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Why the ASX is in a “perfect position” to reap the benefits of booming demand in south-east Asian markets

Thursday, 7 August 2014 | By Kye White

MigMe managing director Steven Goh says the ASX has a real opportunity to attract a growing number of technology companies looking to list in the region.


The Australian-founded Singapore-based company is set to begin trading on the ASX this month via a backdoor listing through mining company Latin Gold.


It’s has undergone a number of shifts in its core product. It began as a game, virtual gifts and chat service on feature phones, growing to 70 million registered users predominantly in the Indonesian and African markets, but is in the process of shifting to a smartphone-based product.


Founded in Australia in 2006, the company moved to Silicon Valley before relocating to Singapore to be closer to the markets it was operating in.


Goh says those markets are now exploding and Australia’s location provides the perfect opportunity for the ASX to capitalise on that.


Australia’s competitors in the region for tech listings include Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.


Goh says the Japanese and Korean exchanges are too insular, Singapore’s is too focused on real estate and in Hong Kong “you can’t really list a company under $100 million”.


Australia’s proximity to these markets – it’s a six hour flight to reach 15% of the world’s population – Goh says, and investors with a history of risk thanks to speculative mining ventures, make it very suitable for technology companies in the region.


“It’s got a very international focus, and has this history of putting mine sites in the middle of nowhere, so there is an understanding of risk,” he says.


“Not all companies are wildly speculative, there’s a lot of mid risk companies and some great stories coming out of Australia.


“It makes sense for those in the south to list in Australia. The ASX has a unique position in this market.


“It will be interesting to see how this north/south corridor will try and evolve.”


As for MigMe, Goh says smartphone usage in the developing world will rapidly increase over the next few years, but there’s a subtle difference in the way users approach the technology compared to users in the developed world.


He says smartphone usage in the Philippines will triple in the next nine months, and in the next two years there will be more smartphones in Indonesia than in North America.


Goh says there’s an opportunity for a Weibo-like product (Weibo is the Chinese microblogging site known as “the Chinese Twitter”) which targets these markets, monetized through virtual gifts and premium in-app experiences, as opposed to advertising.


“I know Facebook and Twitter want to grow in these markets. But now they’re listed companies their products are tied to a revenue line in North America.”


Goh says that’s a weakness MigMe hopes to capitalise on.