Image: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

(File) Malaysia believes a blanket ban on digital currencies would curb innovation. Souce: Shutterstock

Malaysia is gearing up for a ‘digital tsunami’, says business tech CEO

MALAYSIA is on the cusp of a “digital tsunami” and is well on its way to becoming a regional tech powerhouse, said the head of a leading regional SME business solutions provider.

Paul Conway, Chief Executive Officer of Asian Business Software Solutions Sdn Bhd — the company synonymous with the development and supply of MYOB branded accounting software in the region — said this was why tech giants like Tencent and Alibaba were looking to establish a stronger foothold in the country.

Conway said this was also why smaller, up-and-coming companies are following suit in setting up operations in the Southeast Asian nation.

“You’ve got everything you need; a good education system, a great entrepreneurial SME market place; and a strategic geographical location,” he told Tech Wire Asia.

Conway, who visited the Tech Wire Asia office in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, said the government’s move to set up the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone (DTFZ) in March was an indication of the country riding the wave of tech innovation.

“This is really helping mold Malaysia to become a bit of a powerhouse,” he said.

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“I think there are the correct tax incentives and it’s got a good working environment and is a lovely place to live,” the British CEO, who has been in the country for a little over a year, said.

“We can see the speed in which people are embracing change and it’s no surprise that people like Tencent and Alibaba are all eyeing up Malaysia to see how they can get involved.”

Conway said drastic positive changes can be expected in the next 12 to 24 months. Source: A. Azim Idris

Conway was referring to the creation of the DTFZ which was launched in March involving the government and founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma.

Aimed at providing physical and virtual zones to facilitate SMEs to capitalise on the convergence of exponential growth of the internet economy and cross-border eCommerce activities, the DTFZ is tipped to act as a microcosm to support internet companies to trade goods, provide services, innovate and co-create solutions.

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During the launching, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) said DFTZ would boost Malaysia’s eCommerce roadmap that was introduced in 2016, and double the nation’s eCommerce growth, increasing the GDP contribution to RM211 billion (US$47.68 billion) by year 2020.

And while it may take some years before tangible results from the DTFZ appear, Conway said drastic positive changes can be expected in the next 12 to 24 months.

“Malaysia has a huge opportunity for the payments (software) market place with enormous numbers of entrepreneurial SMEs out there, and it’s growing and gathering pace.

“I think the growing market for payments technology and (existence) of education facilities and the right economic conditions make Malaysia the best place to take advantage of.”