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shopback-logo-cropped, ShopBack Dominates iOS Store

Source: Tech in Asia

ShopBack, a service that lets you get cashback on your ecommerce purchases from over 500 merchants in Singapore, launched its iOS and Android apps yesterday. The app is now the top free app in the shopping category in the iOS App Store, and number four (as of July 5 at 9.45am SGT) in the top free apps category in Singapore.

Founded in August 2014, ShopBack has since raised $1.1 million from investors. It acts like an affiliate marketer for ecommerce sites, collecting a fee for every purchase made through ShopBack, part of which is passed to consumers. A variety of marketing methods such as influencer marketing through actor Tosh Zhang, Facebook paid marketing, email marketing to its existing user base, and YouTube videos were used to drive app downloads.

ShopBack Dominates iOS Store

Ecommerce cashback apps are not a new concept

San Francisco company Ebates was doing it since 1998, and in 2014 it was acquired by Rakuten for $1 billion. In Indonesia, Ardent Capital funded Snapcart, offers a cashback app for offline purchases, to encourage O2O behavior. Asia has seen an ecommerce boom only in the past few years, fueled by a combination of venture capital fervor, greater internet and smartphone penetration, and rising incomes in emerging markets. The ecommerce market is nascent but fast growing.

ShopBack doesn’t appear to have generated the same amount of enthusiasm among Android users yet, as it’s nowhere near the top rankings there. For developed countries such as Singapore, the concept may be successful as the market has reached maturity but for many countries such as Indonesia and Philippines where Android users are dominant, adopting the simplest of ecommerce behavior still has a long way to go.

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on July 5. Read the full article here.

Android Pay launches in Singapore

Android Pay being used to make a purchase. Source: Straits Times.com

Android Pay launches in Singapore but faces an uphill battle. Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are already widely adopted in the Singaporean market and penetration of contactless POS systems (the tapping system that is integral to Singapore debit cards payments) is also not as high as it should be. Lastly, most cheaper Android phones simply do not have the right functionalities, which requires at least a version 4.4 KitKat and near field communications (NFC) capabilities, reported Forbes today.

Most interesting is the ecommerce potential. Google will launch Android Pay for in-app purchasing in the coming months and has announced Deliveroo, Grab, Shopee, Singapore Airlines, Uber and Zalora will be integrating in-app payment via Android Pay into their services.

Singapore will be the first Asian market to gain access to Android Pay with Singaporeans able to load Visa and  Mastercard credit and debit cards from six banks including DBS and Standard Chartered onto their android smartphones.

A version of this appeared in Forbes on June 27. Read the full article here.

 

Singapore Migshop Launches

Source: e27

Singapore-based social entertainment platform migme has announced the launch of  its social ecommerce migshop store, according to this article on e27. Migshop will offer curated items from major Southeast Asian ecommerce platform Lazada and India-based online marketplace Snapdeal.

The store will only be accessible to users from Thailand and India for now, but plans to expand to Philippines and other markets in the region are in the works.

“The social key influencers framework plays a leading role in driving online shopping and purchasing behaviour and this has contributed to the rise of this business model in other Asian markets. Companies such as Mogujie and Meilishuo in China, which have a combined value of $3 billion, have had great success in this area. We are confident we can replicate this strategy in our key markets, where there are similar dynamics,” said migme CEO Steven Goh.

Along with the acquisition of Sold.sg (pay-to-bid business) in 2015 and Shopdeca (B2C ecommerce retailer) in April 2016, the launch of this new platform is expected to give migme’s social ecommerce presence a generous boost.

Social commerce in Southeast Asia

The emerging market of Southeast Asia both boast high numbers of social networking users, many of whom check their social network pages via mobile phones. PwC latest survey revealed that Thailand and Malaysia are on the top five countries where online shoppers purchased directly from social media channels. Additionally, the fact that more than 50% shoppers in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are turning to social media to consult about their purchase is will only strengthen the influence of the platform in the future.

A version of this article appeared in e27 on June 22. Read the full article here.

fintech opportunity in Southeast Asia

Source: fintechnews.sg

South Korea is being left out of a global wave of fintech alliances due to its inward-focused strategy and a lack of deregulatory reforms to respond to market changes. But the country aims to become Asia’s fintech center by building a “fintech bridge” with major nations, especially to seize the opportunity in Southeast Asia.

South Korea is trying to catch up with the global trend. On June 15, the Fintech Center of Korea, an affiliate of South Korea’s Financial Services Commission, hosted a Fintech Demoday in Singapore to promote Korean fintech firms’ entry into Southeast Asia.

However, Korea’s approach to seize the fintech opportunity in Southeast Asia does not seem to be in the right direction from two aspects:

  1. The strategy is focused too much on exporting Korean fintech abroad, rather than creating a financial innovation ecosystem through regulatory reforms and cooperation with other countries.
  2. Direct discussions are not being held among regulators. For meaningful alliances to create a more vibrant fintech ecosystem, it is important to clear regulatory hurdles through binding agreements between financial regulators.

Jeffrey Jones, an international lawyer specializing in finance comments,

It is very sad that we have one of the most tech-savvy populations on the globe, but the legal and regulatory system prevents this population from developing products and services that could create jobs for so many young people.

Such concern comes as global financial centers such as Singapore, Australia and the UK have joined hands to bolster the fintech industry and solidify their leadership position as global financial hubs. On June 16, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission signed a contract to boost cooperation on financial innovation.

In May, Singapore and the UK also agreed to form a “fintech bridge” to foster financial innovation.

A version of this appeared in Korean Times on June 22. Read the full article here.

Vietnam's Advantage In European Trade Deal

Share of total EU-Asean Trade in 2015. Vietnam following behind Singapore, Source: Bloomberg.com

Vietnam may continue to take market share of the European Union trade from other Southeast Asian countries this year. The country accounted for 19.1 percent of the $227 billion (201.4 billion euros) in total trade between the EU and ASEAN nations last year, an increase from 15.8 percent in 2014 and could increase again 2016.

The country’s market growth combined with the finalization of the free trade pact indicates a more dynamic trade relationship in the future, according to the EU.

Vietnam has been steadily growing since 2014 when it overtook other ASEAN countries as the United States’ biggest exporter leaving traditional manufacturing hubs behind.

Vietnam was also able to capitalize on shifting production patterns in Asia as labor costs in China rose.

The ability to capitalize production led to Samsung Electronics Co.’s investment, it now assembles and exports smartphones from Vietnam. Several Vietnamese supply chain companies have now joined forces with the Vietnamese arm of Samsung. 

Although Singapore is still the EU’s biggest partner in Southeast Asia, it’s market share has dropped along with Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia who lost market share to Vietnam. Vietnam’s makes a very appealing trade partner with the EU by exporting electronic products, coffee and clothes. It is now the second country in ASEAN after Singapore that the EU has signed a free trade pact with.

Vietnam’s rise as a key player in overseas trade

The EU has begun to target Vietnam and Singapore in a new business initiative aimed at giving European SMEs more exposure and opportunities in Southeast Asia. This means that countries such as Thailand and Indonesia risk being completely overtaken by Vietnam, as the country has managed to capitalize on many advantages. This will provide Vietnam with international growth potential, whether through trade or online.

As Thailand and Malaysia were enjoying its traditional manufacturing perks, Vietnam was struggling to catch up, but now it seems that the country is benefiting from slower initial growth. Samsung’s investment made a significant contribution, and now Vietnam is on track to becoming a key player in trade with the European Union.

A version of this appeared in Bloomberg Technology on June 16. Read the full article here.

shopback-malaysia, shopback recorded growth

Source: Google images

Singapore-based cashback startup ShopBack recorded growth locally and regionally – 1,300 merchants in the region, 500 in Malaysia. From gross merchandising value to its shopper base, the country manager of Malaysian operations, Gil Carmo, said that the company hopes to grow by 20% month-on-month in GMV this year.

ShopBack has a presence in five countries beyond its home market, they include Malaysia (established in February 2015), the Philippines (June 2015), India (January 2016), and Indonesia (March 2016).

Malaysia domination

The cash back company claims to have more than 500,000 active users regionally, of whom more than half are from Malaysia. Its portals across the region have been attracting more than 1.5 million visits (up from 1.3 million visits in October 2015) monthly, including 330,000 out of Malaysia.

70% of Shopback’s users in Malaysia are repeat customers. Most of the people who try our service usually end up shopping with us regularly, like once a month.

Carmo believes that it would be possible for the company to grow to over 2,000 merchants by the end of the year. According to the company, it registered total cashouts of more than RM4 million, approximately US$976,000 in Malaysia last year, with the largest cashouts by a single person being over RM9,000 or US$2,196.

Gaining consumer’s trust

“I think the challenge is not so much about educating people on online shopping – in fact, I think Malaysians are extremely educated when it comes to online shopping – but [on the concept] of cashback itself,” he said.

While the concept of ‘cashback’ took off quite well in the US and UK, it is still relatively new for people in Southeast Asia who have a natural apprehension towards anything that seems too good to be true. Consumer weariness might hinder the company’s growth but considering the price-sensitive shoppers in this region, the cashback concept has potential to become part of their shopping habits once it becomes more mainstream.

A version of this appeared in Digital News Asia on June 20. Read the full article here.