From our community: Fintech predictions, customer engagement tips, remote team management and more... | e27

Thinking out loud: Are electric vehicles as sustainable as we believe? by Rachel Lau, Managing Partner at RHL Ventures

Although prices of batteries have significantly decreased, it has yet to reach the price-parity ratio suitable for mass adoption.

With the future of electrification on the horizon, existing traditional automotive manufacturers are converting and diverting resources to develop EVs. Together with new and upcoming companies that are either developing EVs and/or other related EV components such as battery swaps and charging stations, this space is heating up.

While Chinese EVs are focused on the hybrid model of battery swaps and charging stations, Tesla and other manufacturers in the West are adopting the Tesla model of building charging stations with high-powered piles.

How New Zealand-based Sustainable Foods is harnessing the power of hemp to produce meat products by Abhinav Mehra, VC and angel investor

Meanwhile, other proteins like pea, myco proteins, and lab-grown cultured meat are also showing growth in this region. To appeal to mainstream meat-eaters, plant-based meat products were developed to mimic favourite foods in familiar formats like burger patties and sausages.

However, as most of them remain processed packaged foods – questions are being raised on their nutritional value.One company in New Zealand, uses not only soy and pea but also hemp. The crop is rich in complex protein delivery and considered one of the most nutritionally complete food sources in the world.

Though Auckland-based Sustainable Foods is among the first to adopt it in the alternative meat industry.

Rise of fintech

Was 2020 the Amazon moment for fintech in Asia? by Sirish Kumar, founder and fintech expert

It is only a matter of time before mobile devices will become the default Point of Sale (POS) device for small business owners. The ubiquity of smartphones has expanded the ability to reach underserved communities easily. Today innovative embedded finance solutions offered by fintech that can leverage this mobile technology has eliminated the need for costly hardware and digitalise previously outdated payment acceptance points at a faster pace.

Fortunately, the transition is occurring at a time when moving online has never been easier. ASEAN governments have championed efforts to invest in core digital infrastructure in both rural as well as urban settings, where the vast majority of the region’s small and micro businesses are located.

From Dogecoin to Cardano: Should you take altcoins seriously? by Duckju Kang, CEO of ValueChampion

Just as there is a laundry list of cons, there are compelling arguments for bitcoin that institutions and everyday investors have been buying. The alternative to fiat, the bitcoin gold standard, and the potential to disrupt traditional banking services offer an attractive looking glass into the future.

So what about the almost 9,000 other altcoins out there?

New banking

Beyond marketplaces and motorcycles: Digital banks need to formalise ASEAN’s informal economies by Kaspar Situmorang, CEO, Bank BRI

Banks cannot rest on their laurels anymore and pretend their corporate and enterprise accounts will keep them afloat. No longer can they ignore microfinancing products due to high transaction costs. The super-apps are only a year into their digital banking war, but it won’t be long before they start sizing up bigger, more lucrative accounts.

Brick-and-mortar banks still have their legacy accounts and large, on-ground networks, as well as strong KYC experience to exploit. As licensed banks with high capital buffers to withstand economic shocks and decades of specialisation (as opposed to super-apps who roll out and shut down new verticals frequently), legacy banks have a lot of fight in them yet– if, and only if, they execute fully digital plays themselves.

Reimagining customer engagement for the AI bank of the future by Renny Thomas, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company

To remain competitive, incumbent banks must become “AI-first” in vision and execution.

If fully integrated, these capabilities can strengthen engagement significantly, supporting customers’ financial activities across diverse online and physical contexts with intelligent, highly personalised solutions delivered through an interface that is intuitive, seamless, and fast.

These are the baseline expectations for an AI bank– specifically when it comes to customer engagement.

By reimagining customer engagement, banks can unlock new value through better efficiency, expanded market access, and greater customer lifetime value.

In a post-COVID-19 world, Vietnam is SEA’s latest hotspot for venture capital investment by Duyen Tran, Public Relations at Loship

Emerging from the pandemic while other countries are still in the midst of the crisis is giving Vietnam an advantage. The country’s startup ecosystem has been transformed from the second-least active to the third-most active among ASEAN countries, trailing only Indonesia and Singapore.

Also, profiles of investors making deals in Vietnam are increasingly diversified. If the majority of deals were from Singapore and Japan back in the 2017-2018 period, the market now is extremely vibrant with the participation of several investors from different parts of the world such as South Korea, China, even the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region. Many of them have made investments in Vietnam for the first time. Local investors are also active, participating in roughly 30 per cent of deals.

SME and startup growth

How tech can help smaller brands scale in SEA by helping them maintain customers’ loyalty by John Jess, CEO and founder of Stash

Tech innovations created to troubleshoot everything from labour-intensive marketing campaigns to the messiness behind multi-market rewards programs tend to not only be expensive but difficult to customise and manage as well. It is like handing an infantry soldier a tank and asking them to drive it into battle with no prior experience.

That is why tech tools need to evolve to keep up with the needs of smaller businesses. I am the founder of Stash, an incentive tech startup that’s changing the way businesses keep their customers loyal and committed.

We have been pioneering the forefront of the tech revolution with a suite of software products that include, among others a mobile-based platform that brings together over 1,000 reward partners onto a single screen.

How founder-CEOs can setup their startup for a successful IPO by Sophie Chiu, VC Investor, AppWorks

This piece of article is more written for growth stage founder-CEOs. However, if you’re an early-stage founder, I believe this article can also shed some light on what is ultimately valued the most in the sometimes arcane process of filing for an IPO.

Trust is what helps companies earn long-term loves in the public market. It’s a playing field with big guys that have already proved their sustainability, building layers upon layers of trust as each quarter passes.

Trust is cultivated not only through data (a result of management and operation), but also through market reaction. This means, executing a good or even strong IPO is indeed very important because the trust is then solidified from day one.

How diversification of business models is helping SMEs’ post-pandemic restructuring by Benjamin Wong, co-founder and CEO of Transwap

While globally it seemed to be that we were all in the same choppy seas, over the span of a few months, if not weeks, it was apparent that not all businesses were on board the same boat. The differences in the treatment to SMEs was glaring; Interest rates were slashed to new record lows with Central Banks channelling greater efforts into printing money.

The scale at which monetary interventions took place resulted in seemingly optimal financial conditions of the market and yet many companies are still suffering the repercussions of the whiplash brought about with the onset of the pandemic and. When it comes to funding, however, SMEs in the Southeast Asian region do not have access to the lion’s share but instead are at the mercy of the shorter end of the stick.

Building your startup culture

Startups should celebrate failures. This is how to keep the experimenting culture alive by Sagar Chaudhary, marketing and PR Manager at Chinaccelerator

In the startup world, things move at a rapid pace and ideas alone do not bring success. Success requires implementation and the right implementation process requires different business experiments in order to test and validate those ideas.

Experimentation can be as small as tweaking the font on a website or as big as pivoting the entire business, as long as these are steps towards a predetermined goal.

Why it is time to reinvent The Agile Manifesto to answer challenges of a remote team by Cliff Berg, founder of Agile 2

Organisations today have embraced agility as a strategic imperative. For many, the Agile Manifesto is one of the sources of guidance on how to achieve agility. Yet, the Agile philosophy strongly favours working with others in person. This manifests through the “Agile team room” and the preference for face-to-face communication.

But these preferences are not backed by any research or evidence: they are assumptions of those who crafted the original Agile ideas and the various practices that evolved from those ideas.

It turns out that collaboration in an Agile team room is actually less than in a more traditional setup.

Smaller brands should have that option too. That is why I’m highlighting some of the ways businesses can scale sustainably and intelligently in 2021, to make the most of their digital transformation.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing contributions from the community. This season we are seeking op-eds, analysis and articles on food tech and sustainability. Share your opinion and earn a byline by submitting a post.

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