Major financial institutions are looking closely at blockchain technology and some of them are even hiring additional blockchain experts to help them work on internal projects. Transforming the world of banking is slowly taking shape, and Citigroup is the latest party to join the hunt for FinTech innovators, more specifically in the Hong Kong area.
FinTech Focus In Asia-Pacific Region
In recent years, more and more FinTech incubators have popped up all over the world to attract the brightest minds in the world of financial technology. However, unlike what the general public might assume, these incubators are not all located in the US or Europe. In fact, most of them are situated in the Asia-Pacific region, which is proving to be a breeding ground for FinTech innovation.
Countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong are of particular interest to various corporations, due to the natural embrace of technological innovation. Additionally, most of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region are unbanked or underbanked, making them the perfect emerging markets to test new financial technologies.
Citigroup, one of the largest banking corporations to operate out of the United States, launched their own global initiative in the FinTech sector last year. Citi Mobile Challenge Asia-Pacific is the name of this branch, and the goal of this “next-gen” business accelerator is to bring aspiring entrepreneurs together with experts and investors to transform the banking world as we know it.
As you would come to expect for a business accelerator in the FinTech world, Citigroup combines the traditional business incubator scheme with a competition. In fact, there will be a new contest later this year, and interesting entrepreneurs can register from August 19th onwards until September 2nd.
With the overall investments in FinTech – in the Asia-Pacific region – on the rise by as much as 300% in the past year and a half, there is no better time than now to focus efforts on that part of the world. Whereas FinTech investment ventures saw US $245m invested in 2013, that number tripled to US $767m in 2014 and is expected to surpass the US$1b mark by the end of 2015.
Blockchain Technology Is The “Next Big Thing” In FinTech
Breaking ground in the underbanked Asia-Pacific region is not an easy feat for any bank, not even a megabank such as Citigroup. But there is a viable solution to building out an entirely new infrastructure for little to no return and that is using blockchain technology. Even though the Asia-Pacific region does not have internet connectivity speeds like the Western world, most people living there use a smartphone with mobile data.
And with Citigroup targeting as many as 10 million active digital customers in the Asia-Pacific region over the next two years, a working solution has to be developed in a short span of time. In that regard, it only makes sense to build additional financial services on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, giving local residents access to financial services without Citigroup having to invest a ton of money in buildings, infrastructure and staff.
Images courtesy of Citigroup and Shutterstock