Facebook has partnered up with Mandiri, Indonesia’s largest bank to introduce a new payment option for ads, to increase efforts to turn itself into a commerce platform relevant to emerging markets, reports Tech in Asia.

Ads can now be paid using debit cards. Prior to this, the only accepted payment methods for ads on Facebook were credit cards or bank transfers.

Enabling debit card payments gives more people access to an instant online payment method.

It’s a move aimed to help Facebook reap profits in emerging markets like Indonesia. The social network counts 88 million active users in the country

Only 16% of Facebook’s ad revenues, its most important source of income are from Asia-Pacific, shows Facebook’s most recent earnings report. It pulled in a record high $1 billion in revenue in Asia.

NBC reported that Facebook will let emerging market companies sell through their pages. This is a part of the company’s efforts to build up potential advertisers in fast-growing regions.

The move is Facebook’s first foray onto online commerce in emerging markets. The company launched a service last year allowing some merchants to sell items through paid ads on Facebook’s app. The latest service will instead be free, and purchases can be made through merchants’ own Facebook pages.

By making sellers more reliant on Facebook, the company hopes that more businesses in emerging markets will eventually decide to become paying advertisers.

There are more than 60 million businesses worldwide using its service that can set up pages for free in an attempt to reach more customers out of Facebook’s 1.7 billion global monthly users. Eventually, Facebook hopes that firms of all sizes will become paid users of Facebook advertising. It is boosting this through fixing the infrastructure of emerging markets.

Facebook has launched ‘Free Basics’, a free, pared-down version of the internet in more than 30 countries without reliable internet connections. It is reportedly also working to test drones that will provide communities without internet, access to wifi. These initiatives are integral to Facebook’s global strategy of seeking to reach a large group of potential users in emerging markets.

Versions of this appeared in Tech in Asia and NBC on August 4 and 3. Read the full versions here and here.

Touché enabling cashless payment with fingerprints


Singapore-based company Touché raises $2 million from private investors in Singapore to allow cashless payment with your fingerprint. The investors participating in this round are including co-founder Benedict Soh of creative agency, Kingsmen, and BTI director Terence Khoo.

A new way to pay

The startup makes a device that allows merchants receive payments and gather information about their customers through their fingerprints. The device scans your fore and middle fingers and connects them to your profile. The next time you visit that store, you can make a purchase by touching your fingers to the machine to authorize payment. It can also record information like your purchase history at that particular outlet and loyalty memberships.

To make sure of its security, the fingerprints are hashed and encrypted when stored and not shared with anyone. Merchants only have access to their customers’ membership and purchase information. Touché technology also requires two fingers to record prints, making it tougher to duplicate. The company uses live detection to make sure that only your actual fingers can trigger the machine, not an image of them.

A new way to market

The main draw for stores is the ability to handle payment and loyalty information through a single system. They will also be able to know about a customer’s previous purchases and spending habits at their business.

For customers, they get to stop worrying about carrying credit and loyalty cards, or about their phones running out of battery. They also have access to an “e-journal”, which contains things like their purchases, expenditures, and real-time offers from businesses they frequent or are members in.

Touché will target markets outside Singapore and is currently exploring Latin America, Japan, Macau, and Indonesia. At the moment, it has offices in Singapore and Barcelona.

The use of fingerprints as currency is set to be deployed in Japan for the 2020 Olympic Games.

“Biometrics is becoming the way we do things,” says Touché CEO Sahba Saint-Claire.

A version of this appeared in TechinAsia on July 16. Read the full article here.

Startup Transpay wishes to help the large population of freelancers get paid in Asia, especially in countries such as India, Philippines and Bangladesh, reports Tech In Asia.

The biggest problem for the majority of freelancers is payment. As Paypal doesn’t work in some Asian countries, freelancers who want cash wired directly to their bank accounts often face slow transfer and hidden fees.

Sending payments cross border is a time consuming and highly regulated process.

Transpay can deliver funds in local currencies directly into a recipient’s bank account in over 120 countries and at more than 200,000 cash pickup locations all over the world.

By eliminating the need for banks in the process, freelancers that use Transpay can get paid within a day or two, as opposed to five days through bank transfer.

The startup owns and operates every link in the chain, and does not rely on traditional bank wires to do payments. It also provides a web based platform for users. As all aspects from compliance and foreign exchange is managed by the firm, the startup is able to offer more cost effective rates.

While e-wallets and pre-paid cards are popular options, they still act as intermediates between a recipient and their money. The extra step of withdrawing funds from those platforms adds time and fees.

Transpay launched its New York head quarter in 2012, and is now looking to capture the growing freelance market in Asia.

A version of this appeared in Tech In Asia on July 13. Read the full version here.

reduce foreign exchange fee

Source :

A new service proposed by OFX, one of the world’s largest international payments businesses, will enable merchants to reduce the foreign exchange fee faced when selling on international marketplaces by 6-fold according to Forbes. The service is already running in Hong Kong and will soon be launched in Singapore and China.

One of the complexities to manage when selling across international borders is currency exchange. As a merchant, it can be a real punch in the gut when you lose money in forex and on top of that, have to pay 3-4% fees to marketplaces like Amazon and eBay to convert money back into your home currency. “Given how slim online retail margins are, this is a big deal,” says Richard Kimber, CEO of OFX.

To alleviate the pain of paying such fees to marketplaces, OFX, one of the world’s largest international payments businesses has launched a new service called OFX for Online Sellers.  Jeff Parker, Chief Enterprise Officer for OFX comments,

Exchange rates and associated fees can mean the difference between growth and stagnation for emerging merchants

When you’re ready to move the money back into your local Hong Kong account, you only pay 0.5% commissions to OFX rather than 3-4% to Amazon. There is no charge to open an online seller account and no account keeping fees. By collecting money in domestically held accounts via OFX for Online Sellers, OFX is allowing merchants to save up to 60% in exchange rates.

The service to reduce foreign exchange fees currently works for merchants who sell to or from North America, UK, Europe, Hong Kong and Australia. It will soon add Singapore and China to the list. Right now, the site is only in English but will offer multiple languages later down the road.

Parker concludes: “We’re providing the means for merchants to reach new customers across country borders.”

A version of this appeared in Forbes on July 6. Read the full article here

Bangkok Bank ready for Promptpay

Source: Peterojesen.wordpress

Traditional finance companies are beginning to fear the impact of the government’s PromptPay e-payment platform, as reported by The Bangkok Post.

The introduction of a new e-payment system, sponsored by the Thai government, will be a way for ecommerce businesses to overcome low credit card penetration in the country. Bangkok Bank expects transactions via its branch channel will decline more than 5% annually over the next few years due to the advent of the government’s national e-payment scheme.

Transactions through Bangkok Bank have continued to decline by 5% per year over the past few years as customers move away from the brick-and-mortar banking channel and towards the online platform.

Transactions through Bangkok Bank’s 1,000 or so branches nationwide have continued to decline by around 5% per year over the past few years as customers move away from the brick-and-mortar banking channel and towards the online platform, says Prassanee Ouiyamaphan, Executive VP of Bangkok Bank.

Currently, transactions via traditional channels represent about 30% of the total transaction rate.

PromptPay, a money transfer and payment service via the digital channel under the e-payment scheme, is scheduled to open for pre-registration today at many commercial banks, including Bangkok Bank.

Under PromptPay, people can easily and rapidly transfer money online to recipients who hold accounts at different banks, or even the same banks in cross-clearing zones, free of charge.

All transactions up to $142.44 (THB 5,000) are free; then transfers up to $855 (THB 30,000) are charged a fee of no more than $0.06 (THB 2); and transfers exceeding $2849 (THB 100,000) are charged no more than $0.28 (THB 10).

Most customers are expected to register via ATMs, followed by the digital channel. The bank’s ATM and debit cardholders total 12 million, while the bank has 9,500 ATM terminals.

Bangkok Bank allows people to sign up for PromptPay during pre-registration, which runs until July 14, via mobile banking and websites.

All banks would compete to attract consumers to use their accounts as the main account for PromptPay registration, though overlapping accounts will be unavoidable during the pre-registration period. However, accounts to be linked to mobile phones and ID cards will be verified from July 15 when official registration begins.

Bangkok Bank shares closed yesterday on the SET at $4.50 (THB 158.50), down 1%, in heavy trade worth $40 million (THB 1.46 billion).

A version of this appeared in Bangkok Post on July 1. Read the full article here

Facebook is targeting social commerce payments in Southeast Asia with a new trial that allows users to pay for products listed on Facebook Pages with just a few clicks.

The social network is running a trial in Thailand which allows users to make a payment to a Page owner without leaving the social network.

Qwik is a product powered by Southeast Asia-based fintech company 2C2P, one of the most popular payment solutions tailored for the local needs of Asian and international businesses operating in Asia Pacific. Qwik allows users to make payment via a credit card, debit card or bank transfer online, according to numerous sources with knowledge of the trial.

Social dominance in Asia is already well known and its influence extends to commerce, with many small and independent retailers using Facebook Pages to build and engage their audience and, of course, sell products.

The process of buying from social – browsing, reaching the seller through the message button, requesting bank account details, doing the transfer on an ATM, etc. – is hugely cumbersome for the customer in emerging markets as majority do not own credit cards, nor are familiar with internet banking but the fact is, people are so keen to buy online that they’ll jump through all types of hoops to do so.

This trial, which is somewhere in the alpha stage, is an early indicator of Facebook’s intent to keep all the processes of the social commerce transaction on its platform. Either way, this trial is the loudest signal to date of Facebook’s interest in social commerce payments in Southeast Asia and potentially other parts of Asia and emerging markets. The company has already dabbled with commerce with a feature to let users find local services which is currently being tested in India and Indonesia. While the technology behind Qwik is hardly revolutionary, entering the payment space is a major move.

A version of this appeared in Tech Crunch on June 9. Read the full article here.