Philippines Startup Launches Wifi Bundling Service, Wins Microsoft Grant

Now you can get free wifi when you buy your chocolate bars, thanks to Wifi Interactive Network

Microsoft is trying to get people in developing countries online. As a part of this initiative, the tech giant has launched ‘Affordable Access Initiative’, reports Tech in Asia.

Microsoft is partnering with local entrepreneurs and giving grants across the globe to startups that are working to provide affordable access in their  local markets. A Philippines based startup, Wifi Interactive Network (WIN) has won this grant through setting up a ‘wifi bundling’ startup. WIN gets brands to give wifi to the consumers by giving a wifi code that allows the consumer to connect to the local hotspot upon purchase.

WIN gets local brands in Philippines to carry the cost of installing and maintaining wifi hotspots at stores. This extends to small neighborhood convenience stores to bars. On the consumer’s side, it is also very straightforward, they simply need to register for access via smartphone and have the store approve the request, then they will receive a passcode for wifi access.

 Wifi Interactive Network (WIN) has won this grant with its ‘wifi bundling’ startup, which packages free wifi hotspots with typically bought consumer goods. 

WIN allows consumers to buy internet access in sachets. Sachets are a common way to buy consumer products, such as shampoo or milk in emerging markets, as they are cheaper than bottles. If a consumer buys a sachet of a sponsoring brand’s milk, they will get wifi access for usually 30 minutes.

This is a sustainable business model because the brands generate immediate revenue and acquire data analytics of purchase behavior at the store level. Philip Zulueta, WIN Founder

It monetizes by charging brands a monthly subscription fee per location, and now has 41 wifi hotspots. 34 in the capital with the rest in provinces in Luzon island.

The startup is planning to use the $150,000 funding from Microsoft to install base stations that will broadcast wifi signal to areas without any internet coverage.

By penetrating the low income markets, startups such as WIN are helping to boost the tech infrastructure of Philippines, as more people want access to data. Everyone has the potential to become a consumer, Philippines’ sachet market operates on smaller bite sizes with high purchase frequency, which is consistent with our sponsors’ target audience.

As WIN tackles the problem of consumers who can’t afford data plans that matches their income, its business model could go onto provide access to a whole new market segment.

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on July 4. Read the full article here.


 Southeast Asian Stocks Rise As Brexit Concerns Drop


Stocks across Southeast Asia in four countries rose as possibility of Britain remaining in the European Union increased, reducing market risks.

  • Singapore stocks closed more than 1%, led by oil and gas stocks
  • Philippines closed 0.6% higher with consumer cyclical such as Bloomberry Resorts Corp leading the market
  • Vietnam was up more than 1%, as oil and gas stocks such as Petrovietnam Gas Joint Stock Corp rose
  • Indonesia ended higher, helped by energy shares

Britons will cast their votes on June 23 in a referendum on whether to leave the EU. The probability of Britain remaining in the union rose to 72%, up from 60% in the previous week.

“Perception is that the British public is likely to vote in favour of remaining in the EU. If that is the case, it would remove the overhang of risk in the markets,” said Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, an analyst with Religare Capital Markets in Singapore.

Southeast Asian optimism in the context of Brexit

Initially, panic was spreading across markets in fear of Britain exiting the European Union but now it serves as an important reminder to protect the global market.

Countries such as Philippines has expressed optimism about the new President-elect, Rodrigo Duterte, who is beginning his six-year term on June 30.  Duterte’s economic team will be committed to boosting infrastructure, fixing traffic congestion and improve investment frameworks. Not only will this serve to improve ecommerce infrastructure and transportation roadblocks, it will also improve Philippines’ economic growth as a whole.

A version of this appeared in Jakarta Globe on June 21. Read the full article here.

Taiwan Mobile Co Eyeing Southeast Asia

Source: Google Images

Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大), the second largest carrier in the country, has been eyeing Southeast Asia’s ecommerce potential – namely telecom markets of Indonesia. Inc (富邦媒), its ecommerce subsidiary, has been gearing up to explore the markets in the Philippines and Vietnam said company chairman Richard Tsai.

In particular, is seeking a business partner in the Philippines and an agreement on a strategic partnership is expected to be reached by the end of this year. already owns a 35 percent stake in ecommerce operator TVD Shopping in Thailand – a company already profitable and will next year list its shares on Thailand’s stock market.

While India already has many telecom services providers, leading to intense competition and a price war, it has a huge population, creating business opportunities, in particular in data transmission, which is expected to rise.

However, any plans about investment in India still needs time to be finalized. The same business opportunities are expected for Indonesia by foreign telecom companies who join forces with its local counterparts to explore ecommerce further in the country. This aligns with PWC report: 5 Trends to watch in  Southeast Asia  Telecoms: 2016 will see more competitive activity in markets across Southeast Asia, including new market entries in the Philippines, Singapore and possibly Myanmar, as well as consolidation where operators are not scaling as expected.

A version of this appeared in Taipei Times on June 16. To read the full article, click here.

Phillipines smartphone market


The International Data Corporation (IDC) announced that Philippines’ smartphone market is experiencing the fastest growth in Southeast Asia for Q1.  The country saw a 20% year-on-year growth in smartphone penetration and 3.5 million smartphones in total were shipped to stores in the Philippines since the beginning of 2016.
Philippines’ smartphone growth is largely due to strong support from telco operators; for instance, Apple’s shipment growth is partly because telcos offered attractive data and app bundles for iPhones

Philippines’ smartphone market paves way for competition

Currently, local phone brands such as MyPhone, Cherry Mobile and CloudFone are dominating the country’s smartphone market due to cheap prices of US$75 and below. However, as the IDC predicts Philippine’s smartphone market to grow by 25% this year, this paves way for foreign competition in the smartphone industry.

Competition would mostly be coming from China as vendors such as Oppo and Huawei are experiencing steady growth as they expand channel coverage. Global players such as Samsung are also aggressively targeting the cheaper smartphone market. The IDC comments that telco operators must be prepared for network congestion, as mobile data explosion is a likely consequence of high smartphone penetration.

Philippines’ ecommerce potential: What could this mean for the nation?

With Philippines’ mobile penetration growing at a rapid speed, it suggests that the nation is catching up with the rest of the region.

Philippines’ increasing consumer demand could bring a wealth of opportunities; as mobile penetration increases, it could introduce new opportunities with mobile commerce and e-payment systems.

As content consumption increases, so has online payment initiatives. Only 3% of the nation has access to credit cards, which leaves room for online payment players to dominate the market. Telco companies should monitor the price of mobile data in Philippines, however, as it remains one of the most expensive in Southeast Asia, which could potentially restrict the nation’s growth potential.

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on June 18. Read the full article here.