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Singapore’s Qoo10 to utilize blockchain tech, targets Southeast Asia

Singapore’s largest e-commerce site based on monthly traffic estimates Qoo10 turns to blockchain technology to secure its footing in Southeast Asia and further expand its reach beyond the region, Bloomberg reports.

This comes in the heels of Qoo10’s launching of QuuBe, a separate blockchain-powered marketplace, January of this year.

Going all-in with this technology, something that no digital marketplace has done before, Qoo10 founder Ku Young Bae seems to believe is the way for his company to compete with Alibaba and Amazon.

“This is my attempt to shift the paradigm and level the playing field,” Ku says in an interview with Bloomberg. “There hasn’t been any radical innovation in the e-commerce industry—with services largely resembling one another.”

Using blockchain technology is also Qoo10’s strategy to strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia where it faces stiff competition in Lazada and Shopee.

Ku hopes to attract more sellers by removing usual merchant fees, a natural result of using blockchain.

For buyers, the technology waives the requirement of having a bank account to make a purchase which is welcome news for many Southeast Asian countries that are still very much cash-based.

In the Philippines alone, 77% of Filipinos do not have any bank accounts which translates to an approximate 52.4 million that go about making cash-based transactions. This is based on statistics gathered by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in 2018. Thailand and Vietnam tell similar stories.

Qoo10 sees this is an opportunity since most e-commerce sites in this region require bank accounts to make transactions on their respective platforms.

After amassing a hefty sum post sale of Qoo10 Japan to eBay in 2018, Ku has more than enough to break into the Southeast Asian market particularly Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Interestingly, Qoo10 is skipping Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia. Ku cites a fragmented market with too many companies chasing after the same consumers as the reason for staying out.

Main cryptocurrency that will be used in QuuBe app is called Q*coins. These are pegged to the US dollar and can be converted to cash without having to pay extra fees. These coins also have the opportunity to appreciate which can be a form of investment for both sellers and buyers.

Ku’s plan, ambitious as it is, will go down in history as blockchain technology’s very first litmus test in large-scale cross-border e-commerce operations. Ku does not seem to be overwhelmed by it.

“I want to show that we can prevail by using technologies,” Ku says, “not by throwing money around.”

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Written by Lea Reyes

Lea Sicat Reyes is a freelance journalist based in Negros Oriental, Philippines. She has held various teaching and writing posts since 2005. Currently, she is a school administrator for a local middle school and is a columnist and editor for the Negros Chronicle.

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