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Here’s ecommerce news you should know:

1. Six out of 10 Filipino prefers e-payment than cash

In the recent survey conducted by global payment company Visa, Filipino showed a big improvement on the electronic payment system.

Six out of the 10 respondents said they prefer electronic payments rather than paying in cash. 71% of Filipino also shop online at least once a month.

The survey was done online and participated in equally by about 3,000 persons aged 18-55 years old from six Asian countries namely the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Read the full story here.

2. Google is testing a data-friendly version of its mobile app

The lite version, which essentially a modified version of the Google search app, will be optimized for those using poor quality connection, with limited mobile data allocations, or in possession of a smartphone with little internal memory.

The search company is currently piloting such version in Indonesia.

Beyond the apps, Google also putting serious focus on developing services that are optimized for emerging markets, including the lightweight version of Android, Android Go.

Read the full story here.

3. Recommended reading: Alibaba is a better investment than Amazon

Despite Amazon’s strong growth of over 30% with its stock bouncing around $1000, an analyst said Alibaba would make a better investment than Amazon, as the Chinese company sees its revenues increased from $992 million in 2011 to $23.5 billion in 2017.

Read the full story here.

1. Ant Financial and Tencent receives license to operate digital wallets in Hong Kong

This is considered a big and significant step in the two internet giants’ overseas expansion beyond their bases in China. Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Amazon launches new platform for car lovers, Vehicles

Vehicles is an extension of Automotive, Amazon’s marketplace for buying actual cars parts like tires or air filters. Similarly, Vehicles is an offshoot of Amazon Garage, which lets you store information about cars you already own. Read the rest of the story here.

3. Google: Indonesia will dominate Southeast Asian ecommerce

The US search giant and Singapore’s tech investment vehicle Temasek presented new, Indonesia-specific material (but not much from the report they released in May). Find the data here

4. Catcha Group is making big bets in online classifieds 

Another Catcha enterprise, Frontier Digital Ventures (FDV), is quietly making moves. Most recently, it raised an oversubscribed $23 million round on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Read the rest of the story here.

 

5. WhatsApp to share its user data with parent company, Facebook

Facebook-owned messaging giant WhatsApp has announced a big change to its privacy policy which, once a user accepts its new T&Cs, will see it start to share some user data with its parent company. Read the rest of the story here

 

6. Uber is making a big leap towards autonomous vehicles

In addition to its headline-grabbing tie-up with Volvo to develop a new base for driverless cars, Uber has also bought the technology start-up Otto. Read the rest of the story here.

 

7. Snapdeal is losing its place in India’s ecommerce landscape

Once the second biggest after Flipkart in India’s ecommerce race, it lost that place to Amazon gradually, and is now broadly considered a distant third in the running. Read the rest of the story here.

SET-listed VGI Global Media Plc, a provider of media space for skytrains, has announced its acquisition of Rabbit Card from BTS Group, reports The Bangkok Post.

The acquisition was for $56 million (1.95 billion baht), an initiative to strengthen its media service business.

The VGI board approved the purchase of a 90% stake in Bangkok Smartcard System Co (BSS) and 90% in BSS Holdings, which operates the Rabbit Card business.

The transaction is expected to be completed by March 31 this year.

VGI’s chief executive Surachet Bamrungsuk said, “the acquisition will allow VGI to enter the e-payment business. The Rabbit Card is a payment tool for travelling on the skytrain and also allows users to buy food and beverage.”

VGI will acquire an e-wallet business through Rabbit Line Pay, a function embedded in the most popular instant messaging application Line, which boasts 33 million users. In the future, VGI will allow its users to buy products and services, as well as pay skytrain fares online.

The Rabbit Card business also entails other online businesses such as Rabbit Internet, including Rabbit Daily, which provides lifestyle content through a web portal. There is also Rabbit Finance, an online financial products comparison website.

VGI will leverage Rabbit’s various platforms so VGI will become a data centric media hypermarket to assist the company in utilizing data analytic capabilities.

The acquisition is expected to widen VGI’s consumer base to 25 million people a day. The Rabbit Card database has more than 7.2 million users, offering opportunities to conduct data analytics to support VGI’s sales, media production and planning.

A version of this appeared in The Bangkok Post on August 24. Read the full version here

US payments giant PayPal Inc has launched an Innovation Lab in Singapore, its first outside the United States, to collaborate with government agencies, industry associations and SMEs, reports Digital News Asia. The lab aims to foster innovation, research and development (R&D), entrepreneurship, talent and expertise in Singapore.

“Singapore is a perfect melting-pot for ideas and innovation, given the strong support from the government, its massive talent pool backed by a world-class educational system, vibrant startup ecosystem, and diverse merchant profiles,” according to Dr. Rohan Mahadevan, CEO of PayPal Pte Ltd.

Rohan said that PayPal is partnering with all the universities in Singapore, working with their Deans and graduate students.

The first project the Innovation Lab will undertake be around SMEs in the food and beverage (F&B) business. 

“Singapore is a known food capital, and food is something that is very close to the hearts of Singaporeans,” said Rohan. The project will aim to improve productivity at F&B businesses, with Japanese restaurant Enbu having embedded digital payments into its business.

By this time next year, PayPal and its payment solutions partners such as TabSquare and Integral Solutions, will aim to provide more than 200 F&B establishments with in-store digital payment capability.

Other initiatives in the pipeline include the PayPal Business Challenge, which aims to help SMEs with their business challenges, not just payments.

In terms of PayPal’s ‘Innovation Lab’, it will aim to develop and nurture the next generation of fintech startups through an incubation program. The PayPal Incubator program will also offer coaching and mentorship by PayPal executives and various subject matter experts. Currently, there are three startups on board: OnePay, Prosecure.me and InvoiceInterchange.

A version of this appeared in Digital News Asia on August 18. Read the full version here.

The formation of The Fintech Association of Thailand was announced today at the ‘Positioning Thailand’s Fintech Ecosystem’ conference held at C-asean. The association will see members from the private, public and financial sectors come together to boost Thailand’s fintech potential.

The event was organized by C-asean to promote the launch of The Fintech Association of Thailand in collaboration with:

  • Wisudhi Srisuphan, Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Finance
  • Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob, Governor of Bank of Thailand
  • Korn Chatikavanij, Thailand’s Former Minister of Finance
  • Tipsuda Thavaramara, SEC Thailand Deputy Secretary-General
  • Teeranun Srihong, Senior Executive Vice President at Kasikorn Bank

And other industry specialists who participated in different rounds of the panel.

Thailand’s sectors must encourage friendly, collaborative competition in order to advance the country’s fintech growth without fear of cannibalization. Traditional industries are being disrupted, which means that Thailand is moving towards a new phase, says Dr. Veerathai.

This is the first year that the Bank of Thailand has received more request to close down bank branches from commercial banks than to launch more branches.

Threat from global players

Thailand should not be wary about competing with other ASEAN countries in fintech, instead, it should be concerned about the influence of global players such as Alipay or PayPal. These global companies have the capacity and outreach to disrupt domestic development. If Thailand is unable to fully accelerate the government’s e-payment platform, PromptPay, then the country could potentially lose access to data and transaction information.

The role of regulators in the success of fintech

Regulators in Thailand are traditionally conservative and hardly deviate from the fine print. However, the Bank of Thailand is working wth the government to relax certain financial regulations.

Regulation should be principle based, rather than rule based. A good regulator must also be an innovation facilitator. Rules cannot be rigid when it comes to technology.

The possibility of forming a ‘sandbox’ was discussed during the roundtable as other countries such as Singapore have launched them to facilitate the growth of fintech startups. The sandbox is to be treated as a lab space or incubator.

Regulation, in regards to fintech should be principle based and not strictly rule based as it will leave no room for innovation. The forum called for regulators to also take on the role of ‘innovation facilitators’. With this in mind, the Bank of Thailand is currently reviewing to revise certain financial regulations with the government.

The Thailand Fintech Association will be able to drive progress for fintech in Thailand, but it must also keep in mind the consumer and infrastructural and regulatory challenges that come with moving towards a changed cashless society.

Credit card management app in Thailand

Piggipo app manages all your spending in one place. Source: theallapps.com

Piggipo, a two-year-old Thai company selling credit card management applications, has set a goal of raising series-A funding by the end of 2016 before actively exploring Southeast Asia in 2017. The app allows you to place a ‘limit spending’ on all of your credit cards, keeps track on what you’re spending, whilst also managing your bills and interests in one place. The app is a winner of Dtac Accelerate Batch 2 online application competition and received financial funding from Dtac, Golden Gate Venture and 500 Tuk Tuks.

Credit card management app in Thailand

The app is ideal for younger people who find it hard to handle finances. Source: insiderretail.asia

Piggipo allows people to better manage credit cards by allowing them to jot down their credit card spending details in an app. The premium feature costs $1.99 (THB 70).

The app supports three credit card issuers, SCB, KBank and Citibank. By the end of this year, the company plans to have two more banks and 500,000 downloads, up from about 170,000 downloads now.

With the target of raising over $1.5 million at the end of 2016, Piggipo’s next aim is penetrating other Southeast Asian markets prioritizing Malaysia and Singapore due to the countries’ high credit card penetration. Piggipo has already struck a partnership with Maybank to launch “Credit Mavin” app in Malaysia under the same concept as Piggipo but with an international market model.

Piggipo will be able to leverage Malaysia’s high credit card spending, two times bigger than Thailand, despite having half the population. In Thailand, there is also an increasing use of digital money and electronic payments, creating a large enough platform to facilitate the app.

A version of this appeared in The Nation on June 29. Read the full article here.