Singapore might be the leading financial technology (fintech) hub but it has to contend with a new challenger : Taiwan. The recent fintech festival shows that the Singapore Government is looking at fintech seriously and so is the Taiwanese government.
Taiwan made its first preparatory move with legislation in January 2015 which supports fintech development. This is followed by the announcement by the local regulator to use fintech as part of financial reform to improve Taiwan’s competitiveness in May 2016.
Taiwanese Government Support For Fintech & Crowdfunding
Given the enthusiastic government support, Taiwan’s fintech industry had blossomed. Fintech is a wide industry and today, we will be looking at the crowdfunding start-ups in Taiwan that are fighting for a share of the market. Crowdfunding is also central to the new Taiwanese government efforts to fight the recession by nurturing promising technology.
This is why I thought that crowdfunding should be the first stop as we explore Taiwan’s fintech scene. Kickstarter had funded $2.76 billion worth of projects since its inception and had brought along innovation such as Oculus Rift to the general public. Crowdfunding is also on a nascent uptrend in Taiwan.
Taiwan has an active population of 10 million e-shoppers and so far only slightly over 200,000 had participated in crowdfunding. This shows that there are major space for growth in this industry.
Taiwanese are also enthusiastic backer of technology-related products even when they are known for their artistic talents. However, it has not stopped arts related events from being promoted on their crowdfunding platforms and stealing the limelight.
Contender #1 – Flying V
FlyingV goes by the tagline, ‘Do what defines you’ and had been around since 2012. This product crowdfunding platform had raised funds of more than NT$300 million or S$13.45 million over the past 4 years. Taiwan has such a vibrant entertainment scene that every serious Singaporean Chinese entertainer would make a beeline there.
Flying V reflects the entertainment gravity of Taiwan. Most of its wildest success are entertainment related with the exception of this ‘Chu+U’ watch. Other successes include the quirky Iron Man inspired ‘heart’ in 2012, ticket sales for movie screening in 2013, ticket sales for a flour themed fun run in 2013, ticket sales for a large scale concert in 2015 and another one this year.
Just before that you think that Flying V is just a glorified ticket agent, I would assure you that there are legitimate product crowdfunding for inventors who are seeking funding to build a new product.
The picture above shows 3 featured products this month. On the left, inventors are creating a special water proof audio system that can be connected to your smart phone. They asked for NT$500,000 (S$22,500) but they raised NT$1.49 million (S$66,987) within 14 days. Early backers can have a limited edition of their wooden audio system.
Next, we have projects that aims to sell baby biscuits and hanger for the household that are still being funded. As mentioned earlier, FlyingV is a bona-fide product crowdfunding but it also allows ticket sales which happens to attract a lot of enthusiastic sales in this island.
Contender #2 – Zec Zec (嘖嘖)
Zec Zec translates to praise in English. They are also started in 2012 as platform for users to share the happy and sad experiences of their lives. As they share their stories, they can propose useful products to save the pains of their lives.
In this month’s feature, one of the exciting new product is the Ghosta helmet. The inventors are not willing to accept that helmets had not changed much over the past 16 years when our cell phones had improved by leaps and bounds over the same period. In the new and improved helmet, the inventors promised exciting new features such as being updated about traffic cameras, share about traffic incidents, get audio directions to your destination, weather updates to prevent getting caught in the rain and even to make phone calls.
Other inventions that are being produced include new board games, better coffee making parts and new tea sets. Cultural and ticketed sales products are also featured on Zec Zec but they are not seen as frequently as FlyingV.
We are only seeing the beginning of a new shopping trend in Taiwan as products crowdfunding talks hold. There are other forms of crowdfunding such as debt, equity and charity crowdfunding that we would be exploring in future articles. Stay tuned.