The Globe as you know it is changing.
Coming June 2019

  • More thought-provoking stories that inspire
  • Independent, free and member-supported
  • Vote for, pitch and commission stories
  • Member engagement with our journalists

To understand more about why you are so important to our member-supported initiative, we encourage you to read the following from our managing editor ~ Read more

The Globe as you know it is changing.

Since 2007, Southeast Asia Globe has been a space for some of the region’s best writers and photographers to take our readers behind the headlines into the stories that shape people’s lives. Every month, you could expect to pick up our latest print edition and find high-quality journalism, analysis and artwork waiting on every page. And since 2007, we’ve fought to uphold our promise of quality and independence to you, our readers.

But, like we said, the world is changing. Print publications just aren’t reaching the audiences they need to fulfil their promise of informing, educating and entertaining the public. Advertisers continue to invest in digital platforms while printing costs creep ever higher. Print may not be dead, but it’s fighting for its life. And we’re tired of waiting by a sickbed for its condition to improve. We want to be present at the birth of something new.

That’s why Southeast Asia Globe is relaunching as a member-driven platform featuring daily long-form features combining world-class journalism with enthralling art design and data-centered tech. Through our core pillars – Power, Money, Life and Earth – we are focusing in on the central issues that our readers have always engaged with most, with the same in-depth coverage of politics, business, social affairs and the environment that you’ve come to expect since 2007.

But leaving print behind us doesn’t just save our backs from lugging stacks of magazines across Southeast Asia. It opens up a global readership who don’t just want to read the news, but have a say in the stories that we tell and the way that we tell them. We’re not asking you to take out another magazine subscription – our stories are open to all. What we’re offering our members is a space where they can pitch and vote on the stories that they think deserve to be told. We want to inspire an engaged and active community of members who vote for, comment on and contribute to the stories that matter most to them. We want to work with our members to curate the way they engage with the news – not just as readers, but as an active extension of our editorial team.

That’s how we’re changing to bring you great stories. Here’s how we’re not.

We’re independent. Always have been, always will be. We’re not owned by any corporation or aligned with any state. We choose the stories that we tell, and the way that we tell them.

We’re creative. We’re not interested in churning out breaking news stories on the hour, every hour. We believe that the best stories are the ones that come alive on the page, digging deeper into the issues that shape Southeast Asia – and bringing you along for the ride. From our dedicated designers to our new software development team, our commitment is to constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways of reaching out to our readers.

We’re open. Challenging governments, NGOs and businesses to be transparent with the public means nothing if we keep our own readers in the dark. That’s why we will be completely open about why we tell the stories that we tell – and how we pay for them. Work with us to build something that endures where many media fail, and decide with us exactly where that money is going.

Above all, we’re optimistic. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Faced with impending climate collapse, the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world, widening wealth and income inequality and deepening divisions rooted in race or gender or creed, it’s hard not to open the papers and feel the weight of the world pressing down. But we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe that when people work together, they can make their little corner of the world a more just, open and equal place.

And that’s why we can’t do this without you. We believe that across the globe is a community of people who care deeply about social justice, environmental action and press freedom – and who will join in to help make those ideals a reality. We’re not just holding our hand out – we need your voice to play a vital role in building Southeast Asia Globe into a leading space for progressive causes in the region. Tell us what stories the mainstream media is missing. Share with us the causes that matter most to you, and how we can champion those causes not just across Southeast Asia, but the world.

Our vision is clear. By 2025, we want to be recognised for building a great space for outstanding journalists from across the region to explore new ways of telling Southeast Asia’s most vital stories. Let’s bring together a community of engaged and loyal members who want to help reshape the media rather than just read it. And we want to reach a point where our readers, not advertisers, are the ones working to support our shared vision of an inclusive media.

We can’t do this without you. Let’s get together and build something that we all believe in.

If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And watch this space.

5 countries leading Southeast Asia’s fintech revolution

By: Robin Spiess - Posted on: February 22, 2019 | Best of 2018

In Southeast Asia, the financial technology sector is booming. But according to a recent report, that growth is concentrated in five main countries. Here, Southeast Asia Globe breaks breaks down the numbers behind their success

A woman walks past a signboard for PayNow, a mobile fund transfer app, at the FinTech Festival in Singapore in 2017 Photo: Wallace Woon / EPA-EFE

Southeast Asia’s fintech market is among the fastest-growing in the world, with estimates placing expected market growth to reach between $70 billion and $100 billion by 2020. Fintech investments in Southeast Asia shot up by more than 30% over the course of 2018 to reach nearly $6 billion, while some estimates state that the overall Internet economy across the region increased by 44% last year compared to 2017.

Investors are channeling funding into the region, and for two-thirds of them, the primary target for mass investment is up-and-coming financial technologies. As these local fintech platforms rake in the money, they are setting their aspirations high for rapid growth: according to a census conducted last year by EY Asean Markets, 87% of the region’s fintech firms plan to expand beyond their current markets within 12 months, and 77% intend to eventually compete internationally – with many setting their sights on the US, UK and Chinese markets.

Southeast Asia is particularly primed for the rise of payment technologies, as three-quarters of the adult population remains unbanked. It also helps that Asean customers rank among the most willing to use fintech products, with 82% open to the idea in comparison to 77% in North America and 76% in Europe.

A recent report, released by international finance company Robocash Group, ranked the region’s top five countries in terms of fintech, with an eye on several nations where traditionally cash-based economies are embracing online payment platforms.

Singapore

It comes as no surprise that Singapore should be at the forefront of the digital payment market, as it has long been a leader in smart cities, hyperconnectivity, and all things tech. In 2017 alone, the country raised upwards of $229 million in funding for its local fintech firms – of which it has over 400.  

The country has dominated the region’s fintech market for several years now, as it laid claim to more than 50% of all fintech deals made in Southeast Asia between 2013 and 2016. With a more advanced fintech space, the market has rapidly diversified, including peer-to-peer payments, fund transfers, money lending services, investment apps, insurance services, cryptocurrency trading and crowdfunding platforms.

Indonesia

Indonesia has the largest population of all countries in the region, and is therefore home to a massive consumer base. Even though just over half of its population are active internet users, this still reflects 150 million people who are online and ready to enter the fintech space. Of Indonesia’s internet users, 61% are registered for mobile banking apps. With only 11% of the entire population making purchases or paying bills via the internet, online payments in the country nonetheless rocketed to $313.6 million over the course of 2018.

As of the end of last year, just 49% of the population had a bank account. E-wallets are quickly supplanting the need for traditional banking services, with alternative payment platforms soaring in popularity and, in some cases, seeing numbers of transactions increase by millions in just a few months’ time. Peer-to-peer payment platforms make up over 30% of the entire fintech market, and a growing demand for e-commerce promises to continue pushing the market forward.

The Philippines

In early 2018, the Philippines’ central bank laid out a policy plan to see at least a fifth of the country’s transactions go electronic within two years’ time, bringing digital payment adoption up from about 1% of total payments – as it stood in 2017 – to a projected 20% in 2020.

With 65.5% unbanked and 71% active internet users, local fintech companies have swooped in to fill the void, raising $78 million in funding in 2017 alone – an increase of 13 times the amount raised the year before. As more options for mobile banking have come onto the scene, 54% of the Philippines’ internet users have registered for at least one mobile banking app.

Within the Philippines’ fintech landscape, a third of all companies registered in mid-2018 were payment platforms, with “alternative finance” close behind at 30% and blockchain companies representing a solid 16% chunk of the market, according to a startup report by Singapore Fintech News.

Vietnam

As of the start of 2019, Vietnam is home to 66% internet users, with 94% of those users online every day. Mobile internet connections are getting faster than ever, and both data and internet-ready devices rate a 7 out of 10 for affordability, according to a report by global media agency WeAreSocial. The Vietnamese fintech market is likely to grow to $7.8 billion in 2020, up from the $4.4 billion of 2017, according to forecasts by consulting firm Solidance.

Government officials have announced plans to make Vietnam a cashless society by 2020, reducing the number of cash transactions to under 10% in traditional consumer markets like malls and grocery stores – a deadline that is rapidly approaching. These same plans seek to ensure more than 70% of Vietnamese people over the age of 15 own a bank account within a year’s time. As of last month, only 31% of adults had bank accounts – the same percentage as in 2017 – and only 4.1% of citizens owned a credit card.

As in many countries across the region, the unbanked are turning to fintech to ensure the ease of financial transactions: approximately 50% of the country’s internet users are using mobile banking platforms, 39% are making mobile payments, and 9.3% own some form of cryptocurrency.

Thailand

Thailand is advanced in terms of internet use, with 82% of its population on the worldwide web and 74% of its internet users engaging in online banking each month. Of all internet users, 47% make mobile payments and 71% purchase goods online using their phones each month.

But while Thai people are active online, they’re also highly banked. With 82% of the population owning at least one account with a financial institution, Thailand is a slightly less friendly market for the types of fintech payment platforms that are attracting millions of users in other countries; it attracts less investment for lending platforms overall.

That said, Thailand is still at the forefront of fintech as it has become a leader in all things crypto, fostering different forms of fintech. Approximately 10% of internet users own some form of cryptocurrency – securing Thailand the second spot globally for crypto ownership, after only South Africa – and the Thai government actively supports locally-founded crypto coins and exchange platforms.