Many firms yet to tap into Asean ICT market

Leo: ‘We are focused on moving up the value chain and to position ourself in Malaysia and in the region as a fully integrated solutions company.’

PETALING JAYA: According to a study commissioned by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and conducted by the International Data Corp (IDC), the Asean ICT Market is estimated to be worth US$48bil (about RM198.7bil) by 2019.

However, many local technology companies have yet to fully capitalise on the immense potential of the Asean market.

In view of this, MDEC launched its Global Acceleration and Network (GAIN) initiative in 2015.

The initiative aims to develop high-potential, high-growth Malaysian technology companies into regional and global champions by connecting them with appropriate partners in various countries to help expand their business into those countries.

We spoke to three public-listed companies recognised under this programme: Scicom Bhd, IFCA MSC Bhd and GHL Systems Bhd.


SCICOM Bhd, a company involved in the call centre business, joined the GAIN programme to expand its global presence as the platform assists in providing market access.

Scicom group chief executive officer Leo Ariyanayakam told StarBiz that the GAIN initiative has introduced the company to potential clients and opened new markets for its products and services.

“The publicity, business contacts and knowledge acquired from being on the programme proved to be invaluable,” he said.

Headquartered in Malaysia, Scicom provides premier customer care and technical support services to customers across 37 countries from the company’s operation centres in Kuala Lumpur and Colombo, Sri Lanka. Moving forward, the company plans to expand its operations into emerging markets such as Africa, South America and the Middle East.

“We are focused on moving up the value chain and to position ourself in Malaysia and in the region as a fully integrated solutions company,” said Leo. According to ICT market research firm, International Data Corp, Scicom’s position as a leading global business process outsourcing player stem from the company’s business intelligence and remarkable client delivery in human resource, information technology, social media, and digital support.

The company has transformed from offering basic call centre services to providing complex solutions to its multinational clients. However, given the challenging global environment, Leo noted that the company will continue to diversify its service offerings to provide complex integrated solutions across the supply chain to its clients.

With the constant diversification of service delivery, the company has developed proven capabilities in software development, payment gateways, biometric solutions, big data and analytics, education solutions and customer facing services.

Leo said the company would continue to pursue new and better ways to serve its clients in a cost-efficient manner as part of the services diversification strategy.

“Our customer service delivery provides a clear competitive edge to our clients and enables them to stand out in a very challenging global economic environment.” he says.


IFCA MSC Bhd has gained tremendously from working closely with MDEC to grow its market presence globally. IFCA chairman Ken Yong said the company has benefitted from the GAIN programme by being highlighted as a global technology icon.

Yong: ‘We have invested heavily the last 18 months in developing, testing, fine-tuning our platform and our business model.’

Yong: ‘We have invested heavily the last 18 months in developing, testing, fine-tuning our platform and our business model.’

“Partnering with MDEC gives us the opportunity to explore market access, improve our technology capability through numerous training and seminars, and provide us with various platforms where we can learn about technology and digital disruption,” he added.

Being a specialised property industry software solution player, Yong remains confident that the company will continue to transform the property industry. IFCA exploits the latest digital and mobile technologies to create a comprehensive e-sales platform for the property sector.

Currently, IFCA has customers in the Asean, the Middle East, and South Africa. Going forward, the company plans to expand its global reach by focusing on the South-East Asian region, including setting up offices in Thailand and Vietnam.

Given the slowdown in sales for the property sector, Yong believes property developers would be more open to new ideas to help sell their projects, adding that new business initiatives by IFCA will be a timely proposition.

“We have invested heavily the last 18 months in developing, testing, fine-tuning our platform and our business model. We are now ready and will soon be announcing a very interesting and disruptive way of selling property with a major developer.

“Our aim is to help property developers leverage digital and mobile technologies to market and sell their projects,” he said. Despite the slowdown of the property market, IDC expects the demand for software solutions for the property industry to gain traction.

“IDC believes the potential for opportunities within Asean are vast as the property market in the region is booming,” it said.


GHL Systems Bhd, a payment solutions provider, has worked with MDEC for more than a decade and has benefitted from the GAIN programme through exploring new markets and building more contacts locally.

The group’s chief executive officer Danny Leong said working closely with MDEC has accelerated GHL’s growth in the payment space globally, specifically in the Asean region.

“Under the GAIN programme, both parties have worked together to identify potential companies for merger and acquisition to spur growth inorganically. In addition to this, MDEC has assisted GHL in business matching opportunities with regional as well as global partners,” he added.

GHL’s core business, the Third Party Acquiring (TPA) business, provides payment transaction services to retailers by directly engaging with them. The company has also ventured into the mobile payment space.

IDC believes that, GHL will continue to dominate the card payment segment of the TPA market as it aims to serve the small-sized retailers segment, adding that the segment is underserved by card payment acquirers. Approximately 90% of the small retailer segment has turnover of less than RM12mil per year.

Currently, GHL has operations throughout the Asean region including Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia. Leong’s optimism stems from the fact that most countries in Asean are encouraging electronic payments.

In Malaysia, Bank Negara intends to increase the adoption of e-payments, aiming for the country to achieve 800,000 terminals by 2020. As GHL continues to aggressively expand its TPA business, Leong noted that the company targets to achieve more than 1,000 new merchants per month across the Asean region this year.

“With this drive for electronic payment, GHL is in an ideal position to offer TPA services to acquirers and merchants for credit card, debit card, mobile point of sale as well as next generation payment methods like AliPay,” he said.

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