Episode Fourty Five
The "Roaring 20's":
Stephanie Davis of Google, Rohit Sipahimalani of Temasek & Florian Hoppe of Bain
16 November 2021
Welcome to Season Two, Episode 45 of the Indo Tekno podcast. Selamat datang semuanya! As with all nascent markets and emerging trends, particularly those enjoying a period of hyper growth, reliable facts and figures, along with timely and relevant thematic coverage can be very hard to find. I discovered this during my 15 years covering the Chinese internet market in the early 2000's. And such is the case with so much of Southeast Asia's, and of course Indonesia's, tech economy growth of recent. There is one perennially reliable resource in the space. And that is the annual e-Conomy SEA report by Google, Temasek and Bain. Today, we have the rare opportunity to review the findings of the just-released sixth edition of this magnum opus on all things internet and Southeast Asia with its lead authors: Stephanie Davis of Google, Rohit Sipahimalani of Temasek, and Florian Hoppe of Bain. First, a little context here. The annual e-Conomy SEA report is my industry bible for all things tech and Southeast Asia. You will find our past 75 episodes of the Indo Tekno podcast riddled with facts and figures from past reports. Little known fact: I spent a couple of years when I was Chief Strategy Officer at Sea Limited supporting the compilation of the report. Better known fact: my clientele and friends know that I'm a research nerd at heart. And so having you three on the podcast is like being a 12 year old boy at a JK Rowling book signing. So thanks a lot for joining us today.
STEPHANIE DAVIS 1:48
Thank you. It's great to be here, Alan
ROHIT SIPAHIMALANI 1:50
FLORIAN HOPPE 1:50
Thanks Alan. Happy to be on.
Now Stephanie, may be a "behind the scenes" question before we launch into a discussion of the report's main findings. Some of the challenges of tracking a new and fast moving market would seem to be a lack of reliable data, trying to convince industry players to cooperate and share; really many of the issues that I saw set in in the early 2000's covering the China internet space. How exactly do the three organisations - Google, Temasek and Bain - collaborate to pull off such an ambitious report year-in and year-out? And what have been the biggest challenges frankly?
STEPHANIE DAVIS 2:25
Alan, I think that you highlighted quite well what those challenges are. It is indeed a big, ambitious undertaking in a fast-moving market. But I suppose that that is exactly what motivates us at the same time. I don't think any of us individually hold a complete picture of the Southeast Asia digital economy on our own. But coming together and also with great collaborators across the region, I think we're able to bring together what you described. It was in 2015 that a group of leaders saw blank spots in the region. There was no sizing of the internet economy. And there was an untold story for investors. And Rohit was the one here who was a part of that early group. But six reports on we each bring our relative areas of expertise. We have our healthy debates along the way, and of course, deep collaboration. So yes, it's Bain bringing its analysis, its models, which Temasek certainly lends to with their funding insights. Google adds its insights from Google Trends. But super importantly, we talked to leaders of the companies around the regions, along with many venture capital firms. And we see a great willingness and openness from these leaders to speak with us because they want to share their perspectives. But super Importantly, the report is valuable to them too. And the report being accurate to them is important.
Understood. Well ultimately it's a really rich mosaic that you guys put together every year. Florian, the very first thing I will admit to doing when I open up the new annual instalment of the SEA e-Conomy report each year is to compare the 2025 SEA internet e-Conomy forecast with your forecast from the previous year. And with this report, our sizing of the region's internet economy by 2025 rises to USD363 billion. That's some 20% higher than when we forecast for 2025 just 12 months ago. What are the biggest drivers behind this upward revision?
FLORIAN HOPPE 4:26
We were also surprised by the extreme dynamism that got unlocked over the last 12 months in the Southeast Asia economy. And again, it's just a reflection of the very healthy ecosystem we have out here. The biggest driver has been the continued rise in e-commerce. Our forecast for the market this year is that it will hit USD120 billion GMV which is more than a 60% rise vs last year, in effect north of USD230 billion by 2025, really on the back of this broadening and deepening of these consumers and reaching across many more categories and becoming much more part of a way of life than it has been in the past. Beyond e-commerce, food delivery continued to surge as we continued to see lockdown. Consumer behaviours changed more permanently and made an active use of this new access to food. And then last but not captured in the GMV figures is that massive rise in digital financial services, which we see as a very positive underlying trend. There was a huge rise in digital payments, and also rises in digital lending and digital investments.
A lot of cylinders firing to drive that growth. Stephanie, I was stunned to read in this week's report that 40 million new internet users came online in 2021, bringing the internet penetration in Southeast Asia to 75%. What obvious and maybe less obvious drivers are behind this growth?
STEPHANIE DAVIS 5:47
Yeah, it is quite amazing. That 75% represents 440 million people now connected to the internet in Southeast Asia. And probably one of the more obvious drivers of that is the pandemic. Its associated pivots that have come with it have certainly driven up connection rates. And that's because the internet has been critical in enabling Southeast Asia's small businesses to get through the pandemic, and then for us all as individuals to get on with our daily lives. But to the less obvious part of your question, I think perhaps an appreciation of the progress that's been made in the last five years that even made this connectivity possible. When we launched the first report, there were about six items that we knew that needed to improve across the region in order for the opportunity of the digital economy to come to fruition. And accessibility was one of those things; having infrastructure in place. And that has improved in the last number of years. Affordable data plans have also made connectivity possible, as has more affordable devices. And that's something Google's really proud to be a part of with Android devices across the region. But also things like payments, which Florian referred to as well, has given people a reason to come online. They can do more things. That's probably some of the things that are less obvious.
Super helpful. Stephanie, a little bit of a follow-on question. If we look at online consumers, it looks like the slope of new customers is simply not flattening out at all. We added 20 million new digital consumers in the first half of 2021, compared to 40 million in all of 2020. Are there any other drivers we haven't touched upon this year that have perpetuated this pace of new customer adds?
STEPHANIE DAVIS 7:38
Yeah. To bring it up top, we were referring just a moment ago to access which is coming online, connecting to the internet. And now we're talking about digital consumerism, which is making a purchase online. And as is the case with access as you call out, consuming online hasn't slowed down either. And I would say once again that it's the pandemic that has catalysed this. It was only in 2019 that we said half of those who were connected to the internet were making purchases. And today it's 80%. And 16% to 20% of those have started making purchases for the first time since the pandemic began. And so we've gone from helpfulness and efficiency during the first year of the pandemic, to what we heard from Florian is what is really a new way of life, and digital making life easier. More than 80% of those who are making purchases tell us that they're really satisfied. They're spending more. They're purchasing more frequently. And they're purchasing from more categories. In fact, four more categories versus pre-pandemic. And lastly, I would say in 2020 we were thinking some of these digital consumers may fade away in the second year of the pandemic. But we learned in this latest report that more than 90% of them who came online and purchased for the first time last year continue to do so. So yeah, it's a sticky adoption. And we think these changes are here to stay.
Good to hear. Now Florian, I note that the title of this year's update is "The Roaring 20's", which definitely captures the current zeitgeist of high growth and, frankly, significant optimism in the region. But is there more than just a coincidence to this title? That is to say, is it possible this decade may prove to be the same type of "Roaring 1920's" that preceded the crash of 1929? Maybe I should rephrase that in a little less threatening a hypothetical. I guess my question to you Florian: what could derail this period of robust growth?
FLORIAN HOPPE 9:40
You picked up on this Alan. You're actually the first to raise this. We will also concerned around that reference to 1929. But we did want to capture the energy of the "Roaring 20's" that I think we see coming through right now. And I would say that in the near term, we're actually facing an incredibly positive dynamic in the region which is unfolding and that's really not only the big companies that you see active in the space. It's also a very wide and deep startup ecosystem. There's a lot of energy for starting new business models in this space, very healthy investor landscape and appetite to further extend the digital economy in Southeast Asia. I think as we think forward though, that growth obviously comes with some risks. And those are in particular related to the fact how the digital economy is increasingly reshaping a number of sectors in the real economy, and the existing companies that are out there. And so as that happens, obviously a set of new enablers becomes increasingly critical that we're highlighting in this year's report. First and foremost I think healthy, robust and smart regulatory frameworks, which both enable that growth and unlock the potential for Southeast Asia here, but also take care of things like consumer protection, employee protection and the likes. Other topics we would raise are data infrastructure, which is a critical enabler too for this ecosystem to continue growing well. And importantly, ESG and in particular sustainability, which increasingly is moving the focus across the region, but in particular, in the digital economy if we want to sustain this growth trajectory.
Now Stephanie, in this report, we profile some 3,000 digital merchants across six countries as part of a Southeast Asian SME focus. What are some of the more fascinating discoveries that we've made about small online businesses?
STEPHANIE DAVIS 11:18
I think it's first important to realise just who we were talking to. So yes, we connected with 3,000 digital merchants. But keeping in mind, they employ less than 100 people. And they needed to have a portion of their sales to come from online. And we talked about three different areas with them: digital platforms, so that would be their interface with users across Southeast Asia or their consumers. That could be a Shopee, a Lazada a Line, a Tokopedia. We also talked about digital financial services and tools and operations. And what really stood out for us was the level of positivity that these digital merchants had about digital platforms. We just don't typically see these rates of satisfaction with other industries. And across the board between 80% and 90% of these digital merchants felt that these digital platforms helped create jobs, improved livelihoods and incomes and created new opportunities for their business. They also felt that it created more sustainable revenue opportunities for them. And in fact, 35% shared that they believe they wouldn't have survived, or their businesses wouldn't have survived the pandemic had it not been for digital platforms. And just high adoption again, of digital financial services and digital tools. But lastly, what really stood out was the forward-looking view from these digital merchants; just how much more they plan to be using these digital platforms, financial services and operations, whether it's digital marketing or cloud. And they really expected a lot more of their future sales to come online at more than 50%. So just very bullish from those who are already online. And I just think it's a good signal for those who haven't come online yet of what can be experienced, because it is where the consumer is.
Very helpful. I wanted to drill down a little bit on something you just referenced Stephanie: within this SME survey, we asked "would you have not survived COVID-19 without selling on digital platforms"? Some 43% of Malaysian SME's indicated that they would not have survived were it not for the existence of online channels. But interestingly, only 20% of Indonesia merchants said so. Do we know why there's such a yawning gap between the two response levels?
STEPHANIE DAVIS 13:38
What we believe it is really down to is the longevity and/or the severity of the lockdowns that took place during the pandemic. As you know you have called out Malaysia and Indonesia. If we look as an example at Oxford's Lockdown Stringency Index, we see that it's higher in Malaysia than Indonesia, albeit it's not that much higher. So looking at another layer of data is Google's Mobility Index, which we provided publicly to governments during the pandemic, which is anonymous mobile movement data to understand how many people were on the move or staying at home. And what you can see is that even though the stringency index was high for Indonesia, again lower than Malaysia, there were still more people on the move in Indonesia. So therefore, you would expect perhaps countries like Malaysia to feel that digital platforms really helped their businesses even more.
Now that makes eminent sense. Rohit, we've seen in other regions of recent a growing focus on the potential perils of digitising businesses; such as gig economy jobs not really building sustainable skills or social security, companies selling online but really not making money, the large marketplaces such as Amazon with its private labels taking over brands and sellers on its platform. Is going digital nothing but upside in our mind, or do we see emerging hazards in Southeast Asia's going digital so quickly?
ROHIT SIPAHIMALANI 15:07
These are great points, Alan. Clearly, there are a lot of positives of digitization. But we all have to make sure (when I say "all", it's governments and companies, etc), they make sure that this growth is responsible and equitable. So what do I mean by that? We've highlighted that in the section of our report, this time towards the end. Say things like digital inclusion: how do you make sure that if all services will be provided digitally, because they're more efficient, you can't have 75% Internet penetration. You need to have 100% access, cheap and reliable access. Second thing you need to do: how do you protect consumers who are not digitally savvy? You don't want 85 year old people who are using the internet for the first time, they don't know how to use it for their financial transactions, to be defrauded of money. So those are all things I think, which are extremely important. And I think regulation will play an important role out there. We're already seeing concern about the monopoly power of large tech companies everywhere in the world. We're still early here in Southeast Asia, but there will have to be regulation to guard against some of the negatives of the journey and growth of the internet economy. But on the whole, we do think there are a lot of positives that we have highlighted in the report. And it can really improve lives and create jobs. It just needs to be done in a manner which is equitable and responsible.
Point very well taken. Now Rohit, we talk about five leading sectors in the Southeast Asian internet economy being e-commerce, transport and food, online travel, online media, and financial services. And we also discuss two nascent sectors which are healthtech and edtech. I can imagine that these two "nascent" verticals will rush through to adolescence pretty quickly in the wake of the pandemic. Could we start with these two latter nascent sectors? What are some of the more salient findings in healthtech and edtech?
ROHIT SIPAHIMALANI 16:59
The usage of both healthtech and edtech services received a huge fillip during the pandemic. Last year itself in our report, we've highlighted the use of online healthcare services through apps going up 4x, that for education apps going up 3x. So clearly, the user acquisition was there. I think this year, particularly on the healthtech side, there's been a lot of progress. Because beyond the initial customer acquisition, I think what happened was that healthtech gained a lot of credibility. Earlier, people just wanted to see doctors. They didn't want to deal with someone online. And I think during the pandemic, people got used to it, and realised that there are benefits and efficient ways of sort of addressing at least first line health consultation through that. So you had the credibility side build up. And then lastly, I would say, whereas last year, a lot of these teleconsultations were free; today, most of these teleconsultations, let's say markets like Indonesia, are being paid for. So these healthcare companies are being able to monetize their services. And that's why you've seen the total amount raised by healthtech companies in the first half of 2021 was USD1.2 billion, compared to USD1 billion in all of 2020. So that's really a sector we see making a lot of progress. Now, edtech on the other hand, whereas usage has picked up a lot, business models, I mean viable business models, are still in the process of being discovered. And a lot of companies are struggling to see how they scale up. If you look at it, yes, there's been a lot of money raised; a couple of 100 million dollars in the first half of 2021. But most of them have been small tickets. I would say 80% of the transactions were worth $5 million or less. So companies still have to figure out how to scale up these business models. And it's ironical, because you look at India; the same sector is sort of exploding. So in some sense I think it points to the fact that it will have to be localised business models developed in different markets to suit the needs of people in each country. And I'm sure that will happen. But probably it's moving at a slightly slower pace than healthtech.
Understood. Thanks for that Rohit. Now Florian, I can imagine that the digital lending space has been on quite a rollercoaster ride during COVID. Last year, it seemed that many lenders became reflexively much more conservative, while borrowers on the whole likely grew much more desperate. What is happening within digital lending this year? I see that we have forecast growth of 50% in the space for this year alone.
FLORIAN HOPPE 19:23
Yeah, that's a great question. And in fact, one of the many positive surprises we found in this year's report was that. We saw last year, obviously a bit of a clamp down on lending. Everybody was worried about NPL's (non performing loans) rising. But on the back of government debt moratoriums, and a lot of government support, eventually actually, these numbers didn't really shift. And so even last year, we started to see lending come back quite fast and in full force, which led to this rise of almost USD40 billion in digital lending volumes this year. Beyond just digital lending, a lot of other sectors are also really interesting. On the payment side, you see a rise to USD700 billion in payments GTV (gross transaction value) in digital payments, driven by a rise in account-to-account transfer. There was lots of activity there across the region. And also e-wallets. That's obviously a critical enabler of a number of the other services to really function. And actually we're seeing on the back of this, cash finally starting with the minority. Cash still is 2/3 of the transaction volume today in places like Indonesia. But we expect it to go to less than 50% by 2025. You can also then see what the potential is in the next few years. And particularly, I want to call out lending and investments again, which have significant upside potential, both on the back of extended consumer financing options, buy-now-pay-later, but also topics like supply chain financing. And all this in an ecosystem where we haven't even seen the digital banks which have generated a lot of headlines recently, the news really come into the market, which will add further energy to the ecosystem over the coming years.
Thanks for that colour Florian. Now Rohit, if we look at venture and PE investments in the region, according to the report we nearly closed a sum equal to the entirety of 2020 in the first half of this year alone, with deals totaling USD11.5 billion. Can I ask you Rohit: Are we in a bubble?
ROHIT SIPAHIMALANI 21:09
So Alan, in some sense across the world, you've seen money flowing into venture capital, high growth tech firms and early stage companies. So it's not just a Southeast Asia phenomenon. However, I would say that the increased interest that Southeast Asia has gotten in the last 12 months has been a function of firstly, the resilience that people have seen in the internet economy here during the pandemic, and the resurgence in the last one year. I would also say that Sea Group, having hit USD200 billion in market cap, has really created heightened interest in the region. Investors all over the world have been forced to sort of sit up and say: "What's happening here in Southeast Asia"? And you can see that the fund flows are not just from Asian investors or Southeast Asian investors. It's really global funds flowing into the region. So yes, I would say globally, the early stage, high growth tech ecosystem is seeing very high valuations. And I think you will see a pullback at some point in time. You always have these cycles. But for the winners in this region, I think they still have a long runway, and I think people are going to make a lot of money investing in the region.
Maybe a follow up question for you Rohit. You mentioned that early stage; which I take to be A, B and C-round deals; were particularly strong. They hit an all-time high in the first half of this year. Series D, E and onward, meanwhile, seem to have plateaued, I guess, while waiting for IPOs. Why do we have that asymmetry right now?
ROHIT SIPAHIMALANI 22:34
I would say two things. Firstly, as you pointed out; A, B and C and Seed funding reached all-time highs; not just the total amount, but the average check size also increased significantly. For Seed and Series A, average check size in the first off this year was about 6x of that in 2017. Series B was about 4x out of 2017. Now series D has plateaued as you said and Series E has actually fallen from where it was a couple of years ago at the peak. But the 2018 and first-half 2019 numbers were skewed by a few large transactions, say by companies like Grab. So that skewed the total fundraising and the average size out there. And as you pointed out, today a lot of these companies are beginning to have access to the public markets. So you're seeing a lot of money being raised in the public markets, whether it's by Sea Group, or whether it's the PIPE (private investment in public equity) that Grab did along with its announced de-SPAC or other such companies. And that doesn't get captured in our private market series D and E. So it's not that the later stage companies don't have access to funding. It's just that many of them are now accessing it from different sources.
That makes sense. Thanks for that Rohit. Now Florian, what were your surprise findings around Indonesia specifically in the 2021 report?
FLORIAN HOPPE 23:45
Yeah, I think it comes back to some of the extreme dynamism we've seen around the digital financial services landscape. One datapoint that surprised us was just by how much search volumes for buy-now-pay-later schemes has risen by more than 300x since 2017, which is followed by Singapore and Malaysia at 15x. So it just tells you kind of how far ahead Indonesia is there in interest and demand. There's also a lot of demand for travel. So 60% of Indonesians want to travel globally post-pandemic, which again shows the positive dynamic that could unfold in that sector once we get out of this period of various lockdowns and travel restrictions. And then last but not least, Indonesia has always had a very active SME landscape. And we see merchants there take to digital tools and digital platforms. Digital merchants want to extend the use of payment systems; more than 75% want to increase the use of digital payments in the near future. More than 70% see themselves using more digital marketing tools; it really shows you how the transactional customer journey with merchants is changing fast there.
ROHIT SIPAHIMALANI 24:47
And if I may add Alan, the one other area that actually was very interesting is the growth of investment applications in Southeast Asia, and Indonesia in particular. So you have companies like Ajaib and Bibit, etc. And that has really fueled a lot more retail interest in the stock markets and retail participation. And you can see that the average retail now accounts for almost 60% of trading volume in Indonesia compared to less than 40%, two years ago. And that's been a very interesting development in the last year.
STEPHANIE DAVIS 25:15
And I'll tack onto that as well. I think an umbrella for some of what has been shared is that Indonesia is not just about the numbers anymore. We've all known that it's a big country with a lot of opportunity. But what we're seeing is the interest, the sentiment, the traction. So all of those figures that were just shared were higher in Indonesia than the average across Southeast Asia. So if you look, for example, at the desire to use digital payments, that's almost 10 points higher in Indonesia versus the rest of the region. When we look at that digital divide that is closing, we see in Indonesia that 72% are coming from non metro areas, versus 58% across the region. So again, it's not just the numbers in terms of volume anymore. It's about the sentiment, and we're seeing some real traction happen in Indonesia.
That's really encouraging to hear. But I want to spend a little more time on the consumer and on the retail side. We talk specifically of online media, eventually possibly reaching the same contribution as e-Commerce has today if penetration and share of wallet continue increasing in under penetrated segments; such as in the case of Indonesia, beyond the metro areas. Now, I would say in the time that I've been investing in Indonesia, and looking at it more broadly, that digital media consumption in the country has been quite underwhelming. I note the demise of players in the online media space such as iFlix and Hooq suggesting that the Indonesian online consumer may not be too keen to subscribe to media content. So my question here: is will online media be largely driven by digital advertising in Indonesia, as opposed to consumer driven subscriptions, Florian?
FLORIAN HOPPE 27:02
Well, we did see online media rise quite a bit in Indonesia this year by 48%. I would also add that it's one of, for our friends at Google, the largest YouTube markets globally. So it is a big demand market for digital consumption. If you talk to the telcos in Indonesia, which we do as part of this work, they also see a lot of active online media use. I guess it depends on the type of media use you talk about. Indonesia, for example, has one of the most vibrant and active online gaming communities. Speaking from personal experience, if you use any of the well known online games in Southeast Asia, most of the players you end up playing with will be from Indonesia. So there's a lot of demand for this. You see a lot of evolving media consumption. And so the question will become: how do you monetize best against this and which players can benefit from this. It may take the form of OTT subscriptions and "freemium-ized" games and the likes, but there's definitely a big market here.
Excellent. So that sounds encouraging. It sounds like there's a more constructive view of what the individual consumer might be able to do to help drive the internet economy in Indonesia in ways that we've seen, for instance, play out in China. Now Stephanie, there's clearly a dearth of relevantly trained, experienced talent. And it's been a stubbornly persistent theme throughout our podcast series here at Indo Tekno. Were there any new findings that report has shed around this structural issue?
STEPHANIE DAVIS 28:20
Alan, I wish I weren't having to say that this has been "stubbornly persistent" in our report as well. As I've mentioned up front, we called out some enablers early on in 2016. And we've seen significant progress in some of those areas; in fact five out of six of those areas. But talent, tech talent specifically, continues to be a challenge in the region. Now we have seen some really robust and impactful programmes across the region between government and industry, particularly in Indonesia and Singapore. Google has been a part of those programmes in Indonesia. It's the Bangkit programme. We had over 2,000, we had 2,250 graduates last year. Some 30% of them were female. It was exciting to see that. That's 700 hours of training. So some good stuff is happening, but it's not enough. We continue to have leaders across the region in interviews share with us that finding tech talent to help drive the opportunity that's ahead of us is not easy enough. And too many companies continue to plug gaps with outsourcing. There are a lot of efforts on micro-certification, which is excellent. And that's absolutely needed. But to truly address the shortage, we need everyone working together in more systemic ways; companies, universities, governments; looking at immigration as well as fostering local tech talent. But what can we do across the region in the short- to mid-term to really bring the opportunity to its full potential? So yeah, it's persistently stubborn for us as well.
Understood. Now, Stephanie, I know that you've devoted a lot of your personal time to female tech talent. And I wanted to ask you: How far has the female entrepreneur come in markets such as Indonesia? And where do you think she is headed?
STEPHANIE DAVIS 30:10
I'm so happy you asked me that. Thank you. Yes, it's certainly near and dear to my heart. On one hand, it's a really inspiring story in Indonesia. Women, as you know, own about half of the small businesses. About 43% of entrepreneurs are women. They're having a huge impact in Indonesia. And more and more women every day are connecting to information that's available online. They're using technology and digital tools to drive their business. They're helping shape communities. And I'm inspired by these. I'm inspired by stories like Aprilia Melissa Kristiawan Tarigan, who has used digital with her photography business across three cities in Indonesia. So you see that again on one hand, but then on the other hand, there are unfortunately still too many stories of inequality in the country. When it comes to parity, the World Economic Forum tells us that Indonesia ranks well behind, particularly in financial inclusion. And also what we've seen globally in many instances, but particularly in Southeast Asia and Indonesia included, is that the pandemic has set some of the efforts back a little bit because women have taken on a lot of responsibility during the pandemic. And this has added a bit to that burden in inequality and some of the lack of inclusiveness that we were seeing before. So we're working hard on programmes like Women Will, where Google is working with entrepreneurs for their digital skills. We have a Women's Founder Academy as well. And Randy Jusuf (Head of Google Indonesia) just announced the Asia Foundation Grant to help women in Indonesian underserved areas. But yes, inspiration on one hand, but still a lot that needs to be done on the other hand to bring that inclusiveness and equality to bear. But we remain optimistic about what we're focused on.
Looking forward to seeing continued progress on that front. So I will clearly be dining out on this report for many episodes to come as I did last year. And I thought it might be appropriate to wrap up this podcast by asking you guys for recollections, learnings, anecdotes, and anything else you want to share about putting the report together?
STEPHANIE DAVIS 32:19
Good question Alan as always. I think back to your first question about perhaps the "behind-the-scenes", if you will. And I would say it's something that we think a lot about is the responsibility that comes with this report; in getting it right. That is super important. But also, when you look at these figures, as inspiring as it is looking at the digital decade in Southeast Asia, calling it the "Roaring 20's", it's really an optimistic outlook. But it comes with a lot of responsibility too. And those things were touched on earlier. And it just all brings to bear what we need to be focused on.
ROHIT SIPAHIMALANI 32:54
Yeah, but Alan now, one thing which we didn't touch upon was that the number of unicorns in the region have almost doubled this year, from 12 last year to 23. And three-fourths of new unicorns are equally split between Singapore and Indonesia. But the more interesting thing is that a number of these unicorns are now looking to access the public markets. And whereas earlier it was all a question of going to the US, now I think there's an increasing realisation that it may make a lot of sense for some of these companies to list here in the local markets in Southeast Asia. I think that could give quite a fillip to the health of the local stock markets in the region. In Indonesia, particularly we've seen the Bukalapak story. We've also seen Bank Jago, and how that's gotten investor interest. And I think that can attract many more companies to list for example, on the Jakarta exchange. And I think Singapore is also trying to attract the same. I think that will make a difference to the vibrancy of these markets over the next few years.
FLORIAN HOPPE 33:55
For me, it's actually a reflection on just how exciting the development of the ecosystem has been over the last 10 years or so. From the early and rather clunky attempts to sell stuff online with cash-on-delivery, relatively "not user friendly" website interfaces, and others to where we are today. And just the rise of new sectors. And what often gets hidden in those numbers is just the incredible dynamic "under the hood" in some of these sectors. If you look at areas like e-commerce, there are new business models emerging all the time, new companies coming up both to enable the growth but also to pick up specific segments in the market. So it's just really exciting to see how this all unfolds and how these startups grow through their stages. And as Rohit says, at the end of the day, many of them do end up becoming unicorns. Again, truly exciting foundation for what should be a very fun 10 years ahead for this ecosystem.
Well, I am very glad I asked that last question. Well guys, this has got to be a very busy week for all three of you; what with your day jobs, but also as ambassadors to this latest report. Really appreciate the three of you taking time out to add so much colour to the 2021 report with our audience. Thanks again for joining.
STEPHANIE DAVIS 35:05
Thank you. It's great to be here, Alan.
ROHIT SIPAHIMALANI 35:07
FLORIAN HOPPE 35:07
Thanks Alan. Happy to be on.
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