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Singapore’s Mobile Ecosystems poised for Explosive Growth

Singapore is one of the most vibrant and evolving ecosystems of IT & mobile platforms that are pushing mobile & online payments towards new horizons. I have written about the role played by the banks in adding some vigor to this evolving theatre a few months back, but what we’re witnessing is the organic growth of these mobile ecosystems to become true Fintech testbeds where more players are joining in and creating something unique and propelling them in a new direction.

One small news that may have gone unnoticed in general caught my eye and what I am noticing is the real potential of Fintech coming to fore without even the player bearing the Fintech drum.

I am referring to the journey of a mobile app named Carousell. One of the leading mobile peer-to-peer selling platforms, where people can list any new or used items for others to look at and to buy (pretty much on the model of eBay, Gumtree and many more) recently had a tie-up with DBS bank to give their CarouPay a boost by combining it with DBS’s micropayments & mobile wallet app PayLah!.

Now it declared that it has a tie-up with AXA insurance that will bring the insurance products for second-hand cars & motorcycle purchases on the mobile app itself. This would provide Carousell a shot in the arm where the platform can post a significant challenge to SgCarMart which is the biggest player in the sale & purchase of used cars in Singapore.

In Jun-2018 Carousell partnered with UOB to build a tie-up with 7 biggest car dealerships in Singapore that enabled new and used car sales on the platform and now with the vehicle insurance by AXA firms up its service offering with a more rounded approach.

Apart from UOB & DBS, Carousell also built a partnership with VISA in Nov 2018 and became the first merchant partner to incorporate Visa’s Sensory Branding technology on its payment platform. This brings the suite of sensory branding elements, including proprietary Visa sound, animation & haptic (vibration) cues, for confirming a successful payment on CarouPay.

This puts a startup like Carousell in a unique position, where it is working closely with UOB, DBS and VISA in different capacities and all partners see this as an engagement to get benefit from. When Carousell announced its collaboration with DBS PayLah, one might’ve thought that CHUBB (the Insurer that is the platform partner in DBS Paylah) may extend its products to Carousell as well, but the product Chubb provides to DBS Paylah is travel insurance. You may still see that synergy coming along in weeks or months to come. This bodes well with Carousell’s strategy and product expansion, but where does it leave DBS Paylah?

DBS Paylah has also got its own product portfolio enhanced with the addition of Go Jek in its platform partner. The ride-sharing and hailing competition in Singapore are already heating up with Grab buying out Uber’s operations in South East Asia last year and became one of the biggest ride-sharing providers in Singapore with competition coming from traditional taxi operators like Comfort Delgro, Premier Taxi, BYD Taxi, and TransCab. After the news of Go Jek coming to Singapore and partnering with DBS, this space is bound to see a fare war to commence that will ultimately help the consumers.

DBS’s strategic push to build Paylah as their mobile platform may soon find Carousell as its own competitor. It would be great to see how this relationship pans out, but it is for sure that Singapore is the hotbed of mobile platforms evolution and competition. Only the ones with nerves of steel survive here and get a chance to expand to other areas of South East Asia and South Asia.

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