Communities Online
June 28, 2018

While peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is hailed as a route to create financial inclusion, it still has little impact on bridging the gender gap. Female borrowers are generally seen as more creditworthy than their male counterparts, because women have a better track record in spending and repaying their loans. However, a study on PPdai.com, a P2P lending platform in China, shows that gender discrimination exists in a different form: female borrowers are more likely to be funded than male borrowers but they have to pay higher interest rates. Consequently, since women are considered to have less sophisticated knowledge on investment products,... more »


May 18, 2018

China is a unique market, particularly for platform entrepreneurs. More than half of the country's population, or around 731 million people, are already active internet users - 95 percent of these accessing the internet through mobile phones. Despite the large consumer base, China has highly restrictive internet regulations. Nonetheless, local Chinese sites and apps keep emerging, replicating the features of foreign versions blocked by the government. These have become the engine of the Chinese e-market. Three homegrown social media are playing an increasingly important role in Chinese life. WeChat is hailed as "an operating system for life" in China. It... more »


April 24, 2018

The tech industry has been growing rapidly around the world, bolstering global economic growth - and Asia is no exception. Tech start-ups have fueled the economic engine in Southeast Asia, managing to secure massive investments. Singapore's Lazada and Indonesia's Tokopedia are cases in point. Moreover, China's tech sector is growing, with Chinese ICT firms naturalising technological innovation once dominated by the United States and using it as a source of strength to expand Chinese firms' grip in the global market. Regardless of the politics, competition in the tech sector is healthy. There is now more public demand for trained and skilled tech employees.... more »


December 4, 2017

Websites have long been the online platform of choice for international and national development partners to market their programs. But as technology is supporting new channels for more interactive communication and collaboration, the humble website is gradually making way for more all-purpose “Knowledge Hubs”. But what exactly is a Knowledge Hub, and what are some of the ingredients of its success? Websites share and store information, and typically drive one-way communication, from the administrator out. Knowledge Hubs, on the other hand, are more than just an online archive. We are in an era of rapid information sharing, and online platforms... more »


November 13, 2017

Online platforms for development cater to a range of audiences and on a range of issues. Three such platforms in Southeast Asia—those hosted by Phandeeyar in Myanmar, Development Innovations in Cambodia, and GovInsider in Singapore—provide a wealth of useful information and nicely represent these varied orientations. Phandeeyar is the first local startup accelerator ever established in Myanmar. Proudly positioned itself as an innovation lab, Phandeeyar offers a collaborative space for tech community, mentoring and skill building, as well as funding opportunities. Last year, the lab received US$2 million grant to incubate potential tech startups, including the country’s open data platform:... more »


September 20, 2017

The village of Khun Tae lies along a rutted, dirt road, high in the mountains of Northern Thailand. An expansion of the electrical grid and widening cellular coverage in the region have brought new opportunities to this once-secluded village of the S’gaw Karen people, but it has also created new societal pressures. Even though the S’gaw Karen are part of Thailand’s largest minority ethnic group, the Karen, they are still grappling with how to maintain their unique cultural and linguistic identity in the face of pressure to integrate into mainstream Thai institutions. One way the people of Khun Tae have taken... more »