- CompAsia is a Malaysian business founded to tackle the secondary device market by refurbishing electronic devices such as PCs and smartphones.
- The business has undergone “hypergrowth”, recording a jump in revenue of RM5 million to RM300 million in just three years after moving into the secondary smartphone space.
Electronic waste, also called e-waste, is one of the fastest growing type of waste that our environment has to deal with. Although nearly 100 percent of e-waste is recyclable, the current recycling rate of e-waste is worrying—a total of 41.8 million tonnes of e-waste was generated worldwide in 2014 but only 6.5 million tonnes was recycled and treated.
According to a report done yearly by the United Nations, about 16 percent of total global e-waste generation in 2014 was recycled by government agencies and companies sanctioned by industry regulators.
With such an astonishing rate of e-waste being produced on a daily basis, companies around the world have been trying to come up with ways to deal with it and one such Malaysian business making an impact by recycling e-waste is CompAsia.
A Change Of Device
CompAsia was founded by Julius Lim in 2012 when he decided to delve into the secondhand device market while working in an IT firm which sells new computers.
“CompAsia actually started as a business which was built on running life cycle programmes around computers as we found that e-waste was an issue and that users were having problems with disposing their used computers,” he said.
However, few years into it, he noticed that growth was actually in the smartphone space as people change their phones almost once a year but change their PC once every four years.
“Circa 2015, we realised that the smartphone business offered a much bigger space for us, therefore we decided to venture into this space with the know-how previously gained from the computer business,” he explained.
Currently, CompAsia is currently in seven markets around the Southeast Asian region—Malaysia, Singapore, India, Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Persistence Marketing Research forecasts that the secondhand market is going to reach approximately USD39 billion in 2025 in global revenue, up from almost USD20 billion in 2017.
With that said, CompAsia hopes to capitalise on the market by extending their list of services for the secondary device market with the investment of Jaipur-based re-commerce platform, InstaCash.
InstaCash is a platform that allows consumers to sell their devices directly to CompAsia. Furthermore with InstaCash, they’re expected to extend their level of service by providing consumers a seamless digital hassle-free experience.
“Besides that, it will help establish a unique device life cycle ecosystem in the Asian markets, which addresses environmental e-waste, and optimises on reusable tech which caters directly to the needs of our consumers,” added Julius.
Does Instant Cash Even Work?
InstaCash works in such a way that will allow consumers to trade-in their old smartphones through an app and get paid instantly into their bank accounts once the device is collected.
“It is a safer trade-in option as your phone’s data is wiped clean after it is received by InstaCash using an international industrial standard tool,” he explained.
The InstaCash app enables consumers to run several preliminary diagnostic tests on their phones and quotes them a price for the device. If the consumer agrees to sell the phone at that price, CompAsia would then arrange for the device to be picked up and pays the consumer accordingly.
Before InstaCash, CompAsia had to work with mobile operators, big retail chains and device producers across the region through various types of programmes to collect back devices when customers opt to upgrade their smartphones.
With InstaCash now, the business won’t have to solely rely on large companies alone for its supply of used devices.
“We definitely have competition in the industry, whether it may be from the independent mobile retailers—of which we have thousands in Malaysia—or the larger entities that encompass the bulk of the smart device refurbishment business,” explained Julius.
“Our main differentiation is to professionalise the independent retail market using the InstaCash app which offers a method of testing the device for a fair valuation,” he added.
A Huge & Growing Market
Back in 2015 when the business just started, they only sold under 5,000 refurbished phones but this year they’re aiming to sell more than 1 million refurbished devices and the target for 2020 is to sell 6 to 7 million devices in a year.
Julius mentioned that CompAsia is achieving “hypergrowth” since they’ve grown rapidly every year.
“For instance, we’ve grown from a revenue of RM5 million to RM300 million in three years after moving into the smartphone space,” he added. “In terms of sheer volume, that means that we went from selling under five thousand devices in 2015 to over 500,000 units in 2018.”
To complement this growth, he is looking to expand further into the Southeast Asian markets such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Currently we are working towards establishing inroads into those countries with the end goal of being a significant player in the refurbished devices space in the SEA market,” explained Julius.
He added that he has no plans to expand out of the secondary smartphone market as he believes that we’re still in the very early stages of the smart phone industry’s innovation curve.
“We still have tremendous amounts of opportunities in the premium refurbished space and with that, a wider array of products and services to offer,” he said.
With that said, Julius mentioned that they will be planning to introduce a new business model to their portfolio which revolves around a subscription-based smartphone ownership.
“With this, we aim to revolutionise the way smartphones should be owned—instead of worrying about upgrading and or protecting their smart devices, consumers are treated to a simpler and safer experience.”
Trial runs are already in the process with the service planned to be fully launched later in 2019.
“The ultimate goal for me is to list the company by 2020/21,” explained Julius.