Southeast Asia is a group of diverse states between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Since the total population in Southeast Asia is beyond 600 million, the retailers should not ignore Southeast Asia in order to conquer Asia. Indeed, the retailers have to grab the opportunity due to the fast growing economy and encouraging digitalized ecosystem.

However, this profoundly divided region is not without its problem since it accompanies a heap of assorted societies, languages and regulations. Other than that, there has also been a gigantic inconsistency between developed nations such as Singapore and developing nations such as Thailand and the Philippines. A reasonable comprehension of neighbourhood obtaining practices will help you circumnavigate this differed yet encouraging business sector. Eventually, it will achieve a wide range of customers, from Bangkok to Makassar.

Southeast Asia
By Cacahuate, amendments by Globe-trotter and Texugo (Own work based on the blank world map) [CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Southeast Asia

A market moving toward tipping-point

Southeast Asia’s total sales across the e–commerce accounts today are less that 3% compare to other countries. This is just the start point for Southeast Asia as the market is expected to grow by 25% from year to year.

Southeast Asia, in fact, is a potential e-commerce wonderland. The usage of smartphones is leading its ways today. There are around 250 million of people in Southeast Asia using a smartphone. 142 million of them contributed to a mobile broadband subscription by the end of last two years. However, this number will increase significantly and is predicted to reach 292 million by the year 2020. This shows big opportunities for retailers who want to expand or maintain their business especially for those with a stronger mobile offering.

A mixed payment background

Southeast Asia is one of the groups of diverse states that have a massive kind of payment options and preferences.  For example, in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam or Thailand, cash payment dominated the method of payment compare to credit or debit card usage that is lower.  However, as for Singapore, the use of credit cards as a method of payment is leading the payment options as much as other European countries.

Some of the shoppers in Southeast Asia are unwilling to share out their card information due to perceived lack of security in the region. They tend to use more offline payment method such as make a payment by ATM, convenience stores or online banking. However, mobile payment methods such as e–wallets and prepaid card are rising in the region because of the increased usage of smartphone in Southeast Asia.

Indeed, mobile is turning into the main impetus behind internet business development in Malaysia and Thailand. In the meanwhile, Filipinos sometimes have been among the most productive mobile clients in the world, with smartphones infiltration anticipated that would reach up to 40% before the current years over. There are colossal increases to be had for retailers that convey an upgraded mobile shopping knowledge.

In order for truly get to holds with the assorted scenery of Southeast Asia, we should take a look at each market separately:

The gateway of Singapore into Southeast Asia

Shopping is frequently said as national interest in Singapore hence their shopping malls are the stuff of legend. It is regularly said that shopping is a national interest in Singapore, and its shopping centres are the stuff of legend. The good news for retailers is that this excitement develops in online as well.  E–commerce become the most dynamic business in the region with 55% of it is cross – border and the mobile payments method are common in Singapore with 30% of their online shoppers buying products using mobile at least once a week. Singapore has the tendency to have various cards with the high card infiltration that driving much of the online shopping experience since the credit card is the undisputed king.

As a mature market with English as the key language, it offers an incredibly business-friendly environment and a good launchpad for the rest of the region. This is the reason for Singapore to be considered as the gateway to Southeast Asia. Singapore dollar is the common currency for merchants to set up a local account for taxation reasons and to enhance local exchange rates since Singapore dollar is open from outside the nation for handling and settlement.

The key opportunities for mobile commerce in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and The Philippines

  • Indonesia

In Indonesia, many people prefer an ATM payments (transferring of cash from one account to another account using thru ATM), convenience store payments (in – store cash payment by printing the receipt of an online purchase to make a payment) and online bank transfer as their methods of payments. Indonesia is much regulated and fairly closed to cross – border payments and the local currency which is the Indonesia rupiah, cannot be repatriated. A local unit is typically required to process payments.

  • Malaysia

Malaysia’s people prefer using cash and online banking transfers as their daily payment methods.  One of the payment gateways in Southeast Asia has already succeed in offering cash-preferred payment for consumers, which is MOLPay. Malaysia does an open to cross-border shopping since they have a solid financial regulatory control. This allows the worldwide acquirers and retailers to process cross–border payments without any international issuing charges. The merchants who use this type of method are not affected when processing Malaysian Ringgit cross-border since the Malaysian Ringgit is non–tradable currency. It is additionally worth saying that local acquirers help in handling misrepresentation with 3D secure.

  • Thailand

Online bank transfers and cash are also the common selection in Thailand. Nevertheless, the distinctive factor of this nation is that partial of online shoppers also like buying on social media and it would be worth considering this choice while focusing on this nation.  In Thailand, the regulations are minimal making the local and cross – border payments can be made easily. Dissimilar to Indonesia or Malaysia, there are no monetary related limitations on funds being settled outside of the nation. However, it is key to include local payments for example,  in–store payments in payments options as it is an extremely well-known payment choice.

  • The Philippines

E-wallets, online transfers, over-the-counter transfers (OTCs) and convenience stores are the prominent alternatives payments in the Philippines. Cards can be handled cross-border with no charges, yet local payments method ought to likewise be a possibility for international merchants. Authorization rates and change rates have a tendency to be lower in the Philippines.

Southeast Asia is amazingly different, with a variety of controls and payments frameworks. Similarly, with any new market, it is important to get an on–the–ground understanding of how your potential new clients want to pay. By supporting local payments approaches, you will give a superior client experience and drive transformations. It is essential in this way that your payments accomplice has the aptitude, local presence to give fair-minded exhortation and capable of supporting an extensive variety of local methods.

Article by Azma Farhana Baharin