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Welcome back to Strait Up, our weekly newsletter that makes sense of what’s going on in Southeast Asia.

It’s an age-old story: skirt the law and you might rack up some short-term gains, but reality will catch up sooner or later. This is playing out in the Philippines, where licensed and underground business process outsourcing (BPO) companies are in a turf war—the latter poaching workers by offering heftier, tax-free paychecks and relatively flexible work arrangements. Now, the government is intervening with new rules that are meant to give legitimate operations an edge again.

While BPOs in the Philippines are in a tug-of-war to maintain their headcount, digital banks in Indonesia are jostling for customers. The latest entrant sets itself apart by having the backing of Astra International, a local conglomerate whose scale and reach is so large that it can serve as an indicator of the Indonesian economy’s health by itself.

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