Baidu strengthens ‘super app’ foothold
Baidu, China’s largest search engine operator and artificial intelligence "national champion", said its mini-programs have amassed 100 million monthly active users since being introduced two months ago, a Baidu spokeswoman said on Thursday.
The move comes amid efforts by Chinese internet giants to build “super app” platforms, similar to WeChat operated by Tencent Holdings, that can host multiple services and deliver greater convenience to consumers in the world’s largest smartphone market.
Baidu mini-programs cover more than 100 so-called scenarios – or situations in which an app can be used – and developers are now being invited to develop programs for use on the company’s main app.
China watchdog finds safety problems in ride-hailing inspection
China’s Ministry of Transport has discovered safety issues, poor management of emergency situations, the potential for illegal operations and broad monopoly concerns following an inspection of ride-hailing platforms in the country.
“We have found ride-hailing platforms, including Didi, have many issues and risks associated with operations management, product compliance, emergency mechanisms, information protection and public security,” said Wu Chungeng, a spokesman for the transport watchdog, at a briefing on Thursday.
The ministry launched on-site inspections at eight major ride-hailing operators, including Didi, Shouqi, UCAR, Caocao Car, Meituan Dianping and DiDa Chuxing earlier this month.
China’s JD expands to Thailand to take on Lazada
In a rare move outside its homeland, China’s JD has opened its online shopping marketplace to customers in Thailand. It’s a direct challenge to its nemesis, Alibaba, which runs Lazada, Thailand’s top online store, across Southeast Asia.
JD has warehouses in the capital, Bangkok, and will ramp up to offer same-day delivery, it announced today. Nationwide deliveries are also available on JD Central, as the Thai store is named. The site has a mix of Thai and Chinese merchants, though detailed figures were not disclosed yet.
The launch on Thailand is only JD’s second overseas marketplace, coming nearly three years after it opened in Indonesia. The Chinese e-tailer has also invested in Vietnam’s Tiki.
SoftBank to raise USD 100-bn every 2-3 years: Son
Source: Economic Times
SoftBank Group Corp plans to create a new USD 100-billion fund every two to three years and spend USD 50 billion annually, its chief executive Masayoshi Son told Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview published on Thursday.
Son has attracted more than USD 93 billion to his Vision Fund technology investment vehicle, and has flagged his intention to raise further financing.
Mumbai Angels Network invests in Spoofin
Video-based social networking app Spoofin, has raised funding from Mumbai Angels Network. The amount of funding remains undisclosed.
Spoofin, operated by Eminence Tech & Services Pvt. Ltd will use the fresh capital for expanding operations, ramping up customer acquisition and technology, informed co-founder Siddhant Sahni.
Spoofin had last year raised its first round of external funding from Mumbai Angels and other unnamed individual investors. Spoofin, a mobile app that lets users make parody videos in a series of simple steps, was founded in 2016 by Sahni, Vallari Bhardwaj, Swati Sharma and Mritunjay Sharma.
INA funds Strom Motors
Mumbai-based electric vehicle startup Strom Motors, run by E14 Technologies Pvt. Ltd, has raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding from Indian Angel Network (IAN). The round was led by IAN members Neeraj Garg, Sanjay Bhasin and Anirudh Agarwal.
The startup will use the capital to sell its product, expand operations across the country and increase its consumer base across markets. It will also use the money to set up its assembly plant in Mumbai for its Strom R3 electric vehicle.
The company is awaiting certification approval from the Automotive Research Association of India, following which it will start delivering the Strom R3 vehicles. The company claims to have received over 100 pre-orders for its electric car from the Maharashtra region.
Over 50k oBikes removed from Singapore public spaces: LTA
Source: Singapore Business Review
Over 58,000 oBikes have been removed from Singapore’s public spaces, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said.
“Some of the bicycles, which were removed by LTA officers are now temporarily stored at holding sites, and are being progressively removed to be scrapped,” an LTA spokesperson said.
The LTA has been working with FTI Consulting to remove oBikes from public spaces. FTI Consulting is oBike’s appointed liquidator for its Singapore exit. FTI Consulting has also encouraged depositors to submit claims against the bike-sharing platform through a website.
Sea gets e-money license for Indonesia
Source: Tech In Asia
Singapore-based Shopee, through its parent company Sea Group, has obtained permission from Indonesia’s central bank to administer the electronic money. A license has been granted to AirPaw, which is a Sea subsidiary, and later will be applied to Shopee Pay.
Shopee Indonesia country manager Rezki Yanuar said, “We just got the green light from Bank Indonesia (the country’s central bank) related to Shopee Pay a few weeks ago.”
Shopee Pay, which is still in development, will allow users of the online marketplace to make direct payments. Currently, most payments on Shopee’s Indonesia site are made by bank transfer. Bank Indonesia had suspended payments platforms operated by local e-commerce players Bukalapak and Tokopedia, as well as Singapore-based Shopee and ride-hailing firm Grab, since September 2017 due to regulatory issues.
Indonesian e-commerce site Bukalapak launches e-wallet
Indonesian e-commerce site Bukalapak announced the launch of BukaDana, its e-wallet feature. This comes post the announcement of its partnership with digital wallet service provider Dana.
For Bukalapak, the launch of BukaDana is the latest move in its expansion to the fintech sector. The feature will enable users of Bukalapak online marketplace to pay for purchases. “We believe that BukaDana has the ability to strengthen the public’s trust in us as an online shopping platform. We will keep on innovating with the hope to support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and provide a solution for Bukalapak users in Indonesia,” said Bukalapak Co-Founder and President Fajrin Rasyid.
Its competitor Tokopedia also operates its own e-wallet feature TokoCash.
LaunchPad-backed workforce management platform Jibble gets funding
Source: Tech In Asia
Jibble, a workforce management software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup by venture builder LaunchPad, has closed USD 1.3 million of funding.
Jibble’s valuation in this round was over USD 10 million, according to co-founder and LaunchPad CEO Asim Qureshi. Qureshi said the latest funding will be used to hire more talent in software development, sales, and marketing. The Malaysia-based startup has customers in more than 50 countries, mostly concentrated in the US, India, and Europe.
Jibble co-founder and CEO Fawad Akram said that the startup’s long-term plan is to build on its current “time and attendance” offering to become a holistic workforce management solution. The startup, which was launched in November 2017, has over 350 paying customers and is growing by over 20 per cent month-on-month.