Philippines represents a “huge export opportunity” for businesses in New Zealand, but few are tapping into the country’s potential.
That’s according to Kiwi entrepreneur Rachel Strevens, fresh from attending an Asia New Zealand Foundation funded trip to the country.
Five entrepreneurs working in the technology space were taken to the Philippines by Asia New Zealand Foundation to discover market opportunities and learn about tech disruption in Southeast Asia.
“The biggest revelation for me was that the Philippines has an enormous potential market for financial services,” said Strevens, who is co-founder of cryptocurrency investment platform Invsta. “We see the Philippines as a huge market opportunity for ourselves.
“The country has a population of more than 100 million people, really widespread proficiency of English, and a growing middle class with growing income.
“On top of this, the population is tech-savvy and very very young, with a median age of just 23. Millennials are eight times more likely to buy Bitcoin than baby boomers so it’s an incredibly large and attractive market for us.
“The Asia New Zealand Foundation trip allowed me to start making crucial connections with players in the local market.”
Despite making the headlines for price drops in recent months, Strevens said cryptocurrencies - and the underlying blockchain technology - are here to stay. Among other things, they have the capacity to streamline sluggish traditional financial systems.
“There’s enormous amounts of foreign wages being sent back into the country from Filipino workers living overseas,” Strevens added.
“Crypto and Blockchain technologies are speeding up the transaction time of transferring money around the world and this is having a huge impact on the remittance industry as people can move money back home faster at a lower cost.”
Closer to home, Invsta recently took part in the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator: the second Kiwibank-sponsored Lightning Lab business accelerator focused on FinTech companies.
The cloud-based investment platform offers a range of crypto-traded portfolios (CTPs) to New Zealanders wanting to invest into a diverse range of cryptocurrencies and strategies easily.
Strevens said some New Zealand companies, such as Pic’s Peanut Butter, are already selling in the Philippines but warns Kiwi companies shouldn’t just see the country as a place to outsource to.
“The Philippines will remain a great country to outsource tech work to because its people are some of the best in the world and have far lower wage costs than New Zealand,” Strevens added.
“On top of this, though, with a growing middle class across the region, Southeast Asia should be increasingly seen as both a place to source from and sell to. The market is certainly there.”
The start-up is currently raising a seed round to help fund its ambitious growth plans, especially into Asian markets such as the Philippines.