Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Vietnam state investment arm SCIC partners Thai Kasikornbank

Vietnam’s government investment arm SCIC, the state investor in the country’s biggest firm Vinamilk, has inked a deal with Thai Kasikorn Bank to unlock more investment opportunities in Vietnam.

Thailand has accounted for significant investments into Vietnam, notably in the retail sector. TCC Holding and Central Group put a war chest to acquire retail assets in Vietnam over the past two years to secure top positions in this $118 billion market.

Vietnam has been seen as a magnate for foreign investors thanks to its stable economic annual growth of some 6.5 per cent, blended with a rising middle class and improving infrastructure. Ecommerce has also grown steadily as a result.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Malaysian payments startup Soft Space gears up for Japan launch with $5m investment

Malaysian payments startup Soft Space has raised $5 million in its series A funding round.

The firms will collaborate on a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, making use of Transcosmos’ data analytics capabilities and Soft Space’s suite of payments options.

Some features are still under development, but once completed the CRM software will be able to deliver targeted ads and loyalty programs, and let merchants employ chatbots to help handle customer complaints.

How would it work?

A restaurant, equipped with Soft Space’s card reader and linked up with its software, can accept a wide range of physical payments with cards, as well as online payments. After the payment has been made, the restaurant owner can send customers a survey and ask them to give a rating.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: Amazon Prime Now, Can Singapore Deliver?

“It’s going to be a siege.”

That’s one expert’s view of the battle looming ahead for Singapore’s brick-and-mortar retailers as e-commerce giants prime the Lion City as a key staging ground in their fight for Asian supremacy.

Social media was abuzz this week amid rising speculation that Amazon Prime Now – the US-based online retail behemoth’s two-hour delivery service – will soon be available in the city state.

The rumour mill started churning a week earlier after the chief executive of Lazada, the Alibaba-controlled Southeast Asian e-retailer, told a public forum that Prime Now would be available starting May 28.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Foursquare is launching an analytics platform to help retailers understand foot traffic

Foursquare predicted that Chipotle same-store sales would fall 29%  after the Mexican chain was hit with E. coli outbreaks. The actual decline announced by Chipotle ended up being a spot-on 30%.

These analytics can be very valuable to retailers, allowing them to better understand customers’ habits as well as predict store traffic.

From its accuracy in predicting Chitpole, came  the idea that Foursquare should launch a full time analytics app. The company has launched “Foursquare Analytics”, a foot-traffic dashboard for brands and retailers. The platform is available for retailers with any number of stores, no matter how small.

Retailers will be able to use the dashboard to see foot-traffic data across metrics like gender, age and new versus returning customers — on a national or citywide scale.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Adidas steps away from TV advertising as it targets $4 billion growth

Adidas is leaving behind TV advertising as it seeks to quadruple its ecommerce revenues by 2020, according to Kasper Rorsted, CEO of Adidas.

Rorsted has placed increased digital retail sales at the center of his overhaul strategy, aiming to grow revenues from $1.06 billion in 2016 to $4.25 billion by 2020.

The firm also announced last week that it is investing heavily in the digitization process, including 3-D printing and smart manufacturing methods.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. In one month, Thailand saw the closures of 67 banks and non-bank branches

ฺBank of Thailand has revealed the multiple closures of banks and non-banks, rounding up to 67 in February alone. 36 banks closed down, and 31 non-banks, which refers to financial institutions that provide limited banking services, also closed down.

Kasikorn Bank saw the most closures, with 17 branches shut down, and Thanachart Bank with 16. Most of the closures were n Bangkok, and represents a global trend of declining needs for banking services. Does this mean that digital banking will be given more room to grow?

Read the rest of the story here.


Here’s what you should know for today.

1. East Ventures announces new $28M fund for Southeast Asia

Despite recent writeups about the lack of funding in Southeast Asia, Singapore-based VC East Ventures today announced its fifth fund worth $27.5 million for investment in early-stage Southeast Asian startups. With the new capital from unnamed prominent families and entrepreneurs, the VC says it will invest in more than 20 startups in the region.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Alibaba bids to privatize China’s department store, Intime

Alibaba Group has offered to privatize Intime Retail, a leading China department store and mall operator.

It will help pave way for the digitization of old school retailing.

Alibaba currently owns 28% of Intime following an initial investment in the retailer in 2014. If shareholders approve the deal, Alibaba would become the controlling shareholder of Intime with an expected stake of approximately 74%.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. KBZ and Kasikorn Banks introduce remittance services in Rangoon

Burma’s Kanbawza Bank (KBZ) signed a memorandum of understanding with Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank in Rangoon on Wednesday to introduce remittance services for migrant workers in both countries. There are an estimated 3 million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand. Many of those workers currently use informal channels to send money home, bank officials said.

Currently, various financial institutions are rolling out remittance services, such as TrueMoney. Kasikorn bank will therefore be tapping into a competitive market to provide transaction aid for developing economies.

Read the rest of the story here.

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.

Read the rest of the story here

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.
Read the rest of the story here


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.

Read the rest of the story here

The case of a Kasikornbank customer who lost almost 1 million baht to cybercriminals and the hacking of Government Savings Bank (GSB) ATMs, have fueled fears over online banking for Thais, reports Bangkok Post.

According to surveys by the Bangkok Post, these security concerns are causing consumers to delay their signup for PromptPay.

Some people point out that cybercriminals are very sophisticated and they doubt that banks have enough resources to fully shield customers from these risks.

Even though PromptPay registration requires only an ID card and a phone number, consumers worry the data can be used to obtain confidential information if it falls in the wrong hands.

According to a Mr. Thanaprasert, one of the people who were interviewed, he is delaying the signup of PromptPay due to lack of sufficient information.

‘I’ve only heard of the benefits of the service but do not know anything about the security system prepared for it and how commercial banks or government will take responsibility if my money is stolen,’ he says.

There have been warnings circulated via LINE chats that cyber thieves can access bank account information by having only an ID card or mobile number linked to a bank account.

Apart from fears over cyberattacks, the lack of awareness about PromptPay has also limited the number of those signing up for the service. Mr. Suchit Somprasert, a taxi driver said he has never received any welfare nor subsidies from the government, but he will sign up for the service if he is entitled to such assistance.

Other people have said their lack of awareness about the concept has scared them from signing up.

Predee Daochai, chairman of the Thai Bankers’ Association (TBA), said the association plans to launch soon a public relation campaign to educate and inform the public about PromptPay.

A version of this appeared in the Bangkok Post on September 12. 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 government figures, banks, regulation officers and the private sector join forces to drive Thailand’s fintech industry to its full potential.

The event was a roundtable discussion with key figures in the financial, media and regulatory sector, where a number of  important issues and topics regarding the country’s Fintech landscape were discussed.

C-asean launched the event in collaboration with the esteemed panel of speakers:

  • 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 of the SEC Thailand Deputy Secretary-General
  • Teeranun Srihong Senior Executive Vice President of Kasikorn Bank

Thailand’s weak fintech infrastructure

According to Korn Chatikavanij, Thailand has a good market size with innovative ideas to drive the fintech industry forward. However, what the country currently lacks is the integration of sectors, from private to public, and also between regulators. Talks regarding the government’s e-payment initiative, PromptPay, has brought into light the country’s readiness for a cashless society and trust issues.

Thailand lacks one crucial component; the ability to address and identify problems with infrastructure.

However, it is time to acknowledge that industries need to be disrupted, and traditional banking services must adapt with changing trends.

ecommerceIQ Thailand FinTech Ecosystem

Source: C-asean Facebook Page

One of these trends is the request for traditional banks to close down rather than expand as amount of online services grow. Although most of these changes are happening in Bangkok, the government’s PromptPay rollout strives to shift the whole country to digitized payments.

Ideas such as blockchains and ‘smart contracts’ that have been adapted in other countries are thrown around simply as buzzwords in Thailand instead of viable solutions.

In Singapore, the government and private sector support the fintech initiative by allocating funds to all startups and sectors that develop fintech, from hardware development to programming. This is how successful fintech companies accelerate quickly. These kinds of development need to happen in Thailand.

The main consensus from panelists,

Fintech cannot be treated as a buzzword, companies must be accountable for their mistakes and prioritize the customers.

In order to pave way for financial innovation, there must be competition in the marketplace, according to Tipsuda Thavaramara from the SEC, and this means properly defining regulations that control traditional systems.

ecommerceIQ Thailand FinTech Ecosystem

Global players pose as the real threat to digital development

Thailand should not be concerned about competing with other finance players in the country, such as banks or firms, nor should it be concerned about competing with other ASEAN countries’ fintech development. It is big players such as Alibaba that we should be concerned about, says Korn. Global companies have the bandwidth to disrupt domestic development.

Without strong domestic development, the country could potentially lose out to popular payments in China and the West such as Alipay and PayPal.

“Cannibalization of the industry is ok as long as we participate in the cannibalization” – Teeranun Srihong, Senior Executive VP of Kasikorn Bank.

How to regulate fintech

Members of the panel proposed to set up a ‘sandbox’ as a space to outline regulations and facilitate fintech startups to grow. The sandbox is to be treated as a lab space.

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.

Aside from reviewing regulations, the government is also working to push out e-KYC (electronic-know your customer), which is supposed to validate and store user data. This will be very useful following the launch of PromptPay. In Q4 of this year, The Bank of Thailand will also be pushing for the launch of QR codes to support the e-payment system.

The formation of the Fintech Association will be beneficial in driving progress and conversation forward as it will provide a viable link between different sectors needed to push the country’s fintech advancement forwards. However, a lot of work is left to be done until Thailand can claim to be a fully functional digital society.

Written By: Anutra Chatikavanij