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Marketing Featured South Asia

Bangladesh seeks global rep of capital market and has just issued a tender to find eligible marketers

Bangladesh – Not all the time do you see a tender by a country’s securities and exchanges commission for mainstream work such as marketing and communications, but the country of Bangladesh has officially expressed its desire to front its economic development and capital market in the global arena, according to the tender document itself, released by the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) Sunday, 18 July. 

According to the tender, BSEC is looking to engage Bloomberg Media, one of the leading providers of business and financial news content globally, to be able to reach diversified investors through a global campaign. BSEC said that it wants to present its potential and economic development and growth record of accomplishment in terms of capital market to attract investors from foreign nationals. 

BSEC has been continuously developing the country’s capital market to make it the main source of long-term financing. In growing its bond market, it has already introduced new products such as Exchange Traded Funds, Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Impact Funds. 

The contract offered by BSEC will run for 16 months. Specifically, it is on the lookout for entities to “supply integrated marketing and communication services” to position the country in Bloomberg’s media and digital platform. 

The commissioned marketing work will run under the banner ‘The Rising of Bengal Tiger: Potentials of Bangladesh Capital Market’. Under the campaign, Bloomberg Media will create content for television, print, and digital media, furthermore, it will be partnered to host a content hub for Bangladesh on its website to support the country. 

During the said period, BSEC has already planned to organize a series of roadshows through its own arrangement in different parts of the world to portray a ‘Rising Bangladesh’ and its capital market as an attractive place for foreign investment “with better returns.” 

For the success of the campaign, BSEC said it would be needing services from a reputed marketing and communication agency that will act as a primary service provider in creating a dedicated campaign-specific content portal. The said portal will include roadshow registration facilities, news updates, upcoming event details, queries, and feedback, and will utilize all contents for TV, print, and digital media prepared by Bloomberg Media.

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SME Featured ANZ

This newly-registered NZ stock exchange caters specifically for SMEs

Auckland, New Zealand – In a move to cater to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country, stock exchange platform Catalist has announced that it has now acquired a license to open a public market for SMEs who are too small to be indexed by the New Zealand’s Exchange (NZX).

Previously operating under the private investment sector, Catalist’s platform is designed to raise up to NZ$20m a year from the public.

Catalist’s public market targets SME listings with an initial value of between NZ$6m and NZ$60m – considerably lower than what would be expected for a traditional stock market listing.

According to Colin Magee, CEO at Catalist , the green light to start trading with retail investors came after the Financial Markets Conduct (Catalist Public Market) Regulations 2021 were passed late last month.

Catalist has worked on the licence and legislation with the Ministry of Business and Innovation (MBIE) and the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) over the past two years to simplify the public listing process, creating a considerably lighter regulatory environment

“SMEs make up a majority of New Zealand businesses, so there’s a real need for those with growth potential to have better access to capital, and equally for investors to have better access to SME investments, to increase economic growth and job creation. Catalist’s public market means smaller businesses can now access public investment, with significantly lessened costs and administrative burdens – and without compromising investor protections,” Magee stated.

He also added that they are already working through the listing process with a number of businesses – and investors can sign up for an account on their website, so they can trade when there’s an auction running.

Differing from a traditional stock exchange, Catalist uses regular auctions, rather than continuous trading, allowing for fairer pricing and increased liquidity for financial products that don’t trade very frequently – often the case with smaller businesses. 

Regular auctions also allow for alternative disclosure provisions, a key difference with Catalist’s new market, where businesses only disclose information for each auction, rather than continuously.

Magee explains that traditional stock markets don’t work for SMEs because the costs, time spent on compliance, continuous disclosure obligations and focus on short-term share price get in the way of day-to-day operations and focusing on the long-term health of the business.

“In the past, we’ve seen growth markets, such as NZX’s ‘NXT’ take a traditional continuous trading approach and fail to meet the needs of SMEs. We’ve taken the learning from that and use periodic trading and disclosure instead, which has proved successful in other jurisdictions. Investors can now access well-regulated investment opportunities in SMEs, where they can be confident in the standard of information they receive,” Magee added.

The platform will act as a stepping stone for these registered SMEs to slowly transition into the traditional stock exchange, such as the NZX.

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

Access to external finance a difficulty among Filipino small businesses: survey

Manila, Philippines – Despite the majority of Filipino small businesses successfully deploying digital finance gateways, access to external finance, on the other hand, may hamper their business growth, new survey from professional accounting body CPA Australia shows.

According to the report., cash flow difficulties are having a negative effect on some Filipino small businesses as 64% of respondents sought external funds last year; with 43% seeking funds for business growth, and 32% for survival.

However, only 13% of respondents found accessing external finance easy or very easy, the lowest of the markets surveyed. This may explain why respondents mainly sought funds from friends or family (21%) or personal resources (21%), compared to 15% from a bank. Only 16% of Filipino small businesses expect accessing external finance to be easy or very easy in 2021, which is lower than the survey average of 28%.

Part of this issue can be attributed to COVID-19 restrictions, with more than half (58%) of Filipino respondents reported being negatively impacted by COVID-19. However, 46% say they have already recovered or expect to recover in 2021, while 62% of small businesses grew in 2020. 

Filipino small businesses made greater use of digital technologies in 2020 as the pandemic accelerated the use of e-commerce. Around 27% of Filipino small businesses reported that they began or increased their focus on online sales in response to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, 61% of respondents received more than 10% of sales from digital or online payment technologies such as GCash, DragonPay, and PesoPay, up from 47% in 2019. About 62% of small businesses received more than 1% of their revenue from online sales, up from 50% in 2019.

According to Mark Chau, regional general manager of business development international at CPA Australia, dynamism among Filipino small businesses should help drive an economic rebound this year as restrictions are gradually eased and global economic activity returns to normal.

“The survey shows that small businesses in the Philippines are eager to innovate and engage with customers through social media. A vibrant and youthful workforce together with growing domestic demand supported the sector in 2020,” Chaus stated.

About 73% of Filipino small businesses expect to grow in 2021, with 52% intending to increase employees. 22% anticipate that revenue from overseas markets will grow strongly, while 31% say they will introduce a new product, process or service to the local or overseas markets, the second highest of the markets surveyed.

“Difficulties in accessing external finance may hinder business plans to hire more employees, invest in technology or expand to new markets. Small businesses in the Philippines should consider seeking professional advice to maximize their success in obtaining external finance,” Chau added.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

MY’s Hong Leong Bank first bank to open a store on Shopee

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Malaysia’s Hong Leong Bank (HLB), has launched its online store on the popular e-commerce platform Shopee, making it the first bank in Malaysia to do so.

Through the Shopee online store, customers can sign up for banking products and services without the need to visit any of the bank’s physical branches. The initiative is part of HLB’s journey in fully providing digital banking solutions to meet the rising digital consumption. Last October, the Bank launched the country’s first fully digital account onboarding through mobile app ‘Apply@HLB’, which leverages e-Know-Your-Customer ([eKYC]) technology.

Three bank services are currently available on Shopee, namely Hong Leong Basic Savings Account, Hong Leong 3in1 Junior Account, and Hong Leong Pay&Save Account.

“The Bank’s digital-at-the-core strategy has helped in reimagining banking experiences, leading us to focus on a digital growth trajectory to make banking much more accessible and improve customer experiences. The success of eKYC has set the foundation for us to explore new opportunities in better serving customers on digital-only channels,” said Domenic Fuda, group managing director and CEO of HLB.

Meanwhile, Charles Sik, HLB’s MD of personal financial services reiterates that the move towards digital platforms is in response to customer shift to online activities.

“Offering banking products on e-commerce is a natural progression for us as customers shift their spending and consumption behavior online. We are excited to have a presence on this platform where customers can open an HLB account without visiting our other channels. As a start, we are offering bank accounts with other types of banking products coming in the near future,” Sik said.

Galvin Yeo, HLB’s GM for personal financial services for deposits & digital, commented that Malaysians have developed a natural proficiency in navigating e-commerce platforms with the shift to digital and mobile-first lifestyles. 

“The banking industry is playing catch up in the digital game considering you can get most essential items online or via e-commerce, [and] we are excited to reach out and serve customers on e-commerce sites. This will also challenge the Bank to constantly update and innovate our offerings to be exciting and relevant,” Yeo said.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Goobat.care becomes first Malaysian pharmacy to accept Bitcoin

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Goobat, a Malaysian-based pharmaceutical technology company, is now accepting the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as a mode of payment on its e-commerce Goobat.care. 

Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency founded in 2009, has risen its validity within the financial market earning its spot as an acceptable new store of value. 

“There is a growing number of cryptocurrency enthusiasts in Malaysia. In fact, we have listened and learned that there is an increasing demand from consumers calling for the acceptance of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as a payment option and so, we believe this is a step in the right direction,” said Asher Looi, co-founder of Goobat.

He added, “Numerous central banks have been reported to begin exploring and adopting these cryptocurrencies. As part of the retail industry, we feel it is important and timely to educate the public that Bitcoin transactions are safe, and that users will still have full control of their money in their wallets,” pointing out that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are the future of finance.

Bitcoin payments through the Goobat.care web store will be powered by US-based cryptocurrency clearing gateway Bitpay.

The existence of the Goobat.care e-commerce is a response to the local issue of some pharmacies in sub-urban areas that may not have full access of the much-needed medications. Further, due to the lack of economy of scale, these outlets would tend to retail products at steeper prices.

“When we set up Goobat.care, we wanted to ensure that we could help suburban consumers find what they need. So now we have more than 3,000 products online to offer, at affordable prices,” Looi added.

The Goobat.care e-commerce site.

Once a transaction is completed on Goobat.care, Klang Valley customers can choose to receive their products by Goobat.care’s 3-Hour Express Delivery, or opt for the Standard Delivery option. The latter is available to customers nationwide. 

Goobat also assures that it will provide special handling for some products that may be temperature sensitive, or can be affected by changes in humidity like probiotics and other medicines. By the end of January this year, Goobat plans to introduce a mobile app and incorporate more languages into its platform.

“We integrate the Big Data concept into the core of all touchpoints. Our end goal is to build an artificial intelligence (AI) model in the future to serve our clients better. In the long run, this AI model will serve to identify risk groups based on their [consumption] patterns, or buying patterns of Goobat.care, and we will offer personalized supplements suggestions to our consumers,” he added.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Fintech KiplePay, local holdings Digital Perak team up for cashless transaction in Perak state

Perak, Malaysia – In a move towards a cashless society in the Malaysian state of Perak, Malaysian fintech startup KiplePay and local holdings Digital Perak recently collaborated for the development of a unified payment platform for cashless convenience among citizens and merchants for their government and business transactions.

For the initial phase, citizens can pay for their availed services within the locality through the Digital Perak web portal. Services include training courses, co-working space, computer lab, and office service rental on local multimedia hub Hub Innovasi and Multimedia (HiM). They can also pay for services such as asset booking, quit rent and summon payment with agencies, municipal councils, and other Government Linked Companies (GLC) within the state.

As for businesses, those that are registered under S.M.A.R.T Niaga@Perak, Digital Perak’s program for trading items locally, may now provide cashless transactions for in-store and online transactions. Merchants may also use KiplePay’s merchant app for in-store transactions, while online transactions are processed through theKipleBiz Unified Payment platform. Said platform will support multiple gateway payment services, including online banking, e-wallet, and debit/credit card.

“Today’s collaboration with KiplePay is part of our effort towards achieving the aspiration of the national policy on Industrial Revolution 4.0 to automate all services of the state government via the internet. A seamless transition is important as it involves all stakeholders in the state and this will set the benchmark for digital transformation agenda for the businesses and government services,” said Meor Rezal Fitri bin Dato’ Dr Hj Meor Redwan, chief executive officer of Digital Perak