Here are the key ecommerce headlines you need to know.

1. Indonesia to set up crowdfunding platform for ecommerce startups 

Indonesia’s ministry of cooperatives and SMEs has announced plans to set up a crowdfunding platform to fund startups as part of its broader e-commerce roadmap introduced earlier this month. The government will join hands with the University of Indonesia (UI) to build the site.

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2. Dentsu Aegis Network acquires ecommerce solution firm Bluecom

 Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) announced the acquisition of Bluecom Group. The firm will become part of DAN’s digital arm Isobar China Group and will be rebranded as “Isobar Commerce”, in a bid to strengthen the network’s position.
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3. Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank joins with IBM for blockchain

Kasikornbank will be the first Thai bank to apply the blockchain technology and aims to start the services in the first half of 2017, Somkid Jiranuntarat, vice chairman of Kasikornbank’s technology group, told reporters.

Blockchain is a web-based transaction-processing and settlement system whose efficiency banks say could slash costs. It creates a “golden record” of any given set of data that is automatically replicated for all parties in a secure network, eliminating any need for third-party verification.

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Catch up on the biggest ecommerce headlines you should know for today.

1. ZALORA brings see now, buy now model to Singapore fashion week 

As the Official E-Tail Partner, ZALORA will be hosting a shoppable Singapore Fashion Week microsite on that will feature curated collections from Fashion Futures Showcase and Singapore Fashion Week Access. Read the rest of the story here.


2. IBM partners with Singapore startup FreshTurf to use cloud, blockchain for parcel delivery

The partnership will create a network of storage lockers for shipping and parcel delivery throughout the city-state. The locker ledger network is designed to help improve the “last mile” of delivery services for consumers and businesses. Read the rest of the story here.


3. Visa Takes Inspiration From Bitcoin For Cross-Border Payments

the company recently rolled out a new technology aimed at taking on a new market by offering international B2B payments. The product is called Visa B2B Connect and,it will use a network modeled after the one powering bitcoin to navigate the complex world of cross-border payments between two companies. Read the rest of the story here.

In a country where there are more active mobile phone subscriptions than people alive – 255 million people versus 326 million mobile subscribers – Indonesian telecommunications providers are in a prime position to shape the future of ecommerce and mobile commerce in Indonesia. But while the telco sector contributed 3.14% of total GDP in Indonesia in 2014 and experienced high growth of 10.36% in the same year, placing Indonesia’s mobile market as the fourth largest in the world and top ten 3G markets, have the original giants of emerging market tech kept up with the online shopping boom?

Indonesian Telcos move to ecommerce

From telecommunications to “telecommerce”

Traditionally, telco companies were the ones who have direct access to customers, but in light of the ecommerce boom, things are slowly changing. The Indonesian telecommunications sector is dominated by three big players; Telkom, Indosat Ooredoo and XL Axiata, which make up 80% of total market share in Indonesia. Not one to miss opportunities, all three companies have aided the archipelago’s ecommerce sector through investments and strategic partnerships. Below is an aerial snapshot of Indonesia’s telco landscape, the evolution from telecommunications to telecommerce.

Telkom x

52.6% government owned, Telkom has the largest telecommunications network and is Indonesia’s largest service provider. Telkomsel, its subsidiary for mobile providers, has control of 46% total market share with more than 152 million users.
Since 2009, the company has ventured into the local ecommerce space by investing $5 million in an ecommerce company called later became a project under MetraPlasa and was merged with, a joint venture between Telkom and eBay that launched in 2012.
Following the partnership, eBay injected $9.2 million into the marketplace, shifting ownership 49% by eBay and 51% for Telkom. Additionally, the partnership meant that merchants could easily market their products quicker on a global scale and for a cheaper price through eBay’s network.
As a sign of their commitment to stake their place in the industry, the company announced that Telkom, through its subsidiary TelkomMetra, and eBay would inject a new fund of $25 million to the marketplace in April earlier this year. Telkom would lead the funding by contributing 60% of the total round, approximately $15 million. The marketplace has recorded $35 million of transaction value in 2015 and currently ranked #198 in terms of web traffic in Indonesia by SimilarWeb data. Blanja is led by Aulia Marinto as its CEO.
However, even with the aforementioned resources at their disposal, the C2C site’s growth currently is still left behind its competitors like Tokopedia and Lazada. It may be attributed to restrictions put on its vendors such as the requirement of government permits to register on the site and forbidding the sale of second-hand goods.

Indosat Ooredoo x Cipika Store

The second biggest telecommunications company in the country has 69.8 million subscribers in its database. Initially a state-owned company, Indosat was acquired by the Qatar-based telecommunication company, Ooredoo Group, in 2009 and changed its name to Indosat Ooredo in 2015. Now, the government only holds 14.29% in the company. Earlier this year, the company announced its partnership with IBM to develop and deliver solutions on IBM’s platform, Bluemix.
Through its subsidiary company IM2, Indosat has launched a marketplace called TokoOn in 2012. In 2014, the marketplace pivoted to an ecommerce platform with a new name, Cipika Store, to sell Indonesian culinary and local handicrafts. Since then, the company has added new categories in its marketplace; lifestyle, gadget, home & entertainment, books and play. It has also allowed people to buy wholesale products at cheaper prices.
The site is ranked #4166 by SimilarWeb, performing way below the two other “telecommerce” companies. Although not selling the exact same products, the site faces competition from Qlapa and KedaiKuka in its Indonesian local products category and the likes of Lazada and Tokopedia in other categories.

XL Axiata x Elevenia

XL is the first private company in Indonesia that provides mobile telephone services, which was originally established as a trading and general services company. In 2009, the company was bought by Axiata Group and since then changed its name and logo to XL Axiata. As of March 2016, it has 42.5 million users, down 19% from 52.1 million users in March 2015.
In 2013, Elevenia launched as a joint venture between XL Axiata and SK Planet, Korean telecommunications operator. The initial investment made was $18.3 million, with both companies sharing fifty-fifty ownership. Lead by James Lee as the CEO, total investment put into the marketplace to date is $110 million, placing it as one of the top three most funded startups in Indonesia.
Since the beginning of its existence almost three years ago, Elevenia has sought to differentiate itself from the other marketplaces with its seller and buyer reward points. Sellers can use the collected points to boost their sales with things like ad placements and providing buyers with discounts. Elevenia is also providing their sellers with education facilities in their ‘Seller Zone’.
Compared to the other “telecommerce” companies mentioned above, Elevenia has the best performance so far, recorded $95 million (1.3 trillion IDR) of revenue in 2015. The site is ranked #21 in the country and they are projecting five times sales growth potential for 2016. 

Key Stats of Telecommerce Companies in Indonesia, Indonesian Telcos move to ecommerce

Key Stats of Telecommerce Companies in Indonesia

Building the ecosystem

Moving into ecommerce is only one way for telcos to make the most out of the resources at their fingertips. Evidently, having direct access to users is not enough to ensure their success in online retail. Telcos need to leverage more of its networks to ensure the success of their ecommerce venture. The recent news about the participation of MDI, Telkom’s venture capital arm, in the latest bridge funding of ecommerce-enabler aCommerce is great news for building a sustainable ecommerce ecosystem.
Many changes still need to be implemented to successfully shift to ‘telecommerce’. Considering the niche market that Cipika Store is targeting, it will be hard to scale up without spending a lot of money to acquire more users. Restrictions made because of its associations with the government are most likely stifling Blanja’s growth despite Telkom having more than three times subscribers of XL Axiata. XL Axiata boasts the most successful ecommerce portfolio out of the three, probably credited to the unique valuables the marketplace offers to its sellers and customers.
Ecommerce in Indonesia is only at the beginning of what looks like a long marathon race, and despite falling short behind big players like Lazada and Tokopedia, there are still many laps for these companies to improve their stance before reaching the finish line.

IBM launches its first blockchain innovation center


IBM plans to open a blockchain innovation center in Singapore in collaboration with the Singaporean government to digitalize the trade and finance sectors, reports ZDNet. The centre will develop applications and solutions based on blockchain, cybersecurity, and cognitive computing technologies and also engage with small to medium enterprises to create new applications and grow new markets in finance and trade.

The blockchain can translate to strong benefits throughout our entire finance ecosystem including the boosting of local tech capabilities.

As Singapore aims to become Asia’s main financial technology hub, IBM’s initiative perfectly aligns with the government’s goal. The tech company will be working with the main economic planning agency, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to accelerate blockchain adoption for finance and trade.

One project, together with PSA International—one of the world’s largest container transshipment ports owned by state investor Temasek Holdings—aims to connect fintech with global trade and logistics.

Singapore is rushing to reinvent itself as Asia’s fintech hub to fend off a regulatory threat to its wealth management industry and revive a sluggish economy.

Singapore is now ahead of its long time rival, Hong Kong, but measures to cut the number of foreign workers and regulations have created a risk averse culture which is at odds with the trial and error approach of fintech startups. This remains a key obstacle in developing this sector in Singapore.

The opening of the new blockchain center will build on IBM’s work with the Linux Foundation Hyperledger Platform. At the end of 2015, IBM was among one of the tech companies to partner with the Linux Foundation to develop an enterprise grade, open-source distributed framework. This aligns with the foundation’s belief that this standard of innovation can transform the way business transactions are conducted across the world.

A version of this appeared in ZDNet on July 12. Read the full version here.