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Lyft unveils its S-1 and nearly $1B in 2018 losses

Posted by on Mar 1, 2019 in credit suisse, Finance, financial services, Fundings & Exits, jpmorgan chase, Lyft, NASDAQ, San Francisco, Securities and Exchange Commission, Transportation, United States, Venture Capital | 0 comments

The day has finally come. U.S. ride-hailing giant Lyft has unveiled its S-1, the official document required by the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public.

The San Francisco-headquartered business will debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol “LYFT.” JPMorgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse Group AG and Jefferies Financial Group Inc. will lead the initial public offering expected to value Lyft at upwards of $20 billion, a significant leap from its most recent private valuation of $15.1 billion.

The company hasn’t determined how many shares it will sell or a price range. The filing currently lists an offering size of $100 million, though that is typically a placeholder amount.

According to the filing, Lyft recorded $2.2 billion in revenue in 2018, more than double the $1 billion recorded in 2017. Meanwhile, losses have been growing considerably. The company posted a net loss of $911 million on the $2.2 billion in revenue and a $688 million loss on 2017’s $1 billion.

Lyft currently holds 34 percent of the U.S. ridesharing market, a figure the company has been working tirelessly to increase as it gears up for its IPO. Uber holds the remaining 66 percent.

Lyft’s key stakeholders include Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce giant, which boasts a 13 percent pre-IPO stake, General Motors (7.76 percent), Fidelity (7.1 percent), Andreessen Horowitz (6.25 percent) and Alphabet (5.3 percent).

Founded in 2007, Lyft has raised $5.1 billion in venture capital funding to date. The business raised an additional $600 million in Series I funding led by Fidelity in June, its last round of private investment. Other investors in Lyft include AllianceBernstein, Baillie Gifford, KKR, Janus CapitalG and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

Lyft riders took 30.1 million rides in 2018, per the filing. The company has recorded a total of 1 billion rides and operates in 300 markets.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Revolut CFO resigns following money laundering controversy

Posted by on Mar 1, 2019 in Bank, Banking, ceo, challenger bank, Drama, Europe, Finance, Financial Conduct Authority, financial services, Japan, jp morgan, money, monzo, N26, North America, reporter, Revolut, Singapore, TC, the telegraph, TransferWise, United Kingdom | 0 comments

This hasn’t been a good week for challenger bank Revolut . The company, which offers digital banking services and is valued at $1.7 billion, confirmed today that embattled CFO Peter O’Higgins has resigned and left the business.

The startup and O’Higgins have been under pressure after a Daily Telegraph report that revealed that Revolt switched off an anti-money laundering system that flags suspect transactions because it was prone to throwing out false positives.

According to the Telegraph, the system was inactive between July-September 2018, which potentially allowed illegal transactions to pass across the banking platform. Revolut did not contact the Financial Conduct Authority to inform the regulator of the lapse, Telegraph reporter James Cook said.

O’Higgins, who joined the company from JP Morgan three years ago, made no mention of the saga in his resignation statement:

Having been at Revolut for almost three years, I am immensely proud to have taken the company from £1m revenue to £50m revenue during this time. However, as Revolut begins to scale globally and applies to become a bank in multiple jurisdictions, the time has come to pass the reigns over to someone who has global retail banking experience at this level. My time at Revolut has been invaluable and I’m so proud of what myself and the team have achieved. There is no doubt in my mind that Revolut will go on to build one of the largest and most trusted financial institutions in the world.

In a separate statement received by TechCrunch, Revolut CEO Nik Storonsky said that O’Higgins had been “absolutely pivotal to our success.”

The resignation caps a terrible few days for Revolut, which was the subject of a report from Wired earlier this week that delved into allegations around its challenging workplace culture and high employee churn rate.

“Former Revolut employees say this high-speed growth has come at a high human cost – with unpaid work, unachievable targets, and high-staff turnover,” wrote guest reporter Emiliano Mellino, citing the experiences of numerous former employees.

Those incidents included prospective staff being told to canvass for new customers as part of the interview process. The candidates were not compensated for their efforts, according to Wired. Revolut later removed the demands from its hiring processes.

Revolut is headquartered in the UK, where it launched its service in the summer of 2015. Today, it claims over four million registered users across Europe — it is available in EEA countries — although it plans to extend its presence to other parts of the world are taking longer than expected.

The company said last year it aims to launch in Singapore and Japan in Q1 of this year — so far neither has happened — while it also harbors North American market plans. Entries to the U.S. and Canada were supposed to happen by the end of 2018, according to an interview with Storonsky at TechCrunch Disrupt in September, but they also appear to have been delayed.

Revolut is generally considered to be the largest challenger bank in Europe, in terms of valuation and registered users, but other rivals include N26, Monzo and Starling. Even Transferwise, the global remittance service, now includes border-less banking features and an accompanying debit card.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Go-Jek makes first close of Series F round at $9.5B valuation

Posted by on Feb 1, 2019 in Asia, carsharing, Collaborative Consumption, Companies, financial services, food delivery, funding, Fundings & Exits, go-jek, Google, grab, Indonesia, JD.com, online food ordering, Philippines, series f, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Tencent, Thailand, transport, Uber, vietnam | 0 comments

Go-Jek, the Indonesia-based ride-hailing company that is challenging Grab in Southeast Asia, has announced the first close of its Series F round, as TechCrunch reported last week. The company isn’t revealing numbers. Sources told us last week that it has closed around $920 million, but we understand that today that the round is at over $1 billion. Go-Jek is planning to raise $2 billion for the round, as reported last year.

Go-Jek said that the first close is led by existing backers Google, JD.com, and Tencent, with participation from Mitsubishi Corporation and Provident Capital. It didn’t provide a valuation but sources told us that week that it is around $9.5 billion.

Starting out with motorbike taxis in 2015, Go-Jek has since expanded to taxis, private car and more. The company said it plans to spend the money deepening its business in Indonesia, its home market, and growing its presence in new market expansions Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand. It is also working to enter the Philippines, where it had a request for an operating license rejected although it did complete a local acquisition after buying fintech startup Coins.ph.

The Go-Jek business in Indonesia includes transportation, food delivery, services on demand, payments and financial services. That’s very much the blueprint for its expansion markets, all of which are in different stages. Go-Viet, its Vietnamese service, offers food delivery and motorbike taxis, Get in Thailand operates motorbike taxis and in Singapore Go-Jek provides four-wheeled car options.

Combined those efforts cover 204 cities, two million drivers and 400,000 merchants, the company said, but the majority of that is in Indonesia.

Grab, meanwhile, became the top dog after buying Uber’s local business, and it operates in eight countries. It recently crossed three billion rides to date and claims 130 million downloads. Grab said revenue for 2018 was $1 billion, it expects that to double this year. It has raised $6.8 billion from investors, according to Crunchbase, and its current Series H round could reach $5 billion.

Go-Jek claims it has 130 million downloads — despite just being in three markets — while it said it reached an annualized transaction volume of two billion in 2018 and $6.7 billion in annualized GMV. Those figures require some explaining as Go-Jek is being a little creative with its efforts to compete with Grab on paper.

Transactions don’t mean revenue — a transaction could be a $1 motorbike ride or a payment via QR code — and GMV is not revenue either, while both are ‘annualized’ which means they are scaled up after measuring a short period. In other words, don’t take these figures too literally, they aren’t comparable to Grab.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Going long on LA, India, AI, and tech infrastructure March Capital raises $300 million

Posted by on Jan 24, 2019 in Artificial Intelligence, California, computing, crowdstrike, Earnin, financial services, India, Information technology, Los Angeles, managing partner, march capital partners, Microsoft, Salesforce, San Francisco, TC, Venture Capital, vmware | 0 comments

March Capital Partners, the Los Angeles-based venture capital firm, has raised $300 million for its latest fund.

It’s another indicator that the Los Angeles technology ecosystem is coming of age, but also a sign that March’s core investment strategies — to invest in companies applying artificial intelligence to business use cases and investing in the next wave transforming computing infrastructure — is paying off.

“We have two major areas and a couple of minor areas,” said Sumant Mandal, a managing director with the firm. “We like data driven business and two thirds of our portfolio are AI driven. We also like infrastructure for the internet… the majority of the portfolio will be around those two themes.”

Those two themes are borne out in the support March Capital has provided for The Hive, an artificial intelligence-focused incubator, and The Fabric, an infrastructure and internet of things-focused incubator. Those two San Francisco-based operations have been a pipeline for interesting startups that have become March portfolio companies.

And the firm is also looking at other opportunities. Given its home in Los Angeles, the company is also placing bets around the rise of eSports and gaming as a new pillar of entertainment and it’s looking abroad at opportunities in India, according to Mandal and managing partner, Jamie Montgomery.

In India, a massive demand for new financial services, coupled with a technology-forward government leadership that’s embracing controversial policies like demonetization, is creating incredible market tailwinds for startu tech businesses, according to Mandal.

Portfolio successes with investments in companies like Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity company which was founded in Irvine, Calif.; EarnIn, the financial services startup obviating the need for payday lenders; VeloCloud, the networking infrastructure and cloud management business sold to VMWare for $449 million; and CarTrade, an Indian used car marketplace; all seem to validate the firm’s approach.

“We are three to four years in to a twenty year cycle,” says Montgomery. “We’re making sure that we are doing stuff that will survive in an economic downturn.”

Primarily that means focusing mainly on enterprise software businesses,” Montgomery said. Companies like Microsoft, Salesforce, and others are arguably better positioned to survive the economic slowdown that Montgomery expects to hit in the next year or two. Montgomery believes there’s no business that won’t require information technology services, and he and his partners are building a portfolio that he thinks is designed to provide them.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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New policy puts revenue squeeze on China’s payments giants

Posted by on Jan 17, 2019 in alibaba, alibaba group, Ant Financial, Asia, Bank, Banking, Beijing, China, E-Commerce, financial services, insurance, mobile payment, online payments, payment, payments, Tencent | 0 comments

The era that saw China’s mobile payments providers making handsome interest returns on client money has officially ended.

Starting this week, non-bank payments companies must place 100 percent of their customer deposit funds under centralized, interest-free accounts as Beijing moves to rein in financial risks. In the past, third-party payments firms were allowed to hold pre-paid sums from buyers for a short period of time before transferring the money to merchants. This layout allowed companies like Alibaba’s payments affiliate Ant Financial and Tencent to earn interest by depositing customer money into bank accounts.

Exactly how much money Ant and Tencent derived from these deposits is unclear. Both companies declined to comment on the policy’s revenue implications but said they have complied with the rules and finished transferring all customer reserve funds to a centralized clearing system.

Here are some numbers to help grasp the scale of the lucrative practice. The central bank gave a two-year window for all payments firms to complete the transition as it gradually raised the reserve funds ratio, which climbed to 85 percent in November. By then, total customer funds deposited by non-bank payments companies into central custodians hit 1.24 trillion yuan ($180 billion), while another estimated 260 billion yuan was yet to come under regulated control, shows data published by the People’s Bank of China.

Collectively, the giants account for more than 90 percent of China’s third-party mobile payments and 34 percent of all third-party, internet-based payments (which include both PC and mobile transactions), according to research firm Analysys.

While the regulatory control surely has measurable revenue implication on payments firms, some experts point to another adverse consequence. “Now that payments companies are no longer putting deposits into their [partnering] banks, they lose bargaining power with these banks that charge commissions for handling their mobile payments,” an employee from a major payments firm told TechCrunch on the condition of anonymity.

Tencent doesn’t break down how much it makes from payments but the unit has grown rapidly over the past years while its major income source — video games — took a hit last year. Meanwhile Ant Financial has been diversifying its business to go beyond financial services. It has earnestly marketed itself as a “technology” company by opening its proprietary technologies to a growing list of traditional institutions like banks and insurance companies. Reuters reported earlier that technology services will make up 65 percent of Ant’s revenue in about four years, up from an estimated 34 percent in 2017.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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How a Chinese anti-virus software maker builds a fintech firm to wrestle with giants

Posted by on Dec 18, 2018 in 360 Finance, 360 group, 360 Security, alibaba, alibaba group, Ant Financial, Asia, Baidu, ceo, China, Finance, financial services, funding, jack ma, JD Finance, JD.com, Oliver Wyman, online auction, Tencent, WeBank, WeChat | 0 comments

360 Finance, an online consumer loan platform that spun off from China’s anti-virus service giant 360 Group, has joined a raft of Chinese fintech companies to go public in the U.S. over the last two years.

The company priced its initial public offering at $16.50 per share last Friday, raising $51 million by selling 3.1 million American depositary shares. The stock ended its first day unchanged when escalating trade tensions have threatened to beat down shares of U.S.-listed Chinese firms.

360 Finance’s net loss widened to 572 million yuan, or $86.4 million, for the six months ended June 30 compared to 67 million yuan for the same period of 2017. The company notes in a regulatory filing that the jump was partly due to increased expenses from share-based compensation.

Meanwhile, the net income climbed from 60 million yuan in 2016 to 309 million yuan in 2017. 360 Finance drove most of its revenues from loan facilitation and post-origination services for consumers, although microcredit lending targeted at small enterprises will be a future focus, chief executive officer Xu Jun told TechCrunch.

360-finance360 Group, of which founder and CEO Zhou Hongyi owns a 14.1 percent stake in 360 Finance, marks the first in a clutch of Chinese internet-focused companies — including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JD.com — to see their consumer finance affiliates go public. Some of these services have mulled a flotation while others are pulling in fresh capital to fuel growth.

Ant Financial, the payments juggernaut controlled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, reportedly postponed its U.S. IPO plans amid regulatory pressure and growing rivalry in China. Market watchers put its valuation at a whopping $150 billion after it snagged $14 billion from a Series C round in June.

WeBank, an online-only bank that counts Tencent as a major shareholder, has kept its valuation in the dark but an auction in November revealed that it was worth about $21.3 billion.

JD Finance, the financial affiliate of Alibaba’s main rival, said in June that it didn’t have an IPO plan as it raised $1.96 billion at a valuation of nearly $20 billion.

In April, search titan Baidu sold the majority of its financial services — which it rebranded to Du Xiaoman — to a consortium of investors in a deal worth $1.9 billion.

Despite its IPO milestone, 360 Finance faces intense rivalry at home. A report by management consulting firm Oliver Wyman shows that 360 Finance ranked fifth among China’s fintech platforms in terms of loan origination volume in the second quarter. Ant Financial took the top spot while WeBank, JD Finance and Baidu’s financial arm followed behind.

360 Finance is vying for consumer attention in an online world dominated by larger peers who are capitalizing on the enormous user base of their allies. Ecommerce behemoth Alibaba, for instance, had 666 million monthly active users on mobile devices as of September and Tencent’s WeChat messenger reached over 1 billion MAUs.

By comparison, 360 Group has about 500 mobile MAUs, which its financial partner believes could lead to an edge in marketing and risk management.

“As the largest cybersecurity company in China, 360 Security has an unfair advantage in fighting frauds,” said Xu.

That’s because 360 Security gleans reams of user behavioral data from its security browsers to determine borrowers’ “willingness” to repay loans.

“For instance, we flag those who often visit gambling sites or have installed a lot of personal lending apps,” said Xu. “On the other hand, companies such as ecommerce services only have insights into whether users are ‘able’ to repay by looking at their shopping history. The willingness to repay becomes very relevant when you are giving out smaller loans. People are usually able to repay 4,000 yuan [$580], but not everyone is willing to do so.”

The executive added that the 360 Security partnership also helps lower user acquisition costs, though he doesn’t want to rely on one marketing channel in the long run. 40 percent of the proceeds raised in the IPO will go towards promotion.

360 Group currently contributes over 22.7 percent of the lending firm’s borrowers. App stores bring about two-thirds of the traffic while the remaining comes from news feed ads in popular apps like TikTok and user engagement on social media, according to the CEO.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Indonesia e-commerce leader Tokopedia raises $1.1B from Alibaba and SoftBank’s Vision Fund

Posted by on Dec 12, 2018 in alibaba, alibaba group, analyst, Asia, Business, Central Intelligence Agency, chairman, China, E-Commerce, eCommerce, economy, financial services, funding, Fundings & Exits, Indonesia, Jamal Khashoggi, journalist, Lazada Group, Masayoshi Son, Mohammed Bin Salman, online marketplaces, Prince, Saudi Arabia, Sequoia, Softbank, SoftBank Group, softbank ventures korea, Southeast Asia, taobao, TC, Tencent, Trump administration, Vision Fund | 0 comments

Indonesia-based e-commerce firm Tokopedia is the latest startup to enter the Vision Fund after it raised $1.1 billion Series G round led by the SoftBank megafund and Alibaba.

SoftBank and Alibaba are existing investors in the business — the Chinese e-commerce giant led a $1.1 billion round last year, while SoftBank recently transitioned its shareholding in Tokopedia to the Vision Fund. That latter detail is what held up this deal which had been agreed in principle back in October, TechCrunch understands.

Tokopedia didn’t comment on its valuation, but TechCrunch understands from a source that the deal values the company at $7 billion. SoftBank Ventures Korea and other investors — including Sequoia India — also took part in the deal. It has now raised $2.4 billion from investors to date, with SoftBank first joining in 2014 when it led a $100 million round.

The deal comes weeks after SoftBank made a $2 billion investment in Coupang, Korea’s leading e-commerce firm, at a valuation of $9 billion. Like Tokopedia, Coupang countered SoftBank as an investor before its stake transitioned to the Vision Fund.

Founded nine years ago, Tokopedia is often compared to Taobao, Alibaba’s hugely successful e-commerce marketplace in China, and the company recently hit four million merchants. Tokopedia said it has increased its GMV four-fold, although it did not provide a figure. Logistics are a huge issue in Indonesia, which is spread across some 17,000 islands. Right now, it claims to serve an impressive 93 percent of the country, while it said that one-quarter of its customers are eligible for same-day delivery on products. That’s also notable given that it operates a marketplace, which makes coordinating logistics more challenging.

The firm plans to use this new capital to develop its technology to enable more SMEs and independent retailers to come aboard its platform. On the consumer side, it is developing financial services and products that go beyond core e-commerce and increase its captive audience of consumers.

Indonesia’s super app

Despite this new round, CEO and co-founder William Tanuwijaya told TechCrunch that there are no plans to expand beyond Indonesia, which is Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the world’s fourth most populous country with a population of over 260 million.

“We do not have plans to expand beyond Indonesia at this moment. We will double down on the Indonesia market to reach every corner of our beautiful 17,000-island archipelago,” Tanuwijaya said via an emailed response to questions. (Tokopedia declined a request for an interview over the phone.)

William Tanuwijaya, co-founder and chief executive officer of PT Tokopedia, gestures as he speaks during a panel session on the closing day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 48th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from Jan. 23 – 26. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

That Indonesia-only approach is in contrast to Go-Jek, the Indonesia-based ride-hailing firm which is rapidly expanding across Southeast Asia. Go-Jek has already moved into Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand with doubtless more plans in 2019.

But Go-Jek and Tokopedia do share similarities in that they have both expanded beyond their central business.

Go-Jek has pushed into on-demand services, payments and more. In recent times, Tokopedia has moved into payments, including mobile top-up, and financial services, and Tanuwijaya hinted that it will continue its strategy to become a ‘super app.’

“We will go deeper and serve Indonesians better – from the moment they wake up in the morning until they fall asleep at night; from the moment a person is born, until she or he grows old. We will invest and build technology infrastructure-as-a-services, in logistics and fulfillment, payments and financial services, to empower businesses both online and offline,” Tanuwijaya added.

Vision Fund controversy

But, with the Vision Fund comes controversy.

A recent CIA report concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The prince manages Saudi Arabia’s PIF sovereign fund, the gargantuan investment vehicle that anchored the Vision Fund through a $45 billion investment.

SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son has condemned the killing as an “act against humanity” but, in an analyst presentation, he added that SoftBank has a “responsibility” to Saudi Arabia to deploy the capital and continue the Vision Fund.

“We are deeply concerned by the reported events and alongside SoftBank are monitoring the situation closely until the full facts are known,” Tanuwijaya told us via email, although it remains unclear exactly what Tokopedia could (or would) do even in the worst case scenario.

Given that the Trump administration seems focused on continuing the status quo with Saudi Arabia as a key ally, the situation remains in flux although there’s been plenty of discussion around whether the Saudi link makes the Vision Fund tainted money for founders.

Son himself said recently that he hadn’t heard of any cases of startups refusing an investment from the Vision Fund, but he did admit that there “may be some impact” in the future.

Tanuwijaya didn’t directly address our question on whether he anticipates a backlash from this investment. The Vision Fund’s recent deal with Coupang doesn’t appear to have generated a negative reaction.

Even the involvement of Alibaba throws up other questions, given that it owns Lazada — which is arguably Southeast Asia’s most prominent e-commerce service.

Unlike Tokopedia, Lazada covers six markets in Southeast Asia, it is focused on retail brands and it maintains close links to Alibaba’s Taobao service, giving merchants a channel to reach into the region. According to sources who spoke to TechCrunch earlier this year, Tokopedia’s management was originally keen to take money from Alibaba’s rival Tencent, but an intervention from SoftBank forced it to bring Alibaba on instead.

Tanuwijaya somewhat diplomatically played down the rivalry and any rift, insisting that there is no impact on its business.

“Tokopedia is an independent company with a diversified cap table,” he said via email. “No single shareholder owns the majority of the company. We work closely with our shareholders’ portfolio companies and tap into available synergies.”

“For example, Tokopedia works closely with both Grab — a SoftBank portfolio — and Gojek — a Sequoia portfolio. We see Lazada having a different business model than us: Lazada is a hybrid of retail and marketplace model, whereas Tokopedia is a pure marketplace. Lazada is [a] regional player, we are a national player in Indonesia,” he added.

Tokopedia has many similarities to Alibaba’s hugely successful Taobao marketplace in China

“How can we be less excited about this moment?”

At nearly a decade old, Tokopedia was one of the earliest startups to emerge in Indonesia. Famously, Tanuwijaya and fellow co-founder Leontinus Alpha Edison famously saw nearly a dozen pitches for venture capital rejected by VCs before they struck out and raised money.

Compared to now — and entry to the Vision Fund for “proven champions,” as Son calls it — that’s a huge transition, and that’s not even including the business itself which has broadened into financial products and more. But that doesn’t always sit easily with every founder. Privately, many will often concede that the ‘best’ days are early times during intense scaling and all-hands-to-the-pump moments. Indeed, Traveloka — a fellow Indonesia-based unicorn — recently lost its CTO to burnout.

Is the same likely to happen to Tanuwijaya, Edison and their C-level peers in the business?

Tanuwijaya compared the journey of his business to scaling a mountain.

“Leon and I are very excited entering our tenth year. When we first started Tokopedia, it was like seeing the tip of a mountain that is very far from where we stand. We promised ourselves that we were going to climb to the top of the mountain one day,” he told TechCrunch.

“The top of the mountain is our company mission: to democratize commerce through technology. Today, we have arrived at the base of the mountain. We can finally touch the mountain and we can start to climb it. With this additional capital, we have the tools and supplies to achieve our mission at a faster rate. Should we think whether we are burned-out and go home to rest, or should we climb our mountain? How can we be less excited about this moment?” he added.

Tokopedia has certainly become a mountain in itself. The startup is the third highest valued private tech company, behind only Grab and Go-Jek, at $11 billion and (reportedly) $9 billion, respectively, and the fairytale story is likely to inspire future founders in Indonesia and beyond to take the startup route. What happens to the Vision Fund and its PIF connection by then is less certain.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Google is supercharging its Tez payment service in India ahead of global expansion

Posted by on Aug 28, 2018 in Apps, Asia, economy, financial services, Google, Google Pay, ibibo, India, mobile payments, money, online payments, payments, peer to peer, Southeast Asia, tez, Uber, Xiaomi | 0 comments

Google launched its Tez paymen app in India a year ago, and now the company is giving the service major push into retail as it prepares to expand it to other parts of Asia and beyond.

The app itself is being rebranded to Google Pay — bringing it in line with Google’s global payment service, which is available in 20 countries — but there are more tangible updates on their way. Most notably, Google is plotting to turn Tez Google Pay into an all-encompassing payment app for India.

The service started out in bank-based payments before adding bill and utility payments and messaging, but now Google is planning an extended push into retail, both online and offline. Economic Times recently reported on the rebrand and expansion.

The service already supports payments with some 2,000 apps and websites, including Goibibo and RedBus, but it is adding to that number and planning ‘deep’ integration with partners such as Uber and ticketing service BookMyshow. Google is also focusing on offline, and it said it is in the process of adding in-store payment support with a range of retail brands that will include Big Bazaar, e-Zone, and FBB.

Tez competes with dedicated payment services like Paytm and Mobikwik, and also WhatsApp — the Facebook-owned service that is India’s top messaging app but has struggled to win approval to launch an upcoming payment service due to concerns around its lack of a local office.

Already, Google’s service has made progress. The Tez app has pulled in 55 million downloads, and Google said it has racked up 750 million transactions with an annual run rate of over $30 billion. That, it said, has motivated it to look at overseas expansion opportunities.

Google’s India-based Tez service has been rebranded to Google Pay

Beyond the retail push, the service formerly known as Tez will also expand to cover micro-loans, bringing it into direct competition with startups like ZestMoney — which just closed an investment from Xiaomi this week.

Google said it has partnered with a number of India-based banks — including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Federal Bank, and Kotak Mahindra Bank — to offer “pre-approved” loans to customers “in a matter of seconds” through the Google app.

These will be smaller than typical loans, especially those in the West. Loans on services like ZestMoney typically cover one-off purchases like electronics, education fees and more, CEO Lizzie Chapman told TechCrunch in a recent interview.

Finally, Google also plans to expand Tez Google Pay overseas. That means both adding Tez features to the Google Pay service worldwide, and taking the India-based service into new parts of Asia. That’ll require plenty of localization since the Indian version is heavily based around the country’s UPI payment system — which doesn’t translate overseas — but it’s a step in the right direction.

Google isn’t saying too much about which markets it might move into but you’d imagine Southeast Asia, which as plenty of similarities with India, will be top of mind.

Note: The original version of this story was updated to correct that the integration with banks doesn’t use Tez payment data to assess user creditworthiness. 


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Grab picks up $2 billion more to fuel growth in post-Uber Southeast Asia

Posted by on Aug 2, 2018 in alibaba, Asia, carsharing, China, Collaborative Consumption, Commuting, didi, Didi Chuxing, financial services, Fundings & Exits, Google, grab, Indonesia, KKR, lightspeed, lightspeed venture partners, offline to online, Philippines, Softbank, SoftBank Group, Southeast Asia, Tencent, Thailand, Toyota, transport, Uber, United States, vietnam, vulcan capital, warburg pincus | 0 comments

Grab, the ride-hailing service that struck a deal to take Uber out of Southeast Asia, has announced that it has pulled in $2 billion in new capital as it seeks to go beyond ride-hailing to offer more on-demand services.

The $2 billion figure includes a $1 billion investment from Toyota which was announced in June, and it sees a whole host of institutional investors join the Grab party. Some of those names include OppenheimerFunds, Ping An Capital, Mirae Asset — Naver Asia Growth Fund, Cinda Sino-Rock Investment Management Company, All-Stars Investment, Vulcan Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Macquarie Capital.

Grab confirmed that the round is still open, so we can expect that it’ll add more investors and figures to this deal.

The deal values Grab at $11 billion post-money, which is the same as the $10 billion valuation it earned following the Toyota deal. The caliber of investors certainly suggests an IPO is on the cards soon — not that it ever hasn’t been — although the company didn’t comment directly on that when we asked.

This new financing takes Grab to $6 billion from investors. Some of its other notable backers include SoftBank and China’s Didi Chuxing, which both led a $2 billion round last year which gave Grab the gas to negotiate a deal with Uber that saw the U.S. ride-hailing giant exit Southeast Asia in exchange for a 27.5 percent stake in Grab. From that perspective, the deal was a win-win for both sides.

In this post-Uber world, Grab is transitioning to offer more services beyond just rides. It has long done so, with its own payment service and food deliveries, but it is rolling out a revamped “super app” design that no longer opens to a ride request page and that reflects the changing strategy of the Singapore-based company.

10 July 2018; Tan Hooi Ling, co-Founder, Grab, at a press conference during day one of RISE 2018 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / RISE via Sportsfile

Grab said in a statement today that this new money will go towards that “O2O” [offline-to-online] strategy that turns Grab’s app into a platform that allows traditional, offline services to tap the internet to reach new customers. The trend started out in China, with Alibaba and Tencent among those pushing O2O services, and Grab is determined to be that solution for Southeast Asia’s 650 million consumers.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy with a population of over 260 million, is a key focus for Grab, the company said. The company has been pushed out new financial services in the country, fueled by an acquisition last year, and it claims it is winning “significant market share” with GMV quadrupled in the first half of this year.

With Uber out of the picture, the company’s main rival for the ‘Southeast Asia Super App Crown’ is Go-Jek, the Indonesian on-demand service valued at $5 billion.

Go-Jek has long focused on its home market but this year it unveiled an ambitious plan to expand to three new markets. That kicked off yesterday with a launch in Vietnam, and the company has plans to arrive in Thailand and the Philippines before the end of the year.

Go-Jek has raised over $2 billion and it counts KKR, Warburg Pincus, Google and Chinese duo Tencent and Meituan among its backers.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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MyEtherWallet’s secure login app is now available in beta for iOS

Posted by on Jul 26, 2018 in android, apple wallet, Apps, author, cryptocurrencies, cryptocurrency, economy, financial services, myetherwallet, private key, Software | 0 comments

Popular crypto wallet service MyEtherWallet has just launched a limited beta version of its first companion mobile app, which we wrote about earlier this week.

If you’re a big MyEtherWallet user or just curious about crypto, you’ll want to get hold of the app. Since it’s in beta, you’ll need to head here and follow the instructions to email the company to request access. A full launch for iOS and Android is expected in August.

The MEW Connect app allows users to log into the service without typing their private key, just like hardware solutions such as Ledger or Trezor. That’s important because inputting sensitive information like a private key can lead to an account being compromised in the event of a phishing attack. At least two major incidents have happened this year, so the threat is very real.

Unlike Ledger or Trezor, though, MEW Connect is free which could help encourage more people to adopt better security practices since MyEtherWallet.com is a much-trafficked website. The company says its domain sees upwards of 600,000 visitors each day.

MyEtherWallet founder Kosala Hemachandra told TechCrunch that he hopes beta users will comb through the code and help find issues with the app before its wider release to all, and the arrival of the Android app. Those with bugs can submit them on HackerOne here, where the rewards on offer range from $250 to $2,000.

Beyond enabling a secure connection for MyEtherWallet.com users, the app could offer features including payments in the future, Hemachandra admitted, which could provide a major boost to the crypto industry as it aims to reach more mainstream attention.

MyEtherWallet isn’t the only service supporting a connection app. MyCrypto.com, a service that broke away from MyEtherWallet earlier this year, MyCrypto.com supports the Parity Signer app.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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