The 4 Distinct Financial Habits of Asian Millennials

June 29th | Hong Kong

Asia has seen massive development, from the 80’s onwards, especially after Greater China’s “opening up” (改革开放 gǎigé kāifàng). Millennials’ financial habits- which are having a huge impact on the market – were influenced by the turbulent times of the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s that they grew up in. Here are a few of them.

1. They are Strong Savers

Millennials aren’t known for their financial stability, but those in Asia have consistently higher savings than their western counterparts. This is no surprise when considering the strong culture of saving in Greater China – after China’s entry into the WTO in 2001, savings peaked at over 50% of GDP in 2008 – the average is around 20%.

In a recent Mckinsey report, three-quarters of respondents born between 1995 and 1999 said they intend to plan consumption and reduce spending, indicating a growing financial savviness.

Millennials in APAC are strong savers, despite their disinterest in stocks, compounding interest, or interest rates, like young-middle aged western professionals.

More young to middle age professionals in APAC tend to live with their families, allowing them to save a higher percent of their earnings. What this means is although millennials wait longer to buy a house or personally invest, once they do, their commitment is backed up with more spending power.

2. They are International Spenders 

Asian students make up over half of foreign exchange students. Asian millennial’s international attitude is driven by experience abroad and growing up in a rapid age of globalisation. Universities in the UK, North America, or Australia can be up to 30% Asian students, which reflects the global and highly educated foundation of this increasingly wealthy consumer classes.

YamiBuy’s wild success selling Asian snacks and pantry items in the US is testament to increasingly international spending habits.

Asian exchange students, whether returning home or staying abroad after their studies, promote business cycles and consumer interests across cultures and time zones. YamiBuy is a perfect example. As an exchange student, Alex Zhou was disappointed by the lack of options for overseas students. He established YamiBuy, and soon it scaled into an USD $100 million dollar e-commerce solution for expats in the west craving the tastes of home.

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3. They drive Digital Payment

Millennials and younger generations in APAC have been much quicker to adopt e-payments than their counterparts in the west. This trend has exploded in recent years as the amount of e-wallet users has nearly quadrupled from 500 million to 2.1 billion – China and India alone account for 70% of all e-wallet users.

This bodes well for the retailer. Mobile payment integration means quicker transactions, streamlined monetisation, and more approval from tech-savvy consumers.

Asia leads in the mobile payment and e-payment boom

4. They are Cautious, but Modern Investors

Compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers, Millennials are comfortable with crypto. Despite the recent crackdown on Coinbase, it is easy to register and begin retail trading on a crypto exchange. According to one survey, up to 45% millennials in APAC said “they are likely to consider using cryptocurrency in the next year.”

Location matters – Those in Thailand and India are more comfortable (46% and 44%, respectively) than consumers in Australia (17%).

This is not just for cryptocurrency, while millennials are more cautious investors, they are behind new trends in financial markets, driving up and selecting securities that are more involved with sustainability and innovation & tech.

In Conclusion…

Millennials represent a vast portion of the population in Asia, and these four habits don’t begin to explain it. In some cases, high prices leads to the phenomenon of “躺平” (“lay flat”), where young workers stop at minimum wage and don’t plan past basic expenses, or in opposite cases, to revolutionary investments in ESG or tech & innovation.

This just the beginning of the conversation

At Denzity, we publish personal finance and investment articles for the young professional. If you have any questions and comments, write them below or reach out to our team here. Stay tuned for more investor focused content, financial advice, and industry updates.

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