Tech in Asia is one of the largest technology conference in the region, aimed at connecting Asia’s tech ecosystem. The conference took place on September 20th and 21st in Shibuya, Tokyo, one of the up and coming international technology hub.
Christopher Reilly, Business Manager of Computer Futures Tokyo, shared “Computer Futures were delighted to partner with Tech in Asia for our 4th consecutive year last week. As always, it was a great event with some fascinating speakers, and we had the opportunity to meet some really interesting people from the start-up world here in Japan.”
The conference welcomed more than 50 speakers who shared their insights on the latest tech trends in the region. In addition, up to 2,000 startups, corporates, investors, developers, and talented tech specialists were in attendance, making it a great opportunity for like-minded tech professionals to connect within the community. Computer Futures were also able to play our part in the community by sharing talent strategies and provided updates about talent movement within the market.
One of the main events was Arena Pitch Battle, a start-up competition in which the winner was awarded with a prize of 1 million JPY. Ginco, developer of a high-security cryptocurrency wallet, won the competition, while Novars came in second. Novars introduced its IoT controller that is as small as AA-sized battery and makes household devices controllable from a smartphone app. PLEN Robotics, a cube-sized personal assistant robot, was another interesting product that caught our eye.
Tailwind for Fintech
Fintech-related start-ups showed an especially strong presence at the conference. Finbee, an iOS/Android app developer that enables users to automatically create savings from registered bank accounts were one of those who drew a lot of attention to their booth.
One major challenge for the Fintech industry in Japan that was heavily discussed –its heavy dependence on cash. According to Cashless Vision, a report published by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry this year, only 18% of transactions are cashless in Japan, while South Korea and China are at 89% and 60% respectively.
To overcome this challenge, the Japanese government has been working hard to drive various cashless schemes. Not only is this to push the Fintech industry forward, but to attract and be ahead of the curve with the increase number of overseas travellers expected for Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Japan is likely to experience exciting times as the country adopts even greater levels of technology in the next couple of years.
Coping with the changing demographics
Japan is known for its aging population across the region. As such, multiple local start-ups are motivated to solve the likely issues that may arise – including the shortage of nursing professionals.
Z-Works for instance, provides IoT support systems for nursing facilities, which includes monitoring, health-tracking and date-analysing. They are now trying to extend their service to individuals, as well as attempting to bring this solution elsewhere, apart from Japan. This is a great example of how technology has helped to address problems not only in a local setting, but potentially a world-shaker.
Shift of Japan’s talent landscape
Reilly analyses that “It was really interesting to engage with business leaders on how they are addressing the talent challenge in Japan – many of these companies are building their own software and it seems like they are going against the general practise of hiring Japanese nationals (Japanese companies are notorious for looking only at ‘local’ candidates to fill their open jobs, citing cultural and language concerns) by hiring predominantly foreign workers, even if they don’t speak Japanese. Code, after all, is a universal language. With good bilingual leaders or project managers, they can bridge the gap between the software teams and the customers here locally. One client that we met at the conference actually mentioned that they have hired 20 developers this year in Tokyo and only 1 is a Japanese national.”
Even in one of the most innovative cities in the world like Tokyo, talented professionals are always hard to find. “Sourcing high quality, experienced sales and marketing candidates seems to remain a key challenge for many of the businesses we met throughout this year; where it seems like the requirements are less flexible. As a result, the classic ‘supply and demand’ economy seems to be appearing in full force where almost every hiring manager I spoke with at the event said they were paying more for sales staff this year. Some paid as much as 100% more than the previous year”, Reilly says.
Computer Futures greatly appreciates this opportunity, and we look forward to support the start-ups and talented specialists we met there.
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