Inside Asia Podcast

Jeremy Wagstaff: Tech in Asia, Indonesia, the Alipay Question

January 15, 2018

It is hard to overstate the massive resources Asia-born businesses have thrown at the technology revolution, the huge amounts brain power and capital committed to developing new products and services in this part of the world.

We’ve all heard the stories of how China’s Huawei Corporation has enlisted armies of engineers, packing them into football field-sized warehouses, shoulder-to-shoulder, breaking code and coding new software.

My guest this episode gives us some perspective on how we arrived at this moment. Asia tech guru Jeremy Wagstaff is a Chief Technology Correspondent in Asia, a keen observer with a thirty-year history of reporting in the region.

It’s also a discussion that looks to the future, one that as much about where Asia tech is today and where it’s going as where it’s been. Ten to twenty years ago, it was Asia’s lower labor costs that drew investors and manufacturers to the region. These days, its brain-power, innovation, and an unbridled hunger to win that for some—including President Trump—makes Asia look more like a threat than a trading partner.

One note. Be sure to listen to the end of the episode when we arrive at the question of why Alipay is such a priority for the Alibaba group. Taking Alipay global is clearly one of Jack Ma’s leading commercial initiatives. His reasons for doing so, however, are somewhat mysterious. As Jeremy points out, a mobile payments gateway is a pretty thin margin business laden with hefty infrastructure and security costs.

What else is at stake? I hazard a guess, but I’m interested in knowing what you think. You can reach me here:  Looking forward to hearing from you and, as always, thanks for listening.