Millennials are the first “Mobile Generation” to grow up with the rapid development of the Internet and smart mobile devices. Historically unparalleled, the sheer computational power and information access at one’s fingertips defines the Age of the Internet and its digital natives.

In Asia, developing regions are making a quantum leap in mobile communications, skipping over hefty constructions of landline infrastructure. Led by the millennial user, mobile technology has fostered new and drastically altered social norms in accessing and sharing of information, leading to an eruption of innovative products and services to serve evolving needs.

Beyond social media, digital and mobile technology are being rapidly deployed for industrial innovation and productivity. Similarly,  pioneering developers have started to create positive social and environmental impact through digital technology. These exciting trends will ultimately pave the way for a brighter future, particularly in underserved and marginalized communities.

Here are 6 exciting mobile initiatives that are making waves in emerging Asia:

1) Agriculture Technology

 

epadee© grameen-intel.com

The E-PADEE project is part of the national strategy of the government of Cambodia to bring mobile technology closer to farmers. It aims to increase rice production and improve the livelihoods for hundred million households of smallholder farmers. Farmers are now able to access extensive services and receive accurate technical advice on seeds, fertilizer, pests and disease management through an electronic system made accessible with mobile phones. Support teams and entrepreneurs have been deployed to more than 140 communes in various provinces across the country to provide recommendations along the rice crop cycle and to facilitate sustainable build-up of their local capacity.

2) Food Traceability

 

traceverified
Mobile technology has now revolutionized the transparency of information from farm to folk, in a generation when food safety and consumer protection is highly scrutinized. Trace Verified, a Vietnamese venture supported by the Inclusive Business Acceleration is applying electronic traceability for agricultural and aqua-cultural products in domestic and international markets. It aims to help local food exporters meet traceability requirements issued by the EU, US, Canada, Japan and control the rapid flow of information in the production chain. Trace Verified was selected as one of the 30 startups for SLUSH Global Impact Accelerator in Helsinki in 2015 after undergoing an Impact Assessment conducted by Shujog to ascertain the effects of their business. A simple scan of a barcode with a mobile device allows consumers to retrieve information about the product in all stages of its production. This ensures strict quality control of food products, minimizing administrative costs and product recalls.

3) Mobile Healthcare


Koe-Koe-Tech

Image credit: © Koe Koe Tech

Undertaking the gap in healthcare provision, the young founders of Koe Koe Tech are on a quest to shape health information and access to services for the masses. The startup has created a suite of innovative apps that leverages on mobile technology to democratize healthcare in Myanmar. Their efforts have been recognized by IIX, UNDP and the N-Peace Network as a winner of the IIX-N-Peace Innovation Challenge for employing market-based solutions to create positive impact that leads to scalable, sustainable and inclusive peace. The local entrepreneurs embody the  attitude of millennials towards creating knowledge-sharing systems for their community, providing low-cost, easy-to-use healthcare software. Their exemplary resolution is the mark of a generation that boldly drives the causes that they believe in. Koe Koe Tech’s ability to increase access to affordable healthcare in a scalable, sustainable way significantly reduces the economic burdens of healthcare – a key need in an economy emerging from conflict with a tremendous target market of 14 million families.

4) E-Remittance

abraImage Credit: ©Goabra

The remittance markets in countries such as the Philippines have seen tremendous growth over recent years as number of overseas workers rise in tandem with their higher incomes. The financial connectivity is propelled by the convenience brought about by mobile technology and Internet penetration. Cash transfer mobile applications like Abra are intensifying the competition between financial service providers, leading to reductions in transaction costs to benefit workers, as they use the bulk of these transactions to pay bills for utilities, education and recharges.

5) Rural Banking

 

rumaImage Credit: ©Ruma

With less than 4000 branches across the island archipelago for a population of 245 million people, Indonesia’s banking sector is searching for avenues to reach out to rural citizens who have yet registered for an account. Jakarta-based, Ruma capitalizes on this opportunity to provide financial and information services through a trained network of agents. Armed with android technology and basic monochrome phones, some 30,000 savvy agents assist villagers with their bill payments, loan applications and purchases of big-ticket items; such as washing machines and fridges. By providing access to essential products and facilitating the purchasing power of the masses, such rural systems generate collective economies that serve once marginalized populations.

6) Breaking Language Barriers

uniphoreImage Credit: © Uniphore.com

Language differences and illiteracy are often impediments to the progress of rural communities, depriving them of information essential to their livelihoods. Uniphore, an Indian tech company seeks to address this problem with its voice recognition technology (VoiceNet), which provides real-time information over mobile phones in 11 different languages. The solution unleashes the power of natural speech to create highly sophisticated service delivery platforms for enterprise customers to reach out to the rural market. Critical information about commodity pricing, weather forecasts, news and products are now easily available to farmers and workers, advancing connectivity in these communities.

The rise of mobile utilization, especially driven by millennials, has inspired countless new business developments both directly and indirectly around the world. What used to be a western phenomenon is now taking emerging Asian economies by storm, promoting growth of communities and the amalgamation of markets. This is only the beginning of a revolution.


Jeremy Ang

Corporate Finance

[Image Credit: ©Dave Lawler/ Flickr]