The world’s middle class is booming, and Asia is at the crux of it. The World Economic Forum estimates the middle class will expand to 5.3 billion people by 2030, up from 3.6 billion today. Ninety percent of the next billion-person increase is expected to occur in Asia. To put these numbers into perspective, the middle-class reached 1 billion people in 1985, more than a century after the industrial revolution, meaning historically, this level of growth has never been seen.
This massive expansion gives way to an uptick in consumer spending –estimated to be at $28 trillion USD in 10 years –and much of that spending will occur in Asia. While western nations focus on rebuilding savings, Asian countries focus on domestic growth through investment and consumption.
African populations are also expected to grow at a fast pace, but what sets Asia apart from Africa is their respective governments’ abilities to support this growth: stability, infrastructure and free market policies. Asian nations, be it Indonesia or Taiwan, have better infrastructure in place (physical and intangible), and its governments continue to invest in roadways, broadband access and healthcare. More importantly though, most Asian markets have embraced free market policies promoting investment with low interest rates. It is the relative stability of the local governments and lack of corruption which drives foreign direct investment. As a result, while the populations in Africa and Asia will boom, the latter has the framework for companies to capitalize on this growth.
This environment of unprecedented growth and investment into infrastructure is enticing companies to look to countries in Asia as the next big market to capture. Although attractive, international expansion also means challenges. Many foreign regulations stand in the way from bringing products to market. Compliance often requires companies to make changes in formulation, packaging and labeling, increasing development costs. Increased growth in Asia can cause uncertainty, as, during periods of expansion, governments sometimes create changes in policy. As a result, it may be difficult to understand how the different and developing regulations in the Asian markets may affect one’s business when expanding.
Historically, the resources and time to understand changes, and subsequentially to ensure compliance, was substantial. However, the advent of Regulatory Technology (RegTech) has allowed companies to substantially cut down on these costs. RegTech, a derivative of Financial Technology (FinTech), uses various information technology computing methods to tackle a wide range of regulatory challenges and affairs. These computing systems, ranging from deep-learning and neural-network-based artificial intelligence to blockchain-based solutions, allow companies to instantaneously solve regulatory equations and assess compliance. Automation of this process allows for faster adaptation to changes and it alleviates the pain points of bringing products to market in regulated industries.
At the forefront of RegTech solutions is RegASK, a company that uses artificial intelligence and expertise in regulatory affairs to alleviate the roadblocks that FMCG and medical device companies experience when bringing products to market. RegASK uses natural-language-processing and semantic graph engines to ensure compliance by answering regulatory questions, aiding path-to-market and path-to-claim strategies, and ensuring product registration. This AI-powered technology also allows for recognition of regulatory changes, enabling customers to avoid non-compliance and subsequent penalties. The Asia desk, located in Singapore, is the headquarters of more than 200 experts in 24 countries. With access to the fastest growing markets in the world, RegASK can advise and answer any regulatory question, reducing cost and the risk of noncompliance.
The booming middle-class in Asia and the accompanying influx of consumer spending is an enticing area for companies looking to capitalize on. RegASK uses its AI-powered RegTech to reduce the regulatory obstacles that FMCG and medical device companies face when expanding, enabling them to bring their products to market in more efficient and cost-effective ways.