Week in Review: Breathtaking pace of digital

  • Change, just in the three SEA nations of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia is rapid
  • The new world is Digital, says Malaysian Prime Minister while pushing cloud adoption

EVEN for someone like me who is immersed in the happenings around the Digital Economy and the disruption this is causing, the pace of change and innovation sometimes catches me by surprise and just literally, can take your breath away.

And that’s what happened to me this morning as I was deciding which story or stories on DNA I would comment on as I regularly do for my Week in Review column. Just the breadth of articles from this week made me sit back in awe of the kind of Digital Economy initiatives that are going on in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Just look at Singapore where Marvelstone Group, a private investment firm plans to launch the world’s largest artificial intelligence (AI) hub in Singapore in 2018 with the goal of incubating 100 startups a year, sourced from around the world.

Those startups are all going to be hungry looking for customers to buy or at their early stage, pilot their innovative products. And while they are looking at Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative to provide opportunities for the startups, companies and governments from around the region should take advantage of this base of AI startups as well.

Then there is the goal of fintech hub Lattice80, coincidentally, launched by Marvelstone Group as well, to launch an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) to raise funds for its ambitions to provide an institutional-level platform to support crypto-economics. Your guess is as good as mine as to what this actually means as there are no other details as yet. But even this short announcement by them that we ran got 201 engagements on LinkedIn!

The ability of companies to raise so much money via ICOs is clearly a new disruptive force in the world of finance and it’s both exciting and scary to follow this trend to see where it heads. And while Lattice80 says it will look towards regulated environments in jurisdictions such as Singapore, Japan, London, New York, and Abu Dhabi for where it will support initiatives via its ICO, I am sure they will welcome neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia (SEA) that create regulated fintech environments that meet their criteria.

And then in Indonesia, you have yet another example of how entrepreneurs are leveraging on digital to solve pain points in business. In this case bringing pawnbrokers online to make it easier for businesses to connect to them.

And then you have the story of early stage VC firm Wavemakers Partners, closing its second SEA-focused fund at US$66 million (RM278.53 million) which was 32% above its original target of US$50 million (RM211 million). Clearly a lot more money is being bet on startups in the region.

And while it is small money compared to what Wavemakers has raised, in Malaysia, equity crowdfunding (ECF) platform pitchIN has successfully funding its tenth deal for 2017 with total investments raised so far crossing US$2.84 million (RM12 million). And there are four other local ECF platforms as well. This shows that ECF is clearly becoming another viable funding platform for entrepreneurs. Banks and VCs, you have been put on notice. Entrepreneurs have wider choice now. Oh, and that could soon include companies queueing to launch their own ICOs as well.

And staying in Malaysia, the update from this week’s Implementation Council Meeting, which tracks progress from the various initiatives by the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) saw the Malaysian government declare that it was going to leverage on cloud computing in a big way to deliver services to citizens, while encouraging the private sector to step up its own pace in adopting cloud computing.

The Malaysian government clearly sees leveraging on cloud computing as a key foundation to drive the country’s Digital Economy ambitions. As Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak says, “The new world is a Digital one.” And Malaysia, which launched its Digital Malaysia initiative in 2011 with execution starting from 2012, is powering ahead on multiple fronts to ensure the country emerges in the leading group on nations in the Digital Economy.

And as in every country, pushing aside the cynical remarks about them being dinosaurs, the large Brick & Mortar companies have to start adapting their businesses to the new digital reality. And that’s where events like DNA’s What’s Next: The Business Impact of Disruptive Technology become an important platform for Brick & Mortar players, top consulting companies, startups and ecosystem players to come together to learn and share from each other’s experiences.

And if you have not gotten your tickets yet for the Nov 9 conference, get them here and come listen to corporate chiefs like Mohamed Hassan Kamil, Group MD of listed insurance player, Takaful Malaysia Bhd, Michael Foong, Chief Strategy Officer of Malaysia’s largest banking group, Maybank, Lim Kim Heng, co-founder and MD of Senheng Electric, the leading electronics and electrical chain store and NK Tong, Group MD of Bukit Kiara Properties, a leading property developer, all share their thoughts and concerns about how they are leading their companies into the Digital Economy. It’s going to be an enriching event.

Have a restful weekend and a productive week after.

Editor’s Picks:

Recommend takes on the large jobs

Pinjam brings pawn services online to aid SMEs

Pikom's Budget 2018 recommendations for the ICT sector

Huawei new unveils AI powered Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro

Protecting Android users in Southeast Asia

Analysis: How far has Google Cloud come?

Surviving the ‘trust deficit’ in Malaysia


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