The Ministry of Information and Communications, on August 13, held a ceremony to debut the akaChain blockchain platform, as part of a programme introducing “Make in Vietnam” digital platforms.
The launching ceremony of akaChain blockchain platform.
The akaChain, developed by Vietnam’s largest tech firm FPT Software corporation, supports enterprises in quickly building their business network systems and distributed applications using blockchain technology. It helps shortening the time spent on a number of tasks like electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC), credit scoring, customer loyalty programmes, and origin tracing.
In the coming time, it will be further developed for strengthened security and transparency.
At the event, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Thanh Hung said despite just being established in 2018, the platform has become popular.
He named a number of its successful users, including food group Masan Consumer, Baoviet Insurance, AIA Group, and VPBank.
The official took the occasion to call on digital firms to continue investing in the research and development of advanced technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution, adding that it will help Vietnam catch up with latest developments in the world and complete its national digital transition.
The introduction of “Make in Vietnam” platforms is part of the national digital transition programme toward 2025 approved by the Prime Minister.
Calling Vietnamese enterprises to continue investing in research of technology 4.0
Deputy Minister of Information & Communications at the launching ceremony of akaChain blockchain platform.
Invented in 2008, blockchain technology has been developed and improved to become one of the biggest breakthrough technologies with the potential to greatly affect every industry, occupation, everything from finance to production, business and even education, said Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Thanh Hung.
Many countries are very interested in blockchain and issued related policies that create favourable environment to promote and develop this new technology. Many state agencies around the world have plans to invest in blockchain to manage financial transactions, assets, contracts, and institutional compliance in the coming years.
In Vietnam, early research and application of this technology will be an opportunity for Vietnam to actively keep pace with the development of the global economy, he said.
With the great potential of blockchain, he emphasized, it is likely that in the near future these technical applications will dramatically transform our lives. The Ministry of Information and Communications praised FPT for “advancing” into this new field, creating a blockchain technology platform to help Vietnamese businesses be ready to integrate with the development of the economy, finance and technology in the future.
“The Ministry of Information and Communications calls on digital technology businesses to continue investing in research of new technologies of the industrial revolution 4.0, so that Vietnam can keep up with the latest development trends of the world and complete the target of the national digital transformation plan,” said Deputy Minister Hung.
High-quality manpower could level up semiconductor development
According to market research company Technavioa, the semiconductors market in Vietnam is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5% between 2021-2025.
Technavio’s report pointed out that the growing consumption demand is driving market growth. To meet the growing demand for hi-tech and smart equipment using semiconductors, manufacturers in the region will open more factories in the country, resulting in surging demand for manpower.
However, the lack of skilled labour in Vietnam is a major challenge impeding market growth, according to the report.
Assoc.Prof.Dr Nguyen Van Quy from the International Training Institute for Materials Science under the Hanoi University of Science and Technology said that many international reports showed Vietnam is short of high-quality engineers capable of holding key roles in semiconductor design and manufacturing.
Tech giants such as Samsung and LG said they are willing to recruit hundreds of design and manufacturing engineers every year, he stressed, adding a shortage of skilled workers will affect investors’ plan to expand production in Vietnam.
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung said that each year, the country needs about 150,000 engineers for the information technology and digital sectors, but only 40 – 50% of the demand has been met. Notably, the semiconductor industry needs some 5,000 – 10,000 engineers each year, but just 20% can be met.
The big manpower shortage, over 80%, is a major problem needing to be addressed as more than 50 FDI businesses have invested in this industry in Vietnam and they are in need of a large number of personnel.
Experts forecast the semiconductor industry in Vietnam will require about 20,000 personnel holding the bachelor’s or higher degrees in the next five years and about 50,000 engineers in the next 10 years.
FPT Chairman Truong Gia Binh suggested the Government invest in training 30,000-50,000 semiconductor experts to meet the industry’s increasing demand, adding that FPT University wants to receive investment to train semiconductor design and AI engineers to improve the capacity of the workforce in this important sector.
Nguyen Thanh Yen, administrator of the Vietnam Semiconductor Community Group, said that Vietnam should channel investment in human resources training, and the result would be seen in the number of newly established semiconductor firms and the number of students getting jobs in the field every year.
Assoc. Prof. and Dr. Hoang Minh Son, Deputy Minister of Education and Training, said though the semiconductor area is not a new training branch, the number of students and graduates remains very low, leading to a manpower shortage in terms of both quantity and quality.
Facing that fact, the Ministry of Education and Training is building an action plan to step up training to increase the quantity and quality of human resources, particularly integrated circuit (IC) designers, for the sector.
Vietnam has more than 5,570 IC engineers at present, over 85% of whom are in Ho Chi Minh City, 8% in Hanoi and 7% in central Da Nang city. Every year, only about 500 – 600 students graduate from semiconductor training courses of domestic universities, according to data from the National Science and Technology Information Portal.
To quickly raise the number of semiconductor engineers, Son suggested training students who are enrolling in close branches such as electronics engineering, electrical engineering, automation, and mechatronics engineering into those specialised in semiconductor engineering in order to increase the graduates in this field to 3,000 – 4,000 each year.
In addition, many electronics and telecommunications graduates have experience in working for IC and semiconductor-related companies. If receiving more specialised training, they can become a source of high-quality manpower for the industry, he said.
The Deputy Minister also considered re-training the engineers of close majors as a measure for quickly increasing new semiconductor personnel to 5,000 – 6,000 each year.
In 2024, Vietnamese universities will take in 1,000 students and provide them with comprehensive training in integrated circuit design.
Vietnam’s mobile money trial program to be extended till 2024
Authorities told the State Bank of Vietnam to review and report to higher ups before May 2024 the release of legal papers related to Mobile Money services.
They were to work with the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Justice, and other relevant agencies.
To make the government work better, Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai asked these ministries and other related groups to take steps to make sure that the pilot use of the service follows the rules that are already in place.
The head of the Vietnamese government had earlier said that the Mobile Money service could be tested across the whole country for two years, starting on March 9, 2021.
Customers of this service can use their cell phone accounts to do a variety of things, like pay for low-value goods and services, send money, top up their phones, withdraw money, and more, all without a bank account, a smartphone, or an Internet link.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Information and Communications, more than 3.9 million people used Mobile Money in the first five months of the year. This is three times as many as used the service during the same time last year.
Chinese low-cost e-commerce battle lands in Vietnam
The “online Silk Road” in China has the same high-quality goods that these Southeast Asian countries can buy, but the prices are much lower and the shipping costs are surprisingly low.
THE DOMINATION OF THE ONLINE SILK ROAD
Within a week, the four phone cases that Kieu Nam (Phu Nhuan district, Ho Chi Minh City) had ordered on Shopee as cross-border goods finally arrived. Including the shipping fee, the total value of the order is VND110,000, calculating that each case costs 25,000 VND, nearly half less than if purchased at the store.
Quynh Nhu (District 2, Ho Chi Minh City) said that in the past 2 years, cross-border stores have begun to be popular on Shopee and Lazada, but most are still low-value products.
For higher-value products, such as fashion, Quynh Nhu said she would order directly through Taobao in China. The recipient of the order will be a Vietnamese living near the border gates.
Even though they charge a fee for picking up the goods, taking them across China to the border gate, and then taking them to where the order is placed, as in the case of Quynh Nhu in Ho Chi Minh City, the total cost is still less than the price of the product.
Same fabric quality, about 30% design in Vietnam. One bad thing about cross-border goods is that they take 7–10 days to deliver. “That’s not a big obstacle. I will schedule a reservation,” Ms. Quynh Nhu said.
In the future, Chinese sellers will cooperate more with e-commerce platforms in their home country. There is an incentive for Chinese traders to step up such cooperation.
Mckinsey’s research predicts that 80% of GMV will be imported from outside Southeast Asia by 2021, with China playing a significant role. Momentum Works predicts e-commerce development in Southeast Asia to reach $232 billion in 2028, with Temu, Alibaba, and TikTok contributing to the worst scenario at $175 billion.
Chinese traders plan to expand into regional markets like Vietnam to maximize profits. Directly shipping from Chinese platforms to Vietnam yields a 10% profit, but combining with popular Vietnamese e-commerce platforms can increase it by 5%. The key to this strategy lies in low delivery costs, as domestic packages in China cost less than VND10,000, despite longer transportation distances.
The Chinese government made this plan 10 years ago. Economic Information Daily says that China’s logistics costs made up 18% of its GDP in 2013, which is more than twice as much as other OECD countries.
Experts point out that the cost of transporting goods in urban areas accounts for 30% of the total logistics costs of the entire industry. This has been a consequence since 1991, when China’s average logistics cost growth rate was 14.8% while GDP increased only 10.7%.
Urban expansion in Shanghai leads to increased transportation demand, but the lack of public supply and demand information-sharing platforms hinders truck operators’ capacity. Empty trucks accounted for 37% of the city’s total trucks in 2011, three times higher than in Europe and America. High logistics costs include tolls and fines.
The Chinese government implemented policies to reduce transportation costs, standardize logistics facilities, and reduce tax rates for the logistics industry. These included standardizing pallets, replacing business tax with value-added tax, compensating road tolls, and encouraging land use. The Ministry of Trade also promoted information technology applications in the industry.
In 2016, logistics costs per GDP decreased by nearly 4 percentage points, largely due to NDRC policies reducing taxes and fees for companies, enabling easier capital access.
China aims to reduce the logistics cost/GDP ratio to 12% by 2025, saving industries over 900 billion yuan ($135 billion) annually.
China is optimizing domestic logistics costs and promoting cross-border sales in Southeast Asia. Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade plans 53 warehouses in six provinces by 2025 to 2035, covering over 1.2 million m2. With a global factory position and 2/3 of popular e-commerce platforms, China’s goods are increasing, making it easier to penetrate regional countries.
The country has long been a global exporter of many consumer products and is now expanding this influence faster and more widely through its e-commerce platforms, even shaking up shopping activities. online globally.
“CLEARING GOODS” AT THE LOWEST PRICES
Chinese manufacturers are reducing prices and attempting to penetrate foreign markets due to weak domestic demand. Local governments are subsidizing overseas trips and urging banks to lend to companies expanding in countries participating in China’s “Belt and Road” initiative.
Indonesia’s government has banned e-commerce transactions on social media platforms and regulated foreign goods to have a minimum price of $100, aiming to protect domestic businesses from cross-border goods and ensure fair competition while protecting user data.
With the largest e-commerce market size in Southeast Asia (more than $50 billion in 2022, according to Momentum Works), Indonesia’s actions are intended to prevent new e-commerce platforms such as TikTok, according to comments.
According to market research company BMI, there is an opportunity for growth in this country. The competition between GoTo, a “homegrown” e-commerce platform formed from the merger between two other domestic businesses, Tokopedia and Gojek, with Shopee and Alibaba is more than enough in the current context.
The Indonesian Government proposes a domestic ban to safeguard 64 million micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, despite mixed reactions from small businesses, aiming to protect them.
TikTok business owners are profiting but need to cut human resources. Traditional traders are improving but not reaching the same level. E-commerce platforms like Tokopedia and Shopee disrupt traditional market activities due to transparent prices.
Meanwhile, others are concerned that importing goods at competitive prices from world factories will affect the domestic manufacturing sector, which is supporting many working families. The growth in the commercial sector is there, but its consequences for the production sector are immeasurable.
A McKinsey report suggests that trade agreements like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement will boost production and supply chains, particularly in the garment, consumer electronics, and food sectors.
CHANGE IN RESPONSE
Southeast Asia’s e-commerce growth and lower labor costs are attracting foreign investors, prompting the Indonesian Government to create protective barriers against cross-border e-commerce. This can teach other countries, including Vietnam, to optimize operations and adapt to new business paces, as returning to pre-e-commerce times is impossible.
The low-cost e-commerce market, characterized by stagnant incomes and economic instability, is causing concern for Vietnamese businesses and small businesses, as low-cost platforms struggle to develop strongly.
Competitive prices and easy ordering are benefits that cross-border goods bring to Vietnamese consumers but put great pressure on domestic businesses. “The fashion industry is changing profoundly,” said Mr. Dao The Vinh, founder of 8-year-old fashion brand Midori.
E-commerce and cross-border goods have significantly impacted domestic fashion brands’ production capabilities and cost optimization. Midori must adapt to new trends by focusing on design teams, optimizing materials, and changing production processes to meet small but continuous orders. This allows customers to place orders on e-commerce platforms within 2 hours.
Midori, a Vietnamese company, has reduced its retail chain size by 2/3, reducing revenue contribution from over 20 stores. The fast-changing fashion industry has put pressure on costs and efficiency. Julyhouse, a natural essential oil business, continues to optimize costs in a competitive context, despite not yet having a strong domestic customer base.
Julyhouse, a Vietnamese FMCG startup, is aiming to maintain competitive raw material costs by partnering with farm-based suppliers and supplying product bottles themselves.
The company is distributing goods through retail channels and e-commerce platforms. Julyhouse is also investing in brand retention and social commerce technology to make it easier for consumers to forget brands. The company’s revenue ratio is approaching 70% online and 30% offline.
Regardless, shoppers like Kieu Nam and Quynh Nhu are still benefiting from hunting for cheap items from anywhere. Consumption habits associated with cheap goods and the current macro environment are paving the way for a price race, which will create notable changes for shoppers as well as e-commerce platforms. representative of a Vietnamese e-commerce platform comments.
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