Here’s what you know.

1. WhatsApp will reportedly launch peer-to-peer payments in India within 6 months

WhatsApp plans to use UPI, a cross-bank payment system backed by the government, to begin enable payments between users within the next six months.

“India is an important country for WhatsApp, and we’re understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India. We’re exploring how we might work with companies that share this vision and continuing to listen closely to feedback from our users,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

Credit card penetration is low in India, while WhatsApp has already emerged as a platform for facilitating ecommerce despite currently offering no features that expressly support that.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. QBO innovation hub will provide resources to enable Philippines startups

QBO is a partnership between tech startup accelerator Ideaspace, J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation, and the Philippines government’s Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Science and Technology, with the aim to help grow the startup ecosystem in the country.

Two of the biggest challenges that Philippines startups face are securing funding and dealing with rigid government regulatory policies.

QBO aims to remove these barriers by being conduit between startups and private and government entities that can provide resources.

Read the rest of the story here.


 3. Recommended Reading: will Snapchat’s data play help fend off competition from Facebook and Instagram?

One month after its IPO, the messaging app’s execs are doggedly focused on broadening Snapchat’s appeal to brands—notably direct response-minded companies.

Snapchat needs to mine data about millennials more effectively to beat Facebook and Instagram.

Millennial marketers will be able to zero in on Snapchat users who are most likely to download their brand’s app, targeting slivers or swaths of the platform’s 160 million users who have shown interest in either the brand or the functionality it’s offering.

Read the rest of the story here.

True Corporation, one of Thailand’s biggest mobile operators, unveiled its 200,000-square-metre Digital Park project yesterday, reportedly worth $500 million (20 billion THB), reports The Bangkok Post.

The planned facility also aims to foster the development of the country’s digital economy, with support for digital innovations and tech startups. The park will be located on Sukhumvit 101, and is currently under construction, expected to be commercially launched in mid 2018, according to True CEO, Supachai Cheravanont.

True Corp will ask the government to provide special tax incentives to foreign investors who will be setting up offices at the park. 

The project will feature a vast co-working space in an open air green area, offices and data centers. It will also include broadband and advanced 4G network, catering to big and small companies, universities and research institutions.

As reported by Tech in Asia, True Corp has made big investments in the country’s tech scene. Apart from the launch of the digital park, True has also launched a startup accelerator program, working closely with Silicon Valley VC firm 500 Startups to incubate young entrepreneurs and projects.

Thailand’s tech scene is relatively young and is often overlooked in favor of Singapore and Indonesia. However, True’s big investment into a ‘digital park’ may be a positive indication of the future landscape of Thailand ecommerce.

Versions of this appeared in Bangkok Post and Tech In Asia on August 19. Read the full versions here and here.

US payments giant PayPal Inc has launched an Innovation Lab in Singapore, its first outside the United States, to collaborate with government agencies, industry associations and SMEs, reports Digital News Asia. The lab aims to foster innovation, research and development (R&D), entrepreneurship, talent and expertise in Singapore.

“Singapore is a perfect melting-pot for ideas and innovation, given the strong support from the government, its massive talent pool backed by a world-class educational system, vibrant startup ecosystem, and diverse merchant profiles,” according to Dr. Rohan Mahadevan, CEO of PayPal Pte Ltd.

Rohan said that PayPal is partnering with all the universities in Singapore, working with their Deans and graduate students.

The first project the Innovation Lab will undertake be around SMEs in the food and beverage (F&B) business. 

“Singapore is a known food capital, and food is something that is very close to the hearts of Singaporeans,” said Rohan. The project will aim to improve productivity at F&B businesses, with Japanese restaurant Enbu having embedded digital payments into its business.

By this time next year, PayPal and its payment solutions partners such as TabSquare and Integral Solutions, will aim to provide more than 200 F&B establishments with in-store digital payment capability.

Other initiatives in the pipeline include the PayPal Business Challenge, which aims to help SMEs with their business challenges, not just payments.

In terms of PayPal’s ‘Innovation Lab’, it will aim to develop and nurture the next generation of fintech startups through an incubation program. The PayPal Incubator program will also offer coaching and mentorship by PayPal executives and various subject matter experts. Currently, there are three startups on board: OnePay, and InvoiceInterchange.

A version of this appeared in Digital News Asia on August 18. Read the full version here.

Digital Ventures, a new subsidiary of Siam Commercial Bank Group, announced the launch of its first startup incubation program, reports The Nation.

Charle Charoenphan, Head of the Digital Ventures Accelerator incubation program said the initiative will provide advice and funding for startups to strengthen Thai based and regional financial technology business, (fintech buzzing again).

Each business participating in the program will be given a grant of $8,600 (300,000 THB).

Startups participating in the program will be intensely educated on basic entrepreneurship with consultation mentors. This kind of model already exists in the form of Dtac Accelerate and True Incube, among many others. Although these new startups get initial funding, 300,000 THB is only enough to kick-start a project off the ground, not viable for any significant development.

Half of the program slots have been reserved for start-ups directly related to fintech, while the remaining half have been reserved for start-ups in other fields – a move designed to maximize the benefits for both SCB and its corporate and individual customers.

Digital Ventures plans to launch a free bank-simulation platform next month that acts as a virtual testing environment for businesses developing fintech products.

The division is playing the role of a laboratory within SCB that carries out research and development for fintech products and services, and innovates new solutions such as blockchains, the Internet of Things, machine learning and biometrics technologies to satisfy customer demand.

Digital Ventures has also partnered with Singapore-based Life.SREDA, a global venture-capital fund specializing in financial technology. The collaboration would strategically benefit Digital Ventures in both research and investment, improving the company’s financial services.

SCB’s digital ventures is another fintech initiative that has recently been surging in popularity.

A version of this appeared in The Nation on July 22. Read the full version here.


France sets up initiative to attract tech startups from Southeast Asia. According to Tech Wire Asia, they will have the opportunity to compete for relocation to France, thanks to the “French Tech Ticket” competition launched by the French government, which is now entering its second season.

The French Tech Ticket competition aims to absorb entrepreneurs from across the globe for a year. 70 winning early-stage tech startups are chosen to to be hosted in one of 41 incubators in France.

Successful applicants will also receive $49,835 (€45,000 ) per project with no loss of equity, a tailored program of masterclasses and events, a dedicated workspace within the assigned partner incubators, and a “Soft Landing Pack”, which is meant to help foreign entrepreneurs relocate to France.

Startups dealing in big data, financial technology (fintech), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are of particular interest to the French Tech Ticket competition, said Muriel Pénicaud, chief executive officer of Business France and French Ambassador for international investment.

“Asian startups and entrepreneurial talent are now becoming fully recognized on the international scene”

Muriel Pénicaud, chief executive officer of Business France

Eligibility for the competition depends on several factors: the startup must be at an early stage, have plans to develop the business in France, and be a team of just two or three co-founders.

The teams must also be able to speak English, have a maximum of one French citizen or none at all, be ready to relocate and be fully-devoted to the project by January 2017 in order to participate to the program to attract tech startups from Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asian ecommerce entrepreneurs interested in this opportunity to expand into a more mature market, with higher per capita spending and more refined taste can find a link to the website here, deadline is August 24. Bonne chance!

A version of this appeared in TechWireAsia, read full story here

Indonesia 1,000 Startups Movement


Indonesia launched government-backed initiative called “1,000 Startup Movement” with the goal to grow 1,000 startups until 2020. They will together value approximately $10 billion US but unfortunately, the movement does not have any monetary support from the government.

From June to September, the movement will start in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya, then move onto other cities such as Bandung and Malang. The initiative will consist of workshops, hackathons, boot camps and incubation programs but still perceived as an ambitious target,

Consider that from the 1,000 startups, only a fraction will survive (the rule of thumb often cited is that 90 percent of startups eventually fail).

The goal is to have 200 startups across 10 cities emerge from the funnel each year, which would amount to 1,000 startups by the end of 2020. Each startup would need to reach a valuation of $100 million to survive in the long term. This is extremely ambitious, as Indonesia has only produced a handful of companies that might have reached unicorn status, such as C2C marketplace Tokopedia.

The government is endorsing this program, but it is not providing monetary support.

By 2017, the movement will focus on Denpasar, Medan and a few others. Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology will be collaborating with tech ecosystem builder, Kibar. This means that Kibar will have gather all the support from event organizers and startup mentors, including investors to sustain this initiative.

Initiative but no endorsement, what now?

Regardless, it is still vital for the ecommerce ecosystem to have a government-backed initiative. Small businesses and tech initiatives benefit from exposure and training sessions supplied through workshops and incubators but without seed funding or cash flow, initiatives will remain just that. Budget allocations should be given to get the startups off the ground.


A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on June 22. Read the full article here.