Category: Business

Traveloka expands services beyond Southeast Asia

Travel-booking giant Traveloka, one of Indonesia’s four startup unicorns, officially announced its expansion to Australia on Wednesday.

Users in the country can now access Traveloka through the website or mobile application. The online travel company said it is currently offering five features including flight ticket reservation, hotel accommodation, airport transfers, and admission tickets to travel attractions and activities.

For Traveloka, this development marks Traveloka’s second foreign expansion this year as the firm opened a new R&D office in Bangalore in late January. However, in terms of offering its service, Australia would be its first country outside of Southeast Asia.

In the last few years, Traveloka has been aggressively spreading its influence in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Southeast Asia’s Travel Stop

One of Southeast Asia’s leading technology companies, Traveloka is present in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, SIngapore, and the Philippines

has forged partnerships with more than 100 domestic and international airlines that serve more than 200,000 routes worldwide.

The company offers more than 40 payment options for consumers in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Its mobile application has been downloaded more than 40 million times from Google Play and Apple’s App Store. This makes the platform one of the most popular travel booking apps in the region.

Wonderful Indonesia Tourism

Traveloka is one of the co-branding partners of the government’s Wonderful Indonesia tourism promotion program. It is committed to help the country reach its target of attracting 20 million overseas visitors this year, and hope its expansion to Australia will introduce more tourist attractions in Indonesia to Australian travelers and vice versa.

“The government’s target to attract 20 million foreign tourists will not be achieved if it does not synergize with players in the industry,” said Edy Wardoyo, the deputy of marketing development at the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism.

“Together with Traveloka, we hope this synergy can help our mission, and we will continue to support Traveloka to exist in this new market,” Edy added.

According to, Indonesia ranked second after New Zealand in 2018 as the travel destination of choice for Australian tourists. Traveloka also notes that the Australian market is one of the promising tourism markets, where foreign tourist visits from Australia to Indonesia has shown an increasing trend year-on-year.

Data provided by Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency (BPS) shows that 1.3 million Australian tourists visited the country last year, while the figure is expected to have a 15% increase to 1.5 million this year.

It seems like Bali still tops the list for many Australians who visit Indonesia as the island welcomed at least 763.000 Australian travellers in the period from January-August 2018, according to the agency.

With this, the company’s presence in Australia will further facilitate travel access and answer the diverse travel needs of users.

“Today we are thrilled to be able to add new countries outside Southeast Asia. In general, Australia is a country that has better infrastructure in terms of connectivity, payment, and internet adoption,” said Yady Guitana, the Head of Global Partnership for Traveloka.

“We hope that our presence in Australia and can further enrich the lives of users by empowering them to discover the world around them by offering various travel and lifestyle products on one platform,” she added.

The Growth Strategy After Australia

The company has raised at least US$500 million to grow its business. The lead investor in its latest round was US travel giant Expedia. Traveloka is said to be seeking another US$400 million for its expansion.

Expanding to Australia is part of an effort to support the Indonesian government in its goal to attract 20 million foreign visitors to Indonesia. Traveloka is an official partner of the Indonesian tourism board’s Wonderful Indonesia campaign.

Three Southeast Asian Startups Poised to be the Next Unicorns

It’s two months into 2019, and more startups are poised to join Southeast Asia’s old guard of unicorn companies as funding are flooding into the regional startup scene.

Majority of capital are continuously associated with a few familiar names. Late-stage companies are raising larger rounds and putting them closer to the US$1B billion valuation.

Here are three potential unicorns that you have to keep an eye out for in 2019:

1. Fashion Supply Chain Zilingo

A potential Southeast Asian unicorn is 3.5-year-old Zilingo. The ecommerce startup announced on Tuesday that it has secured a US$226 million Series D round.

The funding is provided by existing backers including Singapore sovereign fund Temasek, Germany’s Burda and Sofina, a European backer of Flipkart-owned fashion site Myntra.

EDBI, the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board also joined the round as a new investor.

This Series D round takes Zilingo total proceedings since its inception to US$308 million, making it one of Southeast Asia’s highest capitalized startups.

According to TechCrunch, Zilingo is close to unicorn status with just a rounding error away from US$1 billion (a number the startup is likely to come across sooner or later given that its Series D was made so rapidly).

Zilingo app

Zilingo is the brainchild of CEO Ankiti Bose and CTO Dhruv Kapoor who founded the service capitalizing on Southeast Asia’s growing mobile adoption and internet connectivity.

The two aim to bring small fashion vendors from the street markets of cities like Bangkok and Jakarta into ecommerce.

However what contributed to its speedy growth since its founding was its expansion moving from consumer ecommerce to business-to-business service.

The startup ventured into a network of supply chain pieces for retailers or brands, including manufacturing, logistics, and even payment.

With this, anyone interested in private labels or fashion selling could use Zilingo as a one-stop solution to make and source their product.

Since setting up its first presence in Thailand and Cambodia in 2015, the startup has grown to have offices in eight countries with 400 employees.

The latest proceedings will continually propel the startup as they are preparing to launch in Australia soon and further aim to digitize Asia’s fashion supply chain.

2. Asian Sports Media Company ONE Championship

One Championship

Crushing the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) market, Singapore-headquartered ONE Championship is Asia’s largest sports media property.

Since its inception in 2011, the startup has emerged with the largest selection of elite Asian martial artists practicing various martial arts originating from Asia such as Silat and Lethwei.

It wasn’t smooth sailing at first. The first three years of ONE Championship for founder Chatri Sityodtong was living hell.

People at the time did not understand ONE Championship’s vision then, broadcasters, brands, advertisers, and even potential employees turned him down.

It was when they finally realized their platform is based on humanity that they started to grow.

“We finally figured out that people don’t watch because of the punch or the kick or the submission. People watch because their heroes are representing their country on the global stage of martial arts,” Sityodtong said.

ONE Championship succeeded in creating Asian martial arts heroes, having discovered local Asian Stars such as Angela Lee, Eduard Folayang, and Shinya Aoki.

Martial arts aside, technology has also been a big part of what ONE Championship does. The media company leverages online broadcasting and social media to hold live events every month across cities all over Asia.

Through this online strategy, the startup has seen a 58% increase in total fans year on year, nearly five times more video views at 299 million, and more than 3 times social media shares at 746K.

Currently, One Championship has a global broadcast to over 1 billion potential viewers across 128 countries.

The startup’s latest funding is its US$166 million-worth Series D led by Sequoia which has placed the startup near US$1 billion valuation.

3. Mobile Community Marketplace Carousell


Expanded across 19 cities and seven countries around the world, Carousell solves a pain point for consumers by making the exchange of goods and services more accessible.

Its founders are three young Singaporean entrepreneurs – Marcus Tan, Siu Rui Quek, and Lucas Ngoo – who initially set out to build technology that served the world.

“We still have a long way to go in realizing our vision for Carousell,” Carousell’s co-founder and CEO Quek Siu Rui said.

“Carousell’s purpose is to be more than just a transactional platform. Our end goal is to grow a community of millions of people around the world who share our belief that changing the way we consume things can make life more meaningful.”

To this point, the startup has so far raised about US$126.8 million in funding from seven venture capital firms in the process including Sequoia Capital, 500 Startups, and Quest Venture.

In related news, Carousell has been strong at forging partnerships. The startup teamed up with GoJek in January to offer new riders $13 in vouchers when they download the app through ads on Carousell.

Who is Winning in the Battle for E-Wallet Domination in Southeast Asia?

With a rapidly increasing population of 600 million smartphone savvy users, Southeast Asia has been the hotbed for e-wallet startups that looks to change the society way in payment.

While we have all seen how you can pay for street food in Beijing with a quick scan of the QR code via WeChat Pay or Alipay. This is still yet the reality in most parts of Southeast Asia whether it is in affluent Singapore or an emerging market like Indonesia.

The trend, however, looks like the definitive future for the region, with more than hundreds of e-wallets startups taking station in the Southeast Asian region.

Besides, retail, financial and on-demand services like ride-hailing giants Grab and low-cost airline AirAsia are also pushing for digital wallets.

Grab is ramping up its efforts to increase transactions using its e-wallet service GrabPay, which can be used to pay for rides and foods, as well as transfer money between users.

Go-Jek, on the other hand, had also recently made an acquisition of, a cryptocurrency pioneer in Southeast Asia which is also the first firm to be regulated in the region as a Virtual Currency Exchange and Electronic Money Issuer (e-wallet).

The potential of the Southeast Asian market, with its huge unbanked population, rising middle class, and high smartphone penetration is what propelled the region to become home to many digital payment startups.

Despite that, Southeast Asia, for now, is still a battleground for e-wallet companies.

E-wallets in Southeast Asia


Singapore is moving towards cashless payments, with mobile wallets like PayNow nd Dash gaining momentum, however most still prefer contactless card payments.

One of the most common ways to pay is through Nets, a local firm founded in 1985 with over 100,000 acceptance points nationwide. Although Nets started off as a card payment company. The startup recently embrace QR code payment technology.

On the other hand, cash is still dominant in Malaysia, but digital payment players are working hard to change the market, from Grab to WeChat to Duit Now.

PayNow and PromptPay – Singapore and Thailand government supported e-transaction systems that allow peer-to-peer transfer of funds using only identification numbers and mobile phone numbers.

The two countries are facilitating their transition to a cashless society. The PromptPay system is part of Thailand’s National ePayment plan which seeks to integrate formal financial transactions such as welfare payments and taxation into an electronic system.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore recently made public that it would facilitate a partnership for cross-border transactions between PayNow and PromptPay.

In Singapore, Grab is trying to integrate hawker stalls into the GrabPay system.

In Thailand, SCB Easy of Siam Commercial Bank and Kasikornbank’s K Plus are two active mobile payment providers. Non-banks include Line Pay, Garena’s AirPay and AIS’s mPay.

In Indonesia, Go-Jek has also launched Go-Pay. In December last year, Go-Jek bought over three fintech firms in a move to dominate the Indonesian digital payments market.

In Myanmar, only 5% of the population have bank accounts. The majority of the public deposit or withdraw their money through authorised agents with their identity card without the need for registration. These agents include the thousands of SIM card point of sales and small businesses like grocery store merchants that are scattered around the country. The major mobile payment players are EasyPay; TrueMoney; MyanPay; WaveMoney.

In Cambodia, mobile payment application Pi Pay has scaled quickly to become a ubiquitous digital wallet solution and the first e-commerce app to gain real traction in the city.

Vietnam most promising E-Wallet solutions: Mo Mo and Payoo. Uber has signed a deal with Mo Mo that will let riders to pay for their rides with the e-wallet.

Loas, BCEL One mobile application and e-wallet OnePay launched by Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) allow customers to transfer funds between accounts, pay utility and phone bills, pay taxes, and more, right from their own mobile phone.

While OnePay allows users to pay anyone, anywhere, directly from their account by simply photographing a QR code.

E-wallets influence from Outside Southeast Asia

China’s e-wallets have their eyes on Malaysia for expansion.The country, for now, is the only nation in the world that is able to use WeChat pay in their local denomination.

The environment is also fertile ground for payments in Malaysia to flourish, a renaissance of the ecommerce boom circa 2015 that led to the rise of payments fintech.

In terms of external competition, we see digital wallets or e-wallets from Temasek and Google taking off in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, Tencent (the group that owns WeChat Pay) and Alibaba’s Alipay are looking to expand their market to Southeast Asia.

WeChat Pay, the wallet service that is included as a feature in their messenger app has been cleared for a Malaysian electronic payment license that would allow transaction in ringgit.

While Ant Financial (the company that runs AliPay) is working with merchants to supply services to travellers from China, and forming joint ventures with local partners for e-wallets using their brands.

Alipay’s e-wallet partnerships in the SEA: TrueMoney Wallet, Thailand; GCash, Philippines; Touch’n Go, Malaysia; and Emtek, Indonesia.

Lack of a Dominant E-wallet Startup

While there’s a bunch of mobile payment startups in the countries, the dominant spot is still empty for the taking.

The use of cash and bank transfers remain prevalent in the region, and digital payment penetration is still only concentrated in cities.

Another big problem with online payments in Southeast Asia is that each market in the region has multiple digital wallet services from different players, making the payment sector highly fragmented and frustrating for consumers who wish to pay online.

Even a small market like Singapore has some 27 different digital wallet services, Zack Yang Zhan, the co-founder of Singapore-based FOMO Pay told SCMP.

Asian Health Tech continues to be Pivotal in 2019

At a tech conference in Jakarta last year, the audience was asked to vote which tech sector they thought would be the most bullish in 2019.

Trendy topics like virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) would most likely come to mind, or some might even prefer established sectors like ecommerce and fintech.

The most popular answer, however turns out to be HealthTech.

Surprising as it may be, the prospect is clearly appealing if there were to be more efficiency in medical diagnostics or the prevention of health issues.

Besides, with the aging population and increasing chronic illness, it is quick to see why many have a penance for health tech. It can help save time, money, and lives.

With technology moving from surgical devices to smartphones and wearables, health tech can help manage chronic illness or keep track of your health and wellness regimes.

Growing Demand in Healthcare

Besides, there is an imminent crisis for healthcare in Asia.

Today, Asia is home to 55 percent of the world’s diabetic population and more than 50 percent of deaths due to cardiovascular diseases and cancer happen in Asia.

Moreover, an expected increase in an aging population paired with the prevalence of chronic diseases, the number of people affected by these diseases is bound to increase.

According to a report by Solidance, the total healthcare expenditure in ASEAN nations in 2017 was an estimated US$420 billion, and it has been predicted to increase by 70% over the next two decades.

Demand for healthcare in Asia is simply great, so much that Hong Kong Business even hailed Asia as the world’s fastest growing healthcare market.

Healthtech Investments and Venture Capital

Of course, this has not gone unnoticed by venture capitals.

According to a report from Singapore’s digital healthcare research firm Galen Growth, investment trends in the Asia Pacific healthcare startup landscape has been on the rise in 2018.

Across Asia Pacific countries, digital healthcare startups have attracted US$6.3 billion in funding across 294 deals.

China had a particularly successful year, with two major IPOs. Ping An’s Good Doctor platform held the largest health tech IPO in history for the region, having raised up to US$1.1 billion.

Meanwhile, India and Singapore have also emerged as key hubs for future healthcare-focused investments, as they have likewise attracted a decent amount of deals and became the location to set up health tech businesses.

Singapore, in particular, has been a popular location for startups, thanks to its solid legal framework, economic stability, and government incentives.

Local media have also recently reported that the nation has attracted the attention of Finnish health solutions including Aava Medical, Near Real, and Buddy Healthcare.

Singapore aside, Indonesia also came out in the report as an attractive market. Opportunities are plenty in the country due to its demographics, disease burden and limited health infrastructure.

Diversified Healthcare Verticals and Regulations

Despite that, you would need to be patient with investments in health tech.

Because at the end of the spectrum, startups need years of development and perhaps regulatory approval before being able to make a penny.

Still, health technology is a vast and complex sector, stretching from simple things like remote consultation with doctors, and all the way to medical hardware and DNA-testing services.

According to Transparency Market Research, healthcare tech will triple within the next ten years, hitting US$537 billion dollars in 2025.

Looking forward, the next few years will provide a key opportunity for health technology, with an unprecedented period of innovation possibilities across the sector.

Popular categories like medical diagnostics which includes medical imaging or population health management that links up corporates to provide healthcare services online would most likely spearhead the health tech revolution.

India to focus on Deep Tech in 2019

2018 was the year when Indian startups have seen a surge of new investors, signs of maturity and even welcomed eight new unicorns.

Fintech services were the star performer as ecommerce bid goodbye to Flipkart from the funding stakes following its acquisition by Walmart.

In terms of venture capital investments, funding in business-to-business (B2B) startups had specially set new records in 2018.

According to venture capital data firm Tracxn, last year had saw investments of US$3.09 billion in B2B startups across 415 rounds, that is 28% more than the US$2.41 billion allocated in 2017, across 534 rounds.

Fewer rounds and bigger values also point to large deal sizes, as investors focus on a few winners from each segment.

But where had the money gone to?

Moving on, investors had said that the access to large global markets and growing focus on Deep Tech in 2019 could be even bigger.

Deep tech startups – businesses driven by AI, Machine learning, and the Internet of Thing – has witnessed record funding in the past year.

Investments in deep-tech startups have touched an all-time high of US$247.78 million so far in 2018, that is more than twice the US$96.8 million in 2017.

The biggest was robotics startups GreyOrange’s US$140 million led by Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital. Investors believe the rising interest in niche technology segments is driven by a growing talent pool.

“A surge in deep-tech talent in data science, AI and ML, is driving higher interest in deep tech startups,” said Sanjay Nath, the managing partner of Blume Ventures who has made an investment in GreyOrange.

Sectors like healthcare have a huge potential for deep-tech disruption, with models of predictability and a broad reach that can make up for India’s poor doctor-patient ratio.

For instance, health startup Concept Medical that makes a special kind of catheter has raised US$60 million from angel investor Dr. Kiran Patel, in the second biggest tech deal in 2018.

Besides, deep-tech startups are scaling up faster and facing fewer challenges in monetizing business models.

However, if you are looking at it in terms of deal volumes. The deep-tech sector fell for the third straight year from 63 in 2016 and 58 in 2017 to 39 in 2018, indicating larger ticket sizes for individual deals—a trend seen in the broader venture space.

The challenge in India then has been to find AI and deep tech companies that have scaled up in revenue, but this will be resolved with time.

Scroll to top