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The Philippines could be NZ's next big export market, says tech entrepreneur

09 Jul 18

Kiwi businesses that are on the path to expanding their export potential overseas are missing out on a wealth of potential if they overlook the Philippines, says one New Zealand based entrepreneur.

Rachel Strevens, who is co-founder of cryptocurrency investment platform Invsta, says that few New Zealand businesses are harnessing the Philippines’ potential.

Strevens was part of a cohort led by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, which took five tech entrepreneurs to the Philippines to learn about tech disruption in Southeast Asia.

“The biggest revelation for me was that the Philippines has an enormous potential market for financial services,” Strevens says.

With a population of more than 100 million people, widespread English proficiency, and a growing middle class with growing income, she believes the Philippines is a huge market opportunity for her company.

“On top of this, the population is tech-savvy and 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.”

Cryptocurrencies, says Strevens, are here to stay – and beyond trading purposes the underlying blockchain technology has many different uses.

One of those uses is the capacity to streamline sluggish traditional financial systems. Strevens says many overseas Filipinos are sending large amounts of foreign wages back into the Philippines.

“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,” she explains.

However, she believes New Zealand businesses shouldn’t just consider the Philippines as a place for outsourcing.

“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.”

“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.”

Invsta is currently raising a seed fund to support its growth plans, particularly in Asia markets including the Philippines.

Invsta recently took part in the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator, which is the second Kiwibank-sponsored Lightning Lab business accelerator focused on FinTech companies.

“The Asia New Zealand Foundation trip allowed me to start making crucial connections with players in the local market,” Strevens concludes.