2016 has been somewhat of a definitive year for ecommerce in Southeast Asia. With the region poised to experience an ecommerce golden age, trends and predictions that will shape ecommerce in 2017 have been identified and there is no denying that the year will most likely bring significant milestones to the region’s development.

2016 certainly set things in motion: acquisitions, closures and entries were this year’s key themes. As the year draws to a close, we present the top 5 stories and briefs covered on eIQ that have made an impact on the development of ecommerce in Southeast Asia.

1. Battle of the giants

The first foray in a series of moves that would eventually complete Jack Ma’s trojan horse for Southeast Asia. In April, Alibaba made a $1 billion acquisition of Rocket Internet’s Lazada, effectively injecting much needed investment into the cash strapped marketplace, and hereby making an effective entry into the region.

This was followed by an announcement in November that Alibaba’s Ant Financial has invested in Thailand’s Ascend Money.

Amazon finally announced its entry into Singapore Q1 of 2017. Although a much covered angle in the media, these three stories have defined the majority of Southeast Asia ecommerce in 2016.


2. Indonesia’s Go-Jek, Singapore’s Garena & Grab are unicorns

After raising $550 million, Go-Jek is now valued at $1.3 billion, claiming unicorn status.

Singapore’s Garena has also maintained its status as Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup with additional funding that came through in September.

Grab also raised $600 million in funding making it another unicorn in the region.


3. Google and Temasek’s e-conomy SEA 2016 report

Arguably the most referenced report this year. Google and Temasek’s analysis of Southeast Asia’s ecommerce landscape has appeared in a string of interviews as references for research arguments and have shined a spotlight into the region’s developing landscape. Access the full report on eIQ’s reports section here.


4. LINE debuted as 2016’s largest technology IPO

The dual listing in New York and Japan occurred in July this year. The Japanese messaging app spiked 30% in market debut after opening at $42 per share in what appears to be the biggest tech IPO of this year.

The company is owned by Naver, a South Korean Internet company, who offered 22 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange and 13 million on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

But it hasn’t been all good news for Cony & Brown as news came out in October that the messaging app is struggling to acquire new users, barely moving beyond its 220 million monthly active user base.


5.  Goodbyes: Ensogo, Rakuten & Foodpanda

In June, Ensogo announced the closureof all business units in Southeast Asia. Following its shift from a daily deals website in 2013 to a mobile marketplace in 2015, the company was struggling to thrive in an increasingly competitive market.

Rakuten also announced the closing of its Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia marketplaces in February and sold back Rakuten Thailand to original founder, Pawoot Pongvitayapanu. The company did not give a reason for the closures, but announced that the moves are in line with a new roadmap.

In December, Rocket Internet declared that it was selling online food delivery startup Foodpanda to rival, Delivery Hero for $150 million. This announcement came after a string of rumors regarding the service provider’s performance.

The series of chain reactions that occurred have shaped Southeast Asia’s potential ecommerce boom. If these developments were anything to go by, we should be seeing all the puzzle pieces being placed together within 2017. For now, it’s a wrap for 2016!


China’s biggest third-party payments platform Alipay, an affiliate of Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., is signing deals with brick and mortar retailers in Europe to bulk up its offering for Chinese tourists and expats, reports Bloomberg.

It’s seeking to add extras to its mobile wallet app for Chinese travelers in France, the UK, Germany and Italy, though it has no plans to offer its services to consumers who aren’t from China. Jack Ma is entering Europe, but not for Europeans.

Europe is a popular destination for our Chinese customers, so it’s an important market for us – Rita Liu, Head of Alipay Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The company is actively looking for partners across Europe, especially merchants who want to cater to Chinese tourists or technical providers on the payment side.

Alipay held talks with retailers in the French capital including Printemps, one of the city’s biggest department stores; it unveiled a deal last week to sell travel insurance from AXA to its users; and it’s working with Germany’s Wirecard AG to support the mobile wallet service in as many as 69 stores at Munich Airport.

The cross-border strategy applied by Alipay replicates the one they have with US partners. Alipay has made deals with Uber, Airbnb and Macy’s to let Chinese customers pay with Alipay when they visit the United States. Customers can easily do this by tapping their phone on a contactless register or having a cashier scan a bar code on the mobile screen.

It highlights how in payments, as with other tech sectors, Europe and the US need Chinese customers more than the other way around.

Approximately 120 million Chinese tourists traveled last year. Their most popular destinations outside Asia were France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. They usually spend $875 on average while travelling.

A version of this appeared in Bloomberg on August 8. Read the full version here.