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Main Feature Marketing APAC

MARKETECH APAC’s Top 5 Stories for September: BNPL in Thailand clinches top spot

What a great way to start the ‘Ber’ months this year with a list of high-flying stories which gave the industry a peek of the latest developments in the startup, e-commerce, and digital payments scene. 

This September, an Indian-born PR agency leading the way for communications in the startup sector has expanded its presence to Singapore. A Buy Now Pay Later platform is also ramping up its market in Southeast Asia with the announcement of its country manager for Thailand. 

Meanwhile, e-commerce makes another round getting into readers’ radar with a data-driven marketing firm in Asia unveiling its new leader for its e-commerce offering.

Stories from the Philippines are also in this month’s top spots with one career coaching firm in the country sharing its business story, and also, a report that saw the convergence of consumer products and social media snared readership for the period.

Take a look.

Top 5: PR agency Value 360 Communications expands presence with new Singapore office

Value 360 Communications Singapore

Value 360 Communications, the startup-focused PR agency in India, has announced that it will be expanding its market to Singapore to unlock growth opportunities in the country’s burgeoning start-up space.

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Kunal Sinha, the founder and director of Value 360 Communications, shared that the company has been part of the journey of 15 unicorns in the market of India, where they have built communications from the ground up. Learning from the process, the agency eventually grounded its name and reputation in the sector. 

Working with a complex market such as India, Sinha believes, gives the agency a strong value proposition to bring to the start-up space.

“We are going to focus on providing start-up PR in the SEA region, and Singapore will be the core for us in extending our services to start-ups. We are also in a discussion with other global brands who have both India and Singapore presence, and we are looking to hire talents with specific experiences in start-ups,” said Sinha.

We have an internal training module where we will be able to help them learn and understand about the start-up space.

Sinha on hiring new talents

Top 4: MARKETECH Spotlight: PH’s Metamorphosis Group on disrupting career coaching in the country

Metamorphosis Group_Danica Octa

Entering this month’s top stories is one of the latest episodes of MARKETECH Spotlight featuring career coaching firm in the Philippines, Metamorphosis Group (MG). 

In an exclusive conversation with the firm’s Founder, President, and CEO, Danica Octa, she shared MG’s start-up journey which began in the pandemic year in 2020. Gaining more expertise and leadership into the current job and recruitment industry in the country, the coaching firm has now firmed up its mission of becoming an end-to-end employability solution for those seeking guidance on their career development. 

Speaking MARKETECH APAC, Octa shared how the firm sees its role in the Filipino workforce. 

Our role [in the workforce] is to be some kind of a learning partner [and] an accountability buddy.

Octa believes that above all, it’s able to help shape people’s career journey through its future-oriented thinking. 

“We are very forward-thinking, we understand the future of work, we as a company is very, very in touch with what’s going to happen 10 years later,” she said. 

Octa adds, “We have the intuition, we can give our market the information they need to succeed moving forward, of course, so that they can upskill and reskill to the appropriate job that they need to have, moving forward. So I think that’s the role that we take here.”

Top 3: Filipinos take to Twitter conversations around favorite consumer products

Twitter-Philippines

Twitter Philippines has recently released a report on the products Filipinos love to talk about on the platform. The data shows that there are five key trends in how Filipinos converse around food, beverages, and personal, as well as home care.

Chandan Deep, Twitter’s head of emerging business for SEA, shared that people on the app and the conversations that they create are what makes Twitter unique, and that 71% have rated it as a great platform for brand interaction, making it the number one among its peers.

MARKETECH APAC conversed with Deep, and she noted that when you looked at the top mentioned brands, which were listed on their CPG dispatch, you will see some good samples on how brands can engage with their customers on Twitter, to be able to drive more meaningful conversations.

Twitter has a diverse community so they can connect with people who like entertainment, gaming, or health, making the first move as a brand by initiating conversation and making your audience enjoy it.

Top 2: ADA names former Lazada CBO Sherry Tan as regional head of e-commerce

ADA ropes in Lazada MY’s Sherry Tan to become its regional head of e-commerce

ADA, the data- and AI-driven marketing firm in Asia, has appointed former Chief Business Officer of Lazada Malaysia, Sherry Tan to be its regional head of e-commerce. 

ADA has just unveiled its end-to-end e-commerce solution for brands in APAC, and for the new role, Tan will be leading a team of leaders who will support the growing demand for e-commerce in the region. 

In the interview with MARKETECH APAC, Tan shared the challenges that brands in e-commerce are faced with in this pandemic.,

“In the last 18 months right, the pandemic catapulted e-commerce retail significantly, and there are more users in the digital space whether it is the buyers or the sellers. Now, it has become harder for brands to attract customers because there are wider options available,” said Tan. 

According to Tan, besides having more choices, customers are gaining smarter as well and therefore, have higher expectations toward their shopper journey. 

Brands need to stay on top of their game to predict industry trends…and then they need to enhance engagement and attraction to their brand to build loyalty and retention.

On ADA’s e-commerce solution, Tan said, “Leveraging on our data and digital shelf, we are able to craft [an] e-commerce and digital strategy based on sentiment analysis, customer insights as well as [competitive] landscape. This data allows us to understand what consumers are interested in, where they have visited over a period of time, and ADA is able to target these audiences for the brand.”

Top 1: BNPL platform for Asia, Atome, names country manager for Thailand

Atome Poompong Tancharoenphol

For our top story for the month, we have Buy Now Pay later platform in Asia Atome’s appointment of its country manager for Thailand, Poompong Tancharoenphol Tancharoenphol was formerly Zilingo’s country head for the country. 

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Tancharoenphol said, “I think I have been fortunate to look at e-commerce both from AddVentures and Zilingo before. There [are] a few key factors in making an e-commerce company successful, namely the business model itself, whether it is B2C e-commerce, B2B e-commerce, and marketplaces, and there is [a] supply chain, marketing, and payment.”

He adds that with BNPL being quite new to the Thai market, it could mean either two things: it may be potentially good or something which the market may not adapt to. 

I think the direct value we offer to the retailers and e-commerce players is the increase in the market size. We were able to increase the market size to 30% more than any other payment method, and this comes along with increasing sales and conversion [afterward]

Rankings‌ ‌are‌ ‌based‌ ‌on‌ ‌Google‌ ‌Analytics‌ ‌from‌ ‌the‌ ‌period‌ ‌of‌ ‌16th‌ ‌August‌ ‌to 15th‌ ‌September.‌

Watch our exclusive interviews with the brands themselves on the latest episode of MARKETECH APAC Reports, now live on our YouTube channel.

This is in collaboration with Malaysia-based media company The Full Frontal.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Atome launches loyalty rewards program Atome+ in Singapore

Singapore – Buy now pay later (BNPL) platform in Asia, Atome, has launched Atome+, its in-app loyalty rewards program, in Singapore.

Atome allows shoppers to split their purchases into three interest-free installments at different stores. Through Atome+, shoppers will be earning points for purchases made using Atome across online and offline retailers in Singapore. These points can be redeemed against further purchases at selected merchants, including LEGO, Kinohimitsu, PEDRO, and Melissa, or to offset future transactions. 

Within the program, Atome shoppers are able to earn 1 Atome+ point for every S$1 spent. To celebrate the launch of Atome+ in Singapore, shoppers will receive up to 3 times more Atome+ points from 9 to 12 September. Existing Atome users can also earn additional 1,000 points for every successful referral from now until 30 September.

According to Atome, since the program’s soft launch in June, over 11,000 users have already redeemed 3 million worth of points to offset bills and transactions. The Atome+ loyalty program will be progressively rolled out to Malaysia and Hong Kong in the coming months.

Trasy Lou Walsh, general manager of Atome Singapore and Malaysia, shared that the program has been very well-received by Atome users since its soft launch. She further shared that within the program in the future, shoppers can be further rewarded with Atome+ points for actions like making on-time payments. 

Atome has been ramping up its presence within Asia, recently announcing its newly appointed country manager for Thailand, Poompong Tancharoenphol. 

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Atome names new country manager for Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand – Singapore-based buy now pay later service platform, Atome, has announced the appointment of Poompong Tancharoenphol, former country head of e-commerce platform Zilingo Thailand, to assume the role of country manager for Thailand.

Atome has expanded into other key markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and mainland China over the last 12 months, and it is currently available as a point-of-sale payment checkout option across 5,000 online and offline retailers, primarily in the fashion, beauty, and travel, as well as lifestyle categories. 

Tancharoenphol brings with him over 15 years of international experience in venture capital, B2C and B2B fashion, and e-commerce, as well as marketing, and fintech. Aside from his former role at Zilingo, he has previously worked as the investment manager at industrial firm AddVentures by SCG, and the digital business development manager at business conglomerate Siam Cement Group (SCG).

Commenting on his appointment, Tancharoenphol said that he is very excited to join Atome at this time and launch the brand in Thailand. 

“I’m also excited to introduce Thai consumers to the global buy now pay later movement, which is about a smarter, better, and more transparent way to shop and pay, and one in which both retailers and consumers win. My immediate focus will be building our local partnership, HR, marketing, and operations team to better support our merchant partnerships and enable their success,” said Tancharoenphol. 

Meanwhile, David Chen, the CEO of Atome, commented that they are excited to embark on the next phase of growth by expanding into Thailand, and with Nan’s leadership experience and knowledge of retail, digital commerce, and fintech, he will be invaluable as they scale their Thai operations and build on their rapid growth across Asia.

“Atome stands for “available to me” and we’re very excited to introduce a digital-savvy generation of Thai consumers to a better and smarter way to shop and pay and give them access and affordability to quality products and services,” said Chen.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Atome partners with Indonesian retail company MAP

Jakarta, Indonesia – Singapore-based buy now pay later service Atome has announced a partnership with Indonesian retail company PT Mitra Adiperkasa TBK or commonly known as MAP to enable young Indonesians greater affordability and access to quality brands and products.

Through Atome, consumers now have the convenience, access, and ability to pay for MAP brands by spreading payments over three or six months, with zero interest or hidden fees.

Atome’s motto is #TimeToOwnIt, which refers to the company’s goal to help people own their passion and continue to smartly invest in their life aspirations. To help them start their journey, MAP shoppers who live in Jabodetabek, Bandung, Surabaya, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Bali, Medan, and Makassar will receive a MAP E-Gift Voucher 

Said voucher can be downloaded via the Atome mobile app available on Google Play from now until 2 May, 2021. The E-Gift Voucher can be redeemed when they shop and pay using Atome and then by scanning the Atome QR code during checkout at MAP stores. 

According to V.P. Sharma, CEO of MAP Group, their partnership with Atome aligns with the company’s vision to support Indonesia’s post-pandemic economic recovery. 

“We believe a partnership between our group and a leading brand like Atome will boost the growth and digitalization of retail businesses through online and offline channels. At the same time, MAP and Atome share the same values of providing access and affordability of quality brands to Indonesian consumers,” Sharma stated.

Meanwhile, Wawan Salum, CEO of Atome Financial Indonesia commented, “The strategic partnership between Atome and MAP will enable a digital generation of Indonesians with smarter access and affordability to MAP’s portfolio of world-class brands.”

He added, “Now is a time for them to invest in their future and own their passions and aspirations, seek more experiences and do more. With Atome, they now have the ability to shop smarter as well as have the flexibility and control to better manage their finances.”

Atome has been expanding its list of partners in the past months, including digital payment gateway AsiaPay, luxury brand Sephora, and booking platform Agoda.

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Main Feature Marketing APAC

MARKETECH APAC’s top 5 stories for March: Esports league in PH bags top spot

This month of March, we’re looking at a diverse list of the top 5 stories. The rise of digital experiences and online e-commerce amid this unprecedented period in the lives of both businesses and consumers is evidently shown in the stories that nabbed the highest readership for the month. As you will see in the rundown, brands, and organizations that took the top spots are those that launched new partnerships and announced new initiatives that are a response to surging online activity and adoption. 

This month, a Hong Kong-headquartered fintech has just partnered with a new Buy Now Pay Later payment channel. A global adtech has also expanded its services to Vietnam, while a Singapore-based agency hires a new UX director. 

Meanwhile two rising consumer ecosystems – esports and influencer marketing – grace this month’s list with a content platform launching a new community for parent influencers and a Philippines-based gaming league mounting a virtual event that engages music fans.

Take a look at the top stories. Stories were sourced from Google Analytics from the period of 16 February to 15 March. 

Top 5: Singapore-based Bray Leino Splash names new UX Director

As the number of brands adopting digital experiences increases at a faster rate amid the pandemic, Singapore-based DX agency Bray Leino Splash’s appointment of a new UX director comes at a rightful time. 

The newly named Jaffry Jalal has previously worked with TBWA\Singapore and Havas as its UX design lead and was most recently a lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic. He has previously worked with brands such as Singapore Airlines, MasterCard, and Michelin to help them create digital products and immersive experiences. 

Jalal shared to MARKETECH APAC that as he takes the helm at the agency, he looks to start with the basics – straightening out and unifying the language of ‘design’ for the whole agency – in order to serve clients better and deliver an excellent UX.

“[I’m looking at] broadening the definition of design within the agency. That it is about moving something from its current state to a better-preferred state, whatever it is that we are doing. In creating that mentality internally, I hope we can transform where the whole agency becomes the design team for the client,” said Jalal. 

Jalal also shared what he believes to be one of the most important metrics of a good UX, and that is when people “talk less” about the UX, which means the agency has done its job in creating a seamless experience. 

“That’s the strange thing about UX design is that you won’t really notice good UX when it’s designed well. It’s transparent and invisible. The most effective experiences help the customers get the job done and they get on with their life; they come to a website or an app, they get what they need, and it helps them then they move on,” shared Jalal.

“This pandemic, as an agency, [we focus on] how we can help [clients] move from a current state to a preferred state [of digitization]; and [when] the whole agency can speak the language of design, then we can spot opportunities for our clients,” added Jalal. 

Top 4: theAsianparent launches VIP parents platform for parent influencers

Influencer marketing, with its relatable appeal to consumers as well as being a less cumbersome strategy for brands, has been all the rage with more brands and used-to-be consumers jumping into the ecosystem. Products and services targeted at parents are no different and this is what parenting-focused content platform aims to leverage with the VIP parents platform

In the platform, proactive parents are given the opportunity to step into the limelight and use their influence and voice for brands which also becomes an avenue for them to earn. 

Officially launched in 2020, the platform has already garnered a base of over 40,000 moms and dads. For brands, the platform serves as a channel to easily tap parents to implement engagement and brand amplification activities such as participating in surveys or polls, creating original and meaningful content, and even have parents review products and attend brand events. 

MARKETECH APAC spoke with the two Co-Founders of VIPP Heena Lulla Singh and Jessica Tremel to know more about the platform. Singh said that the parents on the platform are different from the broad influencer groups with their genuine experience and knowledge as their top edge. 

“What truly differentiates these parents from broad influencer groups is their parenting journeys, their experiences, and know-how, which actually enable them to provide authentic amplifications for consumer brands,” said Singh. 

Tremel said that VIP Parents is not just an influencer marketing platform, where the community also takes branded campaigns from posting on social media, reviews and reviews platforms, attending events, and downloading apps, and many more activities that parents can do for brands.

“Through our platform, these everyday parents to micro-influencers, have been able to deliver better engagement rates through the genuine feedback that captures audiences which leads to higher client conversion rates,” said Tremel. 

Top 3: Adtech Criteo partners with Vietnam-based MediaDonuts  

Digital advertisers in Southeast Asia country Vietnam are set to see a new solution provider in the market for their marketing and advertising strategies as adtech Criteo partners with Vietnam-based advertising and technology company MediaDonuts.

Criteo is a global advertising platform that provides a full-funnel marketing solution for online advertisers, retailers, brands, and agencies to serve relevant online advertisements. The partnership with MediaDonuts will take in the form of the Ad Sales Partner Program, which provides brands with performance marketing solutions aimed at driving profits and sales.

Speaking to MARKETECH APAC, Mark Gubbels, head of commercial for SEA at Criteo, said that the company specifically chose Vietnam for the expansion being one of the fastest-growing markets in online advertising. 

“We see a great opportunity, especially in the performance-based marketing to work with local businesses in Vietnam and evolve their advertising and marketing strategies to gain a competitive advantage in the market,” said Gubbels. 

Gubbels also shared that part of Criteo’s offering to brands will be education and training on performance marketing. 

“While we are seeing great potential for market adoption within Vietnam’s industry, we still [see] that there’s a lot of room for growth, mainly in terms of education around performance marketing. As more Vietnamese consumers turn to e-commerce and seek an online channel experience, we really need to establish strong relationships with their customers both offline and online,” said Gubbels. 

The training and certification layer aims to provide and equip teams with practical courses to harness data effectively and to gain actionable insights to effectively manage and measure campaigns.

Top 2: Hong Kong-based AsiaPay adds Singapore’s Atome as Buy Now Pay Later partner

Hong Kong-headquartered Asiapay has announced a new partnership with Singapore-based Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform Atome, adding it to its current BNPL payment partners, to enable seamless, flexible installment payment options to online and offline retail businesses across the APAC region.

AsiaPay is a digital payment solution and technology vendor in Asia aiming to bring advanced and cost-effective electronic payment processing solutions and services to banks, corporate and e-Businesses in the worldwide market. Meanwhile, Atome partners online and offline retailers to increase conversions and grow average orders and customer segments.

Through the team-up, both companies intend to remove the complexity for merchants and retailers of all sizes, to benefit from greater BNPL payment convenience.

Atome has partnered with over 2,000 online and offline retailers in six markets such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong with key merchant partners and e-commerce platforms in a wide range of verticals including Sephora, Agoda, Zara, and Marks & Spencer, and JD.ID and Sendo. Meanwhile, AsiaPay’s platform connects over 100 banks and a broad roster of alternative payment methods in 11 country locations. 

MARKETECH APAC spoke with Ernest Lo, AsiaPay’s executive director for AsiaPay, and he shared that the decision to tie up with Atome is due to the parallels between their business landscapes, such as being able to serve the same markets like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. aside from Singapore. 

“We see how Atome works in Singapore, [and] we want to work with a partner that’s aggressive with whom we can work out something together; we hope that our merchants in different countries can enjoy this BNPL product,” said Lo. 

Top 1: Philippine Pro Gaming League engaged music fans roping in MNL48 for a virtual match

For our top story this month, we have esports league Philippine Pro Gaming League in the Philippines. For a one-time event last 8 March, the Philippines Pro Gaming League (PPGL) managed by esports organization Mineski Philippines, hosted a virtual match, where it roped in Philippine pop idol group MNL48 to engage and play with fans for the popular mobile game League of Legends: Wild Rift. 

PPGL is the largest multi-game esports in the country, and has been running for about 3 years in partnership with Globe telecom. Before the pandemic, the league seasonally conducts its massive onsite grand finals where it directly engages with players, teams, and the gaming community, at the same time, serves as an opportunity to promote gaming to a larger audience. Come the pandemic, Mineski was finding a way to bring the same engagement and experience, and thus, launched the virtual ‘PPGL Takeover’, where it invites personalities, esports influencers and streamers, and TV personalities to connect with gamers and fans. 

Nadine Nora, campaign manager at Mineski Philippines, shared that it has been partnering with people from the music industry and that when it approached MNL48, the collaboration was a perfect match, with the all-girl group being gamers themselves. 

MNL48 is a Filipino idol group, originally established in 2018, known to be a part of the larger J-pop genre scene based on its mother group AKB48. They have since released a total of six singles, including ‘Pag-Ibig Fortune Cookie’, ‘High Tension’, and more recently ‘River’. The quintet comprises Cole Somera, Abby Trinidad, Sheki Arzaga, Gabb Skribikin, and Coleen Trinidad.

“MNL48 was very excited with the event as it is an added avenue for them to interact with their fans. [MNL48 and PPGL] just have the same mindset, we were both striving in engaging the community, and everything just fell into place perfectly,” shared Nora.

Watch our live interviews with the newsmakers themselves on the latest episode of MARKETECH APAC Reports, live on our YouTube channel.

This is in collaboration with Malaysia-based media company The Full Frontal.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

AsiaPay, Atome team up to enable flexible installment payment options across APAC merchants

Singapore – Hong Kong-headquartered Asiapay and Singapore-headquartered Atome have announced a joint partnership to enable seamless, flexible installment payment options to online and offline retail businesses across the APAC region.

AsiaPay is a digital payment solution and technology vendor in Asia based in Hong Kong, aiming to bring advanced and cost-effective electronic payment processing solutions and services to banks, corporate and e-Businesses in the worldwide market.

On the other hand, Atome is a ‘buy now, pay later’ platform in Asia based in Singapore. It partners online and offline retailers to increase conversions and grow average orders and customer segments.

Through this team-up, both companies intend to remove the complexity for merchants and retailers of all sizes, to benefit from this seamless partnership that enables greater ‘buy now, pay later’ payment convenience and acceptance across both offline and online channels in the APAC region.

Atome has partnered with over 2,000 online and offline retailers in six markets (Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and mainland China). Key merchant partners and e-commerce platforms include Sephora, Agoda, Zara, Marks & Spencer, Charles & Keith, Yoho, JD.ID and Sendo in verticals such as beauty, fashion, electronics, home decor, and lifestyle services.

AsiaPay’s platform connects over 100 banks and alternative payment methods, including credit and debit cards, bank account/net banking, prepaid cards, digital wallets and ‘buy now, pay later’ product in 11 country locations – Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Macau, Philippines, Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Joseph Chan, CEO of AsiaPay, said that the move towards digital payments across Asia is accelerating and there is increasing merchant demand for a complete integrated payment acceptance solution to optimize sales and business conversion.

“Buy now, pay later plans are growing in popularity among customers in Asia who are seeking more financial flexibility when shopping either in-store or online. We are thrilled to partner with Atome who can enhance the sales conversion of merchants in Asia with BNPL convenience and provide merchants with a flexible payment alternative that boosts customer experience,” Chan said.

Meanwhile, CEO of Atome David Chen stated that consumers want flexibility, transparency and a better, more personalised shopping and payment experience.

“This exciting partnership with AsiaPay will support thousands of businesses across the region in enabling a superior, seamless checkout experience for consumers, both in store and online websites. This in turn will optimize customer conversion, increase average orders and repeat usage,” Chen added.

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Main Feature Marketing APAC

January’s Top 5 stories: Which Southeast Asia brands nabbed the top spots?

After a challenging year for both brands and consumers, the new year has finally ushered in and one thing remains – brands in the Asia Pacific region continue to innovate and amaze, whether that’s through a new creative campaign, a promising collaboration, or a novel tech that no one has seen before.

Southeast Asia brands start with a bang this year, where five out of five stories for the month’s top stories come from the region. One is a last hurrah from Christmas campaigning in the Philippines, while another comes from a used-car platform in Malaysia. Two Singapore brands also joined forces for a tie-up that would benefit travelers, while a top Singaporean marketing executive came with big news that involved new business ventures. Meanwhile, MARKETECH APAC’s Marketech Expert Up Close also continued to hook readers when it featured the founder of a newly launched esports platform in the Philippines. 

Based on Google Analytics from December 16 to January 15, here are the top stories for the month. 

Top 5: Lay’s Philippines’ Christmas ad 

The Christmas spirit is still hanging over at the beginning of the year as famous chips brand Lay’s in the Philippines bags a spot on this month’s top stories with their recent Christmas campaign

With currently 4.5 million views on YouTube, the ad used a tongue-in-cheek marketing strategy, presenting an unexpected combo of endorsers to personify the campaign’s message – ‘Double the Holiday Flavor’ – featuring its Classic and Sour Cream & Onion flavor.

The stars of the ad were the country’s long-time top balladeer Jose Mari Chan and comedic social media personality Nico Bolzico. Using a humorous spin-off of Chan’s classic song ‘Christmas in our hearts’, the two duetted together on a concert-type performance, complete with Black tie and a piano. 

Top 4: myTukar’s AI car detection technology

News hailing from Malaysia hooked readers this month when its locally-developed used-car platform myTukar revealed that it will be releasing a tech that is a first in the industry – an AI Car Defect Detection system and Car Plate Masking. 

The said technology enables the platform to automate and standardize car inspection through analyzing images and videos. Using scalable and deep learning technology, myTukar is able to detect car defects such as dents, scratches and paint deterioration in seconds.

The platform’s Chief Technology Officer David Voo shared to MARKETECH APAC that the inception of the tech came about when a vendor approached the platform with the sample of the AI detection system, where the tech didn’t initially meet its standards, pushing the platform to develop it further to cater to its customers. 

COO Jeffrey Ong said, “It will overall reduce the human error and also to be enhancing our inspection efficiency. So what would happen is we would have a very accurate inspection report. This will definitely overall enhance the whole customer experience.”

Top 3: Esports platform KALARO’s founder Jun Lasco

The launch of Filipino-developed esports platform KALARO was likewise featured in the top stories in October last year, and this time we dive deeper into the man that founded the company behind the platform. 

In the episode of MARKETECH Expert Up Close, we sat down with Jun Lasco, the founder of The-AsiaGroup.com Inc. to learn more about his inspiring corporate and entrepreneurial journey in the world of tech, and later on in esports.

In the episode, Lasco bared his beginnings, which started out as being a tech executive for some of the biggest brands in the Philippines such as San Miguel Corporation, Ayala Group, and Fujitsu, in line with work that included programming and tech analytics. He also revealed the challenges he met in his early attempt in putting up a company, where three had to be eventually shut down in 2016 due to corporate setbacks. 

Now with its rebirth, Jun shared, “Being naive or too naive about business and people is also not good; funding is a must-have during the initial phase of the start-up ventures and friendships sometimes end when there is big money at stake, among many lessons.” 

Top 2: Atome and Agoda’s partnership 

Amid ongoing travel restrictions in the pandemic, two leading Singapore platforms recently tied up to entice travel-loving consumers. In December, a partnership was announced between booking platform Agoda and installment payment platform Atome, giving travelers an additional option to pay for their accommodations. 

Atome, with its famous ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme, continually adds brands and stores on its platform, and the latest partnership enables those planning to travel to have more breathing ground when it comes to financing.

In a conversation with CEO David Chen, he shared that the idea behind the tie-up is that most of the time, people wish to book a certain accommodation but are disheartened at the onset due to higher prices. 

He said, “[Buy now, pay later] is an attitude. It’s an aspiration. People want something that’s of good quality to uplift their fulfillment.”

Top 1: AIA Singapore’s Head of Brand builds own communications practice

Our top story of the month is brimming with brilliance and inspiration as insurance company AIA Singapore’s Head of Brand and Corporate Communications Joanna Ong-Ash exits the company to start her own communications practice, Bravery Communications.

Joanna served the company for a decade, being the communications lead for many of its notable programs such as AIA Vitality in 2013, which was then Singapore’s first comprehensive wellness program, and also launching the insurance company’s first-in-market critical illness plan for those with Type II diabetics and pre-diabetics. 

Taking into account Joanna’s holistic corporate experience – she brings 20 years of marketing expertise with her, working with financial services companies such as American Express and Mastercard, hence also marking her exit from corporate life. 

Of the new communications firm, Joanna shared that she wants to become a reliable partner of brands that may not be as big as others, but have a bold vision and purpose. 

Joann said, “Some of these SMEs do not have the ability to go out to big agencies to afford their expertise. Their purpose is so bold, and a lot of them, when they set up their own companies, they want to help others, they want to contribute to [the] community, and do good.”

“Where I come in, I feel like I am the extended arm of their business. When I work with a client, I’m not just working [with them] because I’m a consultant, I am working with a client because I totally believe in the cause and I want to do good together with them,” she added.

Watch the live report of the top stories for the month on our YouTube channel, where we give you exclusive appearances from the newsmakers themselves.

This is in collaboration with Malaysia-based media company The Full Frontal.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Agoda, Atome forge new partnership on affordable hotel booking options

Singapore – Digital travel platform Agoda has partnered up with installment payment platform Atome in expanding their “buy now, pay later” scheme to Agoda’s payment options for accommodation bookings, initially offered for Singaporean and Malaysian customers.

Under the partnership, users can checkout their Agoda accommodation by selecting Atome on the checkout page. With 34,000 properties available on the Singapore and Malaysia markets, the partnership also hopes to expand the partnership to additional Southeast Asian (Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam) markets as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan by 2021.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to help more people access travel, using tech to simplify the search, booking and payment processes. The launch of our instalment payment offering with Atome will enable Singaporean and Malaysian travellers who might have previously found it inconvenient to pay for their booking in one lump sum to spread the costs over multiple payments by choosing to pay with Atome, without incurring additional costs,” said Darren Makarem, vice president of commercial finance at Agoda.

On the other hand, David Chen, CEO of Atome (pictured) said, “This marks the start of a truly exciting regional partnership with Agoda. Travel and tourism supports so many businesses, livelihoods and economies across Asia. We’re truly humbled to play our part in helping to boost domestic tourism by introducing buy now, pay later payment flexibility and convenience on the Agoda platform today. 

He also added, “As more borders in Asia re-open for travel in 2021, our regional partnership will allow even more Agoda travellers to enjoy this payment convenience and flexibility at checkout, improving the customer experience.”

The partnership starts on December 21 for the Singaporean and Malaysian market.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Sephora SG is now available on Atome

Singapore – French prestige beauty company Sephora in Singapore has now partnered with buy now-pay later service Atome, to allow customers flexible payment options on their e-commerce website, mobile app, and brick & mortar stores.

For Alia Gogi, Sephora Asia’s president, the recent move ensures safer payment options for the consumers.

“The shopping behavior and profile of Sephora customers has evolved in the last few years, but especially so this year. They now not only expect a secure, seamless, and easy payment experience but also flexibility and choice in how they shop and pay for their beauty products online, on mobile, and in-stores.”

She added, ”We’re delighted to partner with Atome in introducing ‘buy now pay later’ flexible payment options to first our Singapore — and later Malaysian — customers, enhancing their shopping experience both online and in our stores.”

Alia Gogi and David Chen
(Left) Alia Gogi, President of Sephora Asia; (Right) David Chen, CEO of Atome

David Chen, CEO of Atome, commented, “We’re really humbled to partner Sephora, a global brand that is not only a leader in beauty and retail, but is also constantly evolving and staying on the forefront of the latest consumer shopping behaviors and payment trends. We’re thrilled to be able to offer Sephora customers in Singapore, and later Malaysia, a safe, easy, and flexible payment experience, especially as we enter the festive end-of-year shopping season.”

Atome is available on the App Store and on Google Play.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Singaporean homeware retailer IUIGA partners with Atome to offer buy now, pay later options

Singapore – Singapore home retailer IUIGA has partnered with buy now pay later platform Atome to offer its consumers flexible payment options across their online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Paying through Atome allows customers to spread the total cost of their bill into three equal payments over time with zero interest, hidden charges or service fees

To celebrate the launch of the partnership, IUIGA will be having a storewide “Atome Exclusive Day” on 26 September, where all transactions paid via Atome online and offline will get a 20 percent off with a minimum spend of $40.

IUIGA co-founder Jaslyn Chan said, “We’re delighted to partner Atome in offering our customers choice, convenience, and flexibility in how they want to pay. We believe in making quality, premium products at fair, transparent prices, and this partnership helps increase the affordability of our products, particularly for our Gen Z and millennial customers. We also have aggressive plans to grow our brand in Indonesia, where Atome already has an active presence, so we’re really looking forward to this partnership.”

Meanwhile, David Chen, chief executive officer of Atome said, “In IUIGA, we found a like-minded partner who understood the value we can bring in helping them grow their business, both online and across their brick-and-mortar outlets. Working with our partners, we’ve seen time and again how introducing Atome as a payment option increases conversion and cart sizes, while also growing new consumer segments.”

Atome has been partnering with online and offline retailers since it launched its platform in 2019. IUIGA on the other hand opened its first store at shopping mall TripleOne Somerset. It is known for its direct-to-consumer, affordable, and minimalist lifestyle products ranging from home and kitchen to apparel and electronics.