Over the last few days, major moves have been made by a handful of top ecommerce players in Southeast Asia in efforts to cement a position in payments. Each company is already well aware: if you want people to buy or use your services, it makes sense to have direct influence over their spending.

Owning the payments chain has become so important (thanks to what was witnessed in China), that Amazon announced it would pass discounts to retailers if they used its online payment service.

Earlier this week, ShopBack, a cash back ecommerce aggregator, acquired Singaporean personal finance startup for an undisclosed amount. The stated reason being it wanted to help millennials ‘better handle their money‘, but with a new team of developers, no doubt the company is looking to optimise its existing system.

What was more interesting this past week were the new discoveries made by Go-Jek and Grab users in Southeast Asian markets.


The on-demand market leader in Indonesia has expanded its reach to the most unexpected locations – street food vendors.

Tweet translation: “Interesting find this afternoon: Some street vendors on the alley beside Bank BNI Kebon Sirih have accepted payment with Go-Pay. When I bought ayam penyet [fried chicken] at my regular place, I just have to scan a QR code, show the payment slip, and that’s it. So cool!”


The popularity of Go-Jek in Indonesia is almost legendary and this example shows how far its reach goes. The difficulty for Go-Jek will be expansion outside of Indonesia to other markets in the region, where similar on-demand companies exist.


With Uber officially out of the picture, Grab is doubling efforts to increase the adoption of its e-wallet, GrabPay. On a trip to Manila May 7th, an ecommerceIQ Community member shared with us app screenshots of Grab promoting a new cash ‘top up’ feature. Riders can add money to their Grab accounts by simply handing their drivers cash.

This is hardly innovative as Go-Jek has offered cash top ups since 2016, a large contributing factor to its success in Indonesia, but it shows Grab’s seriousness in evolving its payments product to the local market.




This new feature follows Grab’s launch of three other services the company introduced to the Singapore market: GrabAssist, GrabCar Plus, and GrabFamily.

“Grab’s vision is to be an everyday app for consumers,” said Tarin Thaniyavarn, country head of Grab Thailand.

Regulations stand in the way of Grab’s vision in Southeast Asia as most countries lack any solid regulations to ride-hailing companies. Currently, the company is unsuccessfully trying to acquire a microfinance licence from the Bank of Thailand.

What drives the adoption of new technology?

Grab is targeting hawker stalls in Singapore, Go-Jek has already successfully penetrated local vendors in Jakarta. Grab is offering cash top ups, Go-Jek has been doing so for the past two years. They both offer on-demand services, taxis, cars, bikes and the technology and mechanics of an e-wallet are not all that different player to player. They are essentially going toe to toe, what is going to push further adoption?

The real winner will be the company’s capability in effectively communicating the benefits of its payments service to users. How aware are users of its existence and its importance? How can it make their lives easier versus using good old fashioned cash or swiping a credit card?

In developed markets like the US, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Wallet have single digit adoption rates compared to credit card usage. Why? Because the country already fares well with credit cards, there is no reason to change habits.

The same case can be made for relatively cash-less markets like Singapore. The real opportunity to dominate payments is in developing markets like Indonesia and Thailand, where credit card ownership floats around only 4 percent and majority of the population owns a smartphone.



“To enhance awareness, you really need advertising — one thing that’s not well understood [by consumers] about Samsung Pay is that it has more utility the Apple Pay; you can use it at a non-NFC terminal and that’s a huge advantage I don’t think Samsung is doing a good job of promoting.”

Here’s what you should know today:

1. Go-Jek is enabling Go-Pay for transactions outside its ecosystem

Indonesian ride-hailing Go-Jek confirmed that it soon will allow its users to do cashless payment with Go-Pay to merchants outside of the Go-Jek ecosystem.

Currently, the Go-Pay feature can only be used to pay for Go-Jek services.

Go-Jek is also updating their in-app food delivery service to enable customers paying directly to the merchants with Go-Pay, instead of pay it for them in advance like the current system.

The company is recently awarded by Bank Indonesia for their achievement in “promoting cashless society, financial inclusions, and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) empowerment.”

Read the full story here.

2. Grab driving cashless payments in Singapore

Although the company faces a tough challenge in Indonesia, Grab is leading the innovation of cashless payments in homeland Singapore.

The country is likely to soon become Grab’s largest market in terms of cashless payments as more Singaporeans recognizes the value of cashless payments.

Grab has the ambitious goal to make GrabPay the regional mobile wallet and payments services. They are also planning to include more financial services including loans, electronic money transfer and money-market funds.

Read the full story here

3. More Filipino men shop online for clothing

According to Singapore-based ecommerce app Shopee, men in the Philippines have emerged as a high growth market. They are staying longer and buying more through Shopee mobile app.

The trend for Filipino men is they spend more but buy less frequently than women.

Mostly, these men are buying fashion apparels, consumer electronics, and sports and outdoor equipments. But the top preference vary across age group.

Shopee also see the number of male buyers in Health and Beauty category surging by 228% in the last year.

Read the full story here.

Here are today’s top ecommerce headlines.

1. Shopping glee during Harbolnas anticipated despite Indonesia’s slowdown

The three-day event, scheduled from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14, has driven 205 online stores to confirm their participation out of 237 stores that previously expressed interest. Several online giants are among them, such as Lazada, Zalora, Traveloka, ShopBack and Elevenia.

Read the rest of the story here


2. Facebook picks Indian fashion platform CoutLoot for FbStart program

The FbStart initiative from the company helps the users to grow their startups by leveraging valuable tools and services, worldwide events and opportunities to engage with the Facebook team.

Read the rest of the story here


3. Ride-hailing app Grab ventures into mobile payments

Ride-hailing-app operator Grab debuted a cashless mobile payment service Tuesday that taps the Singaporean company’s customer base in Southeast Asia to try to capture a slice of the region’s highly competitive e-money market.

The new GrabPay Credits service lets users store cash credits on the Grab app. The offering is being rolled out in Singapore and Indonesia and eventually will appear in other Southeast Asian markets where Grab already operates, such as Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Read the rest of the story here



It’s all about payments today. Read below for today’s biggest headlines.

1. GoSwiff partners with UnionPay to increase mobile transactions in Thailand

GoSwiff, a global leader in digital payments, announced a partnership with UnionPay International (UPI), a global payment network, to enable merchants on Nimmanahaeminda Road in Chiang Mai to accept UnionPay cards. Using GoSwiff’s mobile point of sale (mPOS) solution, micro merchants can now accept and process secure PIN-based card transactions in Thailand.

Read the rest of the story here


2. GrabPay just got easier to use

Users can now top up their credit balance inside the app through various channels: credit card, ATMs, internet banking, or through the cashier system at convenience store chain Alfamart.

GrabPay credits can then be used for cashless payment for any service ordered through the app, such as a car ride or food delivery.

Read the rest of the story here


3. Digital payments fueling fintech investments in APAC

The emergence of new business models is enabling players to innovate and invest in technologies such as Blockchain, digital payments, cloud services, cyber security, product lines and solutions. Players must rethink strategies and align their business vision with technology goals to define their value proposition to customers and survive in the rapidly evolving digital ecosystem.

Read the rest of the story here