Tag Archives: Google in Asia

6 highlights from Google for Philippines

At the first ever Google for Philippines event this week, we shared our vision for how we're going to help more Filipinos make the most of what the internet has to offer. This includes key updates and product launches that we hope can drive inclusive growth and support the Filipino people to participate in an increasingly digital world: 

Connecting Filipinos to the internet  

1. Google Station. To help improve internet access, we’re bringing Google Station to the Philippines in partnership with SMART. Together, we’re making Station available at more than 50 locations, including airports in Manila, Clark and Davao, as well as LRT 2 and MRT 3 stations by the end of this month. The platform will be at hundreds more sites country-wide by the end of the year.

2. Google Go.This AI-powered “all-in-one app” helps people, especially those coming online for the first time, discover, share and find content on the internet more easily. You can tap your way through trending queries and topics, or use your voice to say what you’re looking for, and even listen to web pages being read out-loud. Google Go is tailor-made for devices which may have less space or less reliable internet connections, with search results on the app optimized to save up to 40% data. 

Google Go G4PH

Providing relevant and localized experiences for Filipinos 

3. Jobs on Google Search. Filipino job seekers will soon be able to find job listings from sites across the web directly in Google Search as we’re bringing jobs on Google Search to the Philippines. They’ll be able to customize their job search through filters, save searches, or be notified when new relevant job postings appear. At launch, this will include half a million job listings from sites such as Department of Labor and Employment, Kalibrr, Jobayan and Jobs Cloud. To ensure that even more jobs are listed over time, we’ve published open documentation so all third-party job search platforms and direct employers can make their job openings discoverable through jobs on Google Search. 

4. Number Coding in Google Maps. Developed in partnership with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), this new feature will help drivers navigate from A to B in a way that avoids restricted roads on their coding day.

5. Digiskarteng Pinay. YouTube has always been a platform for learning. In collaboration with TESDA, Philippine Commission on Women, Cashalo and Unilever, this program will empower women by connecting them with educational content on YouTube—from health to nutrition, financial literacy and technical skills—that can support them in enhancing their livelihoods. 


Kilalanin si Jhoan: Isang Ma-Digiskarteng Pinay

Enabling MSMEs to connect with customers online

6. Making MSMEs more discoverable in partnership with PLDT Enterprise. Working with PLDT Enterprise, we’ll help businesses verify their business profiles and support them to get their businesses listed on Google My Business, a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google Search and Maps. With searches for products, stores and services “near me” doubling in the last 3 years, we believe this is an incredible opportunity for Filipino businesses to reach new customers. 

Try your hand at the art of shadow puppetry, with help from AI

I grew up in Nantong, a beautiful, small coastal city in China, where the Yangtze River flows into the East China Sea. One of my earliest childhood memories was when my parents, during the long winter nights, would entertain me by narrating stories using hand shadows as puppets.

Later, I would see my first traditional shadow puppetry performance during a Lunar New Year family trip to Wuzhen. Over the years as I made my way around the world—whether in Indonesia, Egypt, or Greece—I found a form of shadow puppetry in local cultures, beautifully combining legends and traditions, music and art, imagination and craftsmanship. And it always made me think about those childhood nights with my family, and about passing down stories, connection, joy and love. 

With technology, I'm hoping to help connect people to this ancient art form. In September last year, we built an interactive installation that used AI to help people explore shadow puppetry. Though it’s an ancient art, people connected with shadow puppetry in a new way, and after the conference, we decided to bring it online so that everyone could play. So today, we’re making it available as a new AI experiment, Shadow Art

Shadow Art screengrab.gif

Shadow Art is a web browser-based game that lets you experience AI and shadow puppetry in a playful way. To bring what used to be an offline experience online, we used TensorFlow.js, a TensorFlow library which makes it easy to build and train a machine learning model directly in the browser.

How does Shadow Art work? 

You use your hands to form one of twelve zodiac animals from the lunar cycle in front of your laptop or phone camera, trying to match your hand to the diagram on the screen. The “shadow” of your hands on the screen then transform into a shadow puppet animal. Sounds easy, right? Here’s the catch: we turned it into an interactive game where you have twenty seconds to form each animal. The goal is to go through the full lunar cycle as fast as possible. 

The new experiment is now available in eleven language varieties, including English, Chinese, Thai, Bahasa Indonesia, Malay, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese. In several countries around the world, our annual Lunar New Year Doodle is also celebrating the ancient storytelling art of shadow puppetry.

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It’s been great to see the shadow puppets of my childhood come to life in Shadow Art. I hope you’ll have as much fun with it as we did (my personal record for the full Zodiac cycle? 2:23 mins ;)). Happy Lunar New Year to all of you! 

Let the sunshine in: opening the market for more renewable energy in Asia

Since 2010, we’ve signed on to more than 30 solar and wind projects across the Americas and Europe, making us the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy. Today we’re adding a fourth continent to our clean energy portfolio: Asia.

We’ve signed a long-term agreement to purchase the output of a 10-megawatt solar array (which is part of a larger solar farm) in Tainan City, Taiwan. This deal is a result of collaboration between Google, industry stakeholders and the Taiwanese government—which recently amended Taiwan’s Electricity Act to allow non-utility companies to directly buy renewable energy and decrease their carbon footprints. We’re the first corporate power purchaser to act on this renewables-friendly change to the law.

Standing 40,000 solar panels strong, our project in Taiwan will be located 100 kilometers south of our Changhua County data center and connected to the same regional power grid. As the Taiwanese government pursues further measures to remove market barriers and reduce renewable energy costs, we’re hopeful that more companies will purchase renewable energy, driving even larger projects across Taiwan.

Google’s effort to add more renewable energy in Taiwan builds on our longstanding collaboration with governments and utilities worldwide to make clean power more accessible. As far back as 2013, we’ve worked hand-in-hand with our North Carolina electricity provider, Duke Energy, to develop a program that enables companies to source power from local solar farms. Similarly, last year we finalized an arrangement with the state of Georgia that allows corporations to buy renewable energy directly through the state’s largest electric utility.

data center tour

Gary Demasi, Senior Director of Data Center Energy and Location Strategy, gives President Tsai Ing-Wen a tour of our Taiwan data center.

For Google, the solar purchase agreement provides a long-term and fixed electricity price to support our operations in Taiwan; it will also boost the carbon-free profile of our local data center. In addition, it’s a step in the right direction for grid reliability and Taiwan’s broader energy supply mix, which the government wants to expand and make more renewable in the coming years.

Thanks to our development partners Diode Ventures, Taiyen Green Energy (臺鹽綠能),J&V Energy (雲豹能源) andNew Green Power (永鑫能源), the project will have a unique design and community impact: poles will be mounted into commercial fishing ponds (pictured below) to elevate solar panels several feet into the sky. This setup will maximize land-use efficiency (important in a densely populated region), respect local ecology (fish and solar panels can coexist peacefully), and generate local economic benefits (the fishing community will be compensated for hosting solar panels on its ponds).

taiwansolar

The Taiwanese energy developer New Green Power (永鑫能源) will deploy 40,000 solar panels for Google across commercial fishing ponds, in a way that maximizes land-use efficiency and benefits local aquaculture workers.

Our inaugural renewable energy project in Asia is an encouraging example of what’s possible when forward-thinking government officials, local stakeholders and companies work together for a brighter future. A policy landscape offering a clear path to cost-effective renewable power procurement is essential as more people and more organizations look to access carbon-free energy. We applaud Taiwan for giving the green light to green energy initiatives like ours—the first of hopefully many more in the region.

AI for Social Good in Asia Pacific

More than 400 million people in the world have diabetes. A third of them have diabetic retinopathy, a complication that can cause permanent blindness. The good news is that this blindness can be prevented if diabetic retinopathy is detected early. The not-so-good news—the illness is often going undetected because people don’t always get screenings. In major part, this is due to limited access to eye care specialists and staff capable of screening for the disease. In Thailand, for example, there are only about 1,400 eye doctors for approximately five million diabetics.


This is a problem that AI can help us solve. A few years ago, we worked with eye specialists in India and the U.S. on an AI system to help doctors analyze images of the back of the eye for signs of diabetic retinopathy. The results were promising. Our AI model now detects diabetic retinopathy with a level of accuracy on par with human retinal specialists. This means doctors and staff can use this assistive technology to screen more patients in less time, sparing people from blindness through a more timely diagnosis. Deploying this technology in underserved communities that don’t have enough eye specialists could be life-changing for many.


We should work to make the benefits of AI available to everyone. Besides rolling out this diabetic retinopathy initiative in clinics in India with our partner Verily, we’ve also been conducting research in Thailand over the past few months. At the AI for Social Good Summit in Bangkok hosted by Google and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) today, we announced a partnership with the Rajavithi Hospital, which is operated by the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand, kicking off a forward looking research pilot using AI to detect diabetic retinopathy in Thailand.


AI’s potential for social good extends to areas beyond healthcare. For several years, we’ve applied Google AI research and engineering to projects in Asia Pacific with positive societal impact, including stopping illegal fishing in Indonesia, forecasting floods in India, and conserving native bird species in New Zealand. We want to support more Asia Pacific organizations in using AI to help society. And we know from experience that when we involve everyone—governments, non-profit organizations, universities and businesses—better ideas emerge.


To gather more of these ideas, we recently launched the Google AI Impact Challenge. Selected organizations who apply to the challenge will receive support from Google’s AI experts and Google.org grant funding from a $25 million pool.


To ensure that all sectors contribute to the responsible development of AI in Asia Pacific, we’re supporting the creation of an Asia Pacific AI for Social Good Research Network with a grant. This network will bring together leading academics from the Association of Pacific Rim Universities to produce research on AI for social good, as well as governance frameworks, to guide the responsible development of AI. The network will also be a forum for researchers to discuss these issues with government, civil society and the private sector.  


Google has long been committed to the responsible development of AI. These principles guide our decisions on what types of features to build and research to pursue. As one example, facial recognition technology has benefits in areas like new assistive technologies and tools to help find missing persons, with more promising applications on the horizon. However, like many technologies with multiple uses, facial recognition merits careful consideration to ensure its use is aligned with our principles and values, and avoids abuse and harmful outcomes. We continue to work with many organizations to identify and address these challenges, and unlike some other companies, Google Cloud has chosen not to offer general-purpose facial recognition APIs before working through important technology and policy questions.


It’s up to all of us to ensure that AI is developed responsibly for social good. We hope that these partnerships will help us achieve that in Asia Pacific.


Building a better internet experience together with Indonesia

One of my favorite snacks is made by Rina Trinawati, a 45 year old entrepreneur from Indonesia who bakes cookies for a living. I like them because they’re not just a treat for the tastebuds. Her business, Tin Tin Chips, employs mothers of children with disabilities. Since Rina learned how to market her cookies online, orders have shot up 75 percent. Rina now employs 25 women and donates 50 percent of her profits to organizations caring for children with disabilities.


Indonesia has the largest and fastest growing internet economy in Southeast Asia. And Indonesians everywhere are getting involved—they’re building the companies that create jobs, provide goods and services, and make life better for everyone. Today, at our annual Google for Indonesia event, we announced the next round of products and partnerships to help us move forward together with Indonesians in the internet economy.


A more accessible internet for Indonesians


Using the internet for the first time can be daunting. We’re making it easier for first-time smartphone users to discover the web with Google Go, an AI-powered app that showcases the latest Search trends as well as Indonesia’s most popular apps and websites. Google Go makes using the internet as easy as watching TV by allowing people to listen to any webpage being read out aloud.


But there’s no point in web pages being read aloud if you don’t understand what’s being said. Less than one percent of the content on the internet is in Bahasa Indonesia, while more than half of all online content is available in English. To help close this gap, we are collaborating with Wikipedia on a new way to make English-only content accessible and useful for Indonesians. Now, our systems will identify relevant Wikipedia articles that are only available in English, translate them into Bahasa Indonesia using Google’s AI powered neural machine translation system, and then surface these translated articles in Search.


Speaking of talking AI, we launched the Google Assistant in Bahasa Indonesia in April. Now, we’re taking our Indonesian-speaking Assistant out of smartphones and putting it into feature phones. WizPhone is the first feature phone made by Indonesians that will have the Google Assistant built in and it will retail at less than $10 (IDR 99,000).


A more useful internet for Indonesians


The Assistant is becoming even more useful—and even more Indonesian—because of our partnerships with Indonesian businesses. For example, you can now ask the Assistant to Book a Ride in Indonesia––no more opening apps and typing in addresses or tell it to give you the news. With News Briefings, Indonesians can now hear the latest news hands-free and on-the-go from five Indonesian media outlets we partnered with.


To help connect those business owners with job seekers, we’re introducing Jobs on Google Search. Starting today, searches for “job vacancies,” will surface job listings in Indonesia, with options to organize them by different criteria like job type and distance.


And to support Indonesians in getting the skills to excel in the new jobs within the internet economy, we announced a new commitment to train a further one million Indonesian small and medium businesses by 2020. This is in addition to the one million that we have already trained since 2015.


A safer internet for Indonesians


We want Indonesians to have access to more information. But we want it to be better information—and that comes from high-quality Indonesian journalism. We’ve already trained 2,000 journalists through the Google News Initiative and we’re training another 3,000 more by next year. As part of the CekFakta.com, Google News Initiative training includes fact-checking and verification best practices, plus how to fight misinformation.


Having better information is great, but using that information responsibly is greater. So that the next generation of Indonesians use the internet responsibly, our philanthropic arm Google.org is making a grant of $875,000 to non-profit organizations Maarif Institute, Peace Generation, RuangGuru and Love Frankie to teach more than 12,000 students to champion tolerance, multiculturalism, and positivity.


These are just a few of the announcements from today that we hope will build a more accessible, useful and safer internet together with Indonesians. We’re excited to keep on working with Indonesia to realize the benefits of the internet for every Indonesian and every Indonesian business.


Fuji Bokujo Dairy Farm: milking the best of the internet

fujibokujo2

As part of our series of interviews with Asia-Pacific entrepreneurs who use the internet to connect, create and grow, we chatted with Yuichiro Fujii, President of Fujii Bokujo Inc., a dairy farm based in Hokkaido, Japan. Founded in 1904, Fujii Bokujo runs the entire process of dairy product production—from milking, to breeding, to feed production—and needs a regular supply of seasonal workers to keep the farm going. In 2016, Fujii Bokujo was ranked as the third most popular company in Japan for employee welfare.


Can you tell us a bit about your farm and how your business works?

We have 900 cows at our farm in Furano, Hokkaido. We use the most cutting-edge technology and practices available in the dairy industry, such as fully automated milking machines. And we’re proud to export our homemade cheeses and ice creams worldwide. Business is booming and we’re eager to hire new employees each year, but farming isn’t everyone’s first choice of career. Each year, it gets harder and harder to attract new graduates. Most young people want to move to the cities and there’s a shortage of talent in the countryside.


What’s it like working on the farm?

Working life on the farm is fun, but it takes a lot of energy! Most of our 24 employees are in their twenties. Many come into the business with no experience of farming, but our motto is “We nurture our cows and our people.”  We’re constantly trying to create an environment where our people can grow professionally, and maybe personally too.


fujibokujocow

One of the residents of the Fuji Bojuko dairy farm.

What difference has the internet made for your business?

We are the descendants of pioneer dairy farmers in Hokkaido. A man named Edwin Dan, considered to be the father of modern day dairy farming in Hokkaido, coined the phrase, “Kaitakusha tare” (meaning “the pride of the pioneers”). We continue to practice the pioneer spirit today by always trying out new things.


So this year, to deal with our manpower crunch, instead of waiting for responses to wanted ads in newspapers and magazines, we decided to go online. To drive interest and awareness of Fujii Bokujo and the dairy industry, we used YouTube video ads and banner ads on the Google Display Network. In particular, we hoped that young people attending universities near us that had dairy farming courses would see our ads.


We got 260 enquiries for the three positions we had open and attracted 80 participants to a seminar we held to introduce our company. I was surprised by how far the message reached—we got responses from students not just from Hokkaido but also well-known schools in Tokyo and Osaka. In the end, we offered five students jobs, completing our hiring process three months earlier than last year.


What’s next for your business?

I’m looking forward to meeting next year’s graduates! We are in an age where domestic milk production cannot keep up with demand. In line with the spirit of Fujii Bokujo, it’s my life’s dream to develop and train the next generation for the dairy business.


I am also eager to use video not just for our corporate brand and hiring but also our product marketing efforts in the future. We are developing content that will help to entice the young people to the world of dairy.


Finally, with the Olympics coming up in 2020, nothing would make me happier than contributing to athletes winning medals through food. My dream is to have the athletes of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics enjoy the high quality milk we carefully produce at Fujii Bokujo.  


Google News Initiative kicks off Asia-Pacific Innovation Challenge

In Asia-Pacific,  journalists and publishers are increasingly grappling with questions over how quality journalism can thrive in the digital age. From Yangon to Manila, Sydney to New Delhi, they are experimenting with fresh approaches to reporting and new business models.

We’ve been working hand in hand with publishers to understand those challenges, and over the past year we’ve supported Asian newsrooms and publishers through the Google News Initiative (GNI).

To help build a stronger future for journalism in Asia-Pacific, we created the Asia-Pacific GNI Innovation Challenge, which will fund projects that inject new ideas into the news industry. 

How does the challenge work?

We are inviting proposals for projects aimed at increasing revenue from readers, including subscriptions, membership programs, contributions and/or new digital products and services.  A panel of Googlers and other tech industry executives will review the submissions and fund selected projects up to $300,000 and finance up to 70 percent of the total project cost.

The funding will be reviewed against several criteria, including a “sharing component” -  for example by publishing any findings or holding a seminar - so grantees can pass their knowledge on to others in the industry. For more information on eligibility, rules and criteria, sample projects and funding details, head over to our website.

How to apply?

Given the pace of change in the news industry, innovation has never been more important.  We want to make sure that all organizations, large and small, in the Asia-Pacific news ecosystem have the opportunity to suggest new ideas around this critically important topic.

Applications open on November 28, and the deadline to submit is January 9.  If you have any questions, tune into our APAC town hall on Monday, December 11 at 3.00 pm Singapore time. We are ready to help put your ideas into action and look forward to seeing what you submit!

Southeast Asia’s accelerating internet economy

It’s hard to keep up with Southeast Asia’s internet economy because it keeps blowing expectations out of the water. Our 2016 and 2017 e-Conomy SEA reports foresaw a $200 billion internet economy in the region by 2025. The region is taking much less time to get there than earlier expected.  With eight years still left to go, Southeast Asia is already more than a third of the way to the target. And Southeast Asian tech companies have already raised half of the $40-$50 billion in funds we expected them to attract. So the latest e-Conomy Southeast Asia 2018 report by Google and Temasek projects a $240 billion Southeast Asian internet economy by 2025.


The record-breaking pace of the region’s internet economy in 2018 wasn’t a freak occurrence. Southeast Asian countries are on a solid foundation for accelerated digital growth. Here are some promising findings:


  • $72 billion is the value that the region’s internet economy will reach in 2018, more than doubling since 2015. Southeast Asia’s internet sector has generated value surpassing the gross domestic product (GDP) of more than 100 countries in the world in just three years.


  • 350 million internet users are living in the region. Since 2015, more than three million Southeast Asians, a population bigger than Chicago’s or Madrid’s, have gone online for the first time every month.


  • $102 billionis the expected size of Southeast Asia’s e-commerce market in 2025. 2018 was  the year of e-commerce in Southeast Asia, which doubled in value from the previous year. And the top three e-commerce businesses, Lazada, Shopee and Tokopedia, are homegrown players founded in and serving the region.


  • 35 millionSoutheast Asians use ride hailing services every month. Eight million rides are taken every day across 500 cities. Local unicorns like GO-JEK and Grab are spurring rapid growth in new services like food delivery, which made up a $2 billion industry in 2018.


  • $24 billionhas been raised by Southeast Asian tech companies since 2015 and investor confidence is growing. The $9.1 billion raised in the first half of 2018 is on par with the $9.4 billion in the whole of 2017. Investor confidence extends to smaller startups, with investments in non-unicorns growing four times in the first half of 2018 year on year.


  • 1.7 million full-time jobs will be created in the internet economy by 2025 for highly-skilled professionals as well as flexible work opportunities in sectors like ride-hailing.


Keep up with Southeast Asia’s internet economy and learn more in the e-Conomy Southeast Asia 2018 report.


economy SEA infographic

Experimenting with science education on YouTube

As part of our series of interviews with people across Asia-Pacific who use the Internet as a tool to connect, create and grow, we spoke with DoYoun Han, a science teacher at Hyeongyeong  Elementary School in South Korea. In addition to his day job, he runs the YouTube channel 3-Minute Elementary School Science, which shares videos of science lessons and experiments to students between 9 and 13 years old.


Why did you become a teacher?

My parents are farmers and I grew up in the countryside. Unlike the cities, you won’t find private education academies and big libraries here. I was quite playful when I was younger and the lack of interesting educational resources in the countryside didn’t help! I didn’t perform well in examinations, and lost interest in studying. But when I got to the fifth grade, my teacher Lee Byung-gi decided to personally tutor me after school, cheering me up whenever I got bad grades. He inspired me to work harder at school and I decided that I wanted to be just like him—helping students living in the countryside. I’m now living out my dream as a teacher at Hyeongyeong Elementary School in rural South Jeolla province.


Why did you become a YouTube creator?

The average South Korean family spends more than 10 percent of its income on after-school education in private academies for its children. Not every family can afford private education and you won’t find such academies in rural areas anyway. So there’s a gap in educational resources for students in urban and rural areas. I thought the best way to close it was to give teachers in rural schools material to supplement their own teaching. And I decided to share this content through YouTube because it’s popular with young people in Korea.


How do you use YouTube to help your students?

Last year, three other teachers and I started making short science lessons on video. The last thing we wanted to do was to make these seem like extra homework for the kids. So we focus on fun experiments, making abstract concepts more accessible with cartoons or songs. Our videos follow the order of the lessons in the national science curriculum. After reading the lesson in their textbooks, kids can watch our videos to get a better understanding of the subject, and hopefully have some fun too. We’ve shared about 300 videos so far.


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What challenges do you face in keeping this going?

Right now it takes us about six hours to produce a three minute video. We’re teachers, not social influencers and we’re still learning to write scripts, film and edit our videos. We use our own money to purchase the production equipment and laboratory materials. Our limited funds means that we can’t produce all the videos that we want to. That’s why we were so thankful when Google heard about our channel and decided to support us with a $30,000 funding commitment. We’re going to use these resources to create even better educational videos for kids.


What keeps you making these videos?

I feel extremely fulfilled when I get comments on our YouTube channel from students who the videos have helped. One student said that he went from being a mediocre to an ace science student, getting full marks to their test scores. I’m happy when students get better results, but I feel just as satisfied when students leave comments just expressing gratitude for being able to understand and solve a problem because of our YouTube videos. Some of our viewers have even won prizes in national science competitions!


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What are your plans for the future?

I want to keep being a teacher who presents children with the gift of dreams, creating high-quality online content to help children across the world realize their dreams. We’ve grown from a group of four teachers to 29 now, so we are also thinking of improving our videos and making new ones beyond the field of science.


As we’ve gotten a good response from viewers overseas, we also want to start offering English and Chinese subtitles to our lessons to reach more students. Through YouTube, I also want to reach students that face difficult learning environments like refugees. I see our videos becoming an online classroom that they can access anytime, without teachers or books.


PolicyPal: a mobile-first assurance on insurance

Val Yap is the founder and CEO of PolicyPal, a digital insurance broker that lets people buy, understand and organize their insurance on their mobile phones. She’s also a graduate from Start on Android, a program that helps developers perfect their apps with technical support and other perks from Google before launching on Google Play.


Why did you establish PolicyPal?

In 2013, I was working in London when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I left my job, packed my bags, and moved back to Singapore to be with her. Relocating and seeing my strong mother stricken with illness was stressful. The daily grind of dealing with medical appointments and bills made things worse, especially when her insurance claim for her treatment was rejected.


Thankfully, my mother recovered. But we unexpectedly lost my father to a heart attack later that year. We knew he had insurance, but we had no idea what. Even as we were grieving, I had to visit different insurance companies to check. That whole year was a nightmare for my family.


Coping with my father’s passing and my mother’s illness, the last thing I wanted to do was go through insurance policies. But we needed that information and there was no other choice. If we had easier access and better understanding of our coverage, this tough time for our family would have been a bit easier to bear.


We’re sorry to hear about that. How did you go about solving similar problems for others?

Many of us have insurance, but we just pay the premiums and forget about it. When an emergency strikes, we’re scrambling to understand how we’re covered. I started PolicyPal as a digital folder for people to organize and retrieve their policies quickly and painlessly. You just need to take a photo of the insurance document, and PolicyPal stores a digital copy in your mobile phone. It also analyzes your insurance policies and recommends how to fill gaps in your coverage.


As we learned more about the problems faced in the insurance industry, we expanded our product offerings. We set up PALNetwork, an ecosystem which leverages blockchain technology to automate underwriting and claims processing, and empower partners to customize new financial products. We are also the first provider in Singapore to provide insurance for people holding cryptocurrency assets.

policypal-phone

How did the Start on Android program help you in launching your app?

With the support and help from Start on Android, we received valuable feedback ahead of time from the community, helping us improve our app’s performance and user experience. We even managed to acquire and retain some early users through the program, which gave us a fantastic head start when it launched.


What are your plans for the future?

We’re focusing our efforts on serving people in more countries in Asia. I think insurance technology will develop very differently in this region from mature markets like the U.S. or Europe. People in emerging Asia will leapfrog from being unbanked and uninsured to getting insurance through novel solutions, for example, mobile apps instead of agents. We’re looking at expanding beyond Singapore to countries like Indonesia and Thailand.


You’re a female startup founder. What advice do you have for other aspiring women entrepreneurs in tech?

Find a mentor. Working with female mentors has been a game-changer for me. We go through experiences that men don’t and it’s essential that you build friendships with people who can empathize.


My second piece of advice applies to all genders! Don’t enter a sector just because it’s fashionable. Think about what problems you want to solve first and who you’re solving for. Go deep into your mission and make sure you feel it’s something you’re still going to be excited by in 10 years.