Here’s what you should know today.

1. Malaysia’s Bank Negara kicks off fintech sandbox

Bank Negara has approved four firms to operate within its “regulatory sandbox”, marking a significant milestone in the growth of financial technology in Malaysia. Bank Negara opened applications for parties intending to create innovative ways to improve the quality, efficiency and accessibility of financial services in Malaysia last year, in line with global trends.

It also saw the central bank creating a unit called the Financial Technology Enabler Group (FTEG) which would oversee the entry of technological innovations in financial services.

Companies operating in the sandbox will be allowed to commercially launch their services albeit within limits set by the central bank and under close watch by the regulator.

 Read the rest of the story here.


2. Digitization to drive Thai economy, AWS chief says

 Thailand’s future economic growth will be driven by digitization that enables new products and services in various sectors, according to Nick Walton, who heads Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Asean.

Digitization will play a big role in the government’s “Thailand 4.0” modernization programme, said Walton, adding that it would help turbo-charge the growth of new entrepreneurs and innovation here.For example, Toyota Tsusho (Thailand) has used AWS’s cloud-based computing facilities to help develop a traffic-flow management system that allows faster and more efficient movement of vehicles.

Mark Rachelski, chief architect of aCommerce, said the firm had taken advantage of AWS’s cloud-based services to grow its business in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: Inside WeChat’s micro shops

WeChat also hosts an unofficial market called weishang or ‘micro-shops.’ Run through personal WeChat accounts, micro-shops are unregulated sales channels that sell anything from fake Louis Vuitton bags to homemade cakes – to even guns.

“Buying, shipping, taking photos, customer service – I do it all,” Wang Meng, a micro-shop owner in Australia, tells Tech in Asia. “I respond on WeChat everyday – I don’t have a set time. If I’m not posting on my [newsfeed], I’m on vacation.”

WeChat is unique. Not only does it come with built-in infrastructure for payments, blogging, and social networking – lending itself to entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds – but it’s also an incredibly closed network. It’s designed to buffer you from strangers.

Unlike Facebook, there’s no friend recommendation feature in WeChat. You can’t see who your contacts are friends with, nor can you view comments or likes from users you’re not connected to – even if they’re just one degree away. If you want to add someone’s contact, you have to know their ID, scan their QR code, or be in the same chat group.

Read the rest of the story here.

Christian Dior has become the first luxury brand to sell top-end bags on WeChat, the most popular messaging and social network in China, offering its iconic Lady Dior bag on the platform, reports China Daily.

On Monday, the designer brand posted its limited edition small Lady Dior for the upcoming Qixi, or Chinese Valentine’s Day, which falls on Aug 9 this year. The bag sold out online on Tuesday. Dior offered a completely customizable shopping experience through the app.

For this limited edition, consumers can drag the online pictures of the decorations they want to the bag, tailor-making them to the needs. Buyers can directly purchase and pay through WeChat.

Since luxury brands can find their target consumers by WeChat’s big data, the largest social network in China, it’s easier for them to advertise and sell products through chat.

“Many brands are operating under pressure, and they would like to open the market through ecommerce platforms,” said Lu Zhenwang,CEO of Shanghai based Wanqing Consultancy.

“Even if sales were slow, brands could achieve results through marketing and branding,” Zhenwang adds.

Some other brands, including Cartier, International Watch Company, Montblanc and Longchamp, have already launched their online sales platforms on WeChat, and provided some special services and discounts.

According to China Luxury Forecast by global PR firm Ruder Finn Inc, 36% of respondents in China said they would like to buy luxury products online, rising 24% the previous year.

Dior needs to step up its sales and marketing outreach as it is under global pressure. In the first half of this year, the fashion house announced that its net profits fell 30.2% to $82.8 million.

A version of this appeared in China Daily on Aug 3.  Read the full version here.