Let us look into 5 growing digital sub sectors and how it can create new investment opportunities.
According to Investopedia, Crowdfunding refers to the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new business venture. Typically, crowdfunding is either reward-based or equity-based.
For reward-based crowdfunding, entrepreneurs or inventors will pitch their product idea to investors, in exchange for a free or discounted finished product. An example of such crowdfunding website would be Kickstarter, the world largest reward based crowdfunder where over US$2 billion has been pledged by more than 10 million people since they launched in 2009. Oculus Rift began as a Kickstarter project 3 years ago, and eventually raised US$2 billion. Pledgers of the project were promised to get the upcoming Oculus Rift for free (how we wish we knew this project back then!) However, this type of crowdfunding is not considered as an investment.
As for equity-based crowdfunding, investors can chip in for the projects in exchange for the equity of the firm. The more prominent equity-based crowdfunding platforms are Seedr and CrowdFunder. Locally, Fundnel also offers various funding methods for businesses and investors depending on their suitability.
Based on 2014 statistics, Asia is recording exponential growth in crowdfunding market, contributing 21% to the global funding volume. Globally, an estimated US$87,000 is raised every hour.
2. Peer-To-Peer (P2P) Lending
P2P lending refers to a debt financing method which enables individuals to borrow or lend, without the traditional brick and mortar financial intermediaries. Investors can lend money to the businesses in exchange for periodic interest payment and the principal amount upon maturity. It is also known as social lending. Without the traditional financial intermediaries such as banks and finance companies, P2P lending narrows the interest spread between lenders and the borrowers which is beneficial to both parties.
P2P lending is usually deemed as risker as investors are lending their money to businesses that banks might have rejected their loans. However, there are many reasons why banks can reject a loan. And one of the main reason is that these SMEs do not have enough history of track records in earning ability or cash flows.
P2P lending platforms can help to assure the investors by doing first-round screening of the SMEs before posting them online. Financial information are also provided for the investors to do due diligence.
Bitcoin is a digital currency (also known as crypto-currency) created in 2009 with the promise of lower transaction fee than traditional online payment methods. It is the most accepted digital currency and some businesses accept Bitcoin as a mode of payment for goods or services. Besides acting as a mode of payment, Bitcoin is also seen as a type investment for many people. However, price of Bitcoin can be very volatile. The highest recorded price was US$1,151 per Bitcoin in 2013 while the lowest was US$205 in 2015. As at 15 Feb 2015, price of 1 Bitcoin is at US$404.
To find out more: Bitcoins Investopedia
4. Direct Purchase Insurance (DPI)
DPI enable consumers to buy basic life insurance policies directly from the insurance companies online, without having to go through financial advisors and hence, bypass commission charges. This initiative implemented by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to allow Singaporeans to have access to basic protection without any financial advice. Consumers can compare financial products offered by different insurance companies using online platforms like CompareFirst and take their time to decide which policy best suits them.
This initiative, together with vast availability of information online, people can make more informed choice and hence reduces the conflict of interest for insurance agents. The current commission based system might prevent some of the agents from recommend the soundest advice for their clients.
Everyone loves Ecommerce. Yes, everyone, even the Durian sellers.
People love to buy things online for many reasons. It can be due to convenience, price competitiveness, price comparison or variety. The trend of buying things online is set to grow further and hence, listed ecommerce companies presents an unprecedented investment opportunities for the investors. The ecommerce sector is undergoing explosive growth, attracting US$112 billion worth of investments globally in 2014.
With increased connectivity and the advancement of technology, it spurs a new wave of innovation and the birth of new subsectors. This also presents more investment options hence moving investors away from the more traditional investment methods. It is worth looking more in-depth in digital sector than ever before.
To find out more about the digital sector, visit sgx.com/digitalsector