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Touché enabling cashless payment with fingerprints

Source: fintechnews.sg

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.

eApeiron is a new startup backed by Kodak that aims to use a tagging system to identify counterfeit products, reports Deal Street Asia. Kodak and Alibaba Group are working with the startup to combat counterfeiting with a technology that places an invisible, digitally traceable marker on products to ensure that they are authentic.

eApeiron, launched in June and is targeting common ecommerce problem, pirated products that mostly occurs in China and Hong Kong. According to a recent report by the Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development, fake products accounted for almost half a trillion in 2013.

“Everyone knows this is a problem,” said Kodak Chief Executive Officer Jeff Clarke, who cited the complex supply chains at many companies. “If you’re in charge of brand protection or you’re a security officer of a major brand, this means you’ve got a new tool.”

The company is based in Miami and will locate its research, engineering and manufacturing operations within Kodak’s business park in Rochester, New York.

Alibaba is concentrating on cleaning up its image following the string of counterfeit controversy.

The company wants to be seen as a viable partner that can help identify sources of fake goods and play a part in tackling the problem not enabling it by owning a marketplace where cheap knock-offs flourish. Alibaba’s president, Michael Evans will sit on eAperiron’s board.

eApeiron’s tagging system for identifying and tracking products through its supply chain is likely what attracted Alibaba, given the complexity of its supply chain and the need for a unique product signature due to the number of carriers.

The startup currently has 50 employees with plans for a rapid expansion. CEO Charles Fernandez declined to provide a valuation for the company, but he did comment that the use of Alibaba’s multiple platforms will present them with vast opportunities, with predictions of 3x revenue in the next two years.

Alibaba’s on-going battle against counterfeit items and Kodak’s effort to join the startup scene following its bankruptcy in 2012 will surely make interesting partnership.

A version of this appeared in Deal Street Asia on July 18. Read the full version here.

Glazziq plans to expand regionally as they find success selling high-quality, affordable glasses designed in-house and made on OEM basis in Thailand, reports The Nation.

The Warby Parker model success

“It was really about bypassing retailers, bypassing the middlemen that would mark up lenses 3-5x what they cost, so we could just transfer all of that cost directly to consumers and save them money.” – Neil Blumenthal, Founder of Warby Parker.

Based on the popular American glasses brand, Warby Parker, Glazziq will deliver the frames to customers at home, for which it charges a deposit of 300 THB, which be returned as a full credit, she said, adding that once they have finished their trial, customers can simply drop off the frames at any 7-Eleven store around the country.

glazziq, Ecommerce Startup Glazziq Plans to Expand Regionally

Source: tcdcconnect.com

Customers can get their eyes tested for free and a prescription issued at any of over 100 Better Vision – or Hor Wan – eyewear stores nationwide.

The prescription will then be automatically put into the www.glazziq.com system for matching with the order, and sent directly to the factory where the frames and lens will be assembled and despatched to the buyer’s home address.

Customers will receive the finished products within five to 10 days of their prescription entering the system

The website, launched last December, has already grown to more than 100 orders being placed monthly.

The company plans to expand to Malaysia and Singapore next year, with the eventual goal of becoming one of the largest eyewear ecommerce operators across Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific, the Chief Executive, Prinda Pracharktam said.

The standard business models in Southeast Asia are looking to the West to successfully adapt to the ever-changing customer demographic in Asia while remaining focused on the local market. Glazziq is a perfect example.

A version of this appeared in The Nation July 14. Find the full version here.

Chinese-investors-eye-Indonesia

There are several factors drawing Chinese investors to look into the Indonesian market, e27 reported at the Convergence Ventures event.

Multi-Racial Background

According to Horizon-China & Feimalv Capital Founder Victor Yuan Yuan, Indonesia’s multiracial background makes it easier for foreign investors to bridge-the-gap between their own culture and that of locals. The country also has a “stronger Chinese connection” compared to other emerging markets. He also saw some similarities between Indonesian and Chinese technopreneurs.

Younger Demographics 

“The big innovation is done by people who are even younger [than most Asian markets]. If I look at the average age of innovators [in Indonesia] are younger than in China, so it’s even more promising,” Yuan said. When it comes to focus, Yuan believed that the service sector will remain popular in the next years. The investors will also focus on pre-Series A and Series A rounds of investments.

The big innovation is done by people who are even younger [than most Asian markets]. If I look at the average age of innovators [in Indonesia] are younger than in China, so it’s even more promising.”

The Gold Rush of Southeast Asia

The past year has seen China big players make their presence known in Indonesian tech startup scene. Alibaba had tried to expand its coverage in the country by launching Aliexpress before changing its strategy by acquiring Lazada in Southeast Asia. Alibaba’s competitor, JD, also has launched quietly last October. This article on Tech Crunch, urges business to “forget China because there is an ecommerce gold rush in Southeast Asia.”

“What we are going to do is set up a club, then probably an incubator, a multidimensional mechanism to support local startups,” he said. “Our own organisations will also invest in here, especially since this is a scalable market with [a] rising economy,” he added.

Likening today’s Indonesia to China seven years ago, he also called for local investors and businesses to collaborate together. As investments and attention has been turning to Southeast Asia, Indonesia in particular, there are factors that indicate how the region can be seen as China’s younger sister. However, the region is slowly catching up and showing a lot of potential, which explains why Chinese investors are looking in.

 

A version of this appeared in e27 on June 22. Read the full article here.

mobile opportunity in Myanmar

Source: mizzima.com

The new digital wave in Myanmar is both very recent but extremely fast. In particular, the mobile opportunity in Myanmar is currently creating untapped opportunities for tech start-up and ecommerce ventures across the region. The country has seen massive growth in internet penetration, mobile phone adoption and social media usage in the past few years, spurred by the end of direct military rule and rapid opening up of its market after decades of isolation.

The consumer market in Myanmar has essentially bypassed the development stages seen in other economies and moved straight to digital and mobile, making the country a potentially interesting test bed for internet-enabled businesses.

The mobile phone penetration rate in Myanmar, which barely touched double digits in 2013, has now reached around 50% of its estimated 54 million population last year.

According to Ericsson report, Myanmar is the fourth fastest-growing mobile market on earth and over six years, the cost of a SIM card has shrunk from US$ 1,500 to US$ 1.50 today.

The major challenge to overcome urgently is “that the digital transformation is happening so quickly, it’s difficult for countries in the region to keep up in terms of talent” explains Rami Sharaf, Senior VP of Royal Group of Companies Ltd in Cambodia.

The upside of the new mobile opportunity in Myanmar is that it creates new markets for local and foreign tech and ecommerce startups around the region. “With more users, more businesses will come because the market is here,” he said.

A version of this appeared in Bangkok Post on June 20. Read the full article here.

shopback-malaysia, shopback recorded growth

Source: Google images

Singapore-based cashback startup ShopBack recorded growth locally and regionally – 1,300 merchants in the region, 500 in Malaysia. From gross merchandising value to its shopper base, the country manager of Malaysian operations, Gil Carmo, said that the company hopes to grow by 20% month-on-month in GMV this year.

ShopBack has a presence in five countries beyond its home market, they include Malaysia (established in February 2015), the Philippines (June 2015), India (January 2016), and Indonesia (March 2016).

Malaysia domination

The cash back company claims to have more than 500,000 active users regionally, of whom more than half are from Malaysia. Its portals across the region have been attracting more than 1.5 million visits (up from 1.3 million visits in October 2015) monthly, including 330,000 out of Malaysia.

70% of Shopback’s users in Malaysia are repeat customers. Most of the people who try our service usually end up shopping with us regularly, like once a month.

Carmo believes that it would be possible for the company to grow to over 2,000 merchants by the end of the year. According to the company, it registered total cashouts of more than RM4 million, approximately US$976,000 in Malaysia last year, with the largest cashouts by a single person being over RM9,000 or US$2,196.

Gaining consumer’s trust

“I think the challenge is not so much about educating people on online shopping – in fact, I think Malaysians are extremely educated when it comes to online shopping – but [on the concept] of cashback itself,” he said.

While the concept of ‘cashback’ took off quite well in the US and UK, it is still relatively new for people in Southeast Asia who have a natural apprehension towards anything that seems too good to be true. Consumer weariness might hinder the company’s growth but considering the price-sensitive shoppers in this region, the cashback concept has potential to become part of their shopping habits once it becomes more mainstream.

A version of this appeared in Digital News Asia on June 20. Read the full article here.