Home Digital The Rise of Digital Banking in Southeast Asia – BCG

The Rise of Digital Banking in Southeast Asia – BCG

Digital banking adoption is growing across Southeast Asia, driven by evolving customer expectations and enhanced digital penetration. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, as enforced digital transitions have embedded a more immediate impetus for change.

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These drivers will see Southeast Asia’s digital banking opportunity expanding significantly in coming years, reflecting a trend that has seen over 200 new digital banks established globally over the last decade. Since 2015, the number of digital banks has grown by 190%, supported by significant investment and positively evolving regulation.

Understanding Emerging Challengers

Institutional banks are now facing a new era of digital-first competition. Customers looking for more personalized and targeted offerings are turning away from incumbent operators towards a new breed of digital-first challengers, launched by financial technology (fintech) operators and non-financial institution (NFI) players. These operators are unified by a focus on superior customer experience, branchless design, and use of technology.

Emerging Digital Challenger Banks can be broadly slotted into two main categories — those with, and those without, a full banking license. Those institutions without full banking licenses are categorized as Neobanks. Those with a full banking license are identified as Challenger Banks. In this changing environment, traditional operators face growing pressure to transform. These legacy incumbents must adapt if they are to defend, grow, and win in this evolving landscape.