The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is at the forefront of the digital revolution, driven by a burgeoning mobile-first population and a projected digital spending surge to US$1.05 trillion by 2026. This widespread adoption of mobile applications and online platforms has permeated the financial sector, making e-wallets, virtual banking, and digital currencies ubiquitous among APAC consumers. Poised to surpass the US as the world’s leading fintech market by 2030, the APAC region is increasingly attracting firms seeking a new hub for their global operations.

The relentless pressure of competition and evolving customer demands have forced financial firms to transform their businesses and differentiate themselves in a hyper-competitive market. While those already on their digital journeys face the challenge of revamping their service delivery architecture and ensuring seamless and sophisticated customer experiences, those still navigating the digital landscape often struggle with limited resources. This shortage of technical expertise, continuous startups entering the field, and lack of infrastructure for cross-border online services pose significant challenges.

Against this backdrop, where time is of the essence and brand reputations are at stake, financial firms must optimize back-end processes to deliver superior front-end services and stay ahead of the curve. Low-code application development emerges as a critical tool in putting innovative applications and solutions in the market fast and updating them frequently.

Achieving the first-mover’s advantage

Unlike tedious traditional coding, high-performance low-code radically simplifies and accelerates application development with the use of visual interfaces, plug-and-play elements, and pre-built components. This makes for a natural fit with the rapid pace at which new products emerge in the fintech industry, as well as the sector’s corresponding churn rate.

Offering templates with in-built functionalities like account checking, money transfers, and customer support forms, low-code helps companies to map their services onto digital platforms in a matter of weeks or days. For example, the Armed Forces and Police Mutual Benefit Association (AFPMBAI) in the Philippines needed to digitalize its face-to-face sales approach to continue critical insurance provision to uniformed personnel and their families when sudden pandemic lockdowns affected half of the company’s physical locations.

This was also accompanied by restrictions on the ability to collect premiums and loan repayments, which meant a need for new revenue streams to sustain its support for the Philippines’ uniformed services. In spite of its legacy system and manual paperwork, the AFPMBAI used high-performance low-code to develop a user-friendly digital loan product in four days. The developer team also rapidly built temporary integrations with their old infrastructure, so that loan applications from members whose data had not been transferred to the new system could still be processed.

The potential of low-code in fintech expands exponentially when augmented with artificial intelligence (AI). Generative AI can intelligently produce code based on natural language prompts or even intelligently offer coding suggestions to streamline development workflows. This allows firms to significantly speed up time-to-market and actively gain market share by getting their foot first through consumers’ doors – or in this case, screens.

Enabling rapid CX improvement and innovation

Across the APAC financial sector, embedding digital capabilities is no longer a benefit but a prerequisite for industry players. As technology continues to evolve, businesses need to differentiate their offerings through the quality of their user experiences and customer services.

The heightened efficiency of application development means that high-performance low-code also supports rapid iteration, reducing the time needed for organizations to refine digital products based on customer feedback and priorities. Within the fintech space, this could mean quickly upgrading a digital multicurrency banking experience to capture demand for international travel as borders reopen. As virtual customer support becomes the norm, firms can tap on low-code to create more sophisticated customer services, such as chatbots that analyze real-time customer sentiment. This ultimately empowers companies to easily build holistic, enterprise-grade fintech applications with more compact developer teams and lower costs.

Similarly, Australia-based wealth management firm IOOF adopted high-performance low-code to facilitate IT knowledge sharing and re-skill legacy development teams. Employees were trained in small teams and participated in an internal competition to develop the best application for its go-forward business administration platform using low-code. This not only nurtured existing talent and tapped on valuable business knowledge from a diverse pool of employees, but also realized the potential of new digital innovation opportunities that would improve the customer experience for the company’s 500,000 clients.

Applications built on high-performance low-code also benefit from significant scalability to support millions of users. This scalability can be bolstered by AI-augmented low-code tools that debug code and identify potential performance bottlenecks. This allows fintech firms to grow their user base without compromising on quality, and even expand cross-border operations smoothly in adherence with local customer and regulatory requirements.

Winning with a one-stop digital financial ecosystem

A key characteristic of successful fintech firms is their ability to offer a cohesive ecosystem of solutions with a variety of digital financial services. With high-performance low-code, companies can easily integrate systems, processes, and data to deliver a consistent omnichannel customer experience across front-end platforms such as web and mobile, as well as back-end CRM and billing systems.

This central dashboard allows developer teams the flexibility of building individual services or mini-applications separately, speeding up the development process without having to face later-stage challenges of piecing these services together. For example, lending startups with leaner developer teams can rely on low-code for the horsepower to create multiple portals for staff, clients, and broker partners concurrently, streamlining the way it delivers working capital and factoring solutions.

In another instance, Union Bank in the Philippines leveraged low-code and its in-built DevOps to develop digital experiences for internal customers, external customers, and employees rapidly. This included front-end consumer experiences at bank branches, mobile platforms, and even a contact-tracing solution that was developed during the pandemic in a matter of days.

Low-code software development therefore can deliver tremendous impact for business stakeholders, regardless of whether for a startup or an established financial institution. The flexibility, power, and speed that result from low code development raise the firm’s credibility and its ability to develop and iterate on a high-quality, secure, customer-centric product line.

As the fintech space in APAC grows saturated and user choices widen, customer loyalty and trust are paramount. This means that organizations need to get creative with their product strategies and find the most efficient ways to enhance every touchpoint on the consumer journey. High-performance low-code is the gas pedal that enables companies to do so faster, better, and with less strain on resources. This ultimately gives fintech firms a headstart in innovation, allowing them to stay future-ready and become trailblazers in their field.

Mark Weaser is the Vice President at OutSystems Asia-Pacific, with more than 25 years of experience in successfully building profitable businesses and driving revenue growth. Mark has held leadership positions at several global technology and supply chain companies including Eagle Spirits Holdings, Allegro Development Corporation, Qumu, Modern Terminals, Manugistics, Manhattan Associates, EXE Technologies, and Telxon. In his roles, he was responsible for P&L management, business development, strategic planning, market strategy, solutions sales management, strategic alliances, multicultural team building, and new product introductions.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration (Finance) from the University of Southern California, and is fluent in conversational Mandarin Chinese.

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