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Social Innovation in Southeast Asia



in the New Normal






The call for the compassionate and ethical application of technology has never been clearer than in 2020.

While the pandemic’s far-reaching effects were felt in every corner of the world, some groups were hit harder than others.

Hitachi has always sought to meet the pressing social needs of society through social innovation. As we aim to be a leading Social Innovation Business, we are responsible for creating positive change through digitalisation. This mentality has driven us to push for digital transformation across ASEAN in multiple sectors, where we’ve worked with businesses to co-create social innovations and solutions.

These solutions have allowed us to value-add to businesses, and more than that, create real, tangible impact on the lives of millions of people. Many of those benefits have, in turn, helped to mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19.

Cashless Payments for Vulnerable Groups


Cashless Payments for Vulnerable Groups

State Post Office



During the pandemic, cashless payments have become a crucial mode of payment for citizens. In times of lockdowns or heightened safe distancing measures, having e-payments allows governments, businesses and individuals to continue transacting.

E-payments also remove the need for most physical, in-person transactions, reducing opportunities for the virus to spread.

Hitachi collaborated with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) to develop this cashless payment solution

2.5M iii
Vietnamese citizens across
63 provinces

This solution allows everyone to receive their pensions and welfare payments digitally

Hitachi partnered with the Vietnamese state post office to implement a comprehensive cashless e-payment method for Vietnamese citizens to collect their pension and social security payments. With only a third of adult citizens holding a bank accounti, and with banking services being relatively underdeveloped in rural areas, many citizens living in rural areas had to leave their homes and travel long distances to receive these payments.

Thankfully, Hitachi was able to collaborate with the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) to develop this cashless payment solution and roll it out nationwideii. As a result, a total of over 2.5 million Vietnamese citizens across 63 provincesiii now have access to the new e-payment service. This particularly benefits elderlies and citizens living in rural and mountainous areas, who can now receive their pension and welfare with e-money cards without having to travel and needlessly be exposed to the virus.


Preparing ASEAN for Digitalisation

Electrifying Myanmar


The pandemic has accelerated our journey towards this digital future, with many countries being forced to move services into the digital space as quickly as possible, in order to stay competitive.

According to a new McKinsey global survey of executives, businesses have accelerated the digitalisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions, as well as internal operations, by as much as three to four years. Furthermore, the share of digital or digitally-enabled products in their portfolios has also been accelerated by a staggering seven years.

Hitachi is helping to increase electrification rates of ASEAN countries

Delivered approximately
distribution transformers

Through this project, Hitachi aims to help brighten every corner of Myanmar

Along with the increasing digitalisation of government and private sector services comes a clear need for electricity. However, remote regions of ASEAN lack access to electricity, and many could be left behind in this leap to the digital age.

Even before the crisis, Hitachi has been helping to increase the electrification rates of ASEAN countries. For instance, Hitachi has been working with the Myanmar government to reach its goal of supplying electricity to every household in Myanmar through the nationwide power distribution grid by 2030. By 2020, Hitachi had delivered approximately 5,600 distribution transformers to help with the growing demands. These transformers have brought electricity even to remote corners of Myanmar, ensuring that no citizen is left behind in the post-pandemic digital age.


Remote Management During Lockdowns

Smart Factory as a Service


According to a 2020 Cushman & Wakefield study cited by the Business Times, ASEAN manufacturing has a high potential to thrive if it can recover from the pandemic, becoming a major driver of growth in the region.

However, local manufacturers are currently facing an unprecedented challenge with COVID-19 forcing manufacturing to a grinding halt due to global supply chain disruptions and safe distancing measures.

Hitachi has introduced a remote factory management solution

Real-time data is collected from sensors within factories

Ability to share factory infrastructure among multiple factories

With our innovative ‘Smart Factory as a Service’, Hitachi has been equipping ASEAN manufacturers with remote factory management solutions. With this solution, managers and technicians can continue to manage factories without even having to be in the same country, allowing them to work through international travel bans or strict health protocols. This is done by collecting and sharing data obtained from various sensors which are installed at the work site.

Furthermore, this solution allows businesses to share factory infrastructure among multiple factories, reducing the need for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to invest large-scale facilities investments in a time when economic conditions are less than favourable. All of this also leads to a better quality of life for employees on the ground.

Hitachi is continuing to proactively identify areas where our OT & IT solutions can help to address societal challenges and make a strong, positive impact on people’s lives. In an era of accelerated innovation and technological breakthroughs, we must remember our responsibility to use technology to power good for those who need it the most.



i As of 2017
ii Except Ho Chi Minh City, as of FY2019.
iii Data retrieved from e-money payment system, as of July 2021.


Date of Release: July 2021