What have been the hot SE Asian jurisdictions and tech sectors seeing investment in the past year? What has been driving it?

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely disrupted the normal functioning of many economies, is arguably one of the primary drivers of digital adoption across Southeast Asia and propelled explosive growth in a number of digital sectors, in particular, e-Commerce and financial services (digital payments). Indonesia (as the largest digital economy market in Southeast Asia) and Singapore (as a regional hub for unicorns setting up their headquarters) are two jurisdictions that have seen the majority of investment inflows in H1 2020, according to the e-Conomy SEA 2020 report published by Google, Temasek and Bain.

How much of the growth in the technology space is being driven by policymaking? Which jurisdictions are the most forward-looking in this regard?

Growth in Southeast Asia’s technology space is driven by a virtuous cycle of firms seeking to ride the trend by investing in markets with untapped opportunities and good policy-making. Singapore, with a tradition of strong rule of law and stable policies, has carved out a niche as a regional hub for firms keen on expanding further into the region. Indonesia, which is home to several regional tech unicorns such as Tokopedia, Bukalapak and Gojek, has notably implemented laws (such as the omnibus investment law which was passed in 2020) to ease and streamline the processes for attracting major investments in its large market.

What are your three big predictions for technology companies/startups in 2021/22?

  1. COVID-19 will continue to drive adoption and demand for digital services such as the cloud, e-Commerce and digital payments, which will benefit technology companies/startups operating in these spaces.
  2. Technology companies/startups in other nascent spaces such as EdTech and HealthTech will benefit strongly from the digitalisation trend as well and would likely be the engine powering the next wave of growth.
  3. A number of prominent regional technology unicorns will be profitable amidst wider adoption and economies of scale.

Lim Chong Kin
Head, Telecommunications,
Media & Technology
Managing Director, Corporate & Finance
E: chongkin.lim@drewnapier.com

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