Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, today’s markets have seen the steepest downward trend since the Great Depression. In Southeast Asia, specifically, economic growth is already expected to be negative for the year. 

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the region. Other than essential businesses, another surprisingly resilient sector is the blockchain industry.

A dark horse 

January projections suggested that the international blockchain market would grow at an impressive rate of 81% from 2018 to 2023, reaching $23.3 billion USD by 2023. We explore three factors that look set to support its expansion:

Regulatory support

Many Southeast Asian authorities have been showing immense support for the blockchain industry. Singapore, thanks to its forward-thinking and pro-enterprise government, published a comprehensive blueprint in November 2019, mapping out its blockchain landscape in upcoming years. Regulatory bodies in regional counterparts—Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam—are also ramping up their blockchain initiatives, ensuring this sector’s growth in the coming years.

Utilities: essential and pro-technology 

The utility sector, a vital industry, especially amidst COVID-19, has been stepping up its digital efforts to remain competitive. Blockchain can aid in not just the sector’s business process optimisation, but also data analysis, and risk reporting and management, making firms sit up and take notice. As the Southeast Asian population becomes more open to this technology, it presents the sector a golden opportunity to tap into this vast demand for energy, making it the fastest-growing blockchain market globally.

Global digitalisation

PwC’s 2018 global blockchain survey found that 84% of organisations, including market leaders such as Amazon and Facebook, are already incorporating blockchain technology into their processes.

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This technology is incredibly useful amidst global digitalisation, as it protects the integrity of many business systems. For one, its decentralisation capabilities allow all other systems to function even if one fails. It also strengthens data security and privacy through multiple safeguards and promotes transparency and traceability through real-time tracking.

Moreover, due to COVID-19’s social distancing measures increasing online work, it allows company management to harness blockchain’s decentralisation and traceability features to empower their employees’ remote work. Despite today’s economic downturn and health crisis, blockchain is even more essential than ever.

Rising stars

Within this thriving sector, these are some promising blockchain startups in Southeast Asia we recommend checking out:

Bluzelle

This decentralised database adopts blockchain technology to give applications “a place to store data that is secure, tamper-proof, and highly scalable”. One of its key features is instantaneous scaling of data across hundreds of storage locations to accommodate high user traffic. Another vital characteristic of its system is edge computing, facilitating quicker transmission of information.

CURATE

Calling all shopaholics—CURATE not only lets you discover new fashion brands but even rewards you with bitcoin cashback on all purchases! The blockchain-based platform partners fashion merchants to expand brands’ consumer reach and facilitate sales, and then passes on some monetary benefits to its users in the form of discounts or promotions. 

Dacsee

A play on the word “taxi”, Dacsee aims to solve problems that drivers and passengers face on the usual ride-sharing apps—erratic income for drivers or unpredictable ride experiences for passengers. Through the app’s decentralised blockchain technology, customers can re-book or block drivers according to their commuting experience. An additional plus point for women is the option to book female drivers.

Electrify

This blockchain-enabled, energy technology firm aims to construct sustainable energy ecosystems so that anyone in Asia Pacific can access clean energy. Its first product was a marketplace that helps companies and households compare energy plans. More recently, they released Synergy, an energy trading platform that allows private individuals or groups to buy or sell renewable energy within their cities. Through this platform, those with extra power supply can get some side income, while those who need the energy can purchase it at reasonable prices. 

QURAS

Anonymous private transactions on the blockchain? You heard that right. QURAS’ mission is to protect the privacy of users as they enter into contracts, by letting users choose their desired privacy levels. Users can also initiate projects on the platform, and will soon be able to have a cut of the transaction fees collected on these projects. With Southeast Asia QURAS’ next strategic focus, Shigeki Kakutani, Founder and CEO, moved to Malaysia this year for better accessibility to the region.

Triterras

Kratos, the main product from Triterras, is a blockchain-enabled platform that allows all stakeholders of a trade finance contract—trader, lender, shipper and insurer—to track its status, thereby enhancing efficiency, transparency, compliance and security. In line with its goal to improve small businesses’ access to loans, Triterras also recently launched a trade finance module that helps small companies request funding from alternative financiers.


Although 2020 might have gotten off to a rocky start, the blockchain industry has proved its resilience in the face of an international health crisis and economic slowdown. Blockchain startups in Southeast Asia have sprung up across many business sectors with many more to come soon, proving blockchain is, indeed, one tough cookie.

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