Around the world, tourism comprises 10 percent of the global GDP. According to recent estimates, the travel and tourism industry in Southeast Asia will amount to US$223 billion by 2027. At around 5.3 percent of GDP, the industry in the region has much catching up to do.
In Asia, China remains an economic powerhouse, being the top contributor of tourists and revenues, with an estimated 166 million outbound trips toward Southeast Asia, mostly in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore in 2019. This is an 11 percent year-on-year growth, and amidst challenges brought about by the 2019-COVID, businesses in the region are expected to weather the challenges, especially driven by rising disposable incomes and increased convenience of transactions through digital platforms.
The rise of digital payments brings about a big opportunity for businesses in the travel and related industries. According to Statista, digital payments in Asia will total to US$ 2.5 trillion in 2020, with a total of 2.2 billion users across the entire Asia region. China is the biggest contributor here, with US$1.93 trillion in transactions.
Analysts have observed how the cashless payment infrastructure in the region is driven by new payment solutions, as compared to legacy infrastructures that are common in more developed regions. Statista notes: “A large share of the population in the developing economies of Asia, Africa, and Latin America has also been underbanked until the rise of mobile payment and wallet innovations that completely rely on accessible mobile technology.”
A highlight on partnerships
To take advantage of these opportunities in the region, FinTech companies need to closely partner with businesses, in order to establish use cases and to have wider access to the market. “The first thing for us is to prove that we bring additional revenue to the businesses and industries we connect. Secondly, we must have solutions that enable instant fiat settlement if it is required,” says Felix Mago, Co-Founder at Dash NEXT and Dash Thailand.
Dash is a payment platform that uses cryptocurrency with real-time settlements. This makes it advantageous in the context of travel and tourism, which involves different types of companies in several locations, accepting different types of currency. Mago adds: “Our approach is to partner with great companies that understand the value of our solution. Dash is offering the crypto payment solution, our partners offer the settlement. As a travel business, all you have to do is essentially plug in this solution and you are ready to attract a new group of customers.”
Elevate Ventures shares in the optimism toward FinTech products enriching and growing the travel ecosystem in the region. With two decades of experience in China and with a keen understanding of the blockchain and crypto economy, the firm agrees with the need for crypto service providers to engage businesses.
“This trillion-dollar opportunity will require innovative fintech solutions that can disrupt industries like travel and tourism,” says Victoria Krapivina, Head of Business Relations at Elevate Ventures. “Innovations like digital payments can empower industries to overcome challenges such as costly foreign exchange fees, expensive international transfers, and slow fund settlement times.”
A trillion-dollar opportunity for the ecosystem
Thus, Elevate Ventures and Dash NEXT and Dash Thailand have partnered to explore and take advantage of these opportunities in FinTech across Asia starting with China and Southeast Asia. Both companies are focused on growth and business development opportunities aimed at expanding use cases for FinTech, TravelTech, and other solutions driven by decentralized technologies.
“With Elevate Ventures, we are excited to tap into more of Asia’s ecosystem partners, especially in China where there are big opportunities in outbound tourism,” says Mago.
The end goal is for businesses in the region and across the globe to realize the benefits of technology innovations in delivering better customer experiences. “User centricity, providing value and solving problems for users are key to create successful businesses, in Blockchain and elsewhere,” Mago concludes. “I believe that thinking from the user perspective and enabling great experiences is the best way to grow.”
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Felix Mago is Co-Founder of Dash NEXT & Dash Thailand, the leading cryptocurrency for real-life payments. Dash Next is focused on business development and partnerships in Asia and beyond. Dash Thailand has established the first real-life crypto payment ecosystem in Asia.
Victoria Krapivina is Head of Business Relations at Elevate Ventures. She works with portfolio projects and partners, builds strategic partnerships, and works closely with the ecosystem to drive growth. She was previously Head of Sales at ICORating, an analytics agency that delivers independent research on the crypto market to an extensive network of investors.