• Southeast Asian ecommerce is about to reach a whole new level
    All of a sudden, online payments in Southeast Asia has gotten much more interesting.

    Bloomberg reported that Ant Financial, a financial company under Alibaba, plans to buy a 20 percent stake in a Thai payments company:
    Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s financial affiliate is planning to purchase a 20 percent stake in Thailand’s Ascend Money in a bid to become a key financial services player in Southeast Asia. An investment into Ascend Money, parent of True Money and Ascend Nano, would help Ant Financial expand its online payments and small loans business in Southeast Asia. The company, which is said to be valued at about US$60 billion, is following billionaire Ma’s aspirations for global expansion as it ventures into countries including South Korea and India.
    This development came soon after news that Facebook is testing a feature for users to pay for products listed on Facebook Pages. The trial uses technology from fintech startup 2C2P. Facebook reportedly has plans to extend the trial to the rest of Southeast Asia.
    Another noteworthy development in the Land of Smiles is the launch of Line Man, an ecommerce delivery service by Line, a messaging app which is popular in the country.

    These moves are significant for two reasons.
    First, it shows that Thailand can’t be ignored as an ecommerce market. Indonesia is the de facto leader in Southeast Asia when it comes to online shopping, with big and small ecommerce players like Rocket Internet and Tokopedia vying for the wallets of its massive population.
    But the recent investments by these big tech companies remind the rest of the world that Thailand also has huge potential. Facebook apparently picked Thailand for the trials first because of its “large market for social media commerce,” according to TechCrunch.

    Alibaba is eating Southeast Asian ecommerce

    Second, these developments in the payments space could be a harbinger for another growth spurt in Southeast Asian ecommerce. The last wave came with Rocket Internet’s massive investments into ecommerce sites Lazada and Zalora, which started in 2012. The past year, however, proved that both sites struggled to turn profitable. Yes, revenues shot up. But the unit economics were unsustainable. Both Lazada and Zalora were running out of cash.

    It became clear that Southeast Asia wasn’t ready for infrastructure-heavy ecommerce models. Singapore’s online grocery site Redmart has been bleeding money, and infrastructure-light ecommerce models like Carousell, Shopee, and Honestbee are now in vogue.
    Meanwhile, Southeast Asia’s payments landscape is as fragmented as ever. Ecommerce logistics is still nascent, but appears to be developing rapidly with the rise of aCommerce, SingPost, NinjaVan (which raised a US$30 million series B), and Anchanto.
    Lazada too had been investing in logistics, but their runway was ending.
    Enter Alibaba. The ecommerce giant swooped in and bought a controlling stake in Lazada, and in the process might have prevented Lazada from becoming like Ensogo, which laid off half its team this year. 
    By coming in relatively late (and we know first movers often don't win), the Chinese ecommerce giant could reap most of the benefits from the earlier waves of investments and talent into Southeast Asia. Alibaba can stand on the existing ecommerce infrastructure that’s already in place, build out the remaining pieces, and give the industry the final push it needs to birth forth a period of financial sustainability.
    It’s the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle, with its expertise in logistics, payments, marketplaces, as well as its massive economies of scale and fat wallets.
    Meanwhile, Amazon appears to be simply missing. If it’s making a big push of its own, it’s good at hiding it.

    Nguồn: www.techinasia.com
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