Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Fintech Xendit partners with BillEase for cardless installment option in PH

Manila, Philippines – Xendit, the Indonesian-based fintech, has partnered with Philippine-based ‘buy now, pay later’ solutions BillEase in bringing cardless installment options in the Philippines through their new joint solution ‘PayLater’ that allows merchants to offer convenient, card-free installments where the majority of shoppers remain cardless or unbanked.

Xendit, which allows merchants to accept payments online, makes it easier for merchants to provide an affordable and transparent installment option at checkout through a single integration. This means Xendit’s merchants can now add BillEase as a payment option. By offering BillEase at checkout, merchants can give their customers the option to split the cost of their purchases into installments either monthly or bi-weekly with no hidden fees.

Xendit merchants that offer BillEase can allow customers to pay for their purchases online in monthly installments and pay the app over a period of three, six, nine, or 12 months with monthly interest rates between 0 to 3.49%. Merchants can also choose to offer 0 percent annual percentage rate (APR). For example, a PHP 18,000 purchase would only cost PHP 2,500 over 6 months at 0% APR.

Furthermore, the partnership with BillEase allows merchants to connect to Xendit’s API and enable other BillEase’s payment services, namely, ‘Pay in Installments’ which enable customers to enjoy fully-financed purchases and spread payments over time at a zero-to-low interest rate, and ‘Pay with Down Payment’ where customers can pay 1/3 upfront and pay the rest in installments.

“Shoppers are increasingly looking for alternative ways to pay, and merchants who offer flexible payment options can rapidly improve their conversion rates and increase average order value. We’re excited to partner with Xendit to help Filipino merchants grow more by removing unnecessary challenges customers face at checkout, especially for those who are unable to use credit and debit cards,” said Georg Steiger, co-founder and CEO of First Digital Finance Corporation, the fintech behind BillEase.

Yang Yang Zhang, managing director of Xendit Philippines said their partnership aligns with their company’s mission to provide merchants with various payment options to allow their business to grow.

“Partnering with BillEase is crucial as the demand for installment solutions has grown in recent years, partly fueled by the pandemic. Additionally, merchants also see a huge demand from their consumers for this type of payment option. That’s why we’re excited to bring our PayLater solution to online retailers in the country,” Zhang stated.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

TaskUs’ upcoming virtual concert gets fans chance to meet PH actor James Reid

Bohol, Philippines – IT service management company TaskUs is hosting a virtual concert to officially launch its site in the country’s province of Bohol, situated in Tagbilaran City. To bring much excitement to fans, it has partnered with popular millennial actor in the country, James Reid, where ten attendees will be given a chance to virtually meet the actor after the concert proper.

Titled ‘TaskUs Dibs: James Reid’,the digital event will be streamed via TaskUs’s social media accounts starting at 6 pm on February 26, 2021. Reid will be performing hit songs ‘I Know You Care’, ‘16B’, and ‘Fiend’. 

The new TaskUs site in Bohol is the ninth site of the company globally, and will begin to use TaskUs’ remote work model, Cirrus.

Snippets of the new site of TaskUs located in Tagbilaran City, Bohol (Photos from TaskUs)

“TaskUs has a reputation for offering unrivaled amenities and benefits to attract and retain outstanding front-line talent, and the upcoming site in Bohol will be no different. The site is poised to offer extraordinary recreation areas with vibrant color schemes, eye-catching architectural features, places for mindfulness and relaxation, collaborative spaces and fun zones stocked with gaming equipment and kiosks,” the company said in a press statement.

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

PH’s ‘Eve’s Drop’ podcast producer afoot on SEA expansion after US$750k seed funding

Manila, Philippines – Podcast Network Asia (PNA), a Philippine-based media and technology company, has recently concluded its seed funding round, valued at around US$750k.

The funding round has seen participation from Lisa Gokongwei, president of Summit Publications, multi-focus venture capital firm Foxmont Capital, and Jakarta-based VC firm Venturra Discovery, as well as Filipino live-streaming platform Kumu.

Commenting on her participation, Gokongwei said, “I think podcasting is still in the early stages of growth in the country, and that PNA has put a stake in the ground ahead with a scalable business model. The team knows the industry well and they are quite passionate.”

Funds collected from the investment round will be used to expand the company’s presence in the Southeast Asia region, particularly in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Since its establishment in August 2019, PNA has helped podcast creators have access to production support and monetization opportunities. Over the course of the pandemic, PNA has since grown its roster to 93 shows. With four Spotify-exclusive shows, PNA is also home to the top podcasts in the Philippines, including ‘Boiling Waters’, ‘Eve’s Drop’, ‘Kool Pals’, and ‘Walwal Sesh’.

For Ron Baetiong, CEO and co-founder of Podcast Network Asia, podcasting is already entering its ‘golden age’, as statistics from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and consulting firm PwC, podcast advertising has grown exponentially along with the increase of podcast shows which is estimated to be at 1M. From 2015 to 2020, podcast ad revenue grew exponentially from US$69M to US$659M and is forecasted to reach a value of US$1B in 2021.

“We are very excited with what this investment allows us to do – with the Philippines as the sixth fastest-growing country in terms of listenership plus our own listenership, which already stands at 10M; we can scale up and continue the momentum we’ve built in the Philippine podcasting industry and replicate it across the region,” Baetiong said.

PNA will also leverage its data analytics and ad marketplace platform, which allows monetization opportunities to the global podcast market. With the new funding, PNA hopes to grow its client network, which currently has 415 podcasts signed to Podmetrics. 

As the client numbers of Podmetrics Marketplace, a feature within the platform, is slated to grow, users will now be able to take advantage of viewing total podcast analytics, applying to affiliate marketing campaigns, brand collaboration for episode sponsorships, and viewing campaign impressions, conversions, and other podcast metrics.

“Podcasting is still in its nascent stage in Southeast Asia. When we look at top-charting podcasts, [a] majority of them launched within the past year. The industry has strong momentum, as audio streaming platforms are doubling down on this segment. We believe we can empower creators to improve and commercialize their content through data analytics and production support,” said Raditya Pramanay, partner at Venturra Discovery

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Grab PH opens up second branch of cloud kitchen

Manila, Philippines – GrabKitchen finally gets a second branch in the Philippines, which will be located in Sampaloc, Metro Manila, generally known as the ‘University Belt’, housing a number of top colleges and universities in the district. The branch adds to the overall 50 known GrabKitchen branches in the Southeast Asia region.

The concept of GrabKitchen revolves around a mix-and-match feature, which allows customers to satisfy their food orders from different merchants all in one order. 

The second GrabKitchen Philippine branch brings together eight brands to provide more food choices to consumers. It also aims to provide food entrepreneurs the opportunity to launch their brands in new locations with a lower setup cost and to reach a wider base of customers through GrabFood. 

The eight food chain brands include Conti’s, Sinangag Express, CoCo Fresh Tea and Juice, as well as Omakase, Mister Kabab, and Army Navy, and also Pizza Telefono, and Happilee. 

According to Grab Philippines Head of Deliveries EJ Dela Vega, GrabKitchen responds to both consumer demand and helping food and beverage entrepreneurs succeed in their digital business stints.

“Our first GrabKitchen has enabled merchants to establish their brands in Makati, where they didn’t use to have a physical store, with minimal upfront investments. At the same time, it has also provided food lovers the option to enjoy different cuisines they love in a single order and pay one delivery fee. We hope to bring the same benefits to consumers and businesses through the opening of our Sampaloc branch,” Dela Vega stated.

The country’s first branch was launched at shopping mall Glorietta 2 located in top business district, Makati City, where it facilitated six merchants.

Dela Vega also added that these merchants will add variety in terms of food choices in Manila. Omakase and Happilee are opening their kitchens in Manila for the first time, while the others hope to gain more customers through GrabKitchen. He further shared that Grab considered several factors in shortlisting the merchants, including identifying the in-demand food items in the area and leveraging data from historical orders to address cuisine gaps. 

“We are hopeful that our Sampaloc, Manila branch will give foodies more freedom to mix and match their orders. They can also take advantage of the fact that our GrabKitchen merchants offer long-distance deliveries up to 10 kilometers,” Dela Vega added.

GrabKitchen was a concept first introduced in Indonesia in 2018 and has since become the largest regional cloud kitchen operator in Southeast Asia. GrabKitchen’s branches expand in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia, where it has also recently opened a first branch. 

To celebrate the launch of the newest GrabKitchen branch, Grab is offering free delivery to customers from February 9 to 28, 2021 for orders with a minimum price tag of ₱550.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

PH’s IP office launches IP app for MSMEs, partners with DTI

Manila, Philippines – To ensure local reach of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in the Philippines, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines recently partnered up with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in launching ‘IPOPHL Mobiliz’, the office’s foray into mobile application reach.

Said application allows MSMEs to process intellectual property (IP) documents and requirements for IPOPHL within the app, as recent policy has mandated for all MSMEs to conduct their current IP filings online to ensure safety of stakeholders and its employees.

“Given that many of us spend most of our time on mobile, this development will help IPOPHL reach out to a wider audience and provide a convenient and faster way for securing intellectual property assets and further integrate IP in innovative, creative and entrepreneurial processes,” said IPOPHL director General Rowel S. Barba.

With the launch of the IPOPHL Mobiliz, the office has sought a partnership with DTI through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to further promote IPs amongst the local MSME scene.

“IPOPHL’s efforts in digitalization will make government transactions more accessible and more convenient for all Filipinos. This will be a great gift to the Filipino people, aligned with the vision of the President to make lives more comfortable for our fellow Filipinos,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) secretary Ramon M. Lopez stated.

Technology Featured Southeast Asia

New survey shows Philippines among highest in online piracy in Southeast Asia

Manila, Philippines – In a new study about the online content viewing behavior of Filipinos, it was found that 49% of Filipinos online admit to using streaming piracy websites or torrent sites. The results also showed that the numbers spike to about 53% within the 25-34 age demographic.

Commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) and conducted by YouGov, the survey found that out of the 49% who do use streaming piracy websites or torrent sites, 47% of consumers who accessed them have cancelled their subscriptions to both local and international content services.

In comparison to neighboring countries Malaysia and Indonesia, who have seen a decline in online piracy over the past year, online piracy in the Philippines is rising. Indonesia’s YouGov survey showed a 55% reduction in Indonesians accessing piracy services while Malaysia’s found a 64% decline. 

This decline in both Malaysia and Indonesia is due to the government’s proactive piracy site blocking initiatives which has helped in the reduction of online piracy. 

Currently, the Philippine government is looking into doing the same. A bill before the Philippine Senate (Bill #497) entitled the ‘Online Infringement Act’ proposes a regulatory site blocking mechanism which would empower the authorities to ensure that ISPs take “reasonable steps to disable access to sites whenever these sites are reported to be infringing copyright or facilitating copyright infringement.”

The survey results showed that the majority of Filipinos think that these initiatives will deter the rise in online piracy with 53% of them agreeing that a “government order or law for ISPs to block piracy websites” would be the most effective.

According to Atty Teodoro Pascua, Deputy Director General, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), Filipino consumers should not patronize pirated content because of its risks and consequences. 

“The wide variety of legal services in the Philippines which provide premium entertainment content are reliable and importantly are legal. The piracy alternatives fund crime groups, put consumers at risk of malware infection and are unreliable. Piracy only benefits the criminal organizations who are behind these illegal websites.”

Neil Gane, the General Manager of AVIA’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) also commented, encouraging the legal consumption of content.

“We are confident that Indonesia and Malaysia will rise to become market leaders in video IP protection in the region, as a result of their site-blocking strategies. We are also confident that other countries in Asia, such as the Philippines, will take note and follow suit, boosting the growth of legal consumption of Filipino and international content.”

Main Feature Technology Southeast Asia

COVID incident mitigation management solution launches in the Philippines

SafePass, a digital incident mitigation management solution developed to address COVID-19 safety protocols, is now available to all organizations in the Philippines for free. 

Following the announcement of the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and other nearby provinces last August 3, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) urged all business establishments to implement a contact-tracing platform within their locations. SafePass has free digital contact-tracing and health declaration features for organizations of all sizes, and lets them register and begin using the platform in as fast as five minutes.

“The core mission of SafePass is to make every physical establishment in the Philippines as safe and as stress-free as possible, which is why we decided to offer free plans that any organization or location can begin using right away,” said Winston Damarillo, CEO of Talino Venture Labs and Executive Chairman of Amihan Global Strategies, two of the companies behind SafePass. “Organizations already have a lot on their plate as they continue to weather the effects of the pandemic, so SafePass aims to help them with health and safety protocols so that they can focus on their operations.” 

Health Protocols Made Simple and Easy

Once they sign up at the official SafePass website, location managers will have the tools they need to offer a safe and stress-free experience for their visitors. Packaged under SafePass Base, these features include:

  • An efficient digital contact tracing solution
  • A digital health questionnaire that visitors can accomplish on their phones
  • The ability to monitor entry and exit points, through entry requests done via web and free Facebook Messenger
  • Online reports that establishment owners can refer to in case of an incident

These features also simplify safety protocols for the visitors themselves, as all of the necessary safety procedures can be accomplished through their mobile phones— even without a data plan. And in case of a COVID-19 incident in a SafePass-protected location,  location managers will have access to a digital list that lets them efficiently reach persons at risk—without the need for logbooks, paper forms, or hours of CCTV footage.

“We believe that health and safety protocols do not have to be complicated, so we built a simple, easy-to-use platform for organizations to implement these protocols without hassle,” explained Damarillo. “Setting up SafePass should be as easy as registering for a food delivery app.”

“We encourage our government offices, especially those with skeletal workforces that need to report to work, to use SafePass Express to keep their locations safe as they continue to attend to the needs of our countrymen during this critical time,” urged Damarillo. “We understand the strain that this pandemic has caused on our healthcare system, and we’d like to contribute to the country’s COVID-19 response by offering this solution for free to the public sector.”

Technology SME Featured Southeast Asia

Saphron launches first cybersecurity insurance for SMEs in the Philippines

As more businesses embrace technology, the need to secure devices, software, and technology platforms grows even broader. With cyber threats becoming more complex and far-reaching, even small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need to invest in cybersecurity platforms to not only protect their businesses but also ensure the safety of their customers and employees. 

That’s why Saphron, an insurance technology (Insurtech) startup on a mission to make insurance radically accessible, rolled out its newest offering called Cyber Insurance and Breach Response for SMEs, or CYBRIS for short. CYBRIS is a cybersecurity insurance policy that protects a business from financial losses arising from a data breach or a cyber attack. 

Lorenzo Chan Jr., CEO of Saphron

“In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to say that you’re in business but you don’t utilize technology. No matter what sort of business you’re in, it’s very unlikely that you will not come across data or information about the client. And there is an insurance policy [to protect] that.”

Lorenzo Chan Jr., CEO of Saphron

The importance of cybersecurity in the new normal 

Products like CYBRIS have become increasingly relevant in the new normal, as digitization has become a necessity for many industries. A business that is handling any form of data in a digital platform, whether it’s a cloud database or social media, is susceptible to some 

form of cyber attack or data breach, so it’s important that businesses insure themselves should they become the next target. 

The product’s focus on SMEs is crucial, as small business owners are the most vulnerable to cyber threats. A 2018 study by GoDaddy revealed that 50% of small businesses in the Philippines experienced financial losses due to hacking, one of the most common types of cyber attacks. Research from CyberScout, a multinational provider of cybersecurity solutions, shows that even small businesses that only have one or two servers for their digital operations can lose anywhere from Php250,000 to Php750,000 from a data breach. 

Andrew Hong, Regional Director for Asia-Pacific at CyberScout

“SMEs are not comparable to conglomerates or enterprises, because they don’t have the budget or expenses for high-tech [cybersecurity solutions]. When [cyber threats] hit them, they will hit them very deep.” 

Andrew Hong, Regional Director for Asia-Pacific at CyberScout

CYBRIS: Your trusted ally in protecting your business 

With these threats in mind, CYBRIS ensures SME owners that their businesses will be protected financially from the aftermath of a cyber attack. A business covered by CYBRIS will receive financial compensation to cover the various liabilities arising from a data breach as well as help them take the first steps to recovery. 

As it was made for SMEs, CYBRIS offers its policies for as low as Php7,500 to Php14,500 a year—around the same amount as, or even lower than, car insurance. In turn, the policy will cover up to Php2.5 million worth of financial losses arising from a data breach, which includes privacy breach liabilities, security breach liabilities, regulatory penalties, and payment card industry fines. CYBRIS also provides support for processing ransomware attacks, which according to CyberScout can cost around Php50,000 to Php150,000. 

On top of this financial coverage, a CYBRIS policy also comes with 24/7 rapid breach response service from CyberScout, which has a wide network of industry and legal experts who are able to guide businesses when it comes to data breach incidents. CyberScout also helps entrepreneurs navigate through uncertainties in their digital operations and ensure that they are following the best practices in cybersecurity. 

One of CyberScout’s clients is a mid-sized aviation company operating in 60 countries, which suffered from a password attack in 2019 that led to fraudulent emails being sent to the company’s clients. Once the company reported the attack, CyberScout shipped a proprietary blackbox that allowed the client to conduct a forensic investigation of the compromised units. Through this investigation, CyberScout was not only able to advise the company on how to inform their clients and recover from the attack, but it was also able to identify other vulnerabilities within the company’s systems that could be exploited by cyber criminals. 

“We help SMEs facilitate the entire [breach response] process,” said Hong. “We advise you step-by-step on how to deal with a cyber attack. We even have a consultative panel of lawyers and industry experts to help.” 

Secure your business for the digital economy 

For Atty. Leandro Aguirre, Deputy Privacy Commissioner at the National Privacy Commission (NPC), products like CYBRIS have a two-fold benefit. Not only does CYBRIS enable SME owners to grow in the digital economy, it also makes them view the threat of cyber attacks more seriously. 

“[CYBRIS] is something that hopefully will help SMEs who may not have the necessary resources or who may not even prioritize cybersecurity or data privacy,” said Aguirre. “Something like this will put it forward, make them think about it more, and it will help them take the necessary steps to comply with the regulations of the NPC. I look at this as some kind of multiplier effect with what we’re trying to do with the Commission. It makes them more aware of what they need to comply, and that also helps us.” 

Through CYBRIS, SMEs can protect themselves from the financial repercussions of a cyber attack without having to shell out a lot of time, effort, and investment. With its affordable rates, comprehensive coverage, and accessibility, CYBRIS is every SME’s trusted ally in cybersecurity. 

“This particular product is earmarked for SMEs. People normally think cybersecurity is not affordable, that you’ll need big comprehensive teams to maintain it. SMEs don’t have the time nor the resources for those right away, and sometimes they’re not even aware of it. [Offering] this product that is simple, affordable, and available online is going to be quite useful,” concluded Chan. 

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

MullenLowe Philippines restructures leadership team with homegrown talents

Manila, Philippines — It is always so encouraging to see homegrown talents given a chance to grow more in the company. This definitely drives motivation and team morale – what more if the opportunities are to step up in high-level leadership roles. This is evident in recent key leadership movements in MullenLowe Philippines.

Mike Trillana is the newly appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of MullenLowe Philippines. He takes the reins from Leigh Reyes, who now joins the local shareholder consortium while taking the duties of Chief Product Consultant.

Way back when it was still Lowe Philippines, Trillana has been in the agency leadership role as the VP for Business Development before becoming Chief Operating Officer in 2015. On the other hand, Reyes joined the group in 2009 as an Executive Creative Director before moving up as President and CEO in 2012. The two have led the agency with remarkable successes in the last decade.

“Mike is an unrelenting entrepreneur. This has proven incredibly important not just for the agency, but also for clients,” said, Reyes. “With Mike leading the team, I am confident that clients will thrive.”

Other key promotions include Abi Aquino, who is now the agency’s Chief Creative Officer, Roman Carlo Olivares takes the Deputy ECD and Raffy Bariso, the new Executive Director for Technology & Platforms.

With homegrown talent leading the agency, Trillana is confident that clients will continue to leverage MullenLowe’s signature Challenger Mentality—especially in a new era that is particularly challenging for brands. 

“These are definitely unprecedented times we find ourselves in. The successful brands will be those that remain agile, flexible, and relevant.  Our current and future clients can expect to leverage MullenLowe’s Challenger Mentality and the agency’s different hyperbundled offerings to navigate this once-in-a-lifetime moment.”

Mike Trillana, President and Chief Executive Officer of MullenLowe Philippines.
Main Feature Platforms Southeast Asia

How TikTok is inspiring creativity in the new normal

Manila, Philippines – With COVID-19 forcing everyone to stay home, more and more people are turning to online platforms for information, connection, and entertainment. And no platform has managed to entertain quite like TikTok. 

TikTok has been taking 2020 by storm, with 315 million installs across iOS and Android in Q1. To date, the video-sharing app has been installed in devices 800 million times and was touted as the most downloaded app earlier this year. It now has 2 billion downloads overall, doubling its total from 15 months ago.

Philippine-based PR agency, M2.0 Communications, recently hosted a webinar to talk about the growth attributions of TikTok particularly in the Philippines, and discover more about the social app.

“Our mission has always been to inspire creativity and bring joy. We want to help people stay connected, stay informed, stay entertained, It’s also about inspiring each other.”

John Castro, Community Operations Manager of TikTok Philippines

Another reason for TikTok’s mass appeal is it is designed for the local user. The app is available in over 150 markets and supports 75 languages.

What makes TikTok tick?

According to Castro, TikTok’s lifeline is its users, who are mostly Gen Z. This generation is a digital-first generation, with 98 percent owning smartphones. They also spend a lot of time on the internet: averaging 10 hours a day online, streaming at least one hour of video per day, and consuming an average of 68 contents per day.

While Gen Z is certainly a big driver of the app’s popularity, other generations are joining in on the fun as well, resulting in a vibrant and engaged community. And it is that community that sets TikTok apart according to Castro. 

“We have dancers, chefs, cooks,” said Castro on the variety of users on the platform all expressing their individual truths. “It’s not just about the dance trends, it’s more about the creators, the users, and the community,” he said.

John Castro, Community Operations Manager of TikTok Philippines (pictured left) and Laureen Uy, Lifestyle Influencer in the Philippines (pictured right)

New content for the new normal

A big trend in content creation brought on by COVID-19 is the shift towards authentic content. And this is where TikTok shines because it is about users expressing their individual truths, in whatever way they choose.

Before the pandemic, lifestyle influencer Laureen Uy posted a lot of travel content. Now, her content has been restricted to things she can do in her own home, forcing her to think of new ways to present her content. “As a content creator, I still want to keep my creativity going even at home,” she said.

As someone new to the platform, she was surprised by the amount of learning on TikTok, inspiring her to also produce informational content. That educational aspect of the short-form video platform is something that TikTok has actively pursued, adding the option for longer-form content so its creators can better inform their audiences.

Ultimately, TikTok’s success will depend on its users. And while the growing user base of the platform will undoubtedly attract marketers, Castro emphasizes the importance of understanding what works on TikTok. “If you’re coming into TikTok thinking you can do the same thing you can do on other platforms, you’re probably going to be mediocre,” he said.

For Uy, it’s about diversifying content for different social media channels. “If my content on Instagram is more fashion and lifestyle focused, my content on TikTok would be focused on fun and infotainment,” she said.

Perhaps the best way for brands to run campaigns on TikTok is through the creators. After all, it is a community-driven platform. It will be an exercise of experimentation and creativity, much like the environment of the TikTok community itself.

The Rise of TikTok – Webinar Highlights

“On TikTok, you’ll see different types of challenges and videos you might not see on other platforms,” said Castro. “We want you guys to express your creativity. It can be in the weirdest way possible. We embrace weird, and we want you guys to do that on TikTok.”, he added.

The presentations and the full webinar video can be accessed here.