Here’s what you should know today:

1. Apple continues to push Apple Pay in China

Apple is launching a large-scale promotion by offering special discounts for consumers who use its mobile payment method in mainland China, where the landscape are currently dominated by rival Alipay and WeChat Pay.

Between July 18 and 24, consumers using Apple Pay will get discounts of up to 50% and as much as 50 times of reward points for credit cards, according to Apple’s official Chinese website.

There are a total of 28 offline retail stores and 16 online merchants participated, including 7-Eleven, Starbucks, bike-sharing app Mobike, as well as The campaign is part of Apple strategy to wins market share in China.

However, it is hard to say how well will they fare since unlike Alipay and WeChat Pay that could be installed in every smartphone, Apple Pay is limited by device availability.

Read the full story here

2.  Bank Indonesia published a new regulation for National Payment Gateway

Central Bank of Indonesia published a new national payment gateway regulation in a bid to provide an efficient and secure payment system for banking customers in the country.

The regulation seeks to make transactions easier and cheaper for banking customers by allowing all electric money, debit and credit cards of any issuers to be accepted at any automatic teller machine, electronic data capture device or payment gateway in the archipelago once the regulation is fully implemented.

There are currently hundreds of debit card issuers, 26 credit card issuers and 25 electronic money issuers in Indonesia, with most of them being local players. According to the new regulation, foreign principals need to work with local switching companies.

Other countries that has implemented the system including China (with China Union Pay), Malaysia (MyCard) and Japan (JCB). However, it will be awhile to integrate the system nationwide in Indonesia due to its big population.

Read the full story here

3. Blue Apron shares fall as Amazon file for meal-kit trademark

Blue Apron shares tumbled more than 11% to $6.51, nearly 35% since its IPO price of $10. The decline came as investors were concerned about its future and the impact of Amazon’s planned $13.7 billion acquisition of supermarket chain Whole Foods.

In a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Amazon registered a trademark application for “prepared food kits composed of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruit and/or vegetables” that is ready for cooking and assembly as a meal. Amazon’s planned service is identical to the one currently offered by Blue Apron.

Last week, startup offering similar service in Jakarta, BlackGarlic, has just closed down due to the high customer acquisitions cost.

Read the full story here.

Here’s what you should know today.

1. Temasek leads $70m investment in gym subs service ClassPass

New York-based startup ClassPass has just closed a series C round worth US$70 million. The round was led by Singapore state fund Temasek Holdings.

ClassPass has travelled a rocky road prior to closing its series C. The company struggled to make an impact during its first two years, before adopting its current subscription model.

Temasek is an increasingly visible player on the global VC scene. It manages a portfolio worth over US$180 billion, mainly concentrated in Asia.

Read the rest of the story here.


2. Indian financial services marketplace BankBazaar enters Malaysia

BankBazaar, a leading online financial services company in India, has announced its expansion into Malaysia.

With over 70% active internet users, coupled with Malaysian Government’s commitment to digitise the financial ecosystem, Malaysia has led to the adoption of advanced financial technologies to equip customers to shift towards digital transactions.

Adhil Shetty, Co-founder and CEO,, said: “Buoyed by the positive business sentiment and a progressive regulator, Malaysia’s banking industry is poised towards the next phase of disruption.”

Read the rest of the story here.


3. Recommended Reading: Is Whole Foods a healthy option for Amazon?

Whole Foods, which some of my friends call “whole wallet,” focuses on their high-quality, high-price, heavily curated selection. On the other hand, Amazon is known for their hyper-efficiency, value and choice.

For Amazon, the ability to distribute products they already sourced at a higher-margin is a boon for their business. In other words, the Whole Foods markup builds Amazon a highly profitable channel for their goods.

Read the rest of the story here.

As you may have already realized, Amazon’s recent $13 billion acquisition of Whole Foods is more than about groceries. By adding an enormous offline groceries chain and its customers attention to its repertoire, the retail beast moves closer to becoming a real one-stop destination for all consumer needs.

Slate puts it best, “Scale, meet scale. Logistics, meet logistics. Loyal customer base, meet loyal customer base.”

Before this, Amazon was already banking on America’s $800 billion grocery business via Amazon Fresh; it’s key competitors being Instacart, FreshDirect, Google Express and Blue Apron.

An Amazon Prime member can now receive everything he or she needs within two hours or shorter depending on their location; a feat these other grocery delivery services will find it tough to beat. 

This move will further reinforce consumer behavior of searching for products directly on Amazon rather than a typical search engine – behavior already witnessed in Indonesia.

This acquisition also puts in Amazon’s hands customer data from a network of shoppers that ring up $300 million in sales across North America. 

Why else would Facebook partner with Dunnhumby, a grocery data firm in 2016 to learn more about how Facebook advertising incentivizes purchases?

The grocer, most importantly, also has veteran experience and knowledge on sourcing and storing fresh food that can help Amazon’s “wasteful” Amazon Fresh operations and improve the entire customer experience, a staple to Bezos’ business philosophy.

Bloomberg reported that workers at Amazon Fresh threw away about a third of the bananas it purchased because the service only sold the fruit in bunches of five. Employees trimmed each bunch down to size and chucked the excess.

“There’s just not a lot of demand there. The whole premise is that you’re saving people a trip to the store, but people actually like going to the store to buy groceries,” said Kurt Jetta, chief executive officer of TABS Analytics, a consumer products research firm.

The grocery game can’t be won by trucks and websites alone. Whole Foods gets two-thirds of its sales from fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, whilst other supermarkets gets only 25% of sales from those fresh categories.

“Whole Foods as a kind of guinea pig for Amazon — a pricey, organically sourced one, perhaps, but a guinea pig all the same.” – NY Times

Whole Foods’ grocery-distribution infrastructure is already expected to act as Amazon’s grocery-distribution infrastructure and will incorporate the e-tailers technological capabilities to streamline the checkout process at Whole Foods to possibly push the long-awaited “cashier-less” Amazon Go concept.

What does this mean for everyone?

Following the announcement of Amazon’s acquisition, grocery chains’ stock took a tumble on Friday. Walmart stores Inc. fell 4.7%, while US retailer Kroger Co. dropped 9.2%.

Payment companies such as Square.Inc also fell over the concern that the acquisition will lessen the importance of traditional payment methods.

The value of the industry should reflect grocery players across the globe, also counting those investing in countries such as Singapore and Thailand. The acquisition may not have a direct impact on Southeast Asian grocery players yet, but it represents how change could come in the future as Amazon is rumored to launch in Singapore and Lazada’s acquisition of RedMart.

If grocery players remain purely within their vertical, it could make them vulnerable to an acquisition or worse, once an all encompassing, data hungry giant makes it way into the market.

Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods can serve as validation to how important consumer data, logistics, payments and an integrated value chain is, for small players that do not have this, it will be difficult for them to exist in the future.

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