Get to know ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, DBS Bank CEO Piyush Gupta, Arbor Ventures Managing Partner Wei Hopeman and more stalwarts
Last week, we released the first Fintech Asia 100 — a list of the top leaders in banks, startups, investment, tech and more — as part of the development and lead up to the 2016 Fintech Finals conference, to be held in Hong Kong on January 25-26.
Most global fintech lists are too US- or Europe-centric. We thought it was time to change that. There are recognised leaders from every corner of the region that we know are doing great work – from Simone McCallum at ASB Bank in New Zealand to Shikha Sharma at Axis Bank in India, John Owens at USAID in the Philippines to Melissa Guzy at Arbor Ventures in Hong Kong.
First of its kind
This list is comprehensive and the first of its kind for Asia. We selected the people we admired and that represent the many pockets and facets of the industry, not just the most senior bankers, and not just the rockstar startups. There are many people working behind the scenes without any fanfare, or in adjacent roles and businesses helping the industry to grow.
Given the pace of growth of fintech in the region, these people have been instrumental in both their pioneering work and ongoing thought leadership. This is not a ranking – no one person is really better than the other – but peers that we think are collectively doing great work for the Asian region.
A few of these people are worth calling out, as I admire the journeys undertaken by them to reach their position as fintech leaders, as well as their passion and dedication.
Here is a small selection of leaders from the 2016 Fintech Asia 100 list (in alphabetical order):
1. Alex Scandurra, CEO of Stone & Chalk (Australia)
Alex Scandurra has quickly adapted from his time at Barclays working on the Techstars accelerator programme to being at the centre of the New South Wales government’s efforts to make Sydney a genuine fintech centre for Asia. He has helped set up a terrific space, community and programme to foster fintech startups based in Sydney, and is building good connections with the rest of Asia. For a man juggling all types of stakeholders and a rapidly growing sector, he displays the passion needed to lead the industry forward.
2. Brad Jones, CEO of Wave Money (Myanmar)
Wave Money is a joint venture established between telco Telenor and Yoma Bank. The venture will provide mobile financial services to the mass market in Myanmar, and aimed to have commenced operations in the fourth quarter of last year. Brad Jones is an experienced executive – a very good operator and leader – specialising in digital finance, mobile money and business transformation in developing markets, including Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Jones builds strong loyal teams, intent on making very positive impacts in markets that need it.
3. Chanda Kochhar, CEO and MD of ICICI Bank (India)
ICICI is India’s largest private sector bank. Chanda Kochhar is widely recognised for her role in shaping the retail banking sector in India and for her leadership of the ICICI Group, as well as her contributions to various forums in India and globally. Her focus on ‘mobile banking’ in rural areas to reach more clients has been praised as a model for low-cost expansion in a country with a burgeoning middle-class.
She has also been an outspoken proponent of clearer banking laws. She is a leader looking for democratic solutions in the industry that will help all Indian consumers.
4. Lucy Peng, CEO of Ant Financial (China)
Ant Financial is the finance arm of the enormous Alibaba Group founded by Jack Ma. Ant Financial started life as Alipay, the payments business, but it has expanded into a full-scale financial services firm. It now includes a money-market fund, a peer-to-peer lending service and a microloan programme for online entrepreneurs.
Like Ma, Lucy Peng is an ex-teacher. Though she lacks a typical management background, Ma picked her to oversee Ant Financial because of the principles of humility and passion that she values from her teaching days.
5. Matt Dill, Senior VP, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at Visa (Singapore)
Matt Dill is focussed on identifying, developing and commercialising relationships with strategic non-FI partners, capable of extending the reach and utility of Visa’s payment network on behalf of consumers, issuers and acquirers globally. Dill’s quick grasp of both technical capabilities and deep business objectives, coupled with an ability to cut through to the simple needs or insights, make him a hugely valuable asset to Visa and a true thought leader globally.
6. Piyush Gupta, CEO at DBS Bank (Singapore)
Piyush Gupta is well-known for his stellar leadership of the large Singaporean bank over the past five years (Full disclosure: He is my boss but that’s not why he’s listed here). Not only have the positive numbers been consistently building, the bank is also building a culture of strong innovation with a focus on customer experience.
Gupta has stated publicly the need for his bank, and indeed all banks, to embrace the digital transformation ahead and is creating true actions to follow it up. He must also be one of the few bank CEOs to have created and run his own startup in his banking career.
7. Wei Hopeman, Managing Partner at Arbor Ventures (China)
Wei Hopeman brings with her a unique perspective in finance and technology spanning Silicon Valley, Greater China and Southeast Asia. She also brings a wealth of corporate and startup experience to the investment community in China, from her previous time at Citi Ventures and other organisations. A prominent thought leader and advocate for women in the industry, she is constantly pushing the industry to do better.
There are many others from the list who can all warrant a mention in the same light. The seven above offer a cross-section of the talent we have in the region and the way in which they have come to their positions of influence. We need them all to be an ongoing part of our industry here in Asia.
Stand up, get involved, be active
The Asian banking community could very easily allow these few people to do all the heavy lifting in re-envisioning the future. But it’s time for the rest of us to really step up. Asia’s emerging fintech leaders need to step forward and play very positive roles in making finance better for consumers, businesses and economies.
This will take the hard work of many to embrace the fintech future we all want, understand their roles and see the opportunities, then make a commitment to build better solutions to the many problems or legacies the industry has.
I’d like to see the 35-year-old experienced banker start the business he’s always thought might work. I’d like to see the 55-year-old senior banker mentor young fintech entrepreneurs building new ideas. I’d like to see the typical VC tech investor deep dive into fintech specifically, and see how they can pick the right investments. I’d like to see government leaders follow the example of Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney, and create open, interactive communities and policies to allow fintech to flourish. We should definitely see more females in pure fintech roles and startups too.
I’d like all of you to be a part of the dialogue and contribute to the conversation through events like the 2016 Fintech Finals and in your connections, speaking, writing and interaction.
The more we all stand up, the faster we can progress towards a really exciting fintech future. Maybe next year your name will be added to the Fintech Asia 100!
This article first appeared on FinTech Finals.
The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at writers[at]e27[dot]co
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