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Reshuffling the cards: What do industry players think about Southeast Asia’s new economy?

Written by Lin Lingyi Published on   5 mins read

KrASIA and EDB are proud to host an event that aims to facilitate robust discussions on SEA’s tech and innovation ecosystem, featuring speakers from Grab, Sea Group, and more.

As an organization, our goal has always been to facilitate candid and robust conversation around the technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Southeast Asia. We believe that such conversations will help companies uncover their blind spots when growing and scaling into the region, and we aim to be your trusted partner in addressing these information gaps.

So, join us at the Singapore x Asia Innovation Partnership Forum 2020, where KrASIA and Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) pulls together industry leaders across China and Southeast Asia to share their experiences in working together across the region.

This virtual event will focus on 3 key industries: Smart City, Fintech, and Deep Tech, and take place in three corresponding segments across September and October. To RSVP and find out more, sign up here!

What do our guests expect to talk about? Here is a short teaser of the topics that we will be picking their minds on. We’ve pulled together some early thoughts from guests such as Grab, Sea Group, and Wavemaker Partners.

Reuben Lai, Grab Financial Group, Senior Managing Director 

Southeast Asia is a region brimming with potential and we want to tap into this market opportunity with a consumer and merchant-centric approach. We expect to see permanent shifts in consumer behavior and greater socialization of digital tools. We need to support these shifts responsibly and safely so that our customers and partners are better equipped to face the reality of a post-pandemic world.

Helen Wong, Qiming Venture Capital, Partner

Apart from purely online companies, it will be difficult for Southeast Asia’s economy in the short-term to grow, but in the mid- to long-term, Southeast Asia will develop faster because the pace of digitalization has accelerated. In the financial sector, mobile payments will promote the development of the digital economy, while data obtained through e-wallets will be very useful for credit scoring.

Oliver Tan, Visenze, CEO

We need to re-imagine the customer journey. For instance, airlines need to rethink travel, hotels will need to rethink the meaning of vacancies, and retailers need to imagine where customers will shop now that stores are no longer a destination but a node along the customer journey. In addition, we need to think about how businesses use data safely to service their customers. Across Southeast Asia, the 5G spectrum is not harmonized and different countries are likely to pursue their own path forwards, creating cross-border challenges on data portability.

Nathan Yao, JD Digits, Vice President

Southeast Asia is an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative and this will help the region and China overcome difficulties together and develop a greater ability to cooperate. Local companies have established deep relationships with China, such as Thailand’s Central Group and JD.com. The crisis will bring about new challenges and we will need to control risk and reshuffle our cards during this crisis in order to not waste any opportunities.

Santitarn Sathirathai, Sea Group, Group Chief Economist

COVID-19 has led to significant, and often permanent increases in the use of digital tools, including payment technologies. However, gaps in financial inclusion remain, with only a fraction of youths looking to the bank and online financing services for credit. The rise in demand for funding the underbanked should provide further impetus for growth in digital financial services in the region. However, the region is exceptionally diverse, and companies operating in Southeast Asia will need to localize their ideas to individual markets and adapt to the needs of a dynamic local environment.

Kay-Mok Ku, Gobi Partners, Managing Partner

Given that 5G is ready for deployment, we are likely to see Southeast Asian governments with the financial capabilities to start embarking on the 5G build-up, and subsequently build up various 5G applications on top of this, such as smart factories and cities. There should be more discussion on potential collaborations in supply chain reconfiguration between North Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as the possibility of technology transfer and capacity building in Southeast Asia. Countries in this region need to start up-skilling their workforce as we embark on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which embraces issues such as smart cities and manufacturing.

Huang Yubin, Yunqi Partners, Founding Partner

An increasing number of B2B companies are looking towards Southeast Asia to conduct business such as basic software companies, unmanned technologies, and financial technologies. The global industrial supply chain is also changing rapidly. Uncertainty usually presents opportunities for change, and we can look forward to the rise of a new batch of deep-tech unicorns.

Li Jianwei, Zhen Cheng Capital, Managing Partner

After undergoing intense competition within China, China’s companies have developed distinct advantages in developing R&D and possess immense amounts of entrepreneurial experience. However, the key to competing in Southeast Asia is having a deeper understanding of the market and consumers as compared to outsiders.

Paul Santos, Wavemaker Partners, Managing Partner 

Chinese companies have advantages in terms of experience and capital but will suffer from an absence of local context. It would be ideal to see examples of true partnerships have worked—beyond simply investing and sharing experiences, deeper forms of sharing where each side contributes something different while fostering an environment of mutual learning.

Bill Song, ZA Tech, COO

Chinese and Southeast Asian companies share a more similar business understanding and cultural background. In addition, many Southeast Asian companies have shareholders from China, and therefore have a preexisting connection with Chinese companies. However, Chinese companies still need to respect local culture and regulations in order to conduct business with Southeast Asia. Chinese companies still have a long way to go in terms of developing an international talent pool.

Alex Lau, Anacle, CEO

The traditional economy has been irreversibly damaged by COVID-19. Low productivity manual labor is no longer just a productivity issue: Sticking to these methods is now neither possible nor sustainable. Adopting trends such as big data analytics, machine learning, cloud infrastructure, and digital transformation are now a matter of survival. This provides a perfect setting for the explosive growth of smart city technologies. However, we need to be mindful that most Southeast Asian countries do not have the resources or funds to make this transformative leap, and may need external help to transit.

Yau Teng Yan, Holmusk, Chief Medical Officer 

COVID-19 is an unprecedented black swan event that has and will significantly impact the Southeast Asian economy for years to come. There has been a strong wave of interest for deep tech in the healthcare space. Further, the adoption of health tech tools has been accelerated by over 3 to 4 years, both in terms of a more flexible regulatory environment, as well as shifting mindsets of previously more resistant healthcare providers.


See you at the Singapore x Asia Innovation Partnership Forum!


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