The banking industry is undergoing fundamental changes, thanks to broad internet coverage and disruptive technologies applied in financial services. Digital banking allows customers to access all manner of banking services without visiting brick-and-mortar branches. It is becoming a common way for people all over the world to manage their personal finances. This is the case in Southeast Asia, a region with 400 million internet users.
Regulators generally support this development. Singapore and Malaysia are granting licenses to digital banking operators, while Indonesia launched new legal frameworks this year to give the industry a boost. It looks like the sector will continue to gain momentum in the coming years. In fact, 18% of bank branches in Southeast Asia are expected to be closed by 2030 due to the widespread adoption of digital banking.
To unpack some of the opportunities in this sector, Finder, a financial comparison platform based in Singapore, released a report titled “Virtual Banking Adoption 2021.” The research process involved polls with 41,654 people in 30 countries and territories, including five Southeast Asian markets—Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam—in March and April 2021. The report did not include data from China. Here are four key takeaways from Finder’s results.
#1. Brazil and Indonesia lead global digital banking adoption
Indonesia ranks second in the share of adults with a digital bank account (24.9%), while Brazil leads with 32%. Vietnam ranks fourth with 23.34%, and Malaysia ranks seventh with 20.36%. Meanwhile, the Philippines is in 12th place with 18.34%, followed by Singapore in the 13th position with 17.95%.
#2. Nearly three out of ten people will use digital banks in the next five years
Finder expects 28% of people worldwide to have a digital bank account in 2026, up from 17% in 2021. Right now, digital banking users are typically in the age bracket of 35 to 44. In this range, 23% of people use an active online banking service.
#3. Vietnam will lead regional digital banking usage in 2026
Vietnam will lead in the adoption of digital banking in Southeast Asia in the next five years, as its internet coverage is expected to reach 41.64%. Indonesia is expected to follow with 39.02% adoption, while Malaysia and the Philippines will have 37.86% and 36.18% usage rates in 2026, respectively. Singapore’s adoption rate will grow to 30% in 2026, which translates to an estimated 1.5 million adults owning a digital bank account in the city-state.
#4. Generally, more men have digital bank accounts than women
In 19 out of 30 countries that participated in the survey, men are more likely to have an online bank account than women. The United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Finland, and Japan had the biggest gender gaps, all at 8%. Indonesia had a 4% gap, and the Philippines had a 3% gap. Meanwhile, women are more likely to have a digital bank account than men in Singapore and Vietnam, with a gap of roughly 1%. There is no gender gap in Malaysia.