Filipino fintech startup expands in Southeast Asia

Filipino fintech startup expands in Southeast Asia

Founded in 2016, Filipino fintech startup Acudeen Technologies facilitates receivable discounting for small business in the country and is one of the most successful and fastest growing startups in Asia. The technology company enables small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to finance receivables ahead of time.

This feature is possible thanks to platform allowing transactions to happen fast from receivable uploaded cash within days. As its website states, “Acudeen is an online platform for account receivables allowing you to make seamless transactions online. Check the status of your receivables, transfer funds to your bank account, and more, happening right at the tip of your fingers.”

The website claims, “Why wait for too long before your receivables get paid when you can have cash almost instantly? Now you can worry less about getting funds for your business. With Acudeen you can see your receivables online and get cash within days.”

Inaccessible and expensive means for financing are the main problems that SMEs and MSMEs face across many emerging markets. That is where Acudeen comes to play a vital role in connecting small business owners to funders. Through the platform, an individual may upload his or her receivable ahead of its maturity date and auction it off at a discounted price. That allows them to liquidate their assets right away for use in business operations.

The company claims, “Cash flow is king. By having control over it, you can serve your clients better and you can keep saying YES to more projects! Acudeen helps you get cash faster and help you do more by making funds readily available at your disposal.”

Accordingly, the firm has managed to grow ties with financial institutions and enterprise corporations in an effort to push for financial inclusion. Acudeen Chief Executive Officer Mario Jordan Fetalino III said the company has taken the financial technology (fintech) industry by storm at the same time it has strived for financial inclusion and economic growth.

The financial inclusion Acudeen's philosophy is based on is about providing all Filipinos access to affordable and client-centred financial services that can pave the way for them to build a better life for themselves and their families.

Since 2000, the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has been developing an enabling environment for the delivery of financial products tailored specially for the low income and vulnerable sectors of society.

After conquering the Philippines, Acudeen Technologies is expanding to emerging markets across Southeast Asia. According to Fetalino III, the company is targeting six different markets with a combined total addressable market of over $400 billion.

Accordingly, Acudeen is setting up operations in Vietnam and Indonesia after launching its first remote location in Myanmar. “Like the Philippines, small business owners in these countries face the same perils with regard to mobility due to inaccessible and expensive financing options,” he said.

The financial expansion into Southeast Asia will be monitored from Singapore, where the Filipino started has decided to establish its regional headquarters.

Fetalino explained that setting up regional headquarters would serve as “a stepping stone towards its goal of becoming a marketplace which essentially democratizes financial inclusion for everyone regardless of geographic location, allowing their system to be implemented on a global scale.”

Accordingly, this move makes its services more accessible and optimizes the resources to support its remote deployment across Southeast Asia. Fetalino admitted, however, that Acudeen's expansion abroad and push for financial inclusion outside its home country could result in adversities in the form of regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles.

“Though belonging to one region, the policies and regulations, and the general business environment in Southeast Asia are very different per country, which is why agile companies are the ones succeeding in this region,” Fetalino stated.

Thanks to Acudeen's adaptation of blockchain, the company is flexible and localised, offering a dynamic solution to its clients. Independently from the market where it operates, the company doesn't have to sacrifice its standards for risk assessment and invoice collections.

According to Fetaline, Acudeen has been actively looking the right partners in the region. The company expects a 10-fold increase in growth to $30 million from last year's $3 million. Acudeen continues to support economic development in the Philippines through financial inclusion.

Go-Jek ventures into the Philippines

Go-Jek ventures into the Philippines

Founded in 2010 by Nadiem Makarim, Go-Jek is an Indonesian hyperlocal transport, ride hailing, logistics and payments startup. Go-Jek is a cutting-edge app used for online transportation, food delivery, logistics, payment and daily services. Beyond a multi-service app, Go-Jek has a social mission, which is to improve the welfare of Indonesian people by empowering people.

The company started in 2011 by offering rides on motorcycle taxis - known in Indonesia as ojek - and since then, the company has expanded into food delivery, house cleaning and massage services. In 2016, the company began car rides. But Go-Jek offer much more than ride-hailing. Since it is free, its mobile payment business, Go-Pay, is growing exponentially along with all the other Go-Jek offerings.

This ride-hailing tech company announced plans to expand into Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. This announcement comes after Grab acquired Uber's Southeast Asia business operations. As Uber disappears from Singapore, leaving Grab as the sole player, there's a void in the market which has been identified by Go-Jek. Its motorcycle transport services, however, will not be adopted in Singapore since the Land Transport Authority (LTA) had previously stated: “Motorcycles are not allowed to be used for point-to-point transport services, unlike taxis and private hire cars.”

The ride-hailing firm's senior vice president of acquisition and development, Michy Gustavia, announced that the company will launch its own-subscription-based platform for video streaming. The new service will be named Go-Play and it will feature original content crafted by the company's new production house Go-Studios. The platform will stream documentaries, short films, and feature-length works from local filmmakers produced exclusively for Go-Plan, and will be “95 percent Indonesian-focused,” Gustavia said.

A documentary examining the experiences of women drivers who work in the ride-hailing sector is one of the first in-house projects undertaken by Go-Jek. According to Gustavia, this documentary has been submitted to several film festivals.

These are exciting times for Go-Jek, which has partnered with US media outlet Vice. According to a press release issued by the two firms, they are co-producing a film by Indonesian director Joko Anwar. The two firms will also collaborate on original, including a sports documentary.

According to Gustavia, Go-Play will be available on a subscription basis, with daily, monthly, and yearly payment option.

Go-Jek has been open about its plans to become the go-to place for Indonesian consumers' everyday wants and needs. With so many strands in different industries, it doesn't come as a surprise that Go-Jek now wants to lay its hands on video streaming and content production.

“Larger OTT players that are part of a wider group… may be the best poised for own-content production,” Gustavia said.

According to Malcolm Rogers, an analyst at Global Data, over-the-top (OTT) video providers in the region have increasingly been producing their own content.

“Exclusive content deals such as those for sports broadcast rights secure loyal viewers but at high cost,” he explained. “Embarking on content production enables providers to better tailor content to target demographics while offering more cost control compared to buying from major studios.”

It might be a challenge for Go-Jek to get people to sign up if they go ahead with their plan on a subscription model. Iflix's experience might teach Go-Jek something. This Malaysia-based content streaming portal first tried to run a subscription model and according to CEO Mark Britt, this was a strategic misstep. Therefore, Iflix recently branched out into a free service supported by ads.

He said: “We naively believed that the Western entertainment model could easily succeed in emerging markets, and that price would be the primary customer pain point. Looking back now, we realize how superficial that view was.”

Go-Jek, however, is capable of providing a broader offering. Given its wide scope of operations in the market, Go-Jek could prompt users to sign up to a subscription if by doing so they get privileges and discounts across Go-Jek's full suite of transport, finance, and other services. Go-Jek's different strands in the business may also mean that the Indonesian company has more resources to cover costs for producing in-house content.

According to Rogers, video-streaming providers can retain customers by focusing “on niche content with either lower content costs or a dedicated and loyal fan base willing to pay a premium for niche content.”

“Larger OTT players that are part of a wider group of media or technology companies may be the best poised for own-content production,” he added.

The Philippine transport regulator apparently recently rejected a request by Indonesian ride-hailing company Go-Jek to offer services in the Philippines, due to restrictions on foreign ownership. It would seem Go-Jek needs to find ways to get around the restrictions.

Asia top photo apps

Asia top photo apps

Instagram's popularity has grown exponentially ever since it was launched back in 2010. This video-sharing social networking service's success has been such that it prompted Facebook to buy it for $1 billion. With 400 million monthly active users, Instagram's popularity has also fueled the appearance of photo apps.

Startups in Asia have also made the most out of Instagram and devised sensational photo apps that have attracted many users. Here are some of the best photo apps invented in Asia:

Camera360 (China)

Compatible with iOS and Android, this app has amassed 500 million users worldwide. Apart from the obvious Instagram features, this Chinese app allows users to customise photos with stickers, edit photos and upload photos into the cloud. Its most innovative feature is enabling users to create puzzle patterns with the photos.

PaPa (China)

Just like Japan's Voicepic, this innovative app takes a step forward in the industry of photo-sharing services and it allows users to add sound to their photos. It's a combination of apps like Whatsapp and Instagram. This sound accompanying your photo can be either your voice, a song or background noise, allowing users to narrate their images or add sound for dramatic purposes. You can even reply in audio form to in the comments.

PaPa also benefits from another app, Pinterest, as it mirrors its timeline and shows who “hearted” other posts. To post, snap a photo and then hold down the record button to capture your audio.

Photo Wonder (Image above, from China)

Unlike Instagram's post-filter feature, this app allows users to see the filter before taking the picture. Apart from filters, this app allows users to edit and collage features and to download extra goodes like stickers and frames.

PIP Camera (China)

While most apps are focused on filter features, PIP Camera offers users the possibility to frame their photos in different objects such as glasses, umbrellas and computer screens.

Cameran (Japan)

Developed under the supervision of Mija Ninagawa - a female photographer and film director famous for her works with flowers, goldfish and landscapes - this app allows you to customize your photos with decorations. For instance, you can click on a flower decoration filter repeatedly to see different flower arrangements. Click on one of the 23 photo filters the app has to see incredible aesthetic results. The app also allows you to add effects to your own pictures. You can always count on Japan to come up with an innovative way to make something chic.

Japan also houses other groundbreaking photo apps, like DecoAlbum. This photo app focuses on women and allows them to create photos with text, backgrounds, sparkly visual stickers and other options. One of the few apps that prioritizes making albums, this app allows you to assemble your photos into an album.

Decopic used to be another Japanese photo app centred on decorating your photo. Whether you wanted to use aesthetic frames around your pictures or decorate your photo with hearts and stars, the app boasted endless options to customize your photo.

With over 5,000 stamps, over 100 frames, more than 30 filters, 200 brushes and other tools, Line Camera app is a wealth of possibilities. Given that comics are deeply in the Japanese culture, the country came up with an app that can turn you into a cartoon. This app is called Manga-Camera and it even allows you add decorations and text such as “pow.”

Japan has also invented an app for food lovers - Snapdish - which is all about taking photos of food and sharing it with the community of food lovers.

Cymera (South Korea)

Although this app might seem a bit difficult to use, it gives you a lot of editing options. With this app you can retouch your selfie pics, create memes, photo collages, and retouch your face. You can even turn your eyes into anime eyes. Some of the features include facial blur, highlights, shadows and many other adjustments.

Another Snow that has taking South Korea by storm is Snow. This is the Asian equivalent of Snapchat but the animated selfies to choose from are endless. Unlike Snapchat, Snow doesn't use a preview timer and features more aegyo content, including various K-pop celebrities.

A contender to Snow and Snapchat, Camera 360 is a popular face recognition app that, unlike Snapchat, allows you to take selfies with a full range of filters available. It also enables you fully control your snaps, like eliminating spots and retouching your face.

Big Bikes boom in the Philippines

Big Bikes boom in the Philippines

Thanks to the Philippines growing economy, motorcycles are growing in status, as they used to be associated more with utility than leisure, according to Honda. The Japanese motorcycle brand has recently launched its big bikes in the Philippines, challenging other classic motorcycle brands such as Harley and Ducati. According to Honda Philippines president and CEO Daiki Mihara, the company was “slightly conservative.” New 2019 Honda CB1000R in photo.

Honda has big its expectations in this country in the Pacific, and it plans to sell 500 big bikes in 2018. This figure pales in comparison to the 500,000 small models it sold last year. Indeed, the company had long relied on small engine bikes used for commuting and deliveries to drive sales in the country. With the growing economy, however, Honda expects to sell big bikes which are associated with leisure rather than a necessity.

"The economy grows, then maybe people also look for big bikes for leisure, not only for commuting purpose," Mihara said. It was a flux of requests from the motorcycle community that prompted the company to bring its big bikes to the country. Most cyclists requested the 500cc Rebel cruiser.

Although the 471cc Rebel is the cheapest model out of Honda's big bikes lineup, it has a hefty starting price of P369,000, which is more than eight times the price of Honda's cheapest commuter bike, the Wave 110 Alpha, priced at P44,900.

The most expensive big bike of the collection, the CBR 1000RR superbike, has a starting price of P1.35 million, which is more than a 1.8-litre Honda Civic sedan.

Accordingly, big bikes probably won't be affected by the tax reform law, given that Honda is targeting the affluent segment of the market.

Inside Racing Bike Festival and Trade show

Tens of thousands of riders flock to the World Trade Centre in Pasay City every year to find the latest motorcycle accessories and the industry's newest offerings in the market, with a great variety of product launches programmed for the day. Top motorcycle brands take to the stage and leave festival-goers in awe.

Honda Philippines - the country's number-one motorcycle manufacturer - stole the show when they introduced their new communication campaign: “One Dream.” With this title, the campaign sought to unite riders into this kind of vision and prompt Filipinos to achieve their dreams.

“Knowing that people strive to achieve their dreams and aspirations motivates Honda to continue with our efforts of helping them realize it,” said Daiki Mihara, president of HPI. The Japanese company's recent partnership with the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) for the Commissioner's Cup is proof that Honda is actively trying to become involved in the Filipino culture.

The company showcase its latest collection of motorcycles like Honda BEAT and PCX150 for the automatic (AT) segment, CBR150R for the high on-road sports and CRF150L for the off-road sports segment.

During the event, the company also introduced two of its newest big-bike models - the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP and Honda CB1100EX.

Yamaha Motor Show

During the show, the manufacturer brought the machines to life with their innovative technology and human touch. It was Yamaha's MOTOROiD, however, which impressed the audience with its display of futuristic features. This model employs image recognition artificial intelligence (AI), using machine learning algorithms for facial and gesture recognition functions.

This futuristic bike seems to be taken straight out of a James Bond film, as it recognizes its owner's face, and the rider can control its movement through simple hand gestures. It is not necessary to Yamaha's MOTOROiD to get it to move forward or backward, to stop and to turn in every direction.

The two-wheeled vehicles are stabilised through the Active Mass Centre Control System. This technology uses electronic active control to keep the motorcycle standing on its own and keep it from falling.

Yamaha also showcased the MAX series, particularly its newest model XMAX. Along with those stood a range of big bikes, including MT09, Super Tenere, Tracer 900, XSR 900, SR400, YZF-R6 and YZF-R1 and Mio lineup of under-bones.

Suzuki Philippines

Meanwhile, Suzuki informed about its alliance with its riders; this partnership is aimed at putting customers first, manufacturing vehicles that attend to their needs, and crafting forms of mobility that best suit their lifestyles.