those same communication devices, something people use daily, increasingly facilitate frictionless digital payments.
RedFOX Labs is currently developing a cashback and rewards app to serve Myanmar, one of SEA’s most impoverished nations. A simple, downloadable app offers an easily accessible gateway to the Internet economy.
Ben Fairbank, CEO and co-founder of RedFOX, said this about the concept of digital inclusion:
“The digital economy exists to make our lives easier and more efficient. Our philosophy is that technologically-driven enhancements should extend to anyone and everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.
As such, we strive to make all our products and services not only user-friendly, but also inclusionary. For example, our upcoming rewards app gives Myanmar’s citizens the ability to join the Internet economy, without a bank account, through the smartphone they already use.”
Today, RedFOX isn’t the only Southeast Asian organization pushing for digital inclusion. One of the region’s most popular super apps, Grab , recently partnered with Microsoft to spark the Internet economy’s growth.
In SEA, 2020 is shaping up to become the year of digital inclusion’s acceleration. By serving Southeast Asia’s unbanked, insightful companies are paving inroads for a massive influx of new Internet economy participants.