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Here’s what you should know today.

1. Fintech startup Wecash raies $80m in Series C 

Fintech startup Wecash announced today that is has raised US$80 million funding in a series C round led by China Merchants Innovation Investment Management.

Founded three years ago, Wecash is the first online credit evaluation platform in China.

Wecash will provide credit assessments within three minutes once the required data is provided. After being connected to users’ social media accounts for credit certification, the online credit assessment service enables users to obtain various services such as capital borrowing and lending.

Wecash founder and CEO Zhi Zhengchun said the company will use the funds to enhance its lending artificial intelligence, enrich offline and online consumption scenes.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Ralph Lauren shifts to ecommerce

Facing falling sales, Ralph Lauren announced that it would shutter its flagship Polo store on New York’s Fifth Avenue and continue cutting jobs, shifting the savings to its ecommerce business.

However, the brand may face some digital challenges.

Consumers now pay more attention to products than brands, a trend reflected in search behavior. In the past year, search volume for non-branded terms such as “polo shirt” grew twice as fast as branded keywords like “Ralph Lauren,” according to L2’s study. In addition to brushing up on its more superficial digital assets, Ralph Lauren will need to confront this new reality.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Recommended Reading: Why Amazon is so focused on groceries right now

Recently, Amazon has intensified its efforts in the grocery space. Last year, the company expanded its AmazonFresh delivery program to a number of new cities and lowered the price from $299/year to $15/month, equal to a substantial drop.

Just last week, Amazon announced a new program called AmazonFresh Pickup at two locations in Seattle where customers will soon be able to order groceries on their phones and then retrieve them at a drive-thru kiosk.

The opportunity is huge, with nearly $1 trillion in annual sales, but the timing of its current push is curious

With speedy delivery and tens of millions of items available on its website, Amazon has long aspired to be a one-shop for its customers. But groceries has long been a weakness. Most Americans shop for fresh food multiple times a month, and losing out on that frequent purchase means shoppers depend on rivals like Wal-Mart and Costco, rather than just looking to Amazon for all their needs.

Read the rest of the story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. SoCash raises angel funding of $600K 

SoCash, the startup that allows you to withdraw cash from any merchant just like an ATM, announced today it has raised a new round of angel funding worth $600,000. The funding comes from unnamed “veteran bankers and technologists.”

The startup uses your bank’s mobile app to let you transfer an amount to the merchant’s bank account. Then you can pick up the amount in cash from the merchant. As for merchants, SoCash provides them with extra traffic in their stores and a new revenue source.

The funding will be used to grow SoCash’s sales team so it can get more banks in Southeast Asia on board.

In total, the startup has secured $925,000 in angel funding and is looking to raise its first institutional round.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Ho Chi Minh City may tax online sales in April

Ho Chi Minh City’s tax department has said it will work with related departments to impose sales taxes on businesses running on Facebook and other online shopping sites.

Last month, the trade department proposed the city work with Facebook on measures to collect tax from businesses running on the site. The General Department of Taxation is now working on measures to tax the businesses operating on social media channels.

But it may be challenging because many online retailers use anonymous accounts for transactions, and the majority of transactions are cash based.

 

3. Amazon to shut down Diapers.com and other Quidsi sites

Amazon.com . is closing Diapers.com, Soap.com and other sites it purchased for about $545 million in 2011. The online retailer said it’s shutting Quidsi, the unit that ran the websites, because it couldn’t make a profit.

 the company’s renewed grocery push is an ideal time to consolidate brands
Quidsi specialized in certain categories, like baby products and household goods, while Amazon was trying to offer infinite inventory. But the draw of sites like Diapers.com has faded since Amazon became the go-to place for online shopping.
Read the rest of the story here.

 

4. Community Chatter: FMCG growth in Southeast Asia

Souce: Nielsen’s Twitter page

The two countries’ rapid FMCG growth could provide more opportunities in both online and offline retail. As spending power increases, shoppers can also begin to afford more luxury upgrades of everyday items.

Read eIQ’s insights on everyday premium products, here.

Here’s what you should know before the weekend starts.

1. Fintech hub Lattice80 expands to build ties between Singapore and India

Singaporean Fintech hub Lattice80 has signed an MOU with the Andhra Pradesh state government to open a fintech hub in the Indian city of Vizag.

As part of the agreement, Lattice80 will run training programmes to train 1,000 ICT professionals in India every year. The two sides will also co-research and develop key fintech technologies, including digital and mobile payments, blockchain and big data.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Citi and Visa launch an e-procurement platform in Singapore

Winding down from work? Here are today’s top stories that you should know

1. LVMH to launch multi-brand ecommerce site for its luxury brands

Leading luxury group LVMH plans to launch a website in May that will be branded as its department store Le Bon Marché. It will offer labels from the group’s own stable as well as distributing non-LVMH brands — putting it head-to-head with online platforms such as Net-A-Porter and Matchesfashion.com.

Customers that buy both online and in-store typically spend 50% more than those who only visit shops, according to Exane BNP Paribas analysts.

While ecommerce is still a relatively small portion of sales in the global luxury goods market at 7%, it will expand to 12% by 2020, according to Boston Consulting Group.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. Go-Jek launches important new feature,now lets users transfer e-cash to each other

The startup has introduced a new feature which allows users to send Go-Pay credit to each other at no cost. It’s a big step in Go-Jek’s evolution into an increasingly powerful payments solution that enables users to transact with each other.

Source: Tech in Asia

Go-Jek also confirmed that users will be able to withdraw Go-Pay credit in the form of cash at several partner banks once the feature is fully implemented. The startup has not yet revealed which banks are involved.
Read the rest of the story here.

3. Dymon Asia announces first close of its debut $50M fund for fintech

Dymon Asia Ventures is focused on fintech deals and it is targeting a $50 million raise. Today, its founding partners disclosed a first close of $20 million from a range of LPs that include Thai bank Siam Commercial, which invested an undisclosed sum via its fintech arm, Digital Ventures.

While plenty of funds have sprung up to tackle Series A deals, Dymon Asia is aiming to cater to a very specific category of fintech-led companies where the partners believe their resources and understanding can move the needle.

“We want to give fintech founders the attention they need, especially the b2b guys who often don’t appeal to traditional VCs,” said Dymon Asia partner, Christiaan Kaptein.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

4. Community Chatter: The Alipay of Indonesia

Source: Sheji Ho, CMO at aCommerce

Go-Jek is moving towards its goal of becoming a leading payments platform for Indonesians.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. The Singapore and Abu Dhabi governments are working together to promote fintech

Details about the arrangement are sparse at this point, but it’s clear that the focus will be to improve the regulatory environment for budding startups.

Both government bodies will explore “joint innovation projects” in the fields of digital and mobile payments, blockchain, big data, and other technologies of the future.

The local market and ecosystem in the United Arab Emirates is small – similar to Singapore – but the expectation is for startups to use the business-friendly policies as a launching pad to the rest of the wider Middle East.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

2. KFit buys Groupon Singapore

Subscription gym startup KFit has continued to morph into Groupon after it acquired the third country business from the group-buying giant in Southeast Asia. KFit acquired Groupon Indonesia and Groupon Malaysia last year as part of a pivot to move from a business that sells fitness-based membership services to ecommerce.

The irony at play here is that Groupon itself long gave up on Asia, shuttering its presence in a number of markets last year as the promise failed to deliver. Whether the startup has a know-how into Asia that Groupon didn’t, is yet to be seen.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

3. Jack Ma wants to throw counterfeiters in prison

Ma’s appeal seeks harsher laws to fight fake goods, and comes as China’s annual parliamentary meetings take place in Beijing.

“If the penalty for even one fake product manufactured or sold was a seven-day prison sentence, the world would look very different both in terms of intellectual property enforcement and food and drug safety, as well as our ability to foster innovation,” wrote Ma in a statement to China’s parliamentary delegates.

Ma’s recent comments have deflected responsibility, he said Alibaba was “itself a victim of counterfeiting.” Ma has now gone further to stress that China’s laws are far too lax. Ma has said that there has been a lot of bark surrounding counterfeiters, but no bite.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank held a fintech event last week on behalf of its digital arm, Digital Ventures. ‘Faster Future: SCB Fintech Forum‘ drew in speakers from across the globe, from Wei Hopeman, Managing Partner at Asia based Arbor Ventures to Jeffrey Paine, co-founder of Singapore based Golden Gate Ventures, an early-stage VC firm that focuses on Southeast Asia.

“Southeast Asia looks like China in 2006, like India in 2011,” said Paine. “In China and India, the competition is usually local, but in Southeast Asia, the competition comes from around the world.”

During his panel, Paine outlined eight key tech sectors that he believes we will see more of in Southeast Asia within the next 3-5 years.

1. The age of differentiated commerce, more B2B

  • It is the age of niche B2B ecommerce. Southeast Asia will see the growth of niche verticals in the B2B space, for example, the rise of the industrial sector in Singapore
  • The industry will see a surge in ecommerce enablers that help traditional companies go online
  • Ecommerce will shift slightly to differentiated commerce. This refers to a culmination of good content, strong networks and an efficiency in selling. Ecommerce has evolved to an all-round experience, not simply putting something up for sale online

 

2. The rise of a ‘one stop shop’ financial platform

  • The region can expect a rise in fintech transactions over the next 2-3 years
  • Integration of big data in credit scoring will be prominent, especially in Indonesia. Big data should be able to minimize the amount of work and extend sources needed to provide loans.
  • The ‘one stop shop’ financial platform will allow you to purchase loans, insurance and credit cards in one place. This will be a place where a few winners can come into dominate market share
  • The rise of pure mobile online banks. Vietnam is already starting to adapt following the launch of Timo Bank, the country’s first digital bank
  • Financial services for ecommerce. For example, consumer credit will matter when a shopper buys something on a marketplace. This will also be in tandem with the rise of vendor financing for marketplaces
  • On-demand insurance will also become a trend in the next 3 years i.e. Asia Insurance
  • Blockchain infrastructure will arrive in Southeast Asia

 

3. Automobile innovation to benefit B2B & B2C

  • Innovations will be in the areas of software that helps drivers find parking, rent cars, connect with automobile care

 

4. The rise of healthcare tech in Thailand and Singapore

  • The birth of centralized data hubs and analytics will be integrated with healthcare
  • Creation of software for hospitals, clinics and private practices to make their workflow more efficient. Ex. Patient records, paying bills etc.
  • The application of IoT software for hospitals and senior homes
  • The rise of telemedicine platforms online and doctor on-demand services. This would benefit rural provinces as it’s a challenge to find doctors on demand when you’re not in a big city

 

5. The strengthening of enterprise SaaS

  • AI/Machine learning based predictive analytics software for business users, especially in the area of automated customer service and sales management software
  • Will take time to develop and be applied, but it should be used by HR departments and accounting/finance divisions to automate certain processes such as number crunching and database filing

 

6. Long-haul logistics

  • Long haul trucking would be particularly useful for the popular trucking route between Malaysia-Thailand and vice versa
  • On-demand trucking platforms could add more convenience to consumers, allowing them to have parcels delivered at a more flexible schedule. This would be a challenge in Indonesia due to the different islands within the country
  • Route planning innovation will also become a trend in logistics. This would help to tackle various roadblocks such as unidentified locations, problems with delivery addresses and more.

 

7. Increasing popularity of agritech

  • Agritech has been slow to rise, but should become a key trend within the next few years as agriculture is prominent in Southeast Asia
  • The development of financial services for farmers will pick up. Thailand and Indonesia have begun to develop government centric databases and e-procurement platforms, but neither has fully taken off
  • The creation of market linkage models, ex. farm to table platforms

 

Looking ahead

Southeast Asia is waking up, especially as each country’s government is pushing tech initiatives and creating guidelines such as sandboxes for fintech and exploring taxing for ecommerce.

According to Jeffrey Paine,

As soon as the government starts to push, large corporations will begin to take notice.

This trend is apparent in Thailand, with many institutional banks such as SCB itself, or Kasikorn bank venturing into digital finance services.

Real estate companies such as Sansiri are teaming up with SCB to explore property tech, focusing on research, development and startups, aligning with the Thai government’s 4.0 initiative that aims to move the country towards a more digitized framework.

Jeffrey Paine notes that for domestic startups, going regional is not impossible. China will play a significant role in the region’s development, and Southeast Asia needs two main vices; capital and time, in order to accelerate the region’s technology growth.

For more on SCB x Digital Ventures Fintech Forum and to watch the panel, click here.