Emerging Giants in Asia Pacific - KPMG


The Emerging Giants in Asia Pacific is a report which takes an in-depth look at new economy businesses across the region that we believe will make a lasting impact on the global business landscape over the next decade. Through an analysis of economic and investment indicators in twelve key Asia Pacific markets and interviews with leading start-up founders and executives, we identify business models and success stories that stand out as leading examples for future growth; as well as the conditions that will enable these markets to continue to thrive in today’s ever-changing business environment.

Emerging Giants in Asia Pacific excites us because we see the startup ecosystem as complimentary to the established end of the financial services industry: they’re a source of innovation, and they keep us on our toes

Surendra Rosha | Co-Chief Executive, HSBC Asia-Pacific

Region-wide growth

China will remain Asia Pacific’s dominant new economy force, but its importance will be rivalled by India as a source of digital innovation, while Southeast Asia, thanks to the expected growth of its middle classes, will establish itself as the region’s other major digital market.

B2C now; B2B soon

Consumer-facing companies and fintechs will continue to attract the largest share of investment as e-commerce, payment, delivery and personal finance platforms – often combined as “super-apps” – are rolled out to serve the region’s emerging markets. But as markets mature, attention will turn more and more to higher-value-adding B2B start-ups in areas such as enterprise productivity, education, healthcare and clean-tech. Australia is pointing the way forward in many of these areas.

Demographic drivers

The continuing growth of Asia’s middle classes, and especially the emergence of Gen Z consumers will be the biggest single factor driving digital economies across the region. But though societies with younger demographics and larger populations will be the forefront of change, as Japan is showing with its “Society 5.0” model, Asia’s more prosperous, ageing societies, too will also be rich sources of innovation.

Localized business models

The region’s many distinctive societies, economies and politics will lead to proliferation of localized business models. Malaysia, for example, is set to enhance its already strong position in Islamic finance, while in Indonesia, a host of social commerce start-ups are using local knowledge to grow their businesses across the country’s many underserved islands, echoing China’s Pinduoduo which built its e-commerce empire by concentrating on lower-tier cities.

Manufacturing spill-over

Robotics and automation are transforming factories. Rapid prototyping is allowing companies to develop new goods faster and at lower cost. Blockchain and tracking technologies are facilitating efficiency, traceability and transparency along industry supply chains. The region’s manufacturing and exporting strengths, especially those of East Asia, will be further enhanced by new digital technologies.

ESG on the rise

As the region moves to address climate change, opportunities to expand the reach of new economy businesses will arise as entire economies embrace the need to track and analyze carbon emissions, install and operate smart renewable energy systems, replace fossil-fuel powered transport networks with electric ones and put in place green finance solutions to pay.

Key Takeaways


Seizing opportunities:

The scale of digital transformation is now underway - and the availability of funding supporting that transformation — is expected to continue to support the growth of technology start-up ecosystems.


Characteristics of Emerging Giants and the challenges they face:

While there is no specific formula to be an “Emerging Giant”, the companies we identified were standout players in a wide variety of disciplines, including one or more of the following - superior technology and/ or technical knowledge, hyper localisation, mastery of logisitics, successful adaptation of their business, and a culture that attracts and retain talents.


Partnerships and working with regulators:

Collaboration is a win-win, with start-ups gaining access to market exposure and customers while corporates obtain innovative technology solutions that can help improve their business operations or access new markets.


Tax and ESG considerations:

As today’s Emerging Giants aspire to become tomorrow’s unicorns, formulating effective ESG and tax strategies will be a cornerstone for future growth.


Support to scale up:

Governments continue to be supportive of new economy expansion, with a wide range of measures and schemes to attract founders, investors, and talent.


Daring to think big:

It always starts with a seed of an idea, followed by thinking big, being disruptive and executing with full passion.

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