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MDEC partners Weibo to develop pilot Virtual City

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 3): The Malaysian Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) is collaborating with Weibo to develop and implement a pilot Virtual City portal that will run on Weibo's social media platform to promote Malaysian products and services.

The portal, according to MDEC in a statement today, will enable China consumers to obtain information of the products and services offered by any Malaysian city, besides provide shared experiences, recommendations and useful tips with each other.

MDEC has inked a memorandum of understanding with Weibo for the pilot project.

"This collaboration between MDEC and Weibo is aimed at raising awareness and expanding the cross-border relationship with Malaysian brands and products. This will be done by leveraging on the power of China's social media capabilities. The goal is to drive demand for Malaysian brands and catalyse cross-border e-commerce activities between Malaysia and China. It will also see the cultivation of Malaysian talents, who can specifically use the Weibo social-commerce platform," MDEC said.

“We are excited to embark on this Virtual City collaboration with Weibo. With its extensive user-base and comprehensive content channels, the pilot will raise the awareness levels and engagement rates with the people in China; specifically on Malaysian brands and products. It can also be used to promote tourism and draw visitors from China to Malaysia,” said MDEC chief operating officer Datuk Ng Wan Peng.

“Our ultimate aim is to motivate local business owners to embrace digital technology, enabling them to access global markets. Malaysia’s presence on the Virtual City portal will open new opportunities for local businesses. This will ensure they can be a part of China’s booming eCommerce industry and provide them with unparalleled business growth,” she added.

MDEC plans to engage with key government agencies and private sectors to participate in the development and implementation of the Virtual City portal. 

Tentatively set to be launched some time this year, it will be the first Virtual City in Southeast Asia and the third to be launched outside China, after London and Tokyo's.

Weibo International General Manager Jennie So, meanwhile, said the virtual city will be a key digital bridge linking Malaysia with China via Weibo, to promote greater exchanges of economic, cultural and business interactions.

“Weibo commands a massive global user-base, especially in Southeast Asia — where digital adoption is accelerating. Virtual City aggregates a city’s key government bodies, enterprises and social influencers, through multiple Weibo-powered digital products and content features. With these advanced features, this system can create holistic city-wide brand impacts and influence uplifts,” So added. - The Edge Markets


THE DESA project, a new initiative to help rural SMEs find a market for their goods through e-commerce, was launched in conjunction with e-Commerce Day 2019 and organised as part of the National e-Commerce Strategic Roadmap (NESR) intended to accelerate Malaysia's e-Commerce sector.

Describing DESA as "a non-profit platform that provides services, assistance and opportunities to underserved communities," MDEC chief executive officer Surina Shukri, also noted that it had managed to garner the support of significant companies such as Alibaba and Lazada as well as successfully helping an Orang Asli village near Bentong get their agricultural products to a global marketplace.

"e-Commerce Day has always been about getting Malaysians on board the country's digital agenda," noted Surina, while citing data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia that showed that the digital economy contributed 18.5% towards the national economy in 2018 (RM267.7 billion in revenue), of which e-commerce contributed 8% (RM115.5 billion).

"e-commerce is mission critical to the Malaysian economy."

DESA initiative

The seeds of DESA were planted when Anna Teo, KC Ooi, Ames Tan, and Sean Lee were impressed by what they saw in the village of Bai Niu, famous for its hickory nuts.  

They were invited as part of a Netpreneur training session organised by Internet giant Alibaba, facilitated by MDEC. They found out that the village generates an average of RMB50 million a year (nearly US$30 million or RM30 million) from its exports of nuts, and was identified by Alibaba to be one of its Taobao villages.

"We were inspired by how the people living in this village can export so much," said Teo, noting that they also noticed the luxurious touches in the homes of the villagers. "You can see they are not normal village people."

The success of Bai Niu was the result of the infrastructure set up by Alibaba and the China government to encourage the villagers sell their produce online. "This inspired me - why can't we do (this) in Malaysia?"asked Teo.

When they returned to Malaysia, the group sought out a test site to prove the idea could be replicated. They eventually settled on a group of Orang Asli settlements around the town of Bentong, and set to work helping the locals package, market and sell their produce such as organic rice, and ginger on the Internet.

Although there was initial reluctance on the part of the villagers, eventually the products were sold on the Desaku LazMall Flagship Store in Lazada, and on the back of a successful 11.11 campaign, was sold out within 24 hours.

Teo said that this opened the eyes of the locals as to what was possible, and they then responded positively. "The (next) time we went back, they had cleared their land and were asking, 'how much do we need to produce now?'"

Alibaba Group vice president of Global Initiatives Brian Wong, commended what DESA had managed to do in six months. "It exceeded my expectations in terms of the speed and the quality at which they executed this."

This was the first such effort for Alibaba to extend its Taobao Village network outside China. "What we have to offer... is a marketplace of over 750 billion active consumers on Alibaba, of which 400 million of those are middle class Chinese consumers looking for foreign products."

"Once you can get this model figured out, then you can scale it."

e-Commerce in Malaysia to grow by more than 20%

Surina affirmed that MDEC's role in programmes like DESA is to champion them as successes for others to emulate.

Stressing the need to "accelerate efforts to transform the e-commerce sector," Surina shared that the end goal is to boost the e-commerce industry towards an annual growth rate of more than 20%, aiming to contribute as much as US$41 million (RM170 billion) to the GDP next year.

"By 2020, e-commerce will mature into a key driver for our digital economy," she said. "The DFTZ and its related end-to-end fulfillment capabilities will be one of the accelerators for the e-commerce sector.

"e-Commerce, especially cross-border e-commerce, will play an important role in establishing Malaysia as the heart of digital Asean." - Digital News Asia

Malaysia well-placed to help local firms tap into global market, says Alibaba Group

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — As a multicultural society with a keen interest in embracing the digital economy, Malaysia is well-positioned to help local enterprises to tap into the some of the largest markets across the globe, said Alibaba Group.

Its global initiatives vice president, Brian Wong, said on its part, Alibaba would continue to support Malaysian businesses and help them achieve their fullest potential during this transformative period.

“The world is in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – one that is firmly grounded in the digital economy.

“E-commerce will benefit many aspects of the Malaysian society. Apart from promoting rural development and economic inclusion, it also creates the impetus for small and medium enterprises to innovate and tap into the enterprising spirit of the young people, in particular, to speed up business development and create more jobs,” he said in a statement here today.


Wong was part of Alibaba Group that shared and outlined the steps it has taken to continue its support for the growth and transformation of Malaysia’s digital economy, through a presentation at Malaysia’s second annual national eCommerce Day.

He also spoke on the DESA project – a promising programme extending the reach and opportunities in the digital economy to rural communities around Malaysia.

“The programme was created by four enterprising locals following their participation in an Alibaba Netpreneur Training course,” he said.

With the support of the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Lazada and their respective partners, the DESA project initiative seeks to establish a dedicated platform for rural-based businesses to be able to participate in and benefit from the digital economy.

Inspired by their introduction to the Taobao Village concept when they were in China, a product of rural villagers banding together to learn how to sell their produce on Taobao, the pilot project in Bentong, Pahang, will help rural producers of organic rice, raw ginger, ginger powder, soy sauce and Sempalit groundnuts to market their wares to online consumers across Malaysia and new markets around the world.

Alibaba Group has empowered and supported all levels of the society including public, private and educational sectors with various initiatives, touching hundreds of digital entrepreneurs and thousands of university students.

These initiatives include the New Economy Workshop, eFounders Fellowship, Alibaba Netpreneur Training and the Global eCommerce Talent (GET) programme.

The New Economy Workshop is a four-day module for government officials with lectures and seminars by senior executives on e-commerce, financial technology, logistics, platform governance and government policies.

Meanwhile, the UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) and Alibaba Business School’s eFounders Fellowship is a 12-day course for digital entrepreneurs to learn from real-life case studies and to-date, eight classes have been conducted with over 270 entrepreneurs from across Asia and Africa completing the programme.

Alibaba Netpreneur Training is a 10-day programme for local traditional business leaders aspiring to digitise their companies or the digital enablers who help them to transform.

“To date, there have been three editions held in Malaysia, with a total of 145 netpreneurs graduating from the initiative,” said Alibaba Group.

The GET initiative is a five-day programme for local trainers in universities, which aims to empower participants to better equip their students with knowledge of the e-commerce industry and foster talent for the digital economy.

“Since its launch in 2018, Alibaba has trained 200 people from 30 Malaysian academic and training institutions with a combined student population of 3,996, in collaboration with five GET-certified universities in Malaysia,” it said. — Bernama

More contributions from e-commerce sector this year: KKKM

KUALA LUMPUR: The eCommerce sector is expected to increase its contribution to the economy this year from the RM115.5 billion or eight per cent last year, given the strong momentum and greater participation by local businesses.

“We believe that these numbers will continue to grow through the increasing number of business owners utilising the digital applications and platforms to drive their business growth,” said Ministry of Communications and Multimedia secretary general Datuk Suriani Ahmad, in conjunction with eCommerce Day 2019, today.

The two-day event carries the theme, “From Local to Global Champion!”, with the goal to encourage and inspire business owners to adopt eCommerce and trade across borders.

Suriani also said that the country’s digital economy, valued at RM267.7 billion in 2018 (18.5% contribution to the economy), has the potential to fortify Malaysia as the Heart of Digital Asean.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chief executive officer Surina Shukri who was also present at the event said the digital platforms were already enabling local business owners to be onboard the eCommerce highway and connecting them with global buyers.

“By 2020, eCommerce will be the key driver of the nation’s digital economy. As such, Malaysia will continue to introduce new and streamlined initiatives that will empower eCommerce adoption among local businesses.

“It will also foster interests among key industry players that will amplify strategic investments into Malaysia and the region,” she said.

Asked on the implementation of the digital tax that is going to be rolled out from Jan 1, 2020, Surina said it would help to level the playing field between local companies and foreign companies.

“Today local companies are already paying that version of tax but the foreign companies are not.. for example, Iflix is paying the tax but netflix, no,“ she said.

The digital tax was first announced during the 2019 budget, whereby a six per cent would be imposed on paid digital services including video, music and app purchases.

Organised by MDEC, the eCommerce Day brings together industry players who are committed to taking the nation’s digital economy onto the world’s stage.

Some 1,500 participants including local small and medium enterprises and eCommerce industry players attended the event. — Bernama

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