Living in Asia for the last 10 years, on and off, has taught me many lessons and opened me up to new experiences I would not have otherwise experienced. I was blessed to be a CEO in China and Vietnam and to also be a part of a successful launch of Ooredoo (mobile Telecommunications provider) in Myanmar.

THE ECONOMY

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Asia will average 6.3% GDP rises this year across the region. In layman terms, that’s HUGE! That’s even up from the earlier predictions tabled above, with Vietnam alone now set to hit 7% in an adjusted forecast. This area of the world is booming.

With an estimated 438m million people unbanked in SEA alone, this means only 27% people have access to a bank account. Some countries in the region only have 5% banked, such as Cambodia.

SEA is faced with the very real economic problem of trying to improve its populations standard of living, narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor and deal with rising issues relating to poverty.

The lack of access to basic financial inclusion means that people can not escape poverty and the natural progression and development in this region is severely hampered.

“The region needs more Fintech companies to step up and provide innovative solutions. People have a right to basic financial access and inclusion. The time is right for us to now step up and lead the way in bringing the available technology to the people.” said Ben Fairbank, CEO of soon to launch Fintech Blockchain company RedFOX Labs.

MOBILE ADOPTION

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I worked on the start-up of Ooredoo Myanmar and saw an amazing transformation. A few years back, a SIM card in Myanmar was $1000 USD. Yes $1000 USD! They did this to limit the number of users as MPT had limited bandwidth on its network. Families used to own many phones and share the one SIM. It was crazy.

Around 4 years ago, Ooredoo Myanmar decided to launch its 3G and soon after 4G networks as one of the 2 successful bidders for new Telecommunications licenses. The other Telco, Telenor opted for a 2G option. What happened next was truly astonishing, with people leaping the conventional route of voice, and going straight to data. With an 80% smart phone penetration rate, the people of Myanmar showed just how starved of technology they had been. If you build it, they will come.

More than 80% of all daily data access in the SEA region now comes via smartphone. That’s truly astonishing. As a result we have seen massive uptake rates on p2p payments, ecommerce solutions, lending, payments and some seriously innovative apps.

The first step to reducing issues relating to financial inclusion is to make all cash digital. This way people are free to transact through mobile data and the internet.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency lead the way with this innovation. “Blockchain technology is ensuring rapid advancement in the fight to offer digital money options to people in every corner of the globe. The issue is making sure there is an offline element built into the underlying tech, as many of these payments will require a physical cash in and cash out option, through a vast network of agencies across the region. The fight is real and the issue has often been getting local governments to agree to the solution they have failed to provide themselves.” Said Ben Fairbank.

ABOUT RedFOX Labs

RedFOX Labs accelerates Blockchain adoption through incubation and investment. The RedFOX Labs will be located in Vietnam and offer funding to carefully selected new blockchain projects, through its $10 million USD incubation fund from partner LedgerZ.

Boasting a co-working space specifically for the local crypto community, in addition to meeting rooms and an accelerator centre, RedFOX Labs will be a one-stop-shop for all things blockchain related. They will conduct 8 week accelerator programs both onsite and offsite for selected partners and will include links to key industry figures.

After its second round raise, due to demand and interest, RedFOX Labs plans to expand its regional footprint to include sites in India and Japan, using the same model.

For further information on the project and its team, you can click here