As a rapidly developing region, Southeast Asia (SEA) faces a host of issues that may be addressed with emerging technologies such as blockchain. In this article, we look at six SEA blockchain startups to watch in 2019.
As the saying goes in the piracy world, “You make it, we fake it.” The issue of counterfeit goods is dire in SEA, so much so that it prompted the European Union (EU) to launch two flagship programs to promote the protection of intellectual and industrial property rights, namely the IP Key Southeast Asia (IP Key SEA) and ARISE Plus. Enter Malaysia-based LuxTag, which provides an anti-counterfeit platform using the state-of-the-art NEM blockchain platform. However, the utility of LuxTag goes beyond its anti-counterfeiting functions, doubling as an anti-theft and proof-of-ownership tool.
In addition to piracy, SEA is also facing an increasingly critical problem in the form of fraud. International audit firm PwC reported in its Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2018 that almost half (46%) of Southeast Asian respondents have experienced fraud, a more than 100% increase from the 20% recorded just two years prior in 2016. But blockchain technology may be able to turn the tide. Xenchain, also based in Malaysia, uses facial recognition technology as part of its identity verification suite of services. Personal data is acquired, validated, and stored on a blockchain-based platform.
In the digital world, the twin facets of inclusivity and interconnectivity are manifested in blockchain use cases which promote financial inclusion and storage sharing. When it comes to banking the unbanked, Singapore-based Lala World aims to provide financial services to undocumented migrants. With blockchain, there is no reason to leave these groups out in the financial cold, as they are also part of the cashless society in which we all live.
Other than financial exclusion, the digital economies of SEA countries are increasingly resorting to cloud computing to satisfy demand for data storage, thereby making the region a high-value target for hackers. A 2018 report issued by global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney noted that the top 1,000 companies in SEA stand to lose up to US$750 billion in market capitalization from cyberattacks. Singapore’s Bluzelle offers data storage facilities to enhance the performance of its clients’ networks, while providing protection from cyberattacks by not relying on any centralized data center as well as by partnering with Sentinel Protocol, a Security Intelligence Platform for Blockchain (SIPB).
With the global population inching ever closer to 8 billion, SEA’s role as a global food basket is becoming increasingly crucial to ensuring food security worldwide. Laos-based Bananacoin allows its holders to invest in the planting and exportation of bananas, with the coins pegged to the export price of 1kg of bananas. Meanwhile, Indonesia-based Hara aims to provide a blockchain-based data exchange platform, enabling farmers to reap the most from what they sow.
As Southeast Asia progresses along its developmental path, it is inevitable that a myriad of issues will arise. It falls to startups operating in this region to devise innovative uses of blockchain to resolve these emerging and endemic issues, so as to ensure that SEA can march on, unabated, towards economic prosperity.
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