On September 17-18, ORIGIN by TechNode had its official launch during the Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SWITCH). Tech leaders and industry elites from ASEAN and China gathered in the lion city to talk about the latest developments in ASEAN-China’s tech and startup scene, delivering a unique experience for all tech enthusiasts.

This year, in collaboration with SWITCH, TechNode focused largely on ASEAN-China’s synergy, uncovering insights on the latest trends and developments in China’s vibrant tech scene and SEA’s rapid growth landscape. At the VC Meetup, we had close to 30 VCs and over 100 startups participate.

Here are some highlights from the event.

On Blockchain and ICOs

Michelle Yeo, Co-founder of DATAVLT, opined that while ICOs are all nice and glittery at the moment, all this hype will eventually die and the companies that have focused on the technology will come to the main stage. According to Ng Yi Ming, Partner at TRIVE Ventures, the dying crypto craze is a good sign for the market. Ng, adding that from a VC investor’s point of view, the more important aspect is where blockchain technology will go in the next five years.

A group of institutional investors comprising of MainNet Capital, LD Capital, BIBOX Singapore, and NEO Global Capital gathered to discuss the future of blockchain, ICOs, and the many tokens that appeared during the past year.

Liu Guojie, Managing Director at BIBOX SEA, shared that the crypto and blockchain markets are going through a normal market cycle, similar to the early stages of internet development. Li Xi, Regional Head at LD Capital in Singapore, added that prices have dropped because some early players achieved more than 100 times return and are cashing out.

Elon Huang, Founder of MainNet Capital, shared skepticism towards the rise of so-called “shitcoins.” He believes that we may see more serious ICO projects in the future coming from bigger institutions.

Shedding some positive light was Piyush Chaplot, Partner at NEO Global Capital, who believes that ICOs have shown us the potential that we don’t have to follow the conventional venture capital path.

Kyle Lu, CEO of Dapp.com, spoke about decentralization in game development. He shared that decentralized gaming will disrupt the traditional gaming industry sometime soon. He revealed that the number of transactions on decentralized applications increased fivefold from the first quarter to second quarter this year. What’s more is that the development of blockchain technology is advancing and new platforms are popping up where transactions can be done faster and less-costly, meaning user experiences on decentralized platforms are improving.

On Mobile Payments

Jocelyn Ang, COO of NETS, and Jeremy Tan, CEO of LiquidPay, spoke about the development of mobile payments and adoption of QR code payment in Southeast Asia. Tan noted that when comparing Southeast Asia with China, it is important to bear in mind that Southeast Asia is a very dynamic region and not one country or one market. It is going to take a while (certainly, a lot longer than what it took China) for QR code payment to be adopted across ten different countries with ten different languages.

Ang shared some key takeaways on whether Southeast Asia can emulate China’s QR code success. First, the pervasiveness and acceptance of mobile payments. Second, the confidence and trust between users and service providers. And third, interoperability of mobile payment services.

On New Retail

Paul Wong, Vice President of Fung Group Explorium, opined that consumers in China are fully digital and a lot of brands and retailers are sort of analog. He believes that the future is going to be data-driven. Companies who can manage data and make sense of data will have the upper hand. He revelaed that offline retailers and traditional retailers have to learn how to capture data along the supply chain and how to deploy AI and other new technologies to optimize and shorten their processes.

Wong, a believer of startups as catalysts, shared that to speed up the processes of improving ERP, CRM, and POS, Fung Group Explorium works with incubators to bring the startup ecosystem into the equation.

On Mobile Marketing

Daisy Wu, Vice President of Chinese mobile marketing agency YeahMobi, revealed that mobile should be first if one wants to do marketing in China. Wu shared that many foreign brands who want to enter the lucrative Chinese market don’t realize how highly competitive the market is that even one percent market share isn’t easy to secure.

Wu added that brands and companies are required to become more data-driven. While collecting data might not be the most difficult part, conducting audience study based on behavior and interest, is crucial and challenging.

On Electric Vehicles

Justin Sim, CEO of QIQ, and Maneesh Tripathi, CEO of Sevak Limited, spoke about the opportunities and challenges of electric vehicles. Both Sim and Tripathi agreed that EV tech is largely mature and ripe for commercialization. Finding that sweet spot is still proving elusive and major players such as Tesla, NIO, and others have also yet to crack that puzzle. However, both are optimistic about the future when asked about the direction the industry is heading.

Sim revealed that a future where electric vehicles are more commonplace than combustion engines might not be too far off and taking a conservative approach, it could be as soon as 2040.

Tripathi added that the transformation from fossil fuel-based vehicles to electric vehicles will only come once players in the economy decide that they have reaped enough returns from fossil fuels and have identified the new money-makers in the clean energy sector.

From VC Meetup

One of the highly anticipated segments at ORIGIN was the VC Meetup where startups had 10 minutes to “speed-date” with VCs. We had close to 30 regional VCs such as Gobi Partners, Vertex Ventures, Openspace Ventures, and more than 100 regional startups participating at this 3-hour VC Meetup session.

TechNode’s vision is to be the #1 platform bridging Chinese and global tech ecosystems. Recognizing that Singapore’s startup ecosystem is booming and that the country also acts as the gateway to Southeast Asia, TechNode was thrilled to come onboard as an event partner of SWITCH this year. We are humbled to have had such great minds join us here at ORIGIN by TechNode, and we’d like to thank our speakers, volunteers, sponsors, and partners who have helped us make this a successful conference.