Great apps are coming – and you better be ready
NOTICE: As a parent, the refrain “kids are spending too much time on their phones” has hit my lips more than once. I admit that this is a bit unfair considering that so much of their day to day life exists on their devices.
Indeed, today it is often the older generations who worry about their own excessive screen time. Social networks have become even more important for connecting with family and friends when physical connections are limited.
But setting aside the social media aspects, many of our phones now often have multiple apps that allow us to travel, manage our bank accounts, learn, translate, and perform work-related tasks – well. sure, to scan our movements through the Covid-19 Application.
New Zealand is not alone in this area; if anything, we might be a little late. Here, mobile apps are mainly used for entertainment and social networking purposes. But when we look to Asia, apps are now practically essential to many aspects of everyday life. And trends in Asia indicate that we may soon be moving from a lot of different apps to unique “ super apps ” on a phone that does almost everything.
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This is something that will have implications for our export, retail, tourism and other industries: namely, if you are not on the local super app, you are just not accessible. When New Zealanders start traveling abroad again, they will increasingly find that money is not king.
Asia is at the forefront of the global development of super apps – and the environment is changing at a rapid pace. China is already well known for its awesome apps, with tech giant Tencent’s messaging platform WeChat having evolved dramatically since its launch in 2011. Over a billion Chinese use it for almost everything, including including food and taxi orders, managing medical records and filing claims. divorced.
WeChat’s main rival is Alipay, owned by Chinese financial technology firm Ant Group, China’s largest payments provider and the financial arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba (both co-founded by Jack Ma). Three years ago, Ant Financial was already worth almost twice as much as Goldman Sachs, which has a history of 150 years.
China’s powerful tech giants are coming under increasing scrutiny from its regulatory authorities. In November, the Chinese government ended Ant Group’s initial $ 35 billion public offering, which would have been the largest sale of public shares ever.
More recently, China imposed an antitrust fine of US $ 2.8 billion on the Alibaba group, accusing it of monopoly practices. In March, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation fined 12 companies for violating anti-monopoly rules. The unfolding of this “technological repression” will be crucial.
As Chinese tech companies face growing regulatory challenges, Southeast Asia is increasingly a region to watch. Southeast Asians, some 670 million of them, are described as the most engaged mobile internet users in the world. More than 90% of Internet users in the region access the Internet via their phone.
The region’s boom has been fueled by capital from companies like Softbank (a Japanese conglomerate), Tencent, Uber, Facebook, Google and Microsoft; and developments are happening very quickly.
In many cases, the main applications in the region were first created to address specific challenges, but they have evolved. For example, the Gojek in Indonesia was launched in 2010 with the sole purpose of enabling people to quickly find ojek motorcycle taxis, making life more efficient for drivers and passengers. The company then added personal deliveries and purchases. Likewise, financial applications have developed due to the desire to facilitate transactions for people without traditional bank accounts.
Last week Gojek announced its merger with e-commerce company Tokopedia, becoming the GoTo Group – a deal considered the largest in Indonesian history. The new company will combine carpooling with financial services and e-commerce.
The merger follows an announcement by Singapore’s Grab (which started as a taxi booking company in Malaysia and expanded into food delivery and financial services) that it would merge with an acquisition company special purpose listed in the United States in a deal that would value it at nearly US $ 40 billion. Grab would then be able to list in the United States. Sea Ltd, headquartered in Singapore, which owns the major online gaming and e-commerce platforms, is already listed.
Others are also on their heels. Southeast Asia’s largest travel startup, Traveloka in Indonesia, plans to launch “buy now, pay later” services in Thailand and Vietnam, and is also considering listing in the United States. It has also become local lifestyle services, restaurant reviews and reservations for rapid Covid-19 tests.
Of course, the next app-based development that everyone will be watching is the launch of digital “vaccine passports”. In New Zealand, we know of the well-worn Plunket books to track the vaccines and vaccines we received as children, but it looks like the future is digital. China has already made downloadable vaccination passports for its citizens through WeChat.
As we envision everyone’s potential in their daily lives using super apps, huge amounts of personal data will be collected and governments will have to grapple with increasingly complex data mining issues, of AI and surveillance.
Inevitably, we will be living more of our lives on applications and technology in the near future; this train left the station. Asia is at the forefront of these innovations and will increasingly be a key player in the way we interact in the digital world.
– Simon Draper is the Executive Director of the Asia New Zealand Te Whītau Tūhono Foundation.