3 startups shaping AI in Southeast Asia

3 startups shaping AI in Southeast Asia

As the global marketplace continues to evolve, there is growing evidence that companies in this part of the world will maintain considerable influence in the space

Alongside workplace automation and trends in video marketing, Asia’s economic growth continues to cause a stir in new and emerging industries.

Let’s use the diverse subregion of Southeast Asia as an example. Its 11 countries account for over 600 million people and 13 official languages. Despite being much smaller than neighboring markets in India and China, Southeast Asia has seen a significant rise in venture capital deals over the past few years.

One of the more fascinating areas, Southeast Asia startups are breaking ground is the field of Artificial Intelligence. A recent survey conducted by the IDC reports that AI adoption in the region is on the rise– with 37% of companies planning to adopt over the next five years. While the race for AI excellence is still led by the U.S. and China, Southeast Asian countries are giving rise to key startups bringing the tech to finance, logistics firms, and even agriculture.

During this technological shift there are plenty of key players to watch but we’re going to highlight 3 Southeast Asian companies emphasizing the current trend.


Active.Ai is a fintech platform enabling financial institutions to deliver their services across various channels through micro conversations. The vendor offers banks, insurance companies, and capital markets support that can automate complex financial queries and transactions. Its AI component provides customers with seamless intuitive engagement via mobile, chat, or voice enabled devices. Additionally, the company is able to manage and build custom digital channels for banking, loans, trading, and other essential systems.

Since launching in 2016, Active.Ai has raised a total of US$11.75M from top-tier investors. The startup has attained noteworthy success enabling several of India’s largest banks along with insurance companies in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. As Active.Ai continues to grow and enter new large markets, it’s proprietary artificial intelligence engine named Triniti is expected to become an industry staple.

Recently, a conversational banking assistant powered by Active.Ai received the DX Leader Award at the 2018 IDC Digital Transformation Awards. Through the precise management of context driven conversations, the technology empowered Axis Bank’s Axis Aha! to achieve 97% data accuracy and 40 times month to month growth. It serves as a case study for two very important points; Conversational AI is rapidly evolving and Active.Ai is at the frontlines creating valuable connections between banks and their customers.


The Malaysian startup uses a combination of human and artificial intelligence to provide companies with remote workers that specialize in high-volume data. It is being branded as “the world’s most efficient workforce” and has been allowing companies across the globe to successfully scale with fewer hurdles.

Originally the company was content with being a virtual assistance provider, but over time the focus has turned to B2B services including machine learning, data management, and content moderation. A small full time team manages to accurately tackle high-level projects with the help of what they call “SupaAgents”. From their base in the city of Kuala Lumpar, the team manages a carefully vetted group of 2000+ workers located throughout Southeast Asia. In total the workforce touches over 1 million units of data each month. Thanks to being early adopters of the cloud, they were able to quickly grow and save on the costs of an on-premise storage system.

Making use of Malaysia’s low-cost labor force and carving out time to build proprietary technology has allowed Supahands to surpass foreign expectations. Through accurate delivery across a multitude of industries and the continued cultivation of Southeast Asia’s tech workers, it’s a safe bet that Supahands will continue to make their global expansion look easy.


ViSenze is an AI focused startup creating advanced visual search and image recognition solutions for businesses in eCommerce, mCommerce and online advertising. Much of their research and development is focused on computer vision technology and machine learning. ViSenze is able to recommend visually similar items to online shoppers while they browse, search by uploading a picture, or on content platforms like social media and video networks.

Vicenze CEO and Co-Founder Oliver Tan believes customer behavior is largely influenced by enriching online content in the digital space. Once the right connections are made, content can be leveraged to increase conversions. The technology is geared towards optimizing the entire shopping experience for the consumer or indirectly through empowering sellers. Since launching in 2012, the Singapore based startup has managed to raise a total of $14m in funding rounds while further expanding into the U.K., U.S., and China.

Supahands, Visenze, and Active.Ai are just a small fraction of new A.I. focused companies making their mark in the adept region of Southeast Asia. Among the SEA nations, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand account for 86% of A.I. research further cementing it as a hub for machine learning. As the global marketplace continues to evolve, there is growing evidence that companies in this part of the world will maintain considerable influence in the space.


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