According to the 2020 census, Asia Pacific (APAC) encompasses more than 54 million square kilometres and about 5 billion residents, which is about 65% of the entire world’s population. In terms of cultural diversity, APAC ranks second, comprising 56 countries whose citizens follow different religions and beliefs.
APAC’s diversity and eagerness to adopt cutting-edge technology have always attracted foreign investors and enterprises to set foot on this part of the globe. Every major enterprise — including global conglomerates, banks, and tech companies — wants to capitalize on APAC’s multifaceted richness. The latest sector to take the region by storm is legal tech.
APAC leaders want to shift towards digitalization, but the heaviest lift is the cultural roadblock, rather than the technological one. In addition to providing unique insights, these technologies also drive users to think and act in fundamentally new ways, essentially forcing professionals to question the status quo. Most challenges to technology adoption relate to people, not process, so it becomes critical to proactively identify and address the roadblocks that can stand in the way of success.
Flipping the Compass
Currently, most legal tech companies focus on Western markets, primarily designed to serve the U.S., UK, and Europe. As APAC continually gains more traction, legal techs will want to strategise their own shift to secure a share of the region’s growing economy. APAC is also becoming a home for technological innovations of its own, as local developers intimately understand the market’s pulse.
Capitalising on cultural diversity through the scope of technological disruption only becomes feasible once one identifies the roadblocks and takes steps to clear the blockage. These are some of the biggest hurdles to legal tech adoption in APAC:
- Language: According to a statistic from Mars Translation, Asia alone boasts 2,197 living languages, with 14 common languages (Source: Abode Blog). Legal tech developers should keep in mind that successful applications may need a user interface that can quickly and accurately translate and transcribe documents according to user demand.
- Jurisdiction: Although most APAC jurisdictions follow Common Law, there is no standardised legal framework that governs the geographically and culturally broad region. Legal tech companies need to invest in local experts for guidance on building a product that can adapt to the Western market and inter-APAC dealings.
- Income, spending power and currency rates: Although APAC is geographically vast, most countries fall into the middle- and lower-income markets. The dollar and pound conversion rate for most APAC countries falls below 0.01. APAC is a cost-conscious market, which means legal tech companies will have to think carefully about value.
As millennials and generation Z take the wheel as the world drives toward technological advancement and adoption, APAC continues to lay the foundation for a smooth ride, aside from a bumpy stretch here and there. Global legal techs must have a strategy to clear the cultural roadblocks.
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