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Grab creates finance and payments revolution in Southeast Asia

Maya Taylor

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Grab creates finance and payments revolution in Southeast Asia | Thaiger

PHOTO: Grab.com

While Southeast Asia’s economy shows huge potential for growth, around 73% of the population still doesn’t have a bank account, severely limiting the upward mobility of both individuals and organisations.

Enter Grab, the ride-hailing app, which is introducing a range of financial services in Singapore, including micro-insurance for small to medium sized companies, and post-paid products.

Instead of charging high annual premiums, the organisation’s micro-insurance plan offers people a chance to pay towards their premium every time they take a ride using the Grab app.

The organisation is working in conjunction with financial institutions such as Indonesian digital wallet Ovo, US insurance company Chubb, and Japanese financial services firm Credit Saison.

In addition to micro-insurance, it offers loans to growing organisations to help them manage cash-flow issues and grow their operations.

Singaporean fashion brand, Flesh Imp, has now expanded to China, thanks to a working capital loan from Grab.

And such loans are not restricted to companies, but are also available to individuals. Indonesian GrabBike partner Rudianto is one of them.

He used to work in construction and didn’t even own a smartphone prior to joining Grab. A micro-loan from the company meant he could buy a second motorbike, save money to build his mother a house, and eventually became the owner of a chicken farm.

In 2017, Grab acquired the Indonesian payments platform Kudo, meaning it can now reach Indonesia’s rural population through local businesses knowns as warungs, providing them with access to online transactions.

With governments across Southeast Asia now investing heavily in technology, there is obvious potential for Grab’s model to be replicated across the region.

SOURCE: Techinasia.com

 

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A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

Politics

Malaysia joins calls to hold emergency ASEAN summit over Myanmar political situation

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Malaysia joins calls to hold emergency ASEAN summit over Myanmar political situation | Thaiger

Malaysia is joining calls to hold an emergency ASEAN summit to discuss the political turmoil in its neighbouring country of Myanmar. Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin says he supports Indonesia’s president who originally proposed the emergency meeting.

Muhyiddin says the continued use of lethal violence against unarmed civilians was unacceptable, and urged Myanmar’s military leadership “to change its course and choose a path towards peaceful solutions.”

“There is no question about it, the use of live ammunition against peaceful protests is unacceptable. This deplorable situation must stop immediately.”

“We in Malaysia, and the larger ASEAN community, cannot afford to see our brotherly nation of Myanmar become so destabilised at the hands of a selected few, who seek to promote their own vested interests.”

Since the coup, Indonesia has led efforts within ASEAN to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis. Its president called for democracy to be restored and violence to be halted, joining other nations in condemning the military-led violence against anti-coup protesters.

“I will immediately call the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam as head of ASEAN to as soon as possible hold a high-level ASEAN meeting to discuss the crisis in Myanmar.”

ASEAN members discussed the political situation in Myanmar earlier this month, with the Thai Foreign Ministry now joining the growing list of countries to pressure the military to hold talks with political dissidents to end the conflict. But, Thailand still hasn’t outright condemned the coup. Many say Thailand may be wanting to get more involved as it prepares to see an influx of Myanmar nationals fleeing to Thailand to escape the increasing violence in their home country.

Just recently, the military coup leader in Myanmar made statements that indicated the military was okay with pending sanctions from the international community, implying that the government was willing to be isolated from the world.

Myanmar’s most powerful Buddhist group has also criticised the military’s use of violence and has appeared to break from historically aligning itself with the government. The group says it will stop activities in an apparent move to protest the political situation.

The United Nations has also criticised the violence against anti-coup protesters in Myanmar, citing women and children are among the victims killed as increasing concerns of civilian casualties mount.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Myanmar

Thailand calls on Myanmar military to release detainees and to de-escalate the situation

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Thailand calls on Myanmar military to release detainees and to de-escalate the situation | Thaiger
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Thailand is urging Myanmar to release everyone who was detained by the military following last month’s coup. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement today calling on a de-escalation of the country’s situation where many have been injured and even killed in protests.

“As a neighbor, sharing a long common border, and with the Myanmar and Thai peoples having close interactions in many aspects, Thailand continues to follow developments in Myanmar with much concern. As with other countries, we are saddened by the loss of lives and the sufferings of the people of Myanmar due to escalating violence in the country.

We call for de-escalation of the situation and release of detainees. We also urge all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution for Myanmar and its people through dialogue via any constructive channels.”

Thailand has been preparing temporary facilities, in areas bordering Myanmar, to help Burmese citizens who are leaving Myanmar to escape the crackdown from the military and police following the recent takeover.

Recently, there have been trilateral talks held between the foreign affairs ministers of Thailand and Indonesia with a senior Myanmar military official.

SOURCES: Thai PBS World| Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Economy

Britain to apply for membership with Asia Pacific free trading bloc

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Britain to apply for membership with Asia Pacific free trading bloc | Thaiger

In the wake of Britain’s Brexit and separation from the EU trading bloc, the UK is now applying to become part of the free trade bloc made up of 11 Asia and Pacific nations. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership also includes Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, a potential market population of around 500 million. The countries generate more than 13% of the world’s income.

The request will be made formally tomorrow by the UK International Trade Secretary. Negotiations are expected to start in March and continue during the northern hemisphere Spring.

There would also be the potential for faster and cheaper visas for business people travelling between participating nations.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was formed in 2018 and includes, in alphabetical order, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Former US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the free trade bloc back in 2016.

The UK hopes the deal will reduce trade tariffs between the member countries. It includes a promise to eliminate or reduce 95% of import charges – although some of these charges are kept to protect some home-made products, for example Japan’s rice and Canada’s dairy industry.

In return, countries co-operate on trade regulations, quality controls and food standards. Member countries can negotiate separate trade deals as well within the bloc. The UK is the first non-founding country of the CPATTP to apply for membership and, if accepted, will be the bloc’s second biggest economy after Japan.

But the International Trade Secretary warns that the short-terms gains for UK households and business will be limited. The UK already has trade deals with 7 of the 11 countries. The reality is that CPTPP nations account for less than 10% of UK exports, a fraction of what it was doing with the EU.

But commentators say that the real advantages could emerge in the future, particular if the US joins, as President Biden has hinted. That would allow a back door deal for trade with the US without necessarily having an individual trade deal with the US.

In total, CPTPP nations accounted for 8.4% of UK exports in 2019.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP was hammered out late last year and is a free trade agreement between the Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The 15 member countries account for about 30% of the world’s population (2.2 billion people) and 30% of global GDP as of 2020, making it the biggest trade bloc in history.

Unifying the preexisting bilateral agreements between the 10 member ASEAN and 5 of its major trade partners, the RCEP was signed on 15 November 2020 at a virtual ASEAN Summit hosted by Vietnam.

With the US locked out of RCEP and currently not part of CPATPP, plus its ongoing trade war with China, the US economy is waging an expensive gamble with its isolationist trade policies.

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