Alibaba is not backing down over its plans for Asian e-commerce dominance. Recent reports suggest that the Chinese behemoth just purchased Reliance Capital’s stake in Paytm, worth $42 million, and this just after Alibaba invested a sizeable $177 million in the Indian payment and commerce platform. It’s all too evident that China has its sights firmly set on the lucrative Indian market to add to its portfolio of client nations in the Asian region.
As the author at Forbes wrote in December last year, it’s evident that Alibaba and Amazon are entering a proxy e-commerce Cold War in Southeast Asia. With a population closing in on 1 billion people, it makes sense for Southeast Asia to be increasing in importance as it presents the final frontier of Asian societies and markets. Southeast Asia, unlike East and North Asia, where birth rates are slowing, is still booming. This battle threatens to transmogrify the geopolitical and socioeconomic landscape of the region.
Today, e-commerce enthusiasts in Southeast Asia wait with bated breath for Amazon to bring Prime to Singapore and warehouses to Indonesia. They watch intently as Amazon slowly eats away at India (with Alibaba slowly making stabs at Amazon’s plans with a $3 billion investment into India). While at the same time, Alibaba is ratcheting up its investments in the region. Indeed, Amazon’s presence in the Southeast Asian region is close to nil, minimal. At present, it resembles the fight between an octopus and an eel, hiding in coral reef. The octopus, Alibaba, slowly wraps all its arms around Southeast Asia, while the eel, Amazon, lies in wait, wondering when and where to strike. But it may be too late for the eel.