Here’s what you should know today.

1. Singapore’s Vulpes launches Myanmar-focused tech VC fund

Singapore-based Vulpes Investment Management Pte Ltd has announced the launch of a Myanmar-focused venture capital (VC) fund to invest in early-stage technology companies.

The new entity, called Vulpes Innovative Myanmar Investment Company (VIMIC Limited), will make seed and Series A investments, according to a company statement. “We are starting small, and we will grow our assets under management as the start-up community continues to mature in Myanmar,” said Field Pickering, director of VIMIC Limited.

VIMIC has already made two seed investments — one in logistics startup KarGo and another in Chate Sat, an online marketplace that connects businesses with freelancers.

Read the rest of the story here.


2.  Alipay launches free health insurance service for users

Alipay has launched a free health insurance service to allow users under the age of 60 a certain amount of insurance coverage every time they make a payment with their Alipay Wallet.

The service is in partnership with Taikang Insurance to allow users to accumulate their free insurance coverage until it reaches a capaity of RMB 2,000. Users can activate the service by clicking a link, “immediately receive”, in the Alipay app.
Alibaba’s new move has revealed its ambition to grab market in China’s booming online health insurance market, and ups the ante in its ongoing battle for dominance with WeChat Pay.

Read the rest of the story here., the trusted platform for people planning their home improvement project, has rebranded itself to

In addition, the company now has a directory-like feature on its website, with over 50,000 photos of completed works from top-rated companies across Malaysia. These pictures cover interior design and renovations, kitchen designs, wardrobe designs and more.

The company released a statement:

The original website allowed customers to get competitive quotes from trusted service professionals. However, we’ve realized that there are customers who are still browsing and researching, and are not ready to hire yet. This new feature will allow them to get inspired by ideas and educated about materials and pricing, before hiring the professional who can deliver the job.

Read the rest of the story here.



Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Messaging app Line lost more users, still focusing on key markets

Line has told Tech in Asia today that it’s another three million down, dipping to 214 million users in total.

Source: Tech in Asia

The $7.6 billion company surprisingly did not disclose its total number of active users in its latest earnings report, which came out towards the end of last month – the first time it has not revealed that figure since late 2014.

Line – which makes money from ads and content in an array of spin-off apps and services such as Line Pay, Line Music, and Line Moments – focuses its business interests on those four markets, therefore those are where most of the money comes from.

So as long as Line is growing in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and Indonesia, the company seems unperturbed by the loss of global users to the increasingly indispensable WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Alipay to launch in Malaysia

Malaysian merchants are set to accept the use of Alipay, China’s indigenous mobile wallet, in stores around the country this month.

Six local banks have received regulatory approval from the Malaysian Central Bank to process Alipay-enabled settlements, according to a company statement. Alipay will also be scheduled to be accepted as a payment option across the Southeast Asian nation by 2018.

Malaysia is surely making strides with their partnership with Alibaba as of late, following the announcement of the collaborative Digital Free Trade Zone.

Read about eIQ’s take on the Digital Free Trade Zone here.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Malaysia and Alibaba sign MOU to launch e-trade initiative

Alibaba, state-run development agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corp. (MDEC) and the Hangzhou municipal government signed a memorandum of understanding to connect the first two hubs in the Electronic World Trade Platform in Hangzhou and Kuala Lumpur.

The eWTP is Ma’s vision of digital free trade via ecommerce as a way to bring small and medium enterprises into the global economy.

Now, the parties will “explore linkages” between the Hangzhou and Kuala Lumpur projects to create an “e-road” for cross-border trade.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. SoftBank nears tech fund closure with $95 Billion in funding

Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son’s investment pool has attracted interest from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which said it would consider putting in as much as $45 billion, as well as technology giants such as Apple Inc. and Qualcomm Inc., which have also said they’ll participate.

SoftBank plans to contribute at least $25 billion of its own capital in the next five years, as well.

In the earnings announcement, SoftBank also disclosed that it contributed $5 billion to last month’s record $5.5 billion fundraising by Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Coach buys Kate Spade for $2.4 billion

Coach Inc. will acquire Kate Spade & Co. for $2.4 billion or $18.50 per share.

Kate Spade in February said it was exploring “strategic alternatives,” following pressure in November from activist firm Caerus Investors, which urged it to consider a sale. Coach and rival Michael Kors have reportedly been eyeing separate bids on Kate Spade since January.

The acquisition is another step in Coach’s strategy to broaden its appeal to a younger, trendier customer base, Mickey Chadha, Moody’s vice president, said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive Monday. “The acquisition gives Coach additional product lines and expansion opportunities.

Coach is in a stronger position in the marketplace. Despite its pullback from department stores and discounts, Coach reported in January that second quarter fiscal 2017 net sales rose 3.8% to $1.32 billion from $1.27 billion in the year-ago period.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Yoox Net-A-Porter reports fastest Q1 growth in Asia Pacific

Luxury and fashion e-commerce group Yoox Net-A-Porter reported a 15.4 percent increase in net revenue during the first quarter of 2017, according to a financial statement.

The report confirmed that there’s strong momentum in the Asia Pacific market, especially in mainland China and Hong Kong.

The luxury ecommerce group first entered the Chinese market in early 2012 after acquiring a local online shopping site “Shuke”. In 2015, Net-A-Porter’s merger with the Italian luxury online retailer Yoox, which further spelled opportunities for the site to expand into the Chinese market.

The latest financial report from Yoox Net-A-Porter also indicated a general pick-up of consumer sentiment across its major markets. The number of visits to the site reached 200 million, with a jump in both active customers and orders.

However, the online shopping site also has a lot of work to do in terms of localizing their offerings. For example, the Chinese website still does not offer UnionPay or Alipay payment solutions despite it being an issue brought up years ago.

Read the rest of the story here.

Mobile payment apps, widely known as mobile wallets, hold digital information about credit and debit cards for making payments, store coupons and loyalty programs.

And they’re projected to become a $300 billion industry by 2022 in the US. Market research firm Park Associates estimates that proximity payment transactions, which require users to tap their phone at a point-of-sale station, generated more than $30 billion in the US last year alone.

The following are a few examples of companies properly utilizing their own mobile payments apps:

One player that stands out is global coffee chain Starbucks.

Currently 2X as many consumers use Starbuck’s mobile app as Apple Pay, according to Park Associates.

Other brands such as New York based Fresh & Co, a grab and go cafe chain, have been using mobile wallets since 2014 and currently has 30,000 customers paying for their sandwiches via the company’s own mobile app.

US drugstore chain CVS also operates a successful mobile payments app by incorporating its ExtraCare rewards program. Users don’t have to produce a rewards card to earn points at the cash register, they’re transferred directly to the app.

Users can also manage multiple prescriptions and medication refills on the app.

But not all mobile wallets are providing a good return. Walmart’s mobile payment app, Walmart Pay, can serve as a cautionary tale for retailers looking to launch digital wallets. The app is reportedly underperforming, due to the absence of a loyalty rewards scheme for users.

Overall, there is a quick and widespread adoption of mobile payments in the US and has largely attributed to the rise of ecommerce – currently 11% of retail sales in the country.

Looking east, brands and retailers in Southeast Asia can also leverage mobile wallets, especially as the adoption of the smartphone among the population grows. A problem arises when considering approximately 74% of Thai shoppers prefer to pay for online shopping via cash or bank transfers and is also the case in Indonesia and the Philippines. This is because only 27% of the entire region has a bank account let alone a credit card to pair with a mobile wallet, but there are a few ways around this.  

Businesses can allow consumers to top-up their mobile wallets at the store counter using cash like Starbucks already offers as an option. Points collected in the app could also be used like a digital currency to purchase goods. All would nurture the adoption of digital payments in the developing region – a large obstacle in the growth of online retail.

Ecommerce giant Amazon is tackling the unbanked population in the US through its Amazon Cash initiative that allows users to top-up their Amazon cards with cash at selected brick and mortar stores, such as drug store CVS, across the country.

The appeal of mobile payment apps for consumers

Building a mobile payments app may be expensive, at least $20,000, but it will introduce customers to the built-in loyalty programs, which will incentivize them to return to collect more points through purchases in a positive feedback loop.

In some cases, it has been found that loyalty programs can work in tandem with increasing brand awareness i.e. if a consumer shares a product with 20 friends, they get 20% off their next purchase.

“Across the board, consumer satisfaction is about 80%for mobile wallets,” says Chris Tweedt, mobile-payments analyst at Parks Associates.

Marketing tactics like this would work in Southeast Asia as consumers are both mobile and social media driven.

In the US, merchants also see a 7-9% larger basket size when customers pay with a mobile wallet and businesses see an additional 9% spike in average sales when customers show up to redeem loyalty incentives. The added convenience makes on the whim-shopping much easier.

With a brand’s own payments wallet, they can dictate what payment types to accept, such as Alipay or Samsung Pay, but they need to be widespread and so far the region doesn’t have a dominant player yet, which becomes the greatest barrier to its adoption.

It’s also important to keep in mind that retailers using third party wallets such as Apple Pay or Alipay have to pay processing fees for each purchase, typically 2-3% for credit cards and less than 1% for debit cards according to Amittabh Malhotra, CMO of digital commerce platform OmnyPay.

Taking the next steps

Businesses in developing markets can start small as more payments players come onto the scene by opening a point program first to build engagement if a mobile wallet seems out of reach.

The long-awaited entry of China’s dominant payments platform Alipay in Southeast Asia through deals with Thailand’s TrueMoney and Indonesia’s Emtek, owner of Blackberry, should encourage the mobile wallet ecosystem as brands can then integrate more digital payment options into their platforms.

Another players to look out for is the Thai government’s online payment platform PromptPay that has signed millions so far and could be huge if advertised properly to the cautious Thai people.

Starbucks in Thailand is moving quickly in the game. The coffee chain already has a Starbucks Thailand app that allows users to scan and pay through collected loyalty rewards and locate the nearest branch. A mobile wallet is about convenience – it’s not only about payment – and only a few businesses are getting it right.

The $300 Billion Trend Your Company Needs to Get in on Now was originally published by Inc. Read the original article here.

Here’s what you should know.

1. Omise launches Alipay ewallet payments

Online payment platform Omise announced its support for Alipay, China’s largest payment processor. This is another step closer towards creating a borderless online payments market for Asia as well as bridging the gap between Chinese consumers and businesses in Thailand.

With 9.8 million Chinese citizens expected to visit Thailand in 2017 (Tourism Authority Thailand) and accounting for up to 30% of the THB 2.6 trillion spent by foreign tourists, the potential for online merchants in Thailand to capture some of this revenue is huge.

“With Alipay payment acceptance, Omise merchants in Thailand can now increase the opportunity to take more sales from visiting Chinese citizens maximising sales revenue from this growing market,” said Jun Hasegawa, founder of Omise.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Berrybenka launched its offline store in Jakarta

It’s the company’s second permanent store so far – there’s another one in a different mall, in addition to a handful of temporary pop-up stores.

Besides raising brand awareness, the offline shops have proven to help boost Berrybenka’s sales
These stores serve multiple purposes. You can buy Berrybenka clothes on display. But you can also have your online orders delivered there and pay for them in cash.
Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: Clothes may help Amazon kill department stores

Amazon has major plans to increase its apparel sales. The company is preparing for a massive hiring push in the space and has a number of new private-label brands. Perhaps most importantly, it also has a new Alexa-enabled tool designed to help customers look their best.

“Amazon will use private label selectively, which should both enhance the offering and induce traditional apparel vendors to sell to Amazon,” KeyBanc Capital analyst Ed Yruma wrote in a research note, continuing:

While apparel is one of Amazon’s fastest-growing categories, more work must be done for the business to scale. We expect the challenges the company has faced in courting the fashion community to remain, but we think Amazon will continue to evolve its strategy.

Amazon can beat most retailers on price, and if it can establish its private brands as hip — or at least as hip as what gets sold in department stores — it can eliminate the need for people to go to a department store.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Vietnam’s ‘NextTech’ aims to bring retailers online

NextTech is becoming a gateway in Vietnam to digitize traditional business into ecommerce.

Small business owners installing the online payment is still not easy. On the other hand, ecommerce companies are not connected to traditional businesses. NextTech, formerly PeaceSoft, provides information technology to traditional businesses to help them go online.

NextTech invests and partners with startups across their three main verticals: payment, logistics and sourcing.

The company shares similarities to Alibaba, as it tries to improve Vietnam’s ecommerce ecosystem.

Read the rest of the story here.

2. Alipay extends reach to big spenders in Italy

Italian bank UniCredit announced that it has opened up Alibaba Group’s payment solution to its network of 120,000 merchants in Italy, allowing visitors from China to pay for services and products in Italy by simply scanning a barcode with their phones.

According to Euromonitor, the growth of Italian luxury businesses in 2016 greatly benefited from the influx of luxury shopping tourism, where Chinese travelers’ contribution was notably significant.

The Alipay app also supports a geo-location feature that offers a marketing opportunity for niche and local brands in Italy that are less known to Chinese consumers.

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: The new meaning of fast fashion

The fashion resale market is currently worth $18 billion and is expected to grow to $33 billion by 2021, and the average American woman does not wear 60% of the pieces in her closet.

A handbag is not a bottle of milk for a baby. It’s not a staple. And it’s not necessarily a good idea to create a situation in which it is equated to one.

It may not be sustainable, in any sense of the word. How can fast fashion in this age be defined?

Read the rest of the story here.


4. Recommended Reading: How WeChat Pay became Alipay’s largest rival

“Because of WeChat’s traffic and social advantage, in these past two years, WeChat Pay has become Alipay’s biggest competitor,” Wang Pengbo, finance analyst at research firm Analysys.

Last month, Analysys published a report on China’s mobile payment market for the fourth quarter of 2016. Alipay had a market share of 54.7%; Tenpay – which includes WeChat Pay – came in second with about 37%.

So how did WeChat Pay catch up? By doubling down on two key areas: social payments and offline retail.

Read the rest of the story here.