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I had the good fortune to attend a conference earlier this year in Singapore. It’s a futuristic city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, whose wild skyscrapers and love and adoption of new technology makes me think of the 1960s animated sitcom The Jetsons every time I’m there.
Even though I’ve been doing business in Singapore for over two decades, this last visit brought home why ViVOtech opened its first international office there, and why we continue to grow and treasure our Singapore presence and partnership.
At the GSMA Mobile Money conference, one demonstration that most impressed me showcased an application presented by Infocomm Development Authority (iDA) that let shoppers tap an iPhone on products’ price tags. Instantly, the screen would display item details, buyer reviews, and any special discounts. The customer could then add items to an electronic shopping cart as they walked down the store isles, and decide whether they wanted to take the items home with them, or order their purchases delivered on a specified date and time.
The same app allowed the shopper to choose which credit card to make the payment with via the digital wallet. What’s more, loyalty points and discount coupons would be added automatically. Finished shopping? The application also prompts a taxi-booking feature just in case the shopper needs a ride home from the store.
For ViVOtech, a young Silicon Valley-based software and systems company, the prospect and pitfalls of expanding internationally were daunting in 2003. Our business is enabling rich mobile commerce solutions for in-store payment, loyalty, marketing, and merchandising, and we knew we wanted to expand into Asia.
We considered Hong Kong and other logical alternatives at the time. But Singapore quickly became the obvious choice, hands-down. Besides being the global technology hub for Asia, Singapore is where the entire payments ecosystem has established regional headquarters, making business and partnerships for ViVOtech throughout Asia extremely easy with the likes of MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Citi and others.
Singapore’s English-speaking, tech-savvy workforce has also proven invaluable. Over the past six years we have grown from just one to more than a dozen full-time staff working in product development, sales and professional services.
Meanwhile, the government and its agencies make it extremely easy to do business. For example, iDA Singapore offers incentive programs that allow young technology companies to quickly start development centers. From a financial perspective, Singapore offers world-class opportunities from firms such as EDBI investing to drive growth within the knowledge and innovation-intensive sectors of Biomedical Sciences, Clean Technologies, Internet & Digital Media and other strategic industry clusters with commercial potential.
But perhaps most important of all is Singapore’s deep-rooted cultural affinity for new technologies.
Today, ViVOtech is busy preparing its customers for commercial launches starting in early 2012. Our rollout will include a new NFC mobile commerce service that allows owners of NFC-equipped phones to tap on smart posters in shopping malls to collect coupons, then redeem them with purchases made using a debit card downloaded to the digital wallet in their phones.
In many other countries, these real-world mobile commerce applications are still a few years away from mass adoption. But in Singapore, the future is now.
IDA — the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore — has teamed up with VentureBeat to explore Singapore’s potential as an Asian launchpad in a series of posts that will culminate in a live video webinar. This post is part of that series. To read the full series and sign up for the webinar, go here. This article was written by Mohammed Khan, President of VIVOtech.
ViVOtech, the near field communication (NFC) software and systems company, enables rich mobile commerce solutions for in-store payment, loyalty, marketing, and merchandising. Merchant, payment, mobile, web and advertising companies use ViVOtech’s digital wallet and trusted service manager (TSM) software, smart applications, and point of sale systems to enhance customer experience and grow their business. Join the NFC revolution at http://www.ViVOtech.com.
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