Digital finance in Southeast Asia has flourished amid the region’s fast growing digital economy. But with macroeconomic headwinds looming, financial service providers will have to find ways to cushion growth against any weakening consumer demand.
A key approach to sustaining growth is to meet longstanding consumer expectations; such demands remain relevant, even in uncertain times. And as our research shows, people have three critical expectations of consumer finance services: partnership and support, a seamless app experience, and great value.
People want to be supported as partners, not directed as customers
The ease of using digital financial services today means the average person can independently enter financial markets and manage their own wealth. But while technology has empowered consumers and given them greater control over their investments, they face challenges trying to understand and distinguish credible financial information. At least 1 in 3 active investors in Southeast Asia feel they lack practical understanding of concepts like asset diversification and compound interest.1
Financial service providers can support self-directed investors by offering clear and reliable information about investment options, and partner with them in long-term financial planning.
One example is DBS Bank’s intuitive planning app. The DBS Nav Planner helps people track, protect, and grow their savings, with recommendations based on personal goals such as expanding wealth or planning for retirement.
Financial service providers can also connect with people seeking useful information via online video content. Syfe, for example, has content ranging from in-depth webinars to bite-size insights on its YouTube channel to suit people’s needs at different stages of their wealth journey. Similarly, Endowus collaborates with industry experts and financial institutions to share advice and tips on its YouTube channel.
People want experiences, not products
To stand out among the many digital finance options available to self-directed investors, a best-in-class mobile app experience is essential. People in Southeast Asia have embraced finance apps, downloading them over 670 million times this year, a 105% jump from 2019.2 And research shows a good app experience, one that meets users’ needs, will keep them coming back — 95% of highly satisfied finance app users say they’re likely to stay with the brand.3
Creating a good finance app experience means making your app easy to use and providing helpful services that save people time and money. One example is the seamless offline-to-online experience of buy now, pay later brand Atome. It allows shoppers to easily scan a QR code in-store, split the payment into three installments, and get a loan anywhere, anytime with just a few taps on their phones.
Another way financial service providers offer a seamless app experience is by integrating their service with other lifestyle apps. For instance, Bank Jago’s integration with Gojek allows people to make cashless payments for food delivery and other services, and even open a bank account through the Gojek app.
People want value, not what’s cheap
Faced with economic uncertainty, people are balancing their desires to save and spend. While 43% of Singaporeans are more willing to treat themselves and go big on their next trip, 74% are looking for more affordable alternatives.
To purchase the things that bring them joy while staying within their budget, people are pursuing discounts and credit and deferred payments, with search interest in “buy now pay later” increasing 105% year over year in Southeast Asia.4
Financial brands can meet the consumer demand for value by marketing their rewards, promotions, and cashback features. To maximize impact, the marketing for such financial services should be delivered to the relevant audience at the right time. Income’s customized digital experience is one such example.
The insurance provider identified high-intent, price-sensitive customers, and showed them a limited-time discount on its website to encourage purchase. This successfully contributed to a 12% increase in sales.
Although macroeconomic uncertainty looms, financial service providers can nevertheless come out ahead by understanding people’s long-term expectations and building toward them. Treat customers as partners, delight them with seamless mobile app experiences, and provide them with irresistible deals and value.