commerce marketing

Criteo Exec Connect 2017 in Bangkok

“The question that needs to be asked is not for more channels but have we maximized our efforts in the current ones?”

This comment comes from Scott Minteer, VP of Online Marketing at LOOKSI (previously Zalora Thailand), during an executive roundtable held by Criteo Exec Connect last week.

The once popular question, “should I go online?” has long passed.

In a room filled with the region’s top ecommerce players, enablers and forward thinking global brands – LINE, Lazada, Agoda, Beiersdorf, Meiji, aCommerce, Orami, Konvy, etc. – the question has now become, “how do I maximize the returns on my existing ecommerce assets?”

How can I drive a higher number of quality users to my app, my webstore, my marketplace shop-in-shop to increase conversions?”

When the majority of retail’s biggest names are trying to reach customers through a desktop/mobile website, marketplace official shop, and/or dedicated app, it’s easy to get lost in the digital space.

This is where quality commerce marketing technology comes into play.

Companies with vast ad networks mixed with new age machine learning such as Criteo, one of the world’s largest commerce marketing ecosystems, exist to help growing businesses like fashion retailer ZALORA and booking giant Expedia capture the attention of Southeast Asia’s most relevant 200+ million digital consumers.

Commerce Marketing

Alban Villani (Criteo), Julien Chalté (LINE), Thanawat Malabuppa (Priceza)

ecommerceIQ chats with Alban Villani, General Manager of Criteo Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, to understand where the region stands in terms of marketing maturity, how brands can optimize online performance and how businesses can adapt to gain more from marketing tech.

But First, Education.  

There are multiple ways that a business can drive traffic to its ecommerce store – banner ads, search keywords, SEO-optimized content, etc. – but marketers need to first understand if they are utilizing the right channels for their market.

Is the business driving traffic to the best channels?

Alban believes there are a few changes that need to happen before retail can really take off in the region.

  1.     Ditching a conservative approach

“Smaller brands need scale and personalization to compete on equal footing with larger retailers. Sometimes all marketing effort is still placed only on desktop,” says Alban.

The desktop started as the main device favored by consumers to shop on but in order to reach the new generation of shoppers using various devices to browse through multiple platforms, companies need to capture much more information than the conventional statistics reveal such as age, gender, geographic location, etc.

MatahariMall.com, one of Indonesia’s largest retailers, used a Criteo specialized retargeting tool to discover an online visitor’s readiness to purchase by assessing factors such as consumers’ online navigation patterns and what they add to ‘shopping carts’. This increased the e-retailer’s advertising ROI by 900%.

Once a customer has been segmented, simple dynamic retargeting tools can then display the most relevant ads in real-time to them later in the purchasing funnel and local brands can leverage targeted marketing to capture relevant shoppers outside the walls of their own assets on third-party apps like Facebook.

Take for example, Joan is browsing on the Lazada app for a Maybelline lipstick on the brand’s official SIS (shop-in-shop) during her morning commute to work. In the evening, she accesses her desktop computer at home to look at vacation photos on Facebook when she notices an ad that shows her the same lipstick she didn’t purchase earlier in the day. She decides to buy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vgAQvWZMzk

Businesses of all sizes are slowly beginning to realize that channels are all connected and marketing efforts should reflect the same by tracking cross-device and cross-platform performance.

  1.     Investing into a mobile application

“They [brands] are already making money on web, so they don’t spend too many resources on app,” says Alban.

Southeast Asia’s affinity for smartphones has caused companies such as Shopee and LOOKSI to adopt a mobile-first strategy to reach a wider audience. By building an app with strong UX and ads targeted at encouraging installs, they can directly send alerts and deals with loyal customers.

Central Group’s Scott commented that majority of the LOOKSI’s revenue came from its app.

Commerce Marketing

LOOKSI app advertising

“We build brand awareness through desktop so it’s still needed but the conversion rate is higher on the app,” says Scott.

The popularity of mobile apps in the region and performance marketing tactics like in-app retargeting by Criteo increased Zalora’s app traffic and sales transactions by 9X from September 2015 to 2016.

More than 4 in 5 Thai respondents find it more enjoyable and convenient to use a retail and shopping app over a brand’s mobile website – Criteo APAC Research

“The key to mobile success is keeping the retention rate high because even a 5% increase could grow the value of purchase from anywhere between 20 to 90%,” shared Ronen Mense, VP Asia of Appsflyer, during the roundtable.

“You can talk about the future and what’s going to happen based on future technologies like progressive web apps, AR, VR,” he continues. “But the most important thing to focus on is where your consumer is engaging with your brand and service today. If you wait until a new technology reaches critical mass, it will be too late.”

“The focus isn’t only on installs anymore, the key challenge for brands is encouraging repeat usage and improving conversions,” says Alban. “Very simply, it costs more to acquire a new user than it is to retain an existing one.”

A Real Marriage Between Online and Offline Data

“Thailand started to slow down in [retail] progress a year and a half ago. What we have seen is mostly consolidation, meaning there are fewer ecommerce sites and fluctuating churn.”

Less opportunity has led to an emerging hybrid model where brands and ecommerce sites must work together.”

What Alban is referring to is a symbiotic relationship where ecommerce platforms like Lazada, Konvy, etc., build tools to enable sellers to gain more visibility on its platform and sellers in turn, share consumer behavior data – what do they like to buy? Which products do they purchase together, what time do they like to purchase?, etc.

“Lazada wants brands to be more involved, we empower them through our platform and technology, while brands bring in their deep consumer knowledge,” commented Aurélien Pallain, EVP of Marketing at Lazada Group, at Criteo Exec Connect.

Although marketplaces are slowly developing in-house solutions to help its sellers drive traffic to their shop-in-shops, majority are still heavily dependent on off site re-targeting agencies to acquire high volumes of traffic by tapping into a large publisher network.

“Data sharing is necessary to help companies maximize their online performance, it benefits all parties and ultimately the consumers by allowing brands to reach them with relevant offers,” added Julien Chalté, Head of Ecommerce at LINE Thailand.

To optimize existing ecommerce assets is to optimize available marketing tools through data.

But in order to capture valuable data, structured systems need to be in place internally in a business and this is where Thailand’s traditional retailers and brands lack maturity.

Criteo has the capacity to utilize a brand’s offline database to reach a custom audience online, but very few players in Thailand’s retail industry have tech-powered brick and mortar stores or “clean, usable data” from offline purchases.

“Criteo uses first-party data, never the third party, to build quality product recommendation so clients use us as a discovery tool as well as a conversion tool.”

“We can take data from the brand that they have collected from their CRM, loyalty cards, and offline transactions and match it with our recommendation engines for O2O [offline-to-online] marketing but not many businesses have this type of information readily available,” says Alban.

How can this be fixed?

By holding more brainstorming sessions like Criteo Exec Connect and building more partnerships within the ecommerce ecosystem between enablers, platforms and brands, Alban feels positive about the region’s development and piquing interest from brands looking to improve existing marketing efforts.

Commerce Marketing

Criteo Exec Connect 2017 in Bangkok

“Smaller brands must tap into an open commerce marketing ecosystem and use machine learning to connect shoppers to the products they need and love. Criteo’s technology allows them to engage shoppers with relevant experiences on both retail apps and third-party platforms directly driving sales and profits.”

“There’s actually a quicker speed of adoption in Thailand than Singapore between brands and agencies. The big difference is in the average revenue per user (spend) but most brands are more interested in looking at market potential.”

And where else has a brighter potential than Southeast Asia’s online future?

Download the Report2017 Criteo APAC Research: App Commerce Goes Big in Thailand

THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY CRITEO

Marilyn Monroe once sang, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” and it seems to be ringing true as Indonesia’s fine jewelry sales grew 13% from 2015 to 2016 reaching $1.57 million, according to Euromonitor.

The country’s upper-middle class households are expected to more than double by 2030 and the current existing 1.5 million are creating demand for gold, silver and metal combinations growing annually 7.8% until 2021 making Indonesia the fastest-growing in the world for jewelry sales.

Indonesia Jewelry Market

Model showcasing products at Orori event in Indonesia.

“Jewelry is part of the culture during wedding and childbirth [celebrations] for people in eastern Indonesia,” said president director Sandra Sunarto in Bandung, West Java. “They are more interested in buying heavier [jewelry] made of higher carats.”

It’s not difficult then to understand why George Budi Sumantri, CEO and founder of Indonesian online jeweler Orori, shut down his family’s offline business to focus on ecommerce in 2012 after taking over in 2003.

ecommerceIQ conducted an email interview with the founder to discover why and how he decided to sell a high AOV product in a country that is still skeptical about shopping online.

Pioneering jewelry trading online

At the time Sumantri decided to close down his offline operations, 80% of the company’s revenue came from its stores spread across Jakarta’s shopping centers.

While an extremely risky move, he believed that moving operations online would save the company money previously spent on sitting inventory and rental costs.

Within a year, the company racked up $1.3 million in revenue and as of 2017, Orori claims to have 2 million consumers and processing thousand of transactions per month.

Global sales of personal accessories are growing at 2%, internet retailing is experiencing double-digit growth. – Euromonitor 2016

“Yes, there are still people who like to shop in a physical store, but when you look closely at the urban population; young couples who plan to get married and the young people who are looking for Mother’s Day gifts, [they] love the practicality and ease of access that ecommerce offers,” said Sumantri.

As newly middle class female Indonesian consumers become savvier about her shopping prowess, she cares about choice—not just price and promotions.

Leaving no space for distrust

A common question asked by many skeptics remains, how do you sell a product with a high average order volume to a market that only began going online?

A quick browse through the site shows that wedding rings can start at roughly $220 and reach $6,000 depending on the carat and diamond cut.

Orori made sure consumers had no reason to doubt its reliability by arming the platform with certain features to ease the minds of shoppers.

For example, all of Orori’s more than 35,000 diamonds are certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and each have a complete description along with product specifications.

The best way to merchandise premium categories to the discriminating Indonesian shopper is to visibly show price tags to aid comparison spending – Nielsen

For first time buyers, they can read the company’s blog OROREADS, to access online guides for buying jewelry, including how to select the right finger size, caring for fine jewelry and choosing a diamond size.

Still not convinced? The company offers a 100% money back guarantee and various payment options such as bank instalments, cashback, and a ‘buy now pay later’ programme that allows consumers to pay 30 days after they made the order.

For any stragglers with doubts, they can chat with an Orori agent, a feature that can increase conversions up to 6.3 times.

Indonesia Jewelry Market

Orori live chat offered on the website to answer questions regarding its high AOV products.

By providing all of these services, the company is hoping to encourage people to buy jewelry online as per the company’s tagline ‘Jewelry for Everyone’.

On its way to make the region sparkle 

Originally set to sell its own line of jewelry, Orori has since changed its business model to a marketplace to offer a variety of brands on its platform. Right now, the company has seven jewelers on its platform.

Sumantri targets Orori to reach $25 million of GMV in 2019 with annual transactions of 80,000.

The company also plans to move beyond the B2C sector and launch C2C and C2B (consumer-to-business) features by the end of the year. In addition to these aggressive targets, Orori has regional expansion plans starting with Singapore.

“The marketplace [model] will not only change consumer behavior about buying jewelry online, but will also help reputable brands in the industry extend their business beyond just brick-and-mortar,” said Sumantri.

Indonesia Jewelry Market

Orori CEO and founder George Budi Sumantri

Featured image credit: Leeviahan

Compared to the other Southeast Asian countries, not much is known about Myanmar’s market potential.

Despite being late in joining the world wide web, the country’s internet penetration grew 97% in one year, reaching 26% of the population, roughly 14 million users.

eIQ speaks with Win Nander Thyke, founder and CEO of rgo47 — one of the leading online retail companies in the country — to shed light on the country’s retail potential, evolving Burmese shopping behavior, and why she believes strongly in the market’s future.

Realizing Myanmar’s new consumer

Rgo47, initially Royal Golden Owls (RGO), was introduced in 2013 during Myanmar’s inaugural hosting of the biennial Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games).

By leveraging her family’s fashion business, RGO was responsible for producing the official merchandise for the SEA Games such as t-shirts and fashion accessories to be displayed and sold at the two-week event.

Myanmar ecommerce market

Official SEA GAmes Myanmar banner with RGO as a sponsor.

It was the right opportunity to send a positive image of Myanmar and reach a large audience with her new apparel brand as one of the official event sponsors and operators.

And it was during this time the company first observed a shift in consumer behavior that signaled the beginning of online retail potential in the country.

“People would email us or contact our Facebook page to ask if we were able to deliver the SEA Games souvenirs to their homes,” said Win. “At the time, we didn’t have the resources to do so and didn’t think that our Myanmar people would be interested to shop this way that early.”

Fair to say so considering only 1% of its population was connected to the internet only a few years back.

RGO, now rebranded to rgo47, decided to launch its online channel in April 2014 — the year that marked the country’s “Mobile Revolution” when mobile penetration jumped to 83% in only five short years.

Through its ecommerce channels to this day, the company continues to sell its most popular category: fashion apparel that includes everyday apparel, sportswear, shoes, and bags as well as its most recent category additions: cosmetics, kitchen appliances, and electronic and home office goods.

A uniquely Facebook-first market  

Given Myanmar’s reputation for being a Facebook-first country, the company set up a Facebook page and website as its first online channels.

“Facebook is very integral to the Burmese daily life that it’s almost useless for us to have a website,” said Win “I’d say 80% of our transactions come from Facebook.”

Myanmar ecommerce market

rgo47’s main Facebook page

According to Win, a native Burmese herself, a majority of consumers in the country require a personal touch, which usually means human interaction while placing their orders.

To cater to this need, the company employs 42 telesales personnel – out of 122 employees – to communicate with customers through phones and chat applications including Facebook Messenger, and the country’s favorite, Viber.

Win is trying to lessen its reliance on a labour intensive transaction process and anticipates a change in consumer behavior. The company released its mobile application earlier this May, already generating 11,000 (iOS) and 72,000 (Android) downloads.

However, even with this initiative, Win admits that shoppers still prefer the company’s Facebook page, pretty evident as the rgo47 page holds the largest audience in the country.

Myanmar ecommerce market

The company has the largest Facebook audience in Myanmar, leaving behind even earlier player Rocket Internet’s Shop.com.mm and Kaymu

Evolving Burmese online shopping behavior

A preference for Facebook is not to say that the Burmese are resistant to change.

While cash-on-delivery (COD) was the most preferred payment method based on rgo47 records last year, the company saw a shift to more than 50% of its orders now being processed via other channels such as bank transfer and Wave Money – Myanmar’s top mobile financial service providers.

Although a step in the right direction, Win believes the country’s lack of ATMs can cause customers to travel long distances in order to complete a payment and has unfortunately resulted in many canceled orders.

Aside from low payments infrastructure, the country’s addressing system also presents the last mile challenge. While most of its customers reside in big cities such as Yangon and Mandalay, the company has seen an increase of orders coming from rural areas where the drop off locations are difficult to find.

“Outside of Yangon, it is really hard to find the address for customers. That’s why most ecommerce companies in Myanmar still need to give every customer a call to confirm their orders and exact location,” explained Win.

While Myanmar’s ecommerce challenges are not uncommon, Win says customers are loyal, especially after companies have proven their reliability.

More than 30% of rgo47’s monthly transactions come from returning customers.

Win believes that the reason they have such a high retention rate is because her company constantly seeks ways to cater to customer needs.

“Customer satisfaction is the only metric that really counts for us,” said Win.

Customer-obsession seems to be working as the company is currently experiencing two-folds growth in its annual number of transactions and expects volumes to increase as more Burmese pick up online shopping habits.

Possibilities for the future

Despite the hardships that come with nascent markets like Myanmar, Win feels optimistic about the possibilities yet to be explored in ecommerce and its potential impact on communities.

A big determinant of ecommerce success in the country rgo47 believes is working together with experienced ecommerce firms from other markets to learn and apply their best practices.

Win also encourages foreign players to get their hands dirty and enter the market while it’s still early to reap the most benefits.

“The Myanmar people are smart and very curious about new tech experiences,” says Win.

“Many companies hesitate to enter Myanmar because they think the people or the market is not ready but if you’re waiting until they’re ready, it means you’re already too late.”

honestbee Thailand officially introduced its on-demand groceries services to the public on March 16th earlier this year in Bangkok with a buzzy press conference.

This isn’t the company’s first step into Southeast Asia, the Singaporean based company is already present in eight markets since its initial launch in 2015.

eIQ sat down with Joel Sng, CEO and co-founder of honestbee, to talk about the company’s on-demand model, product market fit and scalability in a developing market.  

Groceries online in Southeast Asia

Delivering apples and milk to a customer’s front door isn’t a new concept. Instacart, US born groceries service, took off in 2012, serves 25 markets in the US, and raised $400 million in March. The company’s valuation was $2 billion in 2015.

Jakarta based on-demand service HappyFresh that raised a $12 million Series A and an undisclosed Series B launched in both Indonesia and Thailand two years before honestbee entered the same markets.

Why has there been so much money swirling around groceries?

According to Nielsen, 30% of Millennials (ages 21-34) and 28% of Generation Z (ages 15-20) respondents say they’re ordering groceries online for home delivery, compared with 22% of Generation X (ages 35-49), 17% of Baby Boomers (ages 50-64) and 9% of Silent Generation (ages 65+) respondents.

And groceries are only the beginning. honestbee doesn’t only offer apples and oranges, they want to be the ‘everything, everyday’ app.

Much like the mentioned businesses, honestbee shares similar value propositions:

  • Exclusive partnerships with supermarkets and other retailer partners
  • A single check-out purchase through a mobile app
  • An operations network composed of part-time workers and motorbikes taxis
  • A vast inventory of groceries and fresh produce
  • Scheduled “slotted” deliveries
  • Asset light business: no warehouses, only hubs (grocery stores) and no delivery trucks

There are a few differences that make honestbee stand out: the company makes money from delivery fees and revenue share and can actually save up to 30% on labor costs because shoppers are hired as independent contractors, not traditional full-time, salaried employees.

Product market fit for a demanding income bracket  

Unlike the others, honestbee targets the top 10% money makers in each market by being more selective with partners to offer a service consumers are willing (and able to afford) to pay a premium before the rest of the market adopts the behavior.

Current exclusive partners include Villa Market, Fresh Deli, organic produce provider Fruits for Health, and all natural household cleaning line Pipper Standard.

“We figure out what each market needs and work with the right partners to bring value and convenience to our customers,” says Joel.

What also differentiates honestbee from its competitors is the varied service it offers across markets. How does the company decide what to launch? Through regular customer focus groups like the one held in Singapore of March this year.

A few questions the focus groups aim to answer before officially launching a new service:

  • Do the customers like our partners?
  • How do they suggest we improve the shopping methodology?
  • Is the infrastructure already there or do we need to build it?
  • Is the market growing fast enough in terms of age and adoption of behavior?

These feedback loops help honestbee work out what each market needs and led the company to discover certain market intricacies:

  • Offering garbage removal in Taiwan would be an instant success as the country has high stringent waste policies   
  • Launching an on-demand laundry service in Hong Kong works as there is large expat population in the country
  • Singaporeans would not pay for marked up meal deliveries as offered by rivals foodpanda, UberEats
  • Online grocers in Japan accounted for only 2%, or $5.5 billion USD, of the retail grocery market in 2015

Although each market is different, the core of the business still remains its groceries delivery service and is always launched first.

A teeny problem: “Managed crowdsourcing”

There are a few challenges with on-demand models:

  • Shopper retention and shortage because of fluctuating wages in a developing market
  • Expectancy for shorter and shorter delivery times by customers: same day → in two hours → next hour
  • Out of stock items and inaccurate deliveries – balanced with a “Bee” training program

Although it is risky to be spreading services so thin in concession, Joel is confident the company has the resources and isn’t concerned about needing more external investment aside from the $15 million it raised last year.

“We are comfortable with our economics right now,” comments Joel.

honestbee aims to become a one-stop solution for customers and make it possible to have anything available at the touch of a button by marrying the online and offline world.  

“Groceries is such a generic term,” comments Joel. “We never envisioned just being in the groceries business – we want to solve problems for our customers.”  

When ecommerce first boomed in Indonesia around 2014, Albert Lucius saw many companies racing to serve the top 20% of the urban population while ignoring the rest.

“What about the people unfamiliar with the internet, let alone shopping online? And what about those living in rural areas?” Lucius mused. “Ecommerce players at that time were doing almost nothing to educate this demographic.”

Seeing this gap, Lucius teamed up with a fellow schoolmate from the University of Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Agung Nugroho, to build Kudo – the online to offline (O2O) technology platform that connects online merchants with offline customers and was acquired by Grab in April. TechCrunch estimated the deal is worth $80 – $100 million but no confirmation has been made by either party.

Lucius acts as CEO, while Nugroho takes care of operations as COO and through its platform, Kudo wants to ensure all Indonesians are included in the online revolution and benefit from an economy that boasts a $157 billion potential.

Product-market fit: Tales of trial and error

Currently, the company is using individuals, mom and pop shops, and small store owners as Kudo agents to act as medium between online merchants and hard to reach customers.

Through these agents and a tech platform, the company enables the unbanked or those with low financial literacy to perform digital transactions. How?

  • The agent invests capital into their Kudo agent account, which can be as low as IDR 10,000 or $0.75
  • The customer views a list of products on the Kudo platform on mobile or a tablet provided by the agent
  • The customer chooses what they want to buy and pays the agent in cash
  • The agent makes a commission based on the product category sold (3%-20%) – the more they sell, the more they make

Although currently a well-functioning system, this was not how things were always done at Kudo. The company pivoted two times before finding a model that complemented Indonesians buying behavior.

kudo micro-entrepreneur indonesia

Kudo platform, facilitated through its agent, is bridging the gap between offline customers and online merchants.

 

Kudo is an acronym for ‘kios untuk dagang online’ or ‘kiosk for online trading’, and funnily enough, the business’s first model was literally a kiosk.

The company installed machines loaded with the Kudo platform in office complexes, shopping centers and convenience stores in Indonesian suburbs, as well as second-tier malls in the city, in hopes people would use it to place orders for various things such as food, tickets, and other goods.

They soon discovered that majority of citizens are wary about using unknown machines, afraid to break it seeing as they didn’t know how to operate it.

Kudo later redefined its business by creating a tablet-friendly platform and employed the help of sales promotion girls (SPG) to educate the people about its buying process. The second attempt worked well but hiring so much (wo)man power was not sustainable nor scalable.

The two broken models taught the founders a valuable lesson.

“Most Indonesians still need the element of trust in order for commerce to work. They need the personal and social touch in order to purchase something.”

Kudo’s agents of change

Through its present-day network of more than 500,000 agents across 500 cities and rural areas in Indonesia, offline customers once disconnected from the digital world now have access to products from Kudo partners like Lazada, BukaLapak, Berrybenka and Unilever to name a few.

The platform not only offers commerce but also facilitates bill-payments, phone credit top up, and purchase of financial products such as insurance.

The most popular transactions are top-ups that make up 30% of total transactions, followed by purchase of goods, especially cheap electronics, fashion, and bill payments.

kudo micro-entrepreneur indonesia

Kudo’s team explaining how the platform works to potential agent.

 

There are millions of customers that have used Kudo in Indonesia and the company credits its Kudo agents for partially solving three main roadblocks commonly encountered in emerging ecommerce markets like Indonesia – trust, payment, and logistics.

“Our agents are all familiar faces in the neighborhood, so even if initially the community does not understand nor trust the internet, they’re more willing to try out a new technology if it comes from someone they know,” explain Lucius.

From a logistics perspective, agents act as the drop-ship points for ecommerce players who can either have pick ups from their store or deliver straight to the customer. This highly reduces the chance of failed deliveries.

Kudo agents also decrease shipping costs for retailers when they order customer purchases in bulk.

“We know it’s not the most sophisticated system in the world and it’s not perfect, but it works for our market as it utilizes Kudo’s network of agents to solve a real logistics problem in Indonesia,” remarks Lucius.

Grooming a generation of micro-entrepreneurs

By taking a traditional route and using real people to educate and share new technology within communities, Kudo is not only speeding up the race to e-retail adoption but empowering individuals to dabble in “micro-entrepreneurship”.

“People only need a smartphone to become an agent and it doesn’t need to be an expensive one because our app works on every Android phone,” said Lucius.

There are two kinds of agents in Kudo’s network right now; store-owner agents and non-store agents, with the share of 40% store owners and 60% non-store agents or individuals. On average, the store owners agents could doubled their normal income through Kudo.

Building an inclusive economy with a giant

The company’s principle is and has always been to improve the lives of people.

Under its current model, Kudo aims to slowly convert more people to try online shopping by maturing the country’s payments literacy and understanding of ecommerce.

Its acquisition by Grab takes the company’s mission a step further as the Kudo platform will be integrated with Grab’s mobile payments platform, GrabPay and both companies are invested in a collaborative R&D lab in Kudo’s office called Kudoplex.

Kudo’s agents are also offering services like GrabPay credit top-ups and recruiting drivers for Grab to interconnect the two already-large networks into one expansive and all-encompassing payments infrastructure.

“We are very excited to work with Grab as we share the same mission to empower the unbanked to benefit from the rapid growth of digital economy,” closed Lucius. “There are a lot of good things to come.”

 

 

kudo micro-entrepreneur indonesia

Left to right: CEO Kudo Albert Lucius, CEO Grab Anthony Tan, and COO Kudo Agung Nugroho

Financial technology is always evolving in Asia-Pacific Region.

Banks, local telcos, payment solutions providers alike are pushing to increase cashless payment acceptance and integration (e.g. credit cards, mobile wallets, and/or variations of online and offline).

However, a common roadblock faced by most payment systems is that they are often siloed and cannot interact across organizations (e.g. companies or brands) or jurisdictions (e.g. cross-border).

To break to silo? Payment providers across the region are looking to various types of solutions, including blockchain, a decentralized technology, as means to disperse functions and expand global market reach.

1[decentralized technology]: Cryptocurrency is a digital medium of exchange not controlled by any one group or agency and secured by cryptography. Block chains are politically decentralized (no one controls them) and architecturally decentralized (no infrastructural central point of failure) but they are logically centralized.

eIQ sits down with Vansa Chatikavanij, Managing Director of OmiseGO Pte. Ltd., an Omise subsidiary blockchain company, to learn more about the upcoming product, a recent $25 million ICO, and how companies can benefit from this new technology.

What is OmiseGO?

“To put it simply, OmiseGO is a decentralized payment and exchange network designed to disrupt the current payment landscape,” says Vansa.

“The idea is to enable users connected to the OmiseGO network to trade any value (e.g. currencies, store loyalty points, rewards, in-game points etc.) efficiently, securely and at low cost across the internet.”

To allow users to interact with the OmiseGO blockchain, the company will be making its first user interface application, the white-label wallet software development kit (SDK), available towards the end of 2017.

The SDK allows third party programmers to develop a wallet application for its own brand or integrated existing wallets onto the OmiseGO blockchain.

What functions could be possible for a wallet running on the OmiseGO platform?

The simplest application of the decentralized payments network would be transfer of funds between peers without the need of a bank account and/or incurring high third-party fees.

But peer-to-peer payments are only the beginning. The main use cases of OmiseGO appear to be:

1. Remittances
2. Loyalty points
3. Mobile banking
4. Asset tracking
5. Digital gift cards
6. Tokenized fiat

OmiseGO, ecommerceIQ, eIQ Insider

OmiseGO was designed with flexibility in mind.

Take for example two retailers each with a loyalty program. If both are operating on OmiseGO, their users could potentially cash in their rewards points interchangeable at either establishment; creating their own trading market.

Cross-platform transactions means grocery points could one day be exchanged for air miles.

One of the largest markets that OmiseGO will facilitate is cross-border remittance. The World Bank predicts remittances to low and middle income countries are expected to increase 0.8 percent to $442 billion.

“Through OmiseGO, senders and receivers will be able to safely transfer money locally and cross-border to their families, regardless of whichever wallet or payment platform they are on,” says Vansa.

“There is so much opportunity for companies to customize their target users and customers experience and reward online financial transactions,” says Jun Hasegawa, Omise Holdings Pte. Ltd. Group CEO.

“With addition of OmiseGO, we are taking concrete leaps towards realizing the Omise group’s mission of Online Payment for Everyone.”

“Through OmiseGO, senders and receivers can safely go cross-wallet and transfer money locally and cross-border to their families, regardless of whichever account or platform they are on,” says Vansa.

Use of ethereum blockchain makes exchanging digital currency easy and secure as each user has access to their own private keys, making it impossible to manipulate the data.

1[ethereum blockchain]: focuses on running the programming code of any decentralized application.

A $25 million boost for OmiseGO

The company recently made headlines after a successful ICO (initial coin offering) that raised $25 million by selling its OmiseGO network token – OMG tokens.

Similar to kickstarter crowdfunding, a piece of code is granted to contributors that gives them rights to earn fees by helping run the OmiseGO network.

The product sounds promising but having strong backing is useless without educating its users.

“The exciting challenge with OmiseGO is the newness of the technology. Majority of people have heard of blockchain but are either unsure how it can be used to their benefit,” says Vansa.

“Similar to when the internet first started, not many people could have imagined where it would be today.”

The long term goal for OmiseGO is to “Unbank the Banked”; become a new global tool to enable financial inclusion for both the banked and the unbanked.

Its success would be a milestone for financial technology in Southeast Asia but we will have to wait and see as OmiseGO network is slated to officially launch towards the end of 2018.