Category Archives: Tech

WhatsApp the Most Popular Mobile App in Laos

Whatsapp is most popular app in Laos

WhatsApp is the most popular mobile application in Laos, according to a report by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra).

Huawei to Boost Presence in Laos amid US Sanctions

Huawei has unveiled its latest solutions in Laos such as 5G, smart cities, smart government, and Huawei Cloud in a move that would help the Chinese telecom giant overcome a United States-led sanction.

Samsung Opens Tech Institute to Budding Lao App Developers

samsung tech institute opening

The Samsung-Lao Tech Institute 2019 project will offer training in app development and basic Android programming skills to young Lao programmers and app enthusiasts.

Free applications are now open, and interested persons may visit the website here to apply. Places are limited to 40.

Classes will be run from 18-22 and 25-29 March 2019, from 17:00 to 20:00 in Vientiane at the Samsung Smart Class room, Faculty of Engineering (Sokpaluang). Interested persons may contact 020 59798822 for more information.

Successful applicants will be contacted by the 11th of March or by email.

Samsung Tech Institute

E-Commerce Benefits Require Access, Digital Connectivity At Right Cost in Laos

Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory, and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR

Barriers such as costs and strength of connectivity, infrastructure, facilitation must be overcome so ongoing development of e-Commerce in Laos can assist more women, small firms, people with physical disabilities, and those in isolated communities to benefit from trade, according to research from World Bank.

Technology, e-Commerce, and connectivity mean the potential for exporting goods and services from Laos has never been greater, yet obstacles remain to fully comprehend and grab some of the many opportunities on offer, according to research released by the multilateral financier, the World Bank.

The rapid growth of e-commerce globally, including in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), helps lower the costs of trade for exporters from Laos and reduces prices for consumers, the research paper entitled Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR (English) has found.

It comes hot on the heels of the critical assessment on offer in the report Digital Connectivity in Lao PDR: Lagging Behind Peers featured by the Laotian Times: “Laos’ Online Connectivity Lagging Behind Peers As World Bank Research Reveals Extent, also in February 2019.

E-Commerce connectivity recommendations from World Bank via Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory, and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR.

E-Commerce connectivity recommendations from World Bank via Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory, and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR.

What is e-Commerce?

“E-commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods and services digitally”, according to the definition used in the research,

“Although limited available information suggests that Lao PDR has a minimal presence of e-commerce, it has the potential to present many opportunities:”

  • E-commerce can help lower the costs of trade for Lao PDR exporters and lower prices for consumers.
  • It can also reduce barriers to people who face disadvantages participating in traditional trade (ie. women, people with disabilities, and isolated communities).

    E-Commerce connectivity recommendations from World Bank via Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory, and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR.

    E-Commerce connectivity recommendations from World Bank via Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory, and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR.

Constraints to the e-commerce environment currently hold Lao PDR back from greater participation.

  • Limited internet connectivity, high costs of payments, incomplete regulatory infrastructure, and high trade facilitation and logistics costs are limiting factors.

The legal and regulatory framework needs strengthening in some areas to support greater participation in e-commerce.

  • Strengthening the protection of consumers participating in e-commerce and developing/implementing legislation for the protection of personal data will be key.
  • Taxation of e-commerce is also a priority policy area.  Any reform should be informed by a careful assessment of costs and benefits to avoid restricting the early growth of e-commerce.

Trade facilitation also needs further reform to avoid posing undue costs on small firms or entrepreneurs trying to enter into e-commerce.

  • The earliest area of growth in international e-commerce would likely be cross-border trade.
  • Small firms and entrepreneurs are least equipped to manage costs related to shipment delays, lack of transparency, and unpredictable regulations.
  • Clarification on regulations for low-value goods imports and a formal framework to streamline the process are necessary.
E-Commerce connectivity recommendations from World Bank via Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory, and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR.

E-Commerce connectivity recommendations from World Bank via Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory, and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR.

The reports key recommendations:

  1. Implement relevant ASEAN approaches to regulatory issues related to e-commerce, with a special focus on consumer protection, privacy, and electronic signatures.
  2. Take a cautious approach to imposing new taxes on e-commerce.
  3. Establish a transparent and consistently applied procedure for handling low-value cross-border trade.
  4. Move away from submission or paper documents for trade clearance and toward electronic submission of documents.
  5. Increase effort to apply risk management principles in processing cross-border shipments.
  6. Confirm the leadership role of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in the coordination of the e-commerce agenda.
Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory, and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR

Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory, and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR

Laos’ Online Connectivity Lagging Behind Peers As World Bank Research Reveals Extent

Taking Advantage of E-Commerce: Legal, Regulatory, and Trade Facilitation Priorities for Lao PDR

“Lao PDR is lagging significantly in terms of accessibility, quality, and affordability of internet services compared to other comparable regional economies,” a new report on digital connectivity states.

The grim assessment comes via The World Bank’s latest report on the country’s online connectivity entitled Digital Connectivity in Lao PDR: Lagging Behind Peers.

“Digital connectivity—access to affordable and reliable internet services—has become a key driver of economic and social development.”

Yet in Laos, according to the report, “by almost every measure,

  • Access to mobile broadband is increasing, but rural and more remote communities are still underserved.
  • Fixed broadband, which is required for high-capacity data transmission, is particularly limited.
  • Prices for internet are comparatively high.  High capacity fixed broadband services are very limited and extremely expensive.
  • The relatively high cost is slowing access, with mobile subscription and broadband internet subscription rates lower than in neighboring countries.
  • There is a minimum retail tariff regime for mobile, voice and data services, and this may reduce the ability of operators to compete on price and services.
  • Quality of service and affordability of internet are continuing concerns that are slowing the introduction and use of digital services and applications.
  • The average 2G/3G connection is on the low side for speed, and while the 4G connection speed falls within regional averages, Lao PDR is the only country in the region with only one operator offering 4G.
  • A qualitative survey of consumer attitudes suggests that consumers find internet speed slow and service unreliable, resulting in low value for money.
  • Regulatory capacity and expertise is increasing but remains comparatively low, further limiting market growth and investment.”

However, it’s not all bad news, with the Bank permitting an obligatory ray of optimism to shine upon its otherwise gloomy appraisal.

“Lao PDR is well-positioned to take advantage of digital connectivity to improve growth, competitiveness, and services provision,” it states “but interventions are needed to ensure that Lao PDR does not fall further behind regional peers.”

The Bank’s recommendations include the following…

  • Policy, legal, and regulatory reforms to stimulate investments in infrastructure needed to improve digital services
  • Increased private participation, with strategic use of public funds to support less commercially viable investments
  • Support for regulatory capacity building to ensure efficient use of resources
  • A review of the status of the national network to identify bottlenecks and infrastructure needs to deliver higher levels of traffic in the future
  • Improved reporting from the industry on access, pricing and service quality
  • Review of minimum retail tariffs for mobile services to determine whether they reduce price and quality competitiveness among operators”

Download the full report via the World Bank here.

A new phenomenon in the Smart Phone market in Laos!

The release of the ocean blue Galaxy Note 9 recently led to a shortage of stock in only a few days, as the reception was greater than anticipated. Now the ocean blue Galaxy Note 9 has returned for sale at all Samsung retailers throughout the country! Hurry and get yours and collect some bonus gifts while supplies last.

Ocean Blue Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Ocean Blue Samsung Galaxy Note 9

#SamsungMobileLaos #GalaxyNote9Laos

LOCA: Meet Laos’ First Ride-Sharing App

Not surprisingly, to make my way over to LOCA headquarters for this story, I downloaded and installed the LOCA app. A vehicle was sent to my office to pick me up, and I tracked its progress on my mobile phone until a small, unassuming hatchback pulled neatly up against the curb. A message appeared on my screen; “I am here.” I hopped in the front seat and was greeted with a shy smile from Pui, my designated driver for the trip.

Pui says most of her passengers are foreigners already familiar with the ride-sharing concept. They are often business travelers visiting the city for the first time, taking a LOCA trip from meeting to meeting. She is one of the few full-time LOCA drivers who work Monday to Friday.

Pui, a full-time LOCA driver, escorts a passenger (the writer) to his destination

“My family has no idea what I’m doing. They don’t understand exactly what LOCA is. But they are happy that I’m working,” she says, noting that before LOCA she was unemployed.

“I worked as a delivery driver a few years ago. I liked the freedom it gave me, so I thought I’d try this. I get to be my own boss and I meet a lot of new people.”

With over 900,000 vehicles on the road and no viable public transport system insight, traffic in Vientiane is becoming a thing – a thing mentioned in casual conversation, a thing appearing in news reports, and a thing to be battled during the daily commute. Roads are small, cars are big, and people still double park to buy a bunch of bananas. It’s no wonder, then, that local tech firm Bizgital put their heads together and came up with a solution.

Arriving at the Bizgital building, I input a special promo code and find 80,000 kip sitting in my LOCA virtual wallet. The trip cost 25,000 kip, leaving me with some extra credit. Pui waits for her next passenger, and I head up the stairs to meet Souliyo Vongdala, Chief Technology Officer at Bizgital, the man behind the LOCA ride-sharing app.

It took six months for the team to draft the driver registration procedures, and Souliyo assures me that all drivers are thoroughly screened. They are provided a training video, and their first few rides are monitored to ensure they adhere to LOCA’s internal safety regulations.

Souliyo Vongdala, CTO of local technology firm Bizgital

“We have systems in place to minimize safety risks, although we can’t be there for every trip. If a vehicle’s insurance policy expires, for example, that vehicle will be automatically suspended until a new insurance policy is taken out.”

Cash payment was out initially, says Souliyo, but it was brought back in at a later stage due to high demand. And the problem of cash management turned out to be an opportunity.

“If you complete a trip that’s worth 50,000, you can give the driver a 100,000 kip note and ask them to deposit the remainder into your LOCA virtual wallet. That way you’ll have 50,000 kip in your account to use for future trips. The system automatically manages this.”

Drivers are paid weekly, and can choose their own working hours. However, being an entirely new concept, many drivers are apprehensive at first, unsure if they will turn a profit.  To combat this, LOCA is investing heavily by setting guaranteed payments for drivers in case they don’t get enough traffic.

The dearth of public transportation is one of the reasons the LOCA app was created. But Souliyo sees more opportunities for his application with corporate clients, who can now send employees around town without the use of private vehicles.

“Your company will have access to a back-end system, and you can add employees into your account.  LOCA will bill you for trips at the end of the month. Not only will you know how much it cost, but also where your staff go. It’s fair for both sides.”

LOCA’s beautiful and modern user interface

When asked if he’s worried about competition from taxis, Souliyo smiles. He knows that LOCA is cheaper than many taxis, and easier to find. And it eliminates discrimination against tourists, who are often charged double by certain unscrupulous taxi drivers.

The application now has over two thousand registrants, including over fifty drivers. But surprisingly, the biggest request from local people so far has been an extension of the app to include motorbike taxis. And LOCA is working with insurance agencies to make this happen.

“Even me, I want to take a motorbike taxi because it will be cheaper and faster during peak hour,” says Souliyo.

LOCA trips can be paid for with Visa or MasterCard, as well as cash, and the developers are working with local finance institutions to bring QR code payments online. So the future looks bright for LOCA, who plan to expand to every major city in Laos within the next few years.

When asked about the name of the app, Souliyo gives another knowing smile, and says that all the proposed names were thoroughly researched.

Bizgital team behind the LOCA app

LOCA is making a fantastic offer to the public: simply download the app and get your first ride for 80,000 Kip by entering the promo code “GETLOCAL80“. This promotion is available to new users only. Use this code with the wallet payment method when requesting your first ride.

The LOCA app is available on iOS and Android.

Words: Cameron Darke

Photos: Phoonsab Thevongsa

ACLEDA Bank Lao Launches Mobile App ‘ACLEDA Unity Thanchai’

ACLEDA Bank Lao announced yesterday launched its new ACLEDA Unity Thanchai” mobile phone banking service. A virtual ‘bank in your hand,’  it provides a convenient and secure way to manage all daily banking transactions anytime and anywhere. It is available in both Lao and English languages and handles transactions in LAK (Lao Kip), USD (US Dollars) and Baht.

“Our aim is to offer access to financial services to the whole community”, said ACLEDA’s Managing Director/CEO Dr. Hay Svay. “ACLEDA Unity ThanChai, also known as ‘ACLEDA ThanChai’, works with all mobile phone networks and a very wide range of mobile handsets. It ‘unites’ a whole selection of financial services under one umbrella that simplifies day-to-day banking through mobile phones anywhere in the country,” he stated.

The app is available on a 24/7 basis and possesses high-level multilayer security features. Customers can view their account balances, obtain mini-statements, transfer between their accounts, transfer from account to mobile number, make payments to other people, make bill payments (pay their utility bills, etc), top-up their mobile phones and pay for other goods and services via QR Code anytime and anywhere right from their personal mobile phone.

By tonight, the bank is expecting the number of downloads and registrations for ACLEDA ThanChai to reach 5,000 and the number of QR Code partners to reach 177. Other services will be added in the near future according to customer demand.

“As a fast-growing bank in a rapidly developing economy, we are looking for a complete integrated mobile banking and payment solution. We want to make sure that our mobile services are universally available to our customers, are safe for them to use and deliver the dependability and reliability that ACLEDA is known for,” said Svay.

“We will be leapfrogging over traditional delivery channels to provide our customers with the latest banking technology.”

About ACLEDA Lao Ltd

ACLEDA Bank is a subsidiary of parent company ACLEDA Bank Plc, which currently has 41 branches and offices nationwide, with over 10-year presence in the domestic financial services sector. At the end of May 2018, the value of the loan portfolio has reached US$115 million with 32,981 borrowing customers. The total savings and deposits was US$92 million with 107,244 accounts. Its total assets was US$158 million and employed 1,064 staffs.

The Bank offers a wide range of banking products and financial services to corporate and retail customers through a variety of delivery channels. ACLEDA is a player in the retail banking market and services its large customer base through a broad network. With 56 ATMs, 80 POSs and ACLEDA Thanchai for customers to have access to the bank’s services anytime and anywhere.

For more information contact:

Kaysone LINTHONG,

Head of Marketing Department

Tel:020 9300 0212

Email: kaysone@acledabank.com.la