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Sri Lanka Briefings 2021: Central Bank in talks with online payment providers to enable payments to Sri Lankan residents

04 Jan 2021

Sri Lankan’s Central Bank is reportedly in talks with international payment providers such as Paypal to enable international payment receipts for Sri Lankan residents as part of the country’s new monetary and financial sector policies for 2021. Outward remittances can be made from Sri Lanka through the linking of credit cards, however Sri Lankan residents are currently unable to link their banks accounts to Paypal to receive international payments through the platform.

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Thailand Briefings 2021: Thai Q3 household debt jumps to 86.6% of GDP

01 Jan 2021

Thailand’s household debt levels jumped to 86.6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDO) during the third quarter of 2020, the highest since 2003 according to data from the Central Bank of Thailand. Household debt reached THB 13.77 trillion during the quarter ended September, up from THB 13.58 trillion  at the end of June when household debt amounted to 83.8% of GDP, already among the highest in Asia according to a Reuters report.

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Vietnam Briefings 2021: Vietnam to begin construction of largest airport

04 Jan 2021

Vietnam is set to begin construction of the first phase of what will become its largest airport near the country’s economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday (05 January 2021). The first phase of the Long Thanh airport in the Don Nai province  will cost USd 4.66 billion and is slated to begin operations in 2025, according to the Vietnamese government. The airport will include a 4 kilometer runway, a terminal and related facilities, capable of serving 25 million passengers and handling 1.2 million tons of cargo annually.

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Vietnam Briefings 2020: Telecom giants Viettel and Mobifone receive 5G test licenses

04 Nov 2020

Vietnam has granted telecom giants Viettel (Vietnam’s state owned telecom market leader), and Mobifone trial licenses to “commercially test” 5G in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, the country’s two biggest cities.

Asia’s largest warehouse builder GLP launches in Vietnam with three warehouse projects

15 Oct 2020

Singaporean real estate company GLP has set up a joint venture with SEA Logistics Partners – a Ho Chi Minh City-based startup co-founded by GLP’s former China president Kent Yang – to invest in and develop logistics properties in Vietnam. The new joint venture has already secured sites in both northern and southern Vietnam. 

Social Bella, Indonesia-based beauty tech startup to expand into Vietnam

15 Oct 2020

Indonesia-based beauty-tech startup – Social Bella – is set to expand into its first international market – Vietnam – through its e-commerce platform Sociolla. Social Bella is aiming to profit from Vietnam’s fast-growing online beauty and personal care market which the company says grew 80%, citing a report by Cosmetics Design Asia.  “As one of the fastest-growing markets for beauty and personal care in Southeast Asia, with a young and highly digitalized population, Vietnam shares many similarities with Indonesia,” said Christopher Madiam, co-founder and president at Social Bella.

AppotaPay acquires payment intermediary license

13 Oct 2020

Vietnamese game publisher Appota Group’s fintech arm AppotaPay, became the largest fintech player to acquire a payment intermediary license from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), according to an announcement. AppotaPay joins 38 other other licensed e-wallet players. Founded in 2015, AppotaPay claims to have 55 million users.  

Vietnam B2C e-commerce revenue rises 25% YoY in 2019

24 Aug 2020

Vietnam’s B2C e-commerce revenues rose 25% YoY to USD 10.08 billion in 2019, according to the e-Commerce White Book 2020 released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency (iDEA). The number of online shoppers reached 44.8 million in 2019, a 1.12% YoY growth from 2018 when the number of online shoppers stood at 39.9 million. Average online shopping spend rose to USD 225 per person, up USD 23 from 2018. 

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Philippines Briefings: Grab, DTI, and Mayani partner to bring Cagayan Valley farmers online

30 Oct 2020

Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and homegrown agritech platform Mayani have partnered with GrabPay – the e-wallet owned and operated by Singapore-headquartered ride-hailing startup Grab – to further develop the online purchase and delivery system for fresh and processed products from Cagayan Valley, Philippines. The objective of the partnership is to increase the market access of smallholder farmers, farmer cooperatives, and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in the region.

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Japan Briefings: Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi to double engineer headcount in Japan

10 Dec 2020

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi (HKG:1810) is reportedly doubling its engineer workforce at its Japanese research and development center next year, in an effort to expand its market share in consumer electronics.

Japan industrial output rises for fifth straight month

30 Nov 2020

Japan’s industrial production rose by 3.8% month-on-month (MoM) in October 2020, compared with a 3.9% rise a month earlier, marking the fifth straight month of growth according to data from Ministry of Economy Trades & Industry (METI).

Japan consumer prices fall 0.7% YoY, biggest drop since March 2011

20 Nov 2020

Japan’s consumer prices, which excludes volatile fresh food costs, fell 0.7% YoY in October, marking the third straight month of declines and the biggest year-on-year drop since March 2011, according to latest government data.

Japan Q3 2020 GDP up 5% QoQ

16 Nov 2020

Japan posted a 5% QoQ GDP growth for the quarter ended September 2020, a reversal from the 8.2% QoQ contraction recorded in Q2 2020. The positive Q3 2020 GDP growth put the brakes on three quarters of contraction in the world’s third-largest economy, and was also the fastest quarterly growth since 1980 when comparable data became available.

Walmart sells majority stake in supermarket chain Seiyu to KKR and Rakuten

16 Nov 2020

US retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is selling an 85% stake in Japanese supermarket chain Seiyu to investment firm KKR (NYSE:KKR) and Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten (TYO:4755) for about USD 1.6 billion. The deal values Seiyu at JPY 172.5 billion and the sale will mean Walmart will nearly exit from its operations in Japan.

According to the agreement, KKR will acquire a 65% stake in Seiyu while Rakuten, Japan’s largest e-commerce company, will acquire a 20% stake, through a newly created subsidiary named Rakuten DX. Walmart will retain a 15% stake in Seiyu.

Softbank and KDDI to invest USD 38 billion into 5G

04 Nov 2020

Two of Japan’s biggest mobile network operators, Softbank (TYO:9984), and KDDI (TYO:9433) are planning to invest a total of USD 38 billion into 5G wireless networks over the next decade.

Interactive video solutions startup Paronym raises USD 6.5 million Series B

28 Oct 2020

Interactive video solutions Saas startup Paronym has raised USD 6.5 million in Series B funding led by Japan Post Capital, and NTT Docomo Ventures. InVent (the venture capital arm of Thailand’s telecom giant Intouch Holdings) participated. The fresh capital will be used to help Paronym expand into Thailand. Tokyo-based Paronym’s SaaS solution – TUG – is an interactive video technology that enables users to tag information to objects in the video such as persons, places, clothing. The technology has tremendous potential in the areas of e-commerce and advertising.

Genesia Ventures closes USD 75 million fund

26 Oct 2020

Tokyo-based venture capital firm Genesia Ventures has announced the closing of its second fund which aims to invest in early stage startups in Japan and Southeast Asia. The fund raised USD 75 million, short of its USD 80 million target.

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Sri Lanka Briefings: Inflation up 4.1% YoY in November

03 Dec 2020

Sri Lanka’s headline inflation as measured by the year-on-year (YoY) change in the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI = 2013) increased 4.1% in November 2020, from 4.0% in October 2020. The increase was attributed to an increase in prices in both Food and Non-Food categories. Food inflation rose 10.3% YoY in November 2020 from 10.0% a month earlier. Non-food inflation inched up 1.6% YoY in November 2020 from 1.3% in October 2020. 

Rigid Tyre to commence production in January 2021

23 Nov 2020

Rigid Tyre Corporation’s new state-of-the-art, fully integrated manufacturing plant which was built with an investment of USD 250 million will begin operations in January 2021. Construction of Phase 1 with an investment worth USD 100 million is complete while Phase 2 is expected to be complete by mid-March 2022. The plant will produce passenger car radials, as well as tyres for two-wheelers, three-wheelers, trucks, buses, and solid tyres, which will serve the local and export markets. Natural rubber, a key raw material, will be sourced locally, empowering Sri Lanka’s rubber farmers, and creating job opportunities. 

“It is the largest foreign direct investment in the last ten years; it will also be one of the country’s foremost exporters when the production commences,” Executive Director Dhammika Lokuwithana said in a statement. “Besides rejuvenating the export sector which has suffered due to different crises over the past few years, this project will also serve to revive the local rubber industry which Sri Lanka was once world renowned for,” he added. 

ICICI Bank shuts down Sri Lanka operations

24 Oct 2020

Indian bank ICICI Bank has ceased its Sri Lanka operations, following the bank receiving approval from the Sri Lankan monetary authority.

Sri Lanka export revenue totals USD 9.7 billion for the first 9 months of 2020

23 Oct 2020

Figures from Sri Lanka’s Export Development Board show that Sri Lanka’s revenues for the export of merchandise and services for the first nine months of 2020 amounted to USD 9.7 billion, a 17.7% decline year on year. The decline was attributed to the Covid-induced economic slowdown worldwide.

Total revenues from the export of services amounted to USD 2.3 billion during the January to September period, down from  20.7% from the previous year’s USD 2.9 billion. Within the services segment, only the information and communications technology / business process management (ICT / BPM) saw year-on-year growth.

Total revenues from merchandise exports fell 16.9% from January to September to USD 7.4 billion, largely driven by a decline in exports of apparel, tea, and rubber. Merchandise products that saw positive growth were coconut-based products which grew 4%, food and beverages up 2%, other export crops up 148%, and petroleum products up 6%.

Australian AI-powered agtech startup GoMicro partners with John Keells PLC to grade tuna

12 Oct 2020

South Australian startup GoMicro which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to solve agricultural problems such as detecting pests, plant disease, and food quality has partnered with one of Sri Lanka’s leading conglomerates John Keells Holdings PLC to test its solution to  to grade tuna for consumption. Using a phone microscopic device with an artificial intelligence suite to recognize patterns, GoMicro’s unique solution will enable John Keells to grade seafood such as tuna using a database of hundreds of photos (rather than the thousands usually required). GoMicro is backed by Sri Lankan serial entrepreneur, and CEO of  St. Anthony’s Industries Group Jeevan Gnanam. 

Mobitel introduces Huawei’s next generation 5G Nova SE to the Sri Lankan market

01 Oct 2020

Sri Lanka’s national mobile service provider Mobitel has introduced Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s next generation 5G Nova SE, as part of Mobitel’s continuing efforts to bring the latest technologies to Sri Lanka. Mobitel was the first mobile network provider to demonstrate 5G technology in South Asia back in 2019, and the company has held the crown for two consecutive years as the mobile network operator with the fastest LTE network in Sri Lanka, according to Ookla. 

Sri Lanka Telecom ready to launch 5G

21 Jan  2020

One of Sri Lanka’s leading telecom operators Sri Lanka Telecom says it is ready to launch 5G in the country via fixed wireless broadband access. The company currently provides a full range of ICT services covering voice, data, broadband, TV, mobile, and enterprise solutions to its customer base which currently numbers more than 1.6 million.  

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Indonesia Briefings: Gojek acquires 22% stake in tech-based bank

19 Dec 2020

Homegrown unicorn startup Gojek shelled out IDR 2.2 trillion to acquire a 22% stake in Bank Jargo, a technology-based bank, as part of Gojek’s efforts to expand its digital banking footprint. Gojek’s acquisition of a minority stake will not alter control of Bank Jargo as current controlling shareholders Metamorfosis Ekosistem Indonesia and Wealth Track Technology (WTT) will continue to hold a combined 51% stake in Bank Jargo. 

Gojek is currently considered to be super app – similar to that of Chinese tech giant Tencent’s WeChat (HKG:0700). Gojek’s acquisition of a stake in Bank Jargo is part of a long term plan to strengthen its ecosystem of financial services.

Indonesia enters first recession in 22 years

05 Nov 2020

Southeast Asia’s largest economy slid into recession with its economy contracting 3.49% YoY in Q3 2020, following a contraction of 5.32% YoY the previous quarter as the Covid pandemic and weeks of lockdown continued to batter the economy. The two successive quarters of contraction mean Indonesia has entered a technical recession. The last time Indonesia was in recession was during the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

Microsoft joins e-commerce startup unicorn Bukalapak’s USD 100 million funding round

04 Nov 2020

Technology giant Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is joining Indonesian e-commerce startup Bukalapak’s USD 100 million funding round which includes investment from existing backers GIC, and Emtek Group. As part of Microsoft’s strategic investment, Bukalapak will be hosted on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

GIC-Backed Data Center Provider SpaceDC Opens New Data Center In Indonesia

04 Nov 2020

GIC-backed data center provider SpaceDC has opened its inaugural data center facility, JAK2, in Jakarta, Indonesia, in an effort to tap into the country’s rapidly growing digital market. Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest digital economy.

Indonesia food service startup Mangan raises undisclosed amount in latest funding round

23 Oct 2020

Indonesian B2B on-demand food service startup Mangan has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Richard Avila, Senior Director at American foodservice  distributor US Foods. Barely two years old (the startup was founded in 2019) the latest funding round brings Mangan’s post-money valuation to USD 1 million. The fresh capital will be used for product development.

Mangan’s platform connects restaurants and eateries with companies to offer company employees an expanded and diversified variety of menu options to choose from besides the standard, and often rarely changed fare offered at company canteens. The startups has already partnered with more than 200 restaurants, helping deliver more than 40,000 orders to abut 80 office locations in Jabodetabek and Surabaya.

Social Bella, Indonesia-based beauty tech startup to expand into Vietnam

15 Oct 2020

Indonesia-based beauty-tech startup – Social Bella – is set to expand into its first international market – Vietnam – through its e-commerce platform Sociolla. Social Bella is aiming to profit from Vietnam’s fast-growing online beauty and personal care market which the company says grew 80%, citing a report by Cosmetics Design Asia.  “As one of the fastest-growing markets for beauty and personal care in Southeast Asia, with a young and highly digitalized population, Vietnam shares many similarities with Indonesia,” said Christopher Madiam, co-founder and president at Social Bella.

Indonesian government develops National Logistics Ecosystem (NLE) 

24 Sep 2020

The Indonesian government is developing a reformed National Logistics Ecosystem (NLE) which expects to lower the logistics costs from 23.5% to 17% of the country’s GDP. 

Bukalapak onboards 3 million new merchants in the first seven months of 2020

14 Sep 2020

Homegrown e-commerce startup Bukalapak said 3 million merchants joined its ecommerce platform in the first seven months of the year, with the strongest growth recorded in rural areas and smaller cities. Bukalapak president Teddy Oetomo said that “Almost 70% of our TVP (total processing value) comes from the outside of the tier-one cities due to our previous infrastructure penetration through our (offline) partners”.

Indonesia August inflation hits 20-year low

02 Sep 2020

August inflation in Southeast Asia’s largest economy dropped to a 20-year low due to weakening purchasing power according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS). The Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined to 1.32% in August, the lowest level since May 2000.  The Covid pandemic has caused rising unemployment in the country.  

eBay-backed ceases operations

02 Sep 2020, the e-commerce platform co-owned by American e-commerce giant eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and state-owned telecom giant PT Telkom Indonesia (IDX:TLKM), has ceased operations on September 1, according to an official statement. Founded in 2012 as a C2C marketplace famous for offering gadgets bundled with an internet data package from Telkomsel, the wireless net arm of Telkom Indonesia. reportedly struggled to competed against e-commerce unicorns Tokopedia and Bukalapak. 

Fashion e-commerce startup Sorabel shuts operations

25 Jul  2020

Fashion e-commerce startup Sorabel has ceased operations. Sorabel, which has so far secured about US$27 million in four rounds from the likes of Gobi Partners, Golden Equator, Open Space Ventures, and InnoVen Capital, was on the verge of raising a new massive funding round when it changed course and decided to close business.

The Covid pandemic was a boon to e-commerce startups that focused on essentials such as Sayurbox and Tanihub which focused on groceries or Halodoc which focused on healthcare, or even Carsome which focused on financing second-hand vehicle sales. Sorabel however which focused on fashion struggled as consumers, faced with an economic downturn curtailed non-essential expenditure. The Covid pandemic resulted in as much as a 50%-70% drop in revenue for the fashion industry (which was particularly devastating as the Ramadhan season is a time of relatively high fashion sales). Although Sorabel made an effort to pivot to masks and PPE, the startup’s lack of cash reserves impeded this effort. 

Mandiri Capital looking to invest USD 5 million in startups

12 Mar 2020

Bank Mandiri’s venture capital subsidiary Mandiri Capital is on the hunt to expand its portfolio of startups with about USD 5 million of capital available for investment.  Since its launch in 2016, he corporate venture firm has so far invested about IDR 1 trillion in 13 startups. 

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Malaysia Briefings: Top Glove profit soars 2,030% to MYR 2.38 billion in 1QFY2021

09 Dec 2020

The world’s largest glove maker, Top Glove Corp (KLSE:TOPGLOV) said quarterly profit for the September-November quarter jumped 20-fold to MYR 2.375 billion, from MYR 111.4 million a year earlier. Top Glove’s net profit margin jumped as well to 50% during the period compared to 9.24% in the same quarter last year. Top Glove’s stellar bottom-line performance came on the back of solid top-line growth with revenues rising 294% YoY to MYR 4.76 billion from MYR 1.21 billion a year earlier. 

Sony Corp to shut Penang plant

05 Dec 2020

Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp will close a factory in Penang, Malaysia next year, to consolidate its operations in its other plant (in Selangor) for operational efficiency, according to a Reuters report. Operations at the Penang plant will end by September 30, 2021, and will be shut by March 2022. About 3,600 of its employees in Penang are expected to be affected, some of whom will be transferred to the Selangor plant.

Sony’s Penang plant currently  produces home audio, network Walkman, headphones and battery products. The Selangor plant meanwhile produces  LCD TV, Blu-ray players and DVD recorders. 

This isn’t the first time Sony transferred production to its Selangor plant. In 2010, Sony shut its plant in Godollo, Hungary, operations of which were shifted to its Selangor plant. The shutdown was part of an effort to improve operational efficiency. 

Petronas posts MYR 3.4 billion loss in Q3 2020

27 Nov 2020

Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas has posted a net loss of MYR 3.4 billion for Q3 2020, a sharp deterioration from Q3 2019 when the company posted a profit of MYR 7.4 billion. The financial downturn was partly due to higher impairment loss on assets and higher tax expenses attributed to derecognition of deferred tax assets, primarily as a result of lower oil and gas prices outlook. 

Revenues declined 25% YoY to MYR 41.1 billion in Q3 2020, from MYR 55.1 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. The decline was attributed to lower average realized prices for major products.  

Malaysia October CPI down 1.5% YoY 

25 Nov 2020

Malaysia saw its eighth consecutive month of  deflation with the country’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) falling 1.5% YoY in October according to Malaysia’s Department of Statistics.  October’s CPI decline was an inch higher than the 1.4% YoY decline recorded in September. 

Western Digital pledges MYR 2.3 billion investments in Malaysia

05 Nov 2020

Global data storage equipment manufacturer Western Digital’s (NASDAQ:WDC) Malaysian subsidiary Western Digital Sdn Bhd, has decided to invest an additional MYR 2.3 billion to upgrade its facilities and expand production capacity in Malaysia. In a statement, the PMO said this was agreed upon during a meeting between Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Western Digital group chairman Datuk Dr Syed Hussian Aljunid today.

The new investment will be channeled towards the expansion of facilities and factory capacity at Western Digital Media Penang, and Western Digital Sarawak. The additional investment brings Western Digital’s cumulative investment in Malaysia to MYR 18 billion, and would create job opportunities for more than 2,000 people according to the Prime Minister’s Offce (PMO). Western Digital noted that the group’s export value amounted to MYR 18 billion in 2019. 

Nikon Malaysia will cease operations starting January 1, 2021

05 Nov 2020

Nikon (M) Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian subsidiary of Japanese optical products brand Nikon (TYO: 7731), will be shutting down operations in Malaysia starting January 1, 2021, under a proposed restructuring plan that will see the company’s sales, marketing, and after-sales services being handled by two business partners on behalf of Nikon in Malaysia. Nikon has appointed Futuromic Photo AV Sdn Bhd to be their authorized distributor in Malaysia. QES (Asia-Pacific) Sdn Bhd will continue to be the authorized distributor for Nikon’s industrial metrology products in Malaysia. 

Fintech startup CapBay teams up with Kenanga to form Malaysia’s first Islamic supply chain finance fintech

04 Nov 2020

Malaysian fintech startup CapBay has entered into a joint venture with Malaysian Investment Bank Kenanga Investment Bank Berhad (KLSE:KENANGA), to form Malaysia’s first Islamic supply chain finance fintech. The JV comes after CapBay acquired 49% stake in Kenanga Capital Islamic Sdn Bhd (KCI). Following the acquisition, CapBay co-founder Xing Xian Ang will serve as KCI’s CEO. 

Malaysian cinemas temporarily suspend operations starting November

30 Oct 2020

Heavily impacted by the Covid pandemic, cinema operators in Malaysia, or the Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE), have decided to temporarily suspend all cinema operations nationwide starting in November. GSC Cinemas and TGV Cinemas will cease operations from November 2 onward, while other cinemas will suspend movie screenings and/or concessions operations at their locations.

The Covid pandemic which saw Malaysia impose a Movement Control Order (MCO) from March 2020, required cinemas to close, causing heavy revenue losses for the sector with admissions dropping 90% year-on-year according to MAFE. 

Malaysian car listing network iCar Asia gets takeover offer from China’s Autohome

30 Oct 2020

Malaysia-headquartered car listing platform iCar Asia (ASX:ICQ) has received a non-binding proposal from Chinese automotive platform Autohome (NYSE:ATHM) to acquire 100% of iCar Asia’s shares for AUD 0.50 cash per share, in a deal that could be worth approximately AUD 216 million based on iCar Asia’s outstanding shares.  

Department store chain Robinsons ceases Malaysia operations

30 Oct 2020

162-year old Singaporean department store retailer Robinson Co (Malaya) Sdn Bhd is shutting down for good, as the Covid pandemic dealt a double whammy amid the ongoing struggles faced by department store operators worldwide to adapt to changing consumer behaviors as a result of rising e-commerce. Robinsons has had operations in Malaysia since 1928, and currently has two stores – an outlet at The Gardens Mall which has been in operation for more than 13 years, and an outlet at The Shoppes Four Seasons Place which opened its doors just two years ago.   

Robinsons will also be shutting down its Singapore operations after more than 160 years of operations in the country, with the closure of its last two stores  -one located at The Heeren, and the other at Raffles City Shopping Centre.

Catcha Group CEO launches new online home rental platform in Malaysia

28 Oct 2020

Tech company Catcha Group CEO Patrick Grove has launched an online home rental platform – Instahome – targeted at Southeast Asia. 

Telco Maxis Berhad Q3 net profit up 1.95% YoY

23 Oct 2020

Malaysian telecom company Maxis Berhad (KLSE:MAXIS) saw net profits inch up 1.95% year-on-year (YoY) in Q3 2020 to MYR 365 million from MYR 358 million in Q3 2019. This is despite a 3.2% YoY fall in revenues from MYR 2.21 billion from MYR 2.28 billion previously. Service revenue was unchanged from the MYR 1.94 billion reported in Q3 2019 with the loss of the wholesale business and international roaming due to the Covid pandemic, offset by the growth in enterprise and fibre businesses. Service revenue excluding wholesale revenue amounted to MYR 1.93 billion,  a 0.52% YoY increase compared to Q3 2019’s MYR 1.92 billion.

Postpaid service revenue decreased to MYR 956 million from MYR 979 million in Q3 2019, a 2.3% YoY decline.  Average revenue per user (APRU) decreased to MYR 84 in Q3 2020 from MYR 90 in Q3 2019, a 6.6% YoY decline largely due to the mobile termination rate reduction, dilution effect from Hotlink Postpaid and the lack of international roaming income.

Prepaid service revenue declined 9.7% YoY to MYR 717 million from MYR 794 million driven by the 6,6% YoY fall in Maxis’s prepaid subscription base to 5.91 million from 6.33 million due to the continued SIM consolidation, successful migration to the Hotlink entry point postpaid service and lower foreign worker base. Prepaid ARPU fell 2.43% to MYR 40 from MYR 41. 

Normalized earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization dropped 4.14% YoY to MYR 924 million versus MYR 964 million in Q3 2019, however, normalized profit was up 0.83% at MYR 364 million from MYR 361 million.

Capital expenditure for the quarter rose 31.81% YoY to MYR 319 million from MYR 242 million in Q3 2019. Investments were focused on protecting network performance and rebalancing capacity, 5G readiness and enterprise business.

UOB Malaysia launches AI-based digital banking service

22 Oct 2020

Singaporean bank United Overseas Bank (Malaysia) Bhd has launched Mighty Insights, believed to be Malaysia’s first artificial intelligence-powered digital banking service. The service aims to simplify and enhance customers’ ability to manage and  track their savings and expenses through personalized insights based on their banking and spending patterns.

Malaysia unemployment rate unchanged at 4.7% in August 2020

13 Oct 2020

Malaysia’s Department of Statistics said that the country’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.7% in August 2020. The number of unemployed persons however, dipped slightly by 3,500 people to 741,600 during August compared to July as employment continued to trend upwards driven by the gradual resumption of economic activities starting in June 2020 when the country shifted from a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) to a Recovery movement Control Order (RMCO). The RMCO was extended by a further four months until to 31 December 2020. 

Malaysia to launch Halal Integrated Platform (HIP) next year

06 Oct 2020

Malaysia’s Halal Development Corporation (HDC) plans to launch the Halal Integrated Platform  (HIP) by the first quarter of 2021, as part of the government’s drive to promote Malaysia as a halal digital economy hub. It is envisioned that the HIP will assist businesses by offering services such as customized Halal consultancy services, Halal industry training services, funding opportunities, online business networking and matchmaking, a Halal ingredient database, online advertising and promotion, as well as an e-marketplace that will connect suppliers to buyers.  

Under Armour launches official flagship store on Lazada Malaysia

30 Sep 2020

Sportswear brand Under Armour has partnered eCommerce platform Lazada Malaysia to launch its official flagship store online. Already maintaining an independent e-commerce store, the partnership will further expand Under Armour Malaysia’s online sales channels.  

Malaysia August trade surplus up 19.7% YoY

30 Sep 2020

Malaysia exports fell 2.9% year-on-year  YoY to MYR 79.14 billion in August after advancing 8.8% YoY and 3.1% YoY in June and July respectively. Imports contracted for a sixth consecutive month as it continued to be weighed down by weak domestic demand. These led to a 19.7% YoY growth in trade surplus to MYR 13.23 billion. 

Malaysia budget airline AirAsia’s fintech venture BigPay expands into Singapore

28 Sep 2020

Malaysia’s AirAsia’s fintech venture, BigPay, is expanding into Singapore. BigPay also plans to launch new business lines such as loans, insurance and wealth management in the coming months, as well as expand to other South East Asian markets in early 2021.

Cainiao partners with BEST Inc., to launch end-to-end logistics service between Malaysia and China

23 Sep 2020

Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group Holding Limited, has announced a partnership with BEST Inc., an integrated smart supply chain solutions and logistics services provider from China, to launch an end-to-end logistics service between Malaysia and China to shorten delivery time for cross-border e-commerce parcels and improve overall customer experience. Cross-border sea freight shipping duration will be reduced to as fast as six days after departing China, and thereafter customers can receive their parcels as soon as the next day upon clearing customs in Malaysia.
The cross-border logistics service will span first and last mile, sea freight forwarding, overseas warehousing and customs clearance, which means that e-Commerce parcels will be picked up from
China for international shipping to Malaysia where they will be delivered directly to customers.

Malaysian drone-based solutions provider Aerodyne expands into the Middle East

22 Sep 2020

Malaysian drone-based enterprise solutions provider Aerodyne Group has forged a partnership with Al-Babtain LeBlanc, the Middle East’s leading infrastructure provider and system integrator, to accelerate the adoption of drone-based solutions in the region.

Malaysia domestic tourism grows 12% in 2019

18 Sep 2020

Malaysia’s domestic tourism continued to record better performance last year, recording a double-digit growth of 12 per cent to MYR 92.6 billion, the Tourism Satellite Account 2019 reported.

Malaysia used car trading platform Carsome MY partners with Shopee Malaysia to sell cars online

18 Sep 2020

Used car trading platform Carsome MY has entered the eCommerce space through its partnership with Shopee in Malaysia. Consumers are now able to purchase an exclusive premium selection of used cars on the Carsome official store on Shopee.

Malaysian employees’ average monthly salaries and wages rose 4.4% in 2019

17 Sep 2020

The average monthly salary and wage received by employees in Malaysia increased by 4.4% from RM3,087 in 2018 to RM3,224 in 2019 according to data from the 2019 Salaries and Wages Survey Report published by the Statistics Department Malaysia.

Malaysian-owned halal marketplace platform Halal Street UK launches

17 Sep 2020

Malaysian-owned halal products marketplace Halal Street UK launched its e-commerce platform,, to enable Malaysian halal products to be sold in the United Kingdom (UK) and Europe.

Malaysia digital remittance service provider Valyou launches blockchain-based remittance services in Bangladesh

11 Sep 2020

Valyou, a Malaysian digital remittance provider, announced the launch of blockchain-based remittance services in Bangladesh in partnership with Standard Chartered and bKash, a mobile financial service provider, to facilitate instant transfers from Malaysia. The service is powered by blockchain technology from Ant Group.

Malaysia July manufacturing sales up 1.9% YoY, 2.1% MoM

11 Sep 2020

Malaysia’s manufacturing sales rise 1.9% year on year (YoY), 2.1% month on month (MoM), to MYR 119.3 billion in July 2020. The year on year growth in sales value in July 2020 was driven by the increase in the sales of food, beverage and tobacco products (24.9%), transport equipment and other manufactures products (14.3%) and electrical and electronics products (8.4%). Meanwhile, the sub-sectors that supported the month-on-month growth were transport equipment and other manufactures products (11.8%), non-metallic mineral products, basic metal and fabricated metal products (8.0%), and electrical and electronics products (3.9%).

Malaysia records highest percentage of digital consumers in Southeast Asia – study

11 Sep 2020

Malaysia recorded the highest percentage of digital consumers in Southeast Asia with 83% of its population (aged 15 years and above) according to a study titled “Digital Consumers of Tomorrow, Here Today” conducted by Facebook and Bain & Company.

945 people, aged 18-35 years declared bankrupt between January and July 2020

10 Sep 2020

A total of 945 people aged between 18 and 35 years were declared bankrupt during the seven months to July 2020 said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Shabudin Yahaya. He further said that according to the Malaysian Insolvency Department (Mdl), more than 100 bankruptcy cases were recorded during the year to July 2020, involving people aged 31 to 35. 

Shopee e-tailers see more than MYR 200 million sales from Malaysia’s National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) vouchers

03 Sep 2020

Vouchers provided under the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) generated more than MYR 200 million in sales by local retailers on e-commerce platform Shopee, as at August 31.

Malaysia’s Telekom Malaysia Q2 2020 net profit jumps 140.63% YoY

27 Aug 2020

Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) reported today that second quarter 2020 net profit jumped 140.63% to MYR 274.75 million from MYR 114.18 million a year earlier on lower operating and net finance costs. Revenue however, fell to MYR 2.59 billion in the second quarter ended June 30, 2020, from MYR 2.77 billion a year earlier. The drop was attributed to price adjustments to TM’s Internet service Streamyx, as well as restricted economic activities during Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO).

Budget carrier AirAsia’s e-commerce platform sees 118% YoY revenue growth in Q1 2020

21 Aug 2020

AirAsia Group Bhd revenues from its e-commerce platform rose 118% YoY in Q1 2020.

Malaysia’s mean monthly household expenditure rose 3.9% pa in 2019

10 Jul 2020

In 2019, the mean monthly household consumption expenditure rose 3.9% per annum in tandem with mean monthly household income which rose 4.2% for the period 2016-2019. By value, mean monthly household expenditure rose from MYR 4,033 in 2016 to MYR 4,534 in 2019.

By state, in 2019, the highest mean monthly household consumption expenditure was recorded in W.P. Putrajaya (MYR 7,980). Five other states recorded household consumption expenditure exceeding the national mean (MYR 4,534) which were W.P. Kuala Lumpur (MYR 6,913), Selangor (MYR 5,830), Melaka (MYR 4,955), Johor (MYR 4,793), and Penang (MYR 4,630).

Sunway Group forays into agricultural technology (agritech)

5 Jun 2020

Sunway Group is venturing into agricultural technology (agritech) to help reduce Malaysia’s food import bill and encourage and reduce the carbon footprint on the food consumed in the country. It is building a 50,000 sq ft urban farming innovation hub, Sunway FutureX, to help urban farming professionals, tech companies, researchers and young talents collaborate and create solutions for food and agritech. The hub should be completed by the third quarter of this year. Sunway FutureX, an initiative led by Sunway Innovation Labs (Sunway iLabs), will be located in the heart of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur and it will feature FutureX Farm, an indoor and outdoor smart farming area, FutureX Talent, a research and development centre, and FutureX Campus, a training and collaborative space.

Malaysia’s internet penetration rises to 90.1% in 2019

10 Apr 2020

Malaysian households’ access to the internet rose by 3.1 percentage points to 90.1% in 2019 as compared to 87% in 2018 according to Department of Statistics. Five most popular activities among the Internet users were anticipating social network (97.1%), downloading pictures, movies, videos or music; playing or downloading games (84.7%), finding information on goods or services (83.5%), telephoning over the Internet/ VoIP (77.4%) and downloading software or applications (77.1%). Analysis of Internet users by age group showed that individuals in the age group 20 to 24 were more likely to use the Internet to find a job or submit a job application (49.5%) and watching television online (56.3%). Individuals aged 25 to 29 preferred the activity of Internet banking (61.5%) and ordering goods and services through e-commerce (45.1%). Individuals aged between 35 and 39 were more active on using the Internet to use services related to travel or travel-related accommodation (32.6%). As for individuals aged 45 to 49, they favoured posting opinions or voting on civic or political issues on the Internet (21.1%).

Malaysia airport operator MAHB reports 26.2% YoY net profit decline for 2019

02 Mar 2020

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) net profit declines 26.2% YoY to MYR 537.04 million in the year ended Dec 2019 from MYR 727.3 million a year earlier.

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Bangladesh Briefings: Bangladesh social commerce startup ShopUp raises USD 22.5 million Series A

19 Oct 2020

Bangladeshi B2B social commerce startup ShopUp has raised USD 22. 5 million Series A funding from Sequoia Capital India, and Flourish Ventures. VEON Ventures, Speedinvest, and Lonsdale Capital participated in the funding round which was reportedly largest Series A round in Bangladesh. 

Approximately 98% of Bangladesh’s retail sales are generated from the country’s approximately 4.5 million neighborhood mom-and-pop stores. ShopUp built a solution combining order management, logistics and other services with the aim of helping these small businesses expand and grow. These merchants were among the worst hit during the Covid pandemic, and ShopUp’s solution proved to be highly popular with the number of neighborhood shops transacting weekly on the ShopUp platform growing by 8.5 times between April and August 2020.