5 Asian countries that are emerging as tech leaders

Ayesha Ambreen
5 Asian countries that are emerging as tech leaders

It’s the eye of the tiger and Asia is rising up to the challenges of the tech world

There was a time when Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan (aka the Four Asian Tigers), ruled the land with great might and power in the post-WWII era.

These Asian tigers merged to form the Asian Miracle — the bullet-speed industrialization and development which the world clearly witnessed. Even after the strong fiscal backlash in 2008, the Asian Miracle was still able to strengthen its back and give the world a comeback with a new edge.

Besides these four nations well-versed in the world of innovation, the Asian Miracle syndrome has started to prevail like a tech virus all across Asia.

Other countries have started taking the drift towards technology, and the tech startups all around the world are flocking to join the Asian tech hub. These tech centres are competing with each other to produce state-of-the-art digital technology to capture the imagination of Asian consumers.

From controlling the world’s e-commerce to creating e-sports lines, below are the 5 countries that are surfacing as new tech centres in Asia.


Most people know Vietnam for the Guerrilla War, but the new generation will know it as the country opting for fourth industrial evolution in the form of 5G telecom services.

Recent sources suggest that the network services will be available nationwide by 2020 as a step to upgrade Vietnam’s telecom network and also to increase her global telecom ranking.

Vietnam has lagged decades behind in deploying 3G and 4G networks as compared to the global standards, but the collaboration between Vietnamobile, Viettel, Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group, and MobiFone is gaining increasing attention as the time to test 5G services comes near.

These companies were to receive the license for testing 5G in early 2019 prior to full-fledged implementation.

The telecom market in Vietnam is expanding as it continues to foster the upcoming telecom giants. The local companies are thriving in the market and the doors to international investors are opening.

However, to make the 5G implementation more effective, several partnerships have been formed with multinational investors, such as Nokia and Samsung, to surpass the global telecommunication pace.

Practices as such are the future determinants of telecom being run by Vietnam.

Besides the tech giants, there are several other startups that have received instant attention from high-profile investors.

EKID Studio Group is a software development company that develops smart educational devices using augmented and virtual reality. This startup received funding from Vietnam Silicon Valley Project and Business Accelerator Educational Program.

Since ride-hailing services are common all around, btaskee is a Vietnamese startup that is known as the ‘Uber for the cleaning industry’. This company helps customers connect with the cleaning services of their choice in the shortest time span.

Moreover, the company was listed as one of the top 25 Vietnamese startups.

Viewing the potential of these startups, there’s no point denying that these are going to flourish in the future.


In 2018, the Philippines stepped out of the blue and boomed as an Asian country prepared to embrace the technological advance.

As per the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranking for global technological readiness, the Philippines ranked 55th among the 82 countries listed. It has been deemed that the Philippines is welcoming the technical domain steadily by improving cybersecurity, increasing the internet speed, and introducing e-government portals.

In the Philippines, where ‘cash still rules the land’, the reign is shifting to the e-payment methods. In the coming times, the Philippines will become a cashless nation, where the concept of cash and plastic cards will vanish into thin air.

PayMaya is a Philippines-based online mobile payment app that allows the Filipino population to pay without having to use cash and credit cards. In 2018, the digital wallet business transactions amounted up to US$702.7 million and were estimated to grow to US$1,748.4 billion by 2021.

While the digital payment system is surging, the Filipino government has also taken initiatives to integrate electronic payments and other finance-related technology into their services to be used by the general population.

On a relative note, PayMaya has introduced the QR scan, where customers can pay by scanning the brand’s QR codes. The technology of such sort is aimed to uplift the Filipino tech spirit in the future.

Of all the startups operating in the Philippines, Zennya is another AI-based on-demand mobile platform that offers smart healthcare services to its clients in the Philippines.

The aim of this startup is to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for the general population. The company relies heavily on user algorithms that are analyzed by the AI for accurate medical diagnosis.

This idea has led this startup to launch in Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and other parts of Asia after its success in the native region.

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The Philippines is now moving on to have a grocery delivery service of its own in the form of an online startup going by the name of pushcart.ph. The company has partnered with Lalamove, an expert logistics company, to deliver the goods in the best condition at the customers’ doorsteps.

Currently, the company is serving in Manila, Philippines, but is soon to expand in the near future.


China has become a magnetic core for attracting technology as new tech businesses step into the limelight.

China’s heart, aka Beijing, houses the innovative Silicon Valley replica, Zhongguancun, where more than 9000 tech companies are operating at the moment. Here, most of the notable Chinese Hi-tech firms are located, such as Lenovo, Baidu, and JD. com.

Recently, Beijing ranked as the top venture capitalist funding destination by receiving funding of US$9.8 billion.

Apart from fostering the tech culture, China has had the privilege of giving rise to unicorns (startups with a value of US$1 billion and above) for some time, a number of which have already surpassed those in the US.

According to the CB Insights, there are 313 global unicorns, of which more than 80 are Chinese.

But as time keeps passing, the birth of Chinese Unicorns will continue surging globally, where ByteDance became one of the world’s most valuable unicorns.

ByteDance is a Chinese tech company that operates AI-based platforms. The most famous product of ByteDance, Toutiao, is a news and information content platform that delivers custom content to each user, powered by machine learning and deep learning algorithms.

Another popular video-sharing mobile app is Tik Tok (previously Musica.ly), which features 15-second videos with advanced features.

With such products, ByteDance has gathered more than 800 million users across the globe and has scored a value of $78 billion as of November 2018.

The AI game has been taken to another level that allows the clients to use its technology at affordable rates.

DeepGlint is a Chinese company that specializes in delivering solutions in the form of smart sensors, intelligent cloud computing, intelligent identification, and service robots for the Chinese population. The startup raised about US$18 million, but the successful integration of novel features and technology promises DeepGlint a successful future.

With the road to innovation starting to become clear, the cars become driverless too.

XPENG Motors is an Alibaba-backed smart electric vehicle startup that has gained quite an attention in the Chinese auto-tech niche. The cars developed here are intended to become the Tesla of China, which are surely going to strike a fierce competition between the native and foreign electric cars.


Yet another developing economy and an important trade centre, Pakistan is gradually embracing the reforming digital era. Tech startups here are excited and focused on nurturing a tech-centred ecosystem.

The struggle and progress of startups in Pakistan is recognized by the maturing pattern of digitization, not to mention the gravitation of the venture capitalists interested in making significant investments.

Since Pakistan shares congenial ties with China aka the unicorn breeder giant, the surfacing startups are looking forward to the completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that is going to create numerous opportunities in the technological sector.

However, among the startups already thriving in Pakistan and sustaining their pace even before the emergence of CPEC, LogoDesign.net has been spearheading the AI domain in the industry.

This Pakistani tech-startup is one of its kind as it uses an intelligent AI-driven platform to provide logo designs for almost every industry.

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As opposed to its competitors in the field, this unique logo design company offers affordable high-end design services in Pakistan and abroad.

Startups specializing in the medical domain are also coming forth to create an online system of medical care.

Previously known as My Doctor, Oladoc connects patients with doctors and specialists and help them book appointments. Plus, this healthcare startup also offers online medicine and lab testing service. In 2018, OlaDoc raised US$1.1 million, funded by Glowfish Capital, which is a VC-firm based in UAE.

When it comes to finding jobs, Pakistan’s version of LinkedIn aka ROZEE.PK is a talent acquisition site, which connects candidates with employees all across Pakistan.

This startup was founded as a subsidiary of the Naseeb Networks, which is a Silicon Valley new media company. To date, this multimillion startup has grown to service more than 50,000 employers in and out of Pakistan.

In addition, names like LinkedIn, CISCO, PayPal, and Friendster are the potential investors and VCs backing up ROZEE.PK.

All in all, the inclusion of the modern tech businesses as such in Pakistan is paving the way for the upcoming ones to shape the contemporary landscape into a digitized one.


Indonesia is one of the top world destinations for tourism, thanks to its beautiful flora and fauna. But beyond all these natural bounties, there lies the digital innovation that is ready to bring a tech tsunami in Indonesia.

According to the McKinsey report, Indonesia presents a curious case — while still at an initial stage of development it houses some of the world’s most vibrant and active startups.

The report estimates that if Indonesia implements technology nationwide, it can raise the gross domestic product up to 10 per cent by 2025.

However, the Indonesia 2020 tech startup scene is predicted to evolve as the number of Indonesian unicorns exceeds those in Singapore. Indonesia will also enjoy the largest share of Nexicorns (startups worth US$100 million) in the future.

With such a rapid procession of technology, Indonesia is attracting potential investors from across the globe.

Go-Jek is a tech startup that emerged as Indonesia first unicorn and gained worldwide recognition.

As of February 2019, the estimated value of the company is about US$10 billion. With backing investments from Google, Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, and China’s Tencent, Go-Jek ranks as one of the top logistics brands in Indonesia.

Recently, this tech startup is expanding its reach to other regions of Asia, such as the Philippines and Malaysia after operating successful ride-hailing and online payment services in Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand.

Like Go-Jek, Bhinneka is Indonesia’s largest online store that received a one-time funding of US$22 million by Ideosource, which is a Jakarta-based VC firm. This startup employs about 500-1000 employees.

The e-commerce store was launched in the late 90s, diversifying its product range over time to becoming a leading online store.

Next in line and also sometimes referred to as an Indonesian unicorn, Tokopedia emerged as an e-commerce technology company in 2009.

Currently, the company’s value is estimated at US$7 billion. Due to the course of its growth, the company received major funding from international investors and VCs including the Alibaba Group, Sequoia Capital, and SoftBank.

In Conclusion

The way Asian startups are hustling makes it quite evident that they are destined to shift the focus from the four Asian Dragons towards a modern world where the nation with most unicorns and investment funding takes the lead.

In the above list, all the Asian countries – except China – are the nations that have lagged behind in contributing exclusively to the tech domain.

The unicorns and prospective tech businesses in each country present an opportunity for foreign investors to add versatility to their approach.

It is anticipated that these 5 budding tech centres will seize this chance to break their own record and exceed the competition with others in the region, adding to the improved standard of living as well as the nation’s economy.

Image Credits: chuyu

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