Here’s what you should know today.

1. Indonesian state-owned bank BRI to acquires a venture capital firm

Indonesian state-owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) is preparing $37 million (IDR 500 billion) of funding to acquire a venture capital, among the few, adding the business of venture capital and security among its subsidiaries.

The minimum funding required to set up a venture capital firm in Indonesia is $3.7 million (IDR 50 billion) for limited liability companies, and $1.8 million (IDR 25 billion) for cooperations or CV.

“We hope that the due diligence period may wrap up soon and the acquisition process can be finalised by this year,” expressed Suprajarto, BRI Managing Director.

The bank will be the latest Indonesian bank to owned a venture capital arm after Bank Mandiri (Mandiri Capital Indonesia) and BCA (Capital Central Ventura). BRI currently also operates five subsidiaries; BRI Syariah, BRI Agro, BRI Remittance, BRI Life, and BRI Finance.

Read the full story here.

2. CompareAsia Raises $50 million from investors including Alibaba, IFC, and Goldman Sachs 

CompareAsia Group has closed a $50 million Series B led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) with participations from new and existing investors including Alibaba, SBI Group, H&Q Utrust, Nova Founders and Goldman Sachs Investment Partners.

The company runs online financial marketplaces in seven Asian countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, under several different names and claimed to have more than 28 million people used its sites last year.

The new funding will be used to improve user experience across its sites, which uses machine learning and AI to match consumers with financial products based on their needs and risk profiles. The marketplace currently works with about 100 brands and financial institutions and makes money by sharing revenue with companies when customers sign up for their services through one of its sites.

Revenue-sharing incentivizes CompareAsia to remain neutral and provide accurate information in order to convince customers to continue using the site, which in turn convinces financial companies to stay on its marketplaces, said CEO Sam Allen

Read the full story here.

3. Amazon pours more money to its Indian business

Amazon reportedly has injected $260 million of new funding to its Indian business in the anticipation of the holiday shopping season, which centers around the Dussehra and Diwali festivals in the fall.


The company is looking more serious about its business in India. Amazon pumped $2 billion into its Indian marketplace in 2014 and Jeff Besoz has promised to invest $5 billion more in India during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the US.

However, Amazon is still facing a fierce competition in the country, as main rival Flipkart also recently bagged a $1.5 billion from noteworthy investors including Microsoft, Tencent, and Amazon’s rival eBay.

Read the full story here.

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

1. Alibaba raises stake in India’s crowded ecommerce market

Alibaba is leading a $200 million funding round in India’s Paytm to give it a controlling stake of 60% percent in the mobile shopping and payments app.

The funding is for Paytm’s ecommerce business, which the startup decided to split from its payments unit last year. It puts Alibaba closer to a formal entry into India’s burgeoning ecommerce market to combat market leaders Flipkart and Amazon. A clear indicator that Alibaba is intending to compete for market share.

Trouble for India’s incumbents? Alibaba’s investment in Paytm can pose trouble for local players Flipkart and Snapdeal. Both have been struggling to raise funds, with Flipkart’s valuation cut several times, and Snapdeal recently announced a 100% pay cut for its founders.

Read the rest of the story here.

2. Goldman Sachs: online shopping in China to double by 2020

Already the world’s largest, China’s online retailing market will grow to $1.7 trillion by 2020 compared with $750 billion last year. Perhaps more important to continuing growth is Goldman’s expectation that 200 million new Chinese shoppers will come online by 2020.

The biggest opportunity is the expansion of online sales of FMCG items such as groceries, personal care and healthcare, packaged foods and other everyday items typically found in supermarkets.

Tmall is also expected to control 70% of China’s online B2C market by 2020

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Insights: Target to overhaul stores and digital operations

Another reaction to the Amazon effect?

Target unveiled a series of initiatives designed to reverse the big box retailer’s same-store sales declines, including an investment of more than $2 billion of capital in 2017 and more than $7 billion over the next three years. The company will use about $1 billion of operating profits this year to improve brick-and-mortar and digital operations.

Insights from Retail Dive

“Target just took longer to feel the ‘Amazon digital effect’ than Best Buy, due to the categories and customer base they play within. Amazon initially went after books (successfully destroying physical book retailers), and then went onto CE and office supplies, and now are expanding into food and apparel,” said Matt Sargent, Senior Vice President of Retail at Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc.

The retailer should return to their legacy ability to differentiate with exclusive, affordable ‘fresh’ product offerings coupled with clean & easy shopper experiences.

Read the rest of the story here.


It’s a pretty busy morning today in the tech industry. Here’s what you should know.

1. Alibaba takes a big step towards offline with $2.6 billion Intime deal

Department stores have struggled in past years to cope as Chinese consumers frustrated with lackluster, poorly managed shopping malls migrate to online bazaars. Unlike in the U.S., which is dominated by a clutch of mega-chains, the Chinese retail experience is far more fragmented and inconsistent.

By teaming up with physical retailers, Alibaba hopes to pioneer a new model of online and offline retail. Jack Ma has said that he sees challenges for pure play ecommerce in the future, and this deal will allow the ecommerce giant to experiment more with the offline retail sector.

Read the rest of the story here


2. Garena picks Goldman Sachs for $1 billion IPO

Garena, Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup, picked Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to lead a planned initial public offering that could fetch about $1 billion.

“This is an extremely significant deal,” said Vishal Harnal, a partner at 500 Startups in Singapore. “Once you have a success story coming out of the region, it becomes easier for others to emulate. An IPO of this magnitude will galvanize and serve as a beacon to all the startups in Southeast Asia.”

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Ezyhaul raises $840K seed funding for Southeast Asia rollout

Uber for truck deliveries startup Ezyhaul has raised roughly $840,000 in seed funding to expand its market presence this year.

Ezyhaul now has 500 trucks on its platform and more than 45 active shippers, including DB Schenker and Ninja Van. Delivery volume is growing 80% month over month. The team wants to grow further in Malaysia and roll out in other markets like Indonesia and Thailand within the first half of the year.

Read the rest of the story here.

Yum! Brands has agreed with two partners to invest $460 million into Yum China, following its spinoff from the American fast-food giant, reports Retail News Asia.

Also involved are China-based global private equity firm Primavera Capital Group and online Alibaba subsidiary, mobile financial services provider Ant Financial Services Group, which runs Alipay.

Under the terms of the agreements, Primavera and Ant Financial will invest $410 million and $50 million respectively in Yum China.

This collaboration will see Yum China move into a new chapter of world class mobile payment services for tens of millions of customers across its brands. 

“These services include hassle-free Alipay for customers to help shorten queues at the cashier, including membership services for Yum China which are designed to help manage customer relations and promotions,” says Ant Financial Service Group President, Eric Jing.

Yum! brands KFC and Pizza Hut have seen promising marketing results through promotions on multiple Ant Financial platforms. As a licensee of Yum! Brands in China, Yum China Holdings will have exclusive rights to KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, the latter has yet to expand to China.

KFC and Pizza Hut have more than 7,200 restaurants in more than 1,000 cities in China.

A version of this appeared in Retail News Asia on September 9. Read the rest of the story here

Asia has taken the global lead in funding fintech startups reports Forbes. Average funding received per company by region is as follows:

  • Asia: $34.6 million per deal (130 deals)
  • US: $20.4 million per deal
  • Europe: $12 million per deal

More fintech companies are being backed by venture capital funding at 33% annual growth.

Crowdfunding, cross-border transactions, P2P lending, mobile and electronic payments are some of the startups that have vastly enhanced the performance of financial operations across different consumer segments. According to a survey conducted by Ernst & Young, the top reasons for utilizing fintech services among consumers are:

  • Convenience in the account setup procedures
  • More attractive rates and fees
  • Better quality service and products

The top reason for not using fintech services is lack of awareness as 53% respondents agreed with this statement, according to the survey.

According to research firm Celent, more than 75% of estimated investments are put towards maintenance, meaning that money is mostly spent on monitoring rapidly changing regulations and not innovating new technologies. This seems to be a global trend in the financial technology sector, as Thailand’s government is working to relax regulations. Singapore reports to have set up a regulatory ‘sandbox‘ to facilitate fintech development and Malaysia has also been working to improve regulations to enable fintech acceleration.

Despite Asia attracting the most funding, it doesn’t necessarily mean that fintech growth is accelerating at a fast speed, as reports showed that investments in Asia for Q2 have slowed down compared to the same period last year.

A  version of this appeared in Forbes on July 20. Read the full version here.