Fintech in Southeast Asia: The Way Forward

Recent research by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute examines the factors behind financial technology adoption in the Greater Jakarta region, providing transferrable learning points for governments and businesses alike.

Astrid Meilasari-Sugiana, Siwage Dharma Negara and Hui Yew-Foong, from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute published “Financial Technology Adoption in Greater Jakarta: Patterns, Constraints and Enablers” this month. This research is part of the Institute’s Trends in Southeast Asia series, which serves as in-depth analysis of contemporary geopolitical and social-economic forces in the region.

Drawing upon insights from an online survey assessing over 3,157 respondents’ experiences and perceptions of fintech, the authors outline patterns, constraints, and enablers behind fintech adoption in Greater Jakarta. Their findings are relevant for policymakers looking to accelerate fintech adoption. 

The survey found that socioeconomic status did not seem to influence fintech adoption when fintech infrastructure was sufficiently developed. Factors such as income, education, gender, age, and occupation were found to influence the kinds of fintech tools preferred. 

Notably, while users remained generally undeterred and enthusiastic about experimenting with fintech adoption, data leaks and fraud were nonetheless identified as the main perceived obstacles to adoption across all socioeconomic groups.

As such, it is clear that trust and confidence in Digital Financial Service (DFS) providers remains key to fully unlocking the potential of fintech.

This aligns with ongoing research on trust in DFS at the Tech For Good Institute, in which we see digital literacy as an important factor for the adoption of services across Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Initial findings indicate that trust in DFS providers positively predicted e-wallet usage in half of the countries surveyed. When it came to the usage of other DFS products such as loans, insurance, and investment instruments, trust continued to positively predict usage in all countries surveyed except Thailand. 

The work of Meilasari-Sugiana et al demonstrates the importance of understanding the needs of target fintech users, not only those traditionally underserved by financial institutions but also those with limited or no digital infrastructure. By addressing user pain points and barriers to adoption, fintech will be better placed to fulfil its promise in improving financial inclusion across the region.

The Tech For Good Institute hopes to work closely with partners and stakeholders in helping raise the awareness of these barriers and pain points, and bring to light innovative solutions from the digital economy that will allow Southeast Asia to fully realise its potential as an equitable and prosperous region.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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Mouna Aouri

Programme Fellow

Mouna Aouri is an Institute Fellow at the Tech For Good Institute. As a social entrepreneur, impact investor, and engineer, her experience spans over two decades in the MENA region, South East Asia, and Japan. She is founder of Woomentum, a Singapore-based platform dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs in APAC through skill development and access to growth capital through strategic collaborations with corporate entities, investors and government partners.

Dr Ming Tan

Founding Executive Director

Dr Ming Tan is founding Executive Director for the Tech for Good Institute, a non-profit founded to catalyse research and collaboration on social, economic and policy trends accelerated by the digital economy in Southeast Asia. She is concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore and Advisor to the Founder of the COMO Group, a Singaporean portfolio of lifestyle companies operating in 15 countries worldwide.  Her research interests lie at the intersection of technology, business and society, including sustainability and innovation.


Ming was previously Managing Director of IPOS International, part of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, which supports Singapore’s future growth as a global innovation hub for intellectual property creation, commercialisation and management. Prior to joining the public sector, she was Head of Stewardship of the COMO Group and the founding Executive Director of COMO Foundation, a grantmaker focused on gender equity that has served over 47 million women and girls since 2003.


As a company director, she lends brand and strategic guidance to several companies within the COMO Group. Ming also serves as a Council Member of the Council for Board Diversity, on the boards of COMO Foundation and Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC), and on the Digital and Technology Advisory Panel for Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre.


In the non-profit, educational and government spheres, Ming is a director of COMO Foundation and Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC) and chairs the Asia Advisory board for Swiss hospitality business and management school EHL. She also serves on  the Council for Board Diversity and the Digital and Technology Advisory Panel for Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre.


Ming was educated in Singapore, the United States, and England. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and her doctorate from Oxford.