[caption id="attachment_195793" align="aligncenter" width="691"]Arvind Sankaran Arvind Sankaran[/caption] In a bid to making bigger push into the Asia-Pacific fintech market, Singapore's leading early-stage VC firm Jungle Ventures has announced the appointment of global financial services expert Arvind Sankaran as Venture Partner. In this role, Sankaran will focus on sourcing, evaluating and managing portfolio companies in financial services. In addition, he will also serve as Advisor to Jungle Venture’s current portfolio of more than 10 companies in the sector, including Tookitaki, Kredivo, PaySense, SmartKarma, GoAbra and Vayana. Sankaran brings with him more than two decades of experience in retail banking and wealth management across the region. Previously, he has worked at Citi, where he started up India’s credit card business, built Singapore’s retail investments platform, led the transformation of the Asia-Pacific mass affluent business, and ran its customer franchise in Hong Kong. In the past, he has also worked at Barclays, where he led the de novo build-out of retail banking in Indonesia, following the acquisition of a local lender.

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At his most recent appointment at HSBC, he ran the Asia-focused international wealth business. "Following the growth and expansion of Jungle Ventures over the last six years and witnessing the success stories of its portfolio companies has been inspiring," said Sankaran. "The number of high-quality disruptive startups in the financial services space is growing fast. The Southeast Asian market has a large young and digital population, as well as a rapidly digitalising SME ecosystem. There are many parallels in consumption and behaviour patterns across the region, and it presents a unique opportunity for fintech companies to change the way financial services are delivered and consumed at scale. This is at the core of Jungle’s investment thesis and forms the basis for the firm to seek strong investment opportunities," he added. Even with the acceleration of internet penetration across Southeast Asia, more than half the population still do not have access to internet banking services. In rural areas, the percentage grows to three-quarters. Although this leaves a huge gap to be filled, it also presents a set of unique challenges. Building a startup in fintech is vastly different than other industries, from ensuring adherence to regulatory standards to the increased need to build and instil trust in customers. "The fintech industry in emerging Asia continues to face several inflection points and with the addition of Arvind Sankaran to our growing team, we will be further equipped to provide the best support and resources for our founders to emerge market leaders of the new world," said Amit Anand, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Jungle Ventures. The Asia-Pacific fintech market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 72.5 per cent from 2015 to 2020 to reach US$72 billion. Jungle Ventures expects to increase investments over the next few years to add to its existing portfolio of fintech investments. In 2016, Jungle had closed a US$100 million fund.