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Here’s what you should know today.

1. WeChat now lets mainland Chinese users share content to Facebook

With parent company Tencent seeking to expand its presence outside of China, WeChat has just launched a significant new feature allowing domestic Chinese users to synchronize Moments posts to Facebook and Twitter.

China’s Great Firewall means that access to Facebook and Twitter is still blocked inside mainland China, but the new feature should be useful to Chinese users living, traveling, and studying overseas, as well as those using a VPN within the mainland.

To access Moments synchronization to overseas social media platforms while residing in China, users will need to enable a VPN, but it’s not uncommon for wealthy WeChat users to have access to VPNs, especially if they frequently travel or do business abroad.

So what does this mean for brands? Firstly, the feature may make life easier for social teams already working with WeChat alongside Facebook and Twitter, by allowing one post to be automatically shared rather than posted multiple times.More importantly, the move allows social content to flow between WeChat users and the wider Chinese diaspora, some of whom may be using Facebook and Twitter, but not WeChat.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. A $60 billion ecommerce loophole in China may be narrowing

Known as cross-border ecommerce, the booming backdoor avenue allows Chinese consumers to buy overseas-manufactured goods online and effectively circumvent the regulatory issues that have stymied access to consumer products from cosmetics to Cognac.

Faced with pressure from conventional retailers at home, and the loss of tax revenue, the government is now looking at overhauling the legal loophole.

Source: Bloomberg

“If you do not harmonize the rules for commercial imports and cross-border ecommerce, there is an advantage you give to companies overseas,” said Chan Wai-Chan, a retail partner at consultancy Oliver Wyman in Hong Kong.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Siam Commercial Bank’s Digital Ventures reveal coin machine

According to data from the Treasury Department in 2017, there are about 29 billion coins worth a combined Bt50 billion in circulation. Approximately 10 per cent of these coins are not in the system due to several factors including people collecting coins at home and the tendency to not carry around change.

The product development team at Digital Ventures worked with our partners, namely Lightfog, RTech and Creatus, to create a coin machine capable of counting and checking coins, exchanging coins for notes, and linking with the bank’s system to allow users to carry out transactions with greater convenience and in ways that fit with their lifestyle.

“For example, consumers can choose to deposit the change directly into their bank account, transfer to their e-wallet by providers such as Line Pay and PayPal, top up their mobile phone, or donate the change to a foundation or charity of their choice.

Read the rest of the story here.

Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank held a fintech event last week on behalf of its digital arm, Digital Ventures. ‘Faster Future: SCB Fintech Forum‘ drew in speakers from across the globe, from Wei Hopeman, Managing Partner at Asia based Arbor Ventures to Jeffrey Paine, co-founder of Singapore based Golden Gate Ventures, an early-stage VC firm that focuses on Southeast Asia.

“Southeast Asia looks like China in 2006, like India in 2011,” said Paine. “In China and India, the competition is usually local, but in Southeast Asia, the competition comes from around the world.”

During his panel, Paine outlined eight key tech sectors that he believes we will see more of in Southeast Asia within the next 3-5 years.

1. The age of differentiated commerce, more B2B

  • It is the age of niche B2B ecommerce. Southeast Asia will see the growth of niche verticals in the B2B space, for example, the rise of the industrial sector in Singapore
  • The industry will see a surge in ecommerce enablers that help traditional companies go online
  • Ecommerce will shift slightly to differentiated commerce. This refers to a culmination of good content, strong networks and an efficiency in selling. Ecommerce has evolved to an all-round experience, not simply putting something up for sale online

 

2. The rise of a ‘one stop shop’ financial platform

  • The region can expect a rise in fintech transactions over the next 2-3 years
  • Integration of big data in credit scoring will be prominent, especially in Indonesia. Big data should be able to minimize the amount of work and extend sources needed to provide loans.
  • The ‘one stop shop’ financial platform will allow you to purchase loans, insurance and credit cards in one place. This will be a place where a few winners can come into dominate market share
  • The rise of pure mobile online banks. Vietnam is already starting to adapt following the launch of Timo Bank, the country’s first digital bank
  • Financial services for ecommerce. For example, consumer credit will matter when a shopper buys something on a marketplace. This will also be in tandem with the rise of vendor financing for marketplaces
  • On-demand insurance will also become a trend in the next 3 years i.e. Asia Insurance
  • Blockchain infrastructure will arrive in Southeast Asia

 

3. Automobile innovation to benefit B2B & B2C

  • Innovations will be in the areas of software that helps drivers find parking, rent cars, connect with automobile care

 

4. The rise of healthcare tech in Thailand and Singapore

  • The birth of centralized data hubs and analytics will be integrated with healthcare
  • Creation of software for hospitals, clinics and private practices to make their workflow more efficient. Ex. Patient records, paying bills etc.
  • The application of IoT software for hospitals and senior homes
  • The rise of telemedicine platforms online and doctor on-demand services. This would benefit rural provinces as it’s a challenge to find doctors on demand when you’re not in a big city

 

5. The strengthening of enterprise SaaS

  • AI/Machine learning based predictive analytics software for business users, especially in the area of automated customer service and sales management software
  • Will take time to develop and be applied, but it should be used by HR departments and accounting/finance divisions to automate certain processes such as number crunching and database filing

 

6. Long-haul logistics

  • Long haul trucking would be particularly useful for the popular trucking route between Malaysia-Thailand and vice versa
  • On-demand trucking platforms could add more convenience to consumers, allowing them to have parcels delivered at a more flexible schedule. This would be a challenge in Indonesia due to the different islands within the country
  • Route planning innovation will also become a trend in logistics. This would help to tackle various roadblocks such as unidentified locations, problems with delivery addresses and more.

 

7. Increasing popularity of agritech

  • Agritech has been slow to rise, but should become a key trend within the next few years as agriculture is prominent in Southeast Asia
  • The development of financial services for farmers will pick up. Thailand and Indonesia have begun to develop government centric databases and e-procurement platforms, but neither has fully taken off
  • The creation of market linkage models, ex. farm to table platforms

 

Looking ahead

Southeast Asia is waking up, especially as each country’s government is pushing tech initiatives and creating guidelines such as sandboxes for fintech and exploring taxing for ecommerce.

According to Jeffrey Paine,

As soon as the government starts to push, large corporations will begin to take notice.

This trend is apparent in Thailand, with many institutional banks such as SCB itself, or Kasikorn bank venturing into digital finance services.

Real estate companies such as Sansiri are teaming up with SCB to explore property tech, focusing on research, development and startups, aligning with the Thai government’s 4.0 initiative that aims to move the country towards a more digitized framework.

Jeffrey Paine notes that for domestic startups, going regional is not impossible. China will play a significant role in the region’s development, and Southeast Asia needs two main vices; capital and time, in order to accelerate the region’s technology growth.

For more on SCB x Digital Ventures Fintech Forum and to watch the panel, click here.