Mr Desmond Tay, chief executive officer of vCargo Cloud (third from left) at the CamelONE launch in Singapore.
By Andy Chen
Mr Desmond Tay: We have successfully set our footprint on the “digital silk road". (Photo: VCC)
In 2013, Singapore company vCargo Cloud (VCC) started with just a staff of five.
Today, more than 130 are on its payroll. Its rapid expansion mirrors the boom in global trade that is fuelled by e-commerce. Indeed, the infocomm technology solutions provider’s corporate mission is clear: to simplify global trade using its trademarked platform, the CamelONE eCargo Marketplace.
The platform digitalises the entire process of trade from end to end, including marketplace transactions, logistics and financing. It aims to make business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce transactions as easy as “buy, ship, pay”. To make it easier for everyone including SMEs to use the platform, CamelONE is vendor-agnostic.
CamelONE is used in 14 countries worldwide, connecting governments, businesses and consumers. Although vCargo Cloud already has a China office located in Shanghai, it will be showcasing the platform in Chongqing at the inaugural Smart China Expo, from 23 to 25 Aug, to expand its footprint in the country.
VCC is among more than 20 companies from Singapore exhibiting at the expo, as part of the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) largest business delegation to China. Other companies include DataStreamX, Fresh Turf, Inspire-Tech, VersaFleet, and ZomWork.
The inaugural Smart China Expo – to be held in Chongqing from 23 to 25 August – is set to be one of the largest ICT events organised by the Chinese government. It will be held across 150,000 sq m, with a 30,000 sq m plaza featuring smart technology innovations in diverse industries, including healthcare, tourism and logistics.
We had a quick chat with VCC's Chief Executive Officer Desmond Tay about the company's ambitions in China and beyond.
To what extent has VCC achieved the goals it set for itself when it launched five years ago?
Our goal is to be a leader in global trade, to help connect businesses, and to create new opportunities. Through our CamelONE platform, we have already achieved various milestones towards our goal. Today, the CamelONE platform has been deployed in seven countries in Africa, three countries in South-east Asia, three countries in Central Asia, and also in China. We have successfully set our footprint on the “digital silk road”.
What have been VCC’s biggest learning points in its journey from Singapore to other countries in the world?
From the way of doing business to the engagement with government, each country is quite different. We have learnt to adapt to the different culture in each country we go to.
How different is each office?
Each country office does have its unique characteristics. The team in China tends to be more business-oriented and commercially driven, the team in Kenya is very resourceful, and the Indonesian team is very focused and pragmatic. While the offices in these three countries have very different cultures and working styles, they share the same vision and core values. VCC’s three core values are that we are "Very Customer Centric", we have a "Very Creative Culture", and we aspire to be a "Very Commanding Company".
The global trade industry is no doubt competitive. How does VCC keep ahead of rivals?
Being able to think out of the box and think a few bounds ahead of the competition is key to VCC’s success. We also pride ourselves on having a very open culture – we advocate team members at all levels to participate in innovation. The world is moving at a much faster pace than a few decades ago. Encouraging everyone in the team to be a thinker and not just a doer is a crucial ingredient for success.
What does VCC hope to achieve at the Smart China Expo?
We hope to create a stronger awareness in the industry of VCC’s capability and product at this event, as well as to seek new partners and reinforce the relationships we have with existing partners in the country.
When it comes to collaborations, what benefits does VCC offer Chinese companies, and what can Chinese companies offer VCC?
The value VCC can offer Chinese companies goes beyond China. VCC’s CamelONE strength is its connectivity for global trade. Chinese companies can tap on the CamelONE platform to facilitate trade with other countries. Likewise, Chinese companies on VCC’s CamelONE platform can provide opportunities for companies in other part of the world to connect to China.
Mr Desmond Tay says that Chinese companies can tap on the CamelONE platform to facilitate trade with other countries. In the same vein, SME companies from Singapore seeking to penetrate the China market can also benefit from the platform. (Photo: VCC)
How can the CamelOne platform help SMEs to identify new opportunities in China market?
CamelONE provides an end-to-end solution for Trade Facilitation and Logistics in the Belt and Road regions, including China. As a matter of fact, SME companies wanting to penetrate the China market are one of the target users of the platform. For these companies, CamelONE simplifies the trade facilitation process, by having the logistics and regulatory requirements integrated into the platform. For example, via the platform, SME companies importing seafood products into China need not source for traditional distributors or importers and acquire the necessary licenses and permits for the import. The platform offers a “one-stop shop” solution, allowing the SMEs to focus on developing their products in the market.
In May (2018), VCC and the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce launched what is called the world’s first Electronic Certificate of Origin on blockchain. Do you think it will ever get easier to explain blockchain to the masses, and will blockchain technology be a norm in the future?
There is much more awareness of blockchain today, though some may not fully understand the technology. There are many uses for blockchain beyond fintech – our implementation of blockchain for certificate of origin is a good example. I believe blockchain’s distributed database and immutable property make it a very attractive platform for production and distribution of certificates and other documents.