Tech Notes From Bloomberg's New Economy Forum

(Bloomberg) -- World Leaders gathered in Singapore for Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum to discuss how they can address some of the challenges created by a world in transition. 

The first notable thing was the lack of smartphones. Or usage of the devices. That's a no brainer, because, well, the average age is pretty high (Henry Kissinger, 95, was there) but it's an interesting contrast nonetheless. People were interacting more, as they traversed the marble floors of the Capella Singapore resort.

Even so, there was plenty of talk of the transformative power of technology, when the leaders of Grab and Go-Jek devoted plenty of their talking time to Super Apps, the one-stop-shop mobile software that they make, designed to handle everything from payments and ride-hailing, to food delivery and shopping. “We see the price of smartphones and data falling, we see the democratization of technology. We see this world with the rise of millennials and they want everything now and they want it immediately,” Grab CEO Anthony Tan said.

This year's precipitous drop in tech valuations was also a common topic of discussion. What was striking, though, is the somewhat broad consensus that, in Asia, it represented a buying chance. "For us, that spells opportunity," said Ashish Shastry, head of Southeast Asia for KKR.

In a conversation with TPG Global managing partner Timothy Dattels, he pointed out that there's much less walking compared with Davos, the grandfather of global powerplayer gatherings. "It’s more interesting and the agenda is more active. People are together. You don’t have to walk blocks somewhere."

He told us that he's reading Billion Dollar Whale, the recently published book about the 1MDB scandal, a fraud incident in Malaysia that ended up being hot-button topic at the forum —Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim slammed Goldman Sachs for its involvement.

Dattels also conveniently tied together the various strands of conversations we were hearing at NEF: "Technology is getting more interesting because valuations have corrected substantially. I think that creates opportunities. New economy enterprises are getting to significant scale and you can see ride-sharing businesses like Grab moving into payments, leveraging their platforms. There’s a massive development in the technology space and it’s going to continue for a long, long time. And China will be very much a leader on par or even more powerful than the U.S. in technology ultimately."

And here’s what you need to know in global technology news

Election winners. Now that the U.S. mid-term election is over, it’s looking like Facebook and Google made plenty of money from ads.

It’s about time. New York’s subway is adopting contactless payment cards next year, potentially boosting adoption of the new technology. It’s been in the U.K. and Asia for more than a decade. 

Was it all about data? Behind the scenes of Amazon’s selection process for HQ2s. 

Global leaders gathered in Singapore for the inaugural New Economy Forum Nov. 6 - 7. The event, set up by Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, aims to solve the world's biggest challenges through coalition building, analysis and expert perspectives. Join the community by watching livestreams of the panel discussions and follow Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for the latest information.

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