While China and the United States have become central hubs for the use and development of artificial intelligence (AI) over the past decade, startups in Southeast Asia have made significant gains in recent years. The burst of startups and legislative commitments from ASEAN governments reflect the region’s investment and preparation for Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution characterised by the digitisation of manufacturing enhanced by data and machine learning. We take a closer look at four notable AI-powered startups in Southeast Asia.

Sertis, Thailand

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The Certis team winning an award from Microsoft. Image courtesy of Facebook

Sertis Corp. is a data science and big data analytics consultancy founded in 2014 and headquartered in Bangkok, Thailand. Sertis offers AI and data analytics services and provides custom-tailored support for enterprises in a range of industries, including retail, telecom, airline, and healthcare. The company has already established strong partnerships with leading global technology providers, such as Google, Microsoft, and AWS. In 2019, Sertis partnered with AirAsia to launch “Sertis Face Scan”, a state-of-the-art AI-powered facial recognition system, as part of the boarding systems at Kuching and Senai International Airports in Malaysia. With a team of data scientists, data analysts, and engineers, Sertis works with clients to leverage AI and big data to provide business solutions. They utilise data analytics, computer vision and facial recognition intelligence, blockchain technology, geospatial information to predict sales behaviour, and natural language processing for enhanced customer interactions.

Kata.ai, Indonesia

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Kata CEO Irzan Raditya presenting at Digital Diplomacy. Image courtesy of Facebook

Kata.ai is an Indonesian artificial intelligence company focused on conversation. The startup was first established in 2015 as YesBoss, a virtual assistant service through SMS and mobile app. In 2016, the company pivoted their efforts and became Kata.ai to offer a natural language dialogue engine for businesses to employ machine-learning chatbots. The promise of Kata.ai lies in the idea that building engaging interactions with customers through conversational AI technology will lead to better sales, superior customer service, and more effective marketing campaigns. Kata.ai gathers data from their partners—many of whom are commonly-used social and messaging apps such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, BBM, LINE, and Slack—to help businesses better understand their customers’ behaviours. Kata.ai’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) AI technology fuels multi-purpose chatbots for major Indonesian corporations of various industries, including fast-moving consumer goods, banking & financial services, telecommunications, and retail.

Crayon Data, Singapore

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Crayon Data CEO Suresh Shankar at Bloomberg’s Sooner Than You Think 2018. Image courtesy of Facebook

Founded in 2012 and based in Singapore, award-winning Crayon Data is one of the fastest-growing AI-based startups in Southeast Asia. Crayon Data’s crowning product maya.ai is an AI-powered choice engine that utilises insight into personal tastes to enhance personalised digital experiences for customers of every enterprise. The Maya platform analyses each individual consumer’s taste, behaviour, influences, and technological contexts to hold the time and attention of customers in various industries. Powered by Crayon’s TasteGraph, Choice AI, and Lifestyle Marketplace, the choice engine boasts the ability to increase spend by 3-7%, engage inactive customers, and reduce cycle time by identifying effective merchants within a week. Crayon Data has earned awards and recognition from many global platforms, including IBM Watson, TiEcon, Gartner, Intech50, and OrangeFab. 

FraudLabs Pro, Malaysia

Established in 2013, FraudLabs Pro is an AI startup in Southeast Asia that assists merchants in protecting their online e-commerce stores from fraudulent customers and purchases. The Malaysian startup offers an AI-powered engine that analyses transaction parameters and reports real-time fraud analysis. The fraud-detecting engine gauges risks of each order and this allows merchants the ability to make an informed choice when approving, reviewing, and rejecting purchases. Utilising machine learning technology, FraudLabs Pro inspects over 50 elements of each purchase in a fraction of a second and accumulates data concerning fraud patterns based on each item the merchant approves, rejects, or blacklists. Critical elements of consideration when detecting fraud is the validation of IP addresses, billing and shipping information, user accounts, credit cards, transaction velocity, devices on which the purchases are made, and email addresses. FraudLabs Pro also has a database of millions of blacklisted frauds contributed by the global merchant community. FraudLabs Pro does not have a trial version but offers a completely free package to help businesses protect themselves from online fraud and gather more data for their AI-powered detection system.

The use of artificial intelligence is growing in key sectors of Southeast Asia, including retail, agriculture, financial services, transport, healthcare, and education. Sophisticated machine learning algorithms are now assisting financial transactions, enhancing consumer interactions, developing new paths to human navigation of physical spaces, and even diagnosing serious medical illnesses. The transformation of the market by the lightning-quick developments of autonomous systems has not gone unnoticed in the ASEAN region. Beginning with the AI-based startups listed, the Southeast Asian market is growing sharper and more personalised than ever.