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Sri Lanka export revenue totals USD 9.7 billion for the first 9 months of 2020

23 Oct 2020

Figures from Sri Lanka’s Export Development Board show that Sri Lanka’s revenues for the export of merchandise and services for the first nine months of 2020 amounted to USD 9.7 billion, a 17.7% decline year on year. The decline was attributed to the Covid-induced economic slowdown worldwide.

Total revenues from the export of services amounted to USD 2.3 billion during the January to September period, down from  20.7% from the previous year’s USD 2.9 billion. Within the services segment, only the information and communications technology / business process management (ICT / BPM) saw year-on-year growth.

Total revenues from merchandise exports fell 16.9% from January to September to USD 7.4 billion, largely driven by a decline in exports of apparel, tea, and rubber. Merchandise products that saw positive growth were coconut-based products which grew 4%, food and beverages up 2%, other export crops up 148%, and petroleum products up 6%.

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Indonesia food service startup Mangan raises undisclosed amount in latest funding round

23 Oct 2020

Indonesian B2B on-demand food service startup Mangan has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Richard Avila, Senior Director at American foodservice  distributor US Foods. Barely two years old (the startup was founded in 2019) the latest funding round brings Mangan’s post-money valuation to USD 1 million. The fresh capital will be used for product development.

Mangan’s platform connects restaurants and eateries with companies to offer company employees an expanded and diversified variety of menu options to choose from besides the standard, and often rarely changed fare offered at company canteens. The startups has already partnered with more than 200 restaurants, helping deliver more than 40,000 orders to abut 80 office locations in Jabodetabek and Surabaya.

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UOB Malaysia launches AI-based digital banking service

22 Oct 2020

Singaporean bank United Overseas Bank (Malaysia) Bhd has launched Mighty Insights, believed to be Malaysia’s first artificial intelligence-powered digital banking service. The service aims to simplify and enhance customers’ ability to manage and  track their savings and expenses through personalized insights based on their banking and spending patterns.

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Under Armour launches official flagship store on Lazada Malaysia

30 Sep 2020

Sportswear brand Under Armour has partnered eCommerce platform Lazada Malaysia to launch its official flagship store online. Already maintaining an independent e-commerce store, the partnership will further expand Under Armour Malaysia’s online sales channels.  

Malaysia August trade surplus up 19.7% YoY

30 Sep 2020

Malaysia exports fell 2.9% year-on-year  YoY to MYR 79.14 billion in August after advancing 8.8% YoY and 3.1% YoY in June and July respectively. Imports contracted for a sixth consecutive month as it continued to be weighed down by weak domestic demand. These led to a 19.7% YoY growth in trade surplus to MYR 13.23 billion. 

Malaysia budget airline AirAsia’s fintech venture BigPay expands into Singapore

28 Sep 2020

Malaysia’s AirAsia’s fintech venture, BigPay, is expanding into Singapore. BigPay also plans to launch new business lines such as loans, insurance and wealth management in the coming months, as well as expand to other South East Asian markets in early 2021.

Cainiao partners with BEST Inc., to launch end-to-end logistics service between Malaysia and China

23 Sep 2020

Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group Holding Limited, has announced a partnership with BEST Inc., an integrated smart supply chain solutions and logistics services provider from China, to launch an end-to-end logistics service between Malaysia and China to shorten delivery time for cross-border e-commerce parcels and improve overall customer experience. Cross-border sea freight shipping duration will be reduced to as fast as six days after departing China, and thereafter customers can receive their parcels as soon as the next day upon clearing customs in Malaysia.
The cross-border logistics service will span first and last mile, sea freight forwarding, overseas warehousing and customs clearance, which means that e-Commerce parcels will be picked up from
China for international shipping to Malaysia where they will be delivered directly to customers.

Malaysian drone-based solutions provider Aerodyne expands into the Middle East

22 Sep 2020

Malaysian drone-based enterprise solutions provider Aerodyne Group has forged a partnership with Al-Babtain LeBlanc, the Middle East’s leading infrastructure provider and system integrator, to accelerate the adoption of drone-based solutions in the region.

Malaysia domestic tourism grows 12% in 2019

18 Sep 2020

Malaysia’s domestic tourism continued to record better performance last year, recording a double-digit growth of 12 per cent to MYR 92.6 billion, the Tourism Satellite Account 2019 reported.

Malaysia used car trading platform Carsome MY partners with Shopee Malaysia to sell cars online

18 Sep 2020

Used car trading platform Carsome MY has entered the eCommerce space through its partnership with Shopee in Malaysia. Consumers are now able to purchase an exclusive premium selection of used cars on the Carsome official store on Shopee.

Malaysian employees’ average monthly salaries and wages rose 4.4% in 2019

17 Sep 2020

The average monthly salary and wage received by employees in Malaysia increased by 4.4% from RM3,087 in 2018 to RM3,224 in 2019 according to data from the 2019 Salaries and Wages Survey Report published by the Statistics Department Malaysia.

Malaysian-owned halal marketplace platform Halal Street UK launches HalalExtra.com

17 Sep 2020

Malaysian-owned halal products marketplace Halal Street UK launched its e-commerce platform, HalalExtra.com, to enable Malaysian halal products to be sold in the United Kingdom (UK) and Europe.

Malaysia digital remittance service provider Valyou launches blockchain-based remittance services in Bangladesh

11 Sep 2020

Valyou, a Malaysian digital remittance provider, announced the launch of blockchain-based remittance services in Bangladesh in partnership with Standard Chartered and bKash, a mobile financial service provider, to facilitate instant transfers from Malaysia. The service is powered by blockchain technology from Ant Group.

Malaysia July manufacturing sales up 1.9% YoY, 2.1% MoM

11 Sep 2020

Malaysia’s manufacturing sales rise 1.9% year on year (YoY), 2.1% month on month (MoM), to MYR 119.3 billion in July 2020. The year on year growth in sales value in July 2020 was driven by the increase in the sales of food, beverage and tobacco products (24.9%), transport equipment and other manufactures products (14.3%) and electrical and electronics products (8.4%). Meanwhile, the sub-sectors that supported the month-on-month growth were transport equipment and other manufactures products (11.8%), non-metallic mineral products, basic metal and fabricated metal products (8.0%), and electrical and electronics products (3.9%).

Malaysia records highest percentage of digital consumers in Southeast Asia – study

11 Sep 2020

Malaysia recorded the highest percentage of digital consumers in Southeast Asia with 83% of its population (aged 15 years and above) according to a study titled “Digital Consumers of Tomorrow, Here Today” conducted by Facebook and Bain & Company.

Shopee e-tailers see more than MYR 200 million sales from Malaysia’s National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) vouchers

03 Sep 2020

Vouchers provided under the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) generated more than MYR 200 million in sales by local retailers on e-commerce platform Shopee, as at August 31.

Malaysia’s Telekom Malaysia Q2 2020 net profit jumps 140.63% YoY

27 Aug 2020

Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) reported today that second quarter 2020 net profit jumped 140.63% to MYR 274.75 million from MYR 114.18 million a year earlier on lower operating and net finance costs. Revenue however, fell to MYR 2.59 billion in the second quarter ended June 30, 2020, from MYR 2.77 billion a year earlier. The drop was attributed to price adjustments to TM’s Internet service Streamyx, as well as restricted economic activities during Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO).

Budget carrier AirAsia’s e-commerce platform sees 118% YoY revenue growth in Q1 2020

21 Aug 2020

AirAsia Group Bhd revenues from its e-commerce platform AirAsia.com rose 118% YoY in Q1 2020.

Malaysia’s mean monthly household expenditure rose 3.9% pa in 2019

10 Jul 2020

In 2019, the mean monthly household consumption expenditure rose 3.9% per annum in tandem with mean monthly household income which rose 4.2% for the period 2016-2019. By value, mean monthly household expenditure rose from MYR 4,033 in 2016 to MYR 4,534 in 2019.

By state, in 2019, the highest mean monthly household consumption expenditure was recorded in W.P. Putrajaya (MYR 7,980). Five other states recorded household consumption expenditure exceeding the national mean (MYR 4,534) which were W.P. Kuala Lumpur (MYR 6,913), Selangor (MYR 5,830), Melaka (MYR 4,955), Johor (MYR 4,793), and Penang (MYR 4,630).

Sunway Group forays into agricultural technology (agritech)

5 Jun 2020

Sunway Group is venturing into agricultural technology (agritech) to help reduce Malaysia’s food import bill and encourage and reduce the carbon footprint on the food consumed in the country. It is building a 50,000 sq ft urban farming innovation hub, Sunway FutureX, to help urban farming professionals, tech companies, researchers and young talents collaborate and create solutions for food and agritech. The hub should be completed by the third quarter of this year. Sunway FutureX, an initiative led by Sunway Innovation Labs (Sunway iLabs), will be located in the heart of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur and it will feature FutureX Farm, an indoor and outdoor smart farming area, FutureX Talent, a research and development centre, and FutureX Campus, a training and collaborative space.

Malaysia’s internet penetration rises to 90.1% in 2019

10 Apr 2020

Malaysian households’ access to the internet rose by 3.1 percentage points to 90.1% in 2019 as compared to 87% in 2018 according to Department of Statistics. Five most popular activities among the Internet users were anticipating social network (97.1%), downloading pictures, movies, videos or music; playing or downloading games (84.7%), finding information on goods or services (83.5%), telephoning over the Internet/ VoIP (77.4%) and downloading software or applications (77.1%). Analysis of Internet users by age group showed that individuals in the age group 20 to 24 were more likely to use the Internet to find a job or submit a job application (49.5%) and watching television online (56.3%). Individuals aged 25 to 29 preferred the activity of Internet banking (61.5%) and ordering goods and services through e-commerce (45.1%). Individuals aged between 35 and 39 were more active on using the Internet to use services related to travel or travel-related accommodation (32.6%). As for individuals aged 45 to 49, they favoured posting opinions or voting on civic or political issues on the Internet (21.1%).

Malaysia airport operator MAHB reports 26.2% YoY net profit decline for 2019

02 Mar 2020

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) net profit declines 26.2% YoY to MYR 537.04 million in the year ended Dec 2019 from MYR 727.3 million a year earlier.

 

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Bangladesh social commerce startup ShopUp raises USD 22.5 million Series A

19 Oct 2020

Bangladeshi B2B social commerce startup ShopUp has raised USD 22. 5 million Series A funding from Sequoia Capital India, and Flourish Ventures. VEON Ventures, Speedinvest, and Lonsdale Capital participated in the funding round which was reportedly largest Series A round in Bangladesh. 

Approximately 98% of Bangladesh’s retail sales are generated from the country’s approximately 4.5 million neighborhood mom-and-pop stores. ShopUp built a solution combining order management, logistics and other services with the aim of helping these small businesses expand and grow. These merchants were among the worst hit during the Covid pandemic, and ShopUp’s solution proved to be highly popular with the number of neighborhood shops transacting weekly on the ShopUp platform growing by 8.5 times between April and August 2020. 

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India edtech startup Genius Teacher raises USD 2 million

Indian education technology startup Genius Teacher has raised USD 2 million from Whiteboard Capital, and VKG Venture, along with 50 other angel investors including  Abhijit Bose (Whatsapp CEO, India), Kunal Shah (CEO, Cred), Sandeep Tandon (Co-Founder, Freecharge), Dhruv Agarwal (CEO, Proptiger), Justin Sway (CEO, Mmone online), Dan Lapus (Co-Founder, Cvent), Nimish Kampani (President, Let’s Venture), Gaurav Gupta (ex-VP, Snapdeal), Bikram Bedi (ex-MD AWS India) and Farooq Adam (Co-Founder, Fynd). The fresh capital will be used for production development and onboarding new students.

Largely focused on the K-12 segment, Genius Teacher offers students a quiz-based learning platform, with the aim of making education and learning more engaging and interesting. The startup has developed more than 5,000 quizzes and nearly 10,000 interest-based personalized videos.

India’s edtech sector has witnessed a boom in venture capital funds with a spate of edtech-related fundraisings announced this year, attracting the likes of global venture capital investors including Silver Lake, Tiger Global, General Atlantic, Blackrock, and Qatar Investment Authority to name a few. India’s biggest corporation by market capitalization Reliance Industries also jumped into the arena with an investment of nearly INR 6 billion in AI-based edtech startup Embibe in return for a majority stake.

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Wealth management startup Magnum Research closes USD 30 million financing round

23 Oct 2020

Wealth management startup Magnum Research, the owner and operator of digital wealth management app Aqumon, has raised USD 30 million in a follow-on of its pre-Series B round. The round was lead by Zheng He Capital Management while Lenovo Capital, Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, Wing Lung Family Office, and government-backed Cyberport participated. 

The fresh capital will be used for market expansion, and for R&D into areas such as software engineering and AI. Magnum Research is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong.

Aqumon has grown 300% YoY in 2020 amid the pandemic, thanks o a spike in demand for is digital wealth management solutions as the pandemic inflicted demand drops in the offline businesses of insurance companies, banks, and security houses. In addition, financial institutions are increasingly warming up to cloud-based solutions to an effort to reduce costs. Aqumon has partnered with more than 70 financial institutions across the region, covering more than 10 million end users. Major institutional clients include CMB Wing Lung Bank, AIA Hong Kong, Bank of China International, Gaungzhou Rural Commercial Bank, China Resources Bank, and ChinaAMC.

Ayumon offers access to low cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

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Chinese on-demand drug-delivery startup Dingdang Kuaiyao raises CNY 1 billion Series B+ funding

21 Oct 2020

Chinese on-demand drug-delivery startup Dingdang Kuaiyao has raised CNY 1 billion Series B+ funding from a clutch of investors including Taikang Asset, Haier Biomedical, and Beijing Zhongguancun Longmen Investment Company Limited, SB China Capital (SoftBank’s VC unit in China), and CMB International (China Merchants Bank’s investment vehicle).
The startup operates its own chain of pharmacies, was one of the earliest players to offer drug delivery within 28 minutes, helping it gain popularity among users who often needed urgent drugs at night when traditional pharmacies were closed. Currently serving millions of users in around 10 big cities, the company intends to use the fresh funds to expand to another 10 cities in China by the end of the year, as part of a bigger plan to open 10,000 new pharmacies in 1,000 cities including smaller cities.

Chinese search engine giant Baidu launches in-app shopping channel

20 Oct 2020

Chinese search engine giant Baidu has launched an in-app shopping channel, a strategic move to carve its own share of China’s blossoming e-commerce market. The shopping channel enables its 204 million daily active users to search for products and make purchases directly in its Baidu app. Baidu’s move is somewhat akin to Google’s Google Shopping channel in that a search term for a certain product will reveal product search results from shopping platforms and websites such as Alibaba, JD.com, or other independent brand websites.

BBC Studios signs strategic agreement with Chinese video platform Bilibili

19 Oct 2020

BBC Studios and Chinese online video platform Bilibili (NASDAQ:BILI) have signed a strategic cooperation agreement to generate more China-inspired content and bring more BBC premium shows to China. The BBC-Bilibili partnership will also give Bilibili greater access to BBC Studios’ premium content.

Nasdaq-listed Bilibili, which competes against  online video behemoths Tencent Video (HKG:0700) and iQiyi (NASDAQ:IQ) has been on a tear, recording a 70% YoY growth in monthly active users (MAUs) which reached 172 million in the first quarter of 2020.  By comparison Tencent Video had a MAU of 112 million while iQiyi had nearly 119 million. Unlike its two rivals however, Bilibi is largely reliant on user generated content similar to that of Youtube (NASDAQ:GOOGL), whereas Tencent Video and iQiyi offer video collections of professionally-produced content, similar to that of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). Bilibili however does appear to be making moves towards building its library of professionally-produced content and the partnership looks to be a step in that direction. Bilibili’s content library currently contains more than 3,000 documentaries, including titles it produced and others it co-produced.

Bilibili, which is backed by Chinese tech giants Alibaba (HKG:9988), and Tencent, is hugely popular among “Generation Z” which reportedly accounts for 80% of its users according to QuestMobile.

TikTok parent ByteDance sets up new e-commerce division

18 Jun 2020

Video sharing platform TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has set up a new e-commerce division signaling intent to develop its own e-commerce business. ByteDance’s revenues currently are mainly from advertising. ByteDance is unlikely to challenge domestic e-commerce leader Alibaba who is one of key advertisers among e-commerce platforms that make up a key portion of TikTok’s core ad revenue. However, there is potential to tap into e-commerce markets overseas, which leverages on TikTok’s strength as a highly popular video sharing platform worldwide. The number of international TikTok users have surged in recent years. TikTok was downloaded 104 million times from the global App Store and Google Play store in January 2020, making it the world’s most downloaded mobile app according to Sensor Tower.

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Singapore private home prices up 0.8% QoQ in Q3 2020

24 Oct 2020

Private home prices in Singapore rose 0.8% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) amid the pandemic-induced recession, accelerating from the  0.3% rise in Q2 2020, and a 1% drop in Q1 2020 according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). With the third quarter increase, Singapore’s private home prices are up 0.1% for the first nine months of 2020.

The increase was driven by landed homes and increased buying activity in the city fringes and suburbs after the nationwide two month circuit breaker ended in on June 1. For the nine months ended September 2020, nearly 80% of private home buyers were Singaporean, the highest proportion since 2010. However, the number of foreign buyers of Singapore private homes nearly doubled to 225 in Q3 2020, from 119 in Q2, possibly due to more foreigners setting up operations in Singapore and record low interest rates. Bulk of the foreign buyers were China, while buyers from Malaysia, India, USA, and Indonesia accounting for the rest.

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Singtel’s NCS acquires digital services startup 2359 Media

22 Oct 2020

Singaporean telecom giant Singapore Telecommunications’s (SGX:Z74) ICT subsidiary NCS has acquired a digital services consultancy startup 2359 Media for an undisclosed sum. 2359 Media will be part of NCS’ NEXT digital arm, and the acquisition will offer NCS clients an expanded range of digital services such as  design thinking, rapid prototyping, cloud native application development, and creation of innovative digital solutions.

Plant-based food startup Eat Just plans to build first Asia factory in Singapore

21 Oct 2020

American plant based food startup Eat Just has launched a new Asian subsidiary in partnership with Proterra Investment Partners Asia. The partnership will involve the construction and operation of Eat Just’s first  factory in Asia, which will be in Singapore. As part of the deal, Proterra will invest USD 100 million while Eat Just will invest a maximum USD 20 million for the plant. The completed factory will have the capacity to manufacture “thousands of metric tons of protein”. The partnership will  also focus on building the supply chain for their flagship product, a liquid vegan egg product made from mung beans.

65% rise in Industry 4.0-related projects in Singapore

19 Oct 2020

The Covid pandemic has served as a catalyst for Industry 4.0 in Singapore, with companies in the country’s manufacturing sector embarking on more than 1,300 Industry 4.0-related projects to digitize and transform their businesses with assistance from Enterprise Singapore during the eight months to August 2020. This represents a rise of about 65% compared to the same period last year.  Projects were mainly focused on technology deployment and automation, process redesign, and implementation of digitalization solutions such as  human resource systems.

Manufacturing is a key part of Singapore’s economy, with the sector contributing about 20% to the country’s GDP.

Pie chart showing Singapore's nominal GDP by industry in 2019. Singapore's manufacturing sector was the largest contributor to GDP was a 20.9% share followed by wholesale and retail trade with a 17.3% share, business services with a 14.8% share, finance and insurance with a 13.9% share, other services Industries 11.3% share, transportation and storage with a 6.7% share, information and Communications with a 4.3% share, ownership and dwellings with a 3.8% share, construction with a 3.7% share, accommodation and Food Services with a 2.1% share, and utilities with a 1.2%. Data from the department of Statistics Singapore.
Amid the Covid-induced economic slowdown, manufacturing has emerged as a bright spot in Singapore’s economy. Singapore’s Q3 2020 GDP contracted 7% YoY, a drastic improvement from the previous quarter when the country’s economic output shrank 13.2% YoY in, largely driven by the manufacturing sector which rose 2% in Q3 2020, reversing from the 0.8% YoY decline the previous quarter. By comparison the country’s construction sector shrank 44.7% YoY in Q3 2020 while the services sector tumbled 8% YoY.

September new private home sales hit 2-year high

15 Sep 2020

New private home sales reached 1,329 units in September, a 5.6% increase month-on-month (MoM) from August when new private home sales amounted to 1,258 and a 4.65% increase YoY when new private home sales amounted to 1,270 in September 2019 according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority. September’s new private home sales volume was the highest since July 2018, when 1,724 units were  transacted. The figures exclude executive condominiums which are a public-private housing hybrid.

Malaysia budget airline AirAsia’s fintech venture BigPay expands into Singapore

28 Sep 2020

Malaysia’s AirAsia’s fintech venture, BigPay, is expanding into Singapore. BigPay also plans to launch new business lines such as loans, insurance and wealth management in the coming months, as well as expand to other South East Asian markets in early 2021.

Singapore’s total population drops for the first time in 17 years

25 Sep 2020

Singapore’s total population has fallen for the first time in since 2003, falling 0.3% to 5.69 million as of June from a year ago largely due to a reduction in foreign employment in the services sector, according to Singapore’s annual population report. Total population, which include citizens, permanent residents, foreign workers and students, last fell in 2003 to 4.11 million from 4.18 million the year before. The non-resident population was 1.64 million as of June 2020, a decrease of 2.1 per cent from June 2019 and the lowest since 2015. By visa type, work permit holders saw the largest decrease. “These trends were largely due to Covid-19 related challenges, brought about by weak demand and travel restrictions,” according to the report.

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Supply chain financing startup CredAble raises INR 181.4 million

24  Oct 2020

India supply chain financing startup CredAble has raised INR 181.4 million in funding led by V’Ocean investment. A group of other individual investors participated in the round.

CredAble aims disrupt the supply chain financing in Asia. The startup’s solution combines financing, deep learning, analytics to create innovative financial products dynamically. 

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Flipkart acquires stake in Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail

23 Oct 2020

Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart has invested INR 15 billion to acquire a 7.8% stake in Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail. The acquisition looks to be a step towards solidifying Walmart-owned (NYSE:WMT) Flipkart’s position in India’s fashion e-commerce market which is seeing growing competition from Amazon Fashion (NASDAQ:AMZN) and newcomer JioMart which having disrupted the online grocery space, announced its entry into fashion in early October this year.

Flipkart’s fashion business Flipkart Fashion, together with its fashion e-commerce subsidiary Myntra lead India’s fashion e-commerce, with a market share of roughly 38.3% as of 2018 according to S&P data.  

India Q3 2020 smartphone shipments reach all time highs

22 Oct 2020

About 50 million smartphones shipped in India during Q3 2020 according to a report by Canalys, hitting a quarterly record in the world’s second largest smartphone market. This is nearly three times the 17.3 million shipped in Q2 2020 (during which time the country was under lockdown for two months). and about 50% higher than the 33.5 million  shipped in Q1 2020. 

Chinese smartphone makers dominate India’s smartphone market accounting for three of the top four brands; Xiaomi lead the way with a 26.1% market share followed by Samsung (20.4%), Vivo (17.6%), and Realme (17.4%). 

RBI bans payment firms from issuing new proprietary QR codes

22 Oct 2020

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has banned payment system operators from issuing new proprietary QR codes and released norms that would move towards making QR codes interoperable. The RBI has said that payment firms that use more than one proprietary QR code must shift to one or more interoperable QR codes by March 31, 2021. According to the RBI there are currently two interoperable QR codes in existence –  the United Payments Interface (UPI), and Bharat QR. The RBI’s new norms will enable the use of one QR code through which all payments can be made, and thereby remove the need for users to maintain different apps.

JioMart forays into electronics

22 Oct 2020

Already the largest online grocer, a feat achieved less than half a year after launch, JioMart, the fledgling e-commerce arm owned by Reliance Retail has reportedly started selling electronics, as it works its way to becoming a full fledged e-tailer. The pilot project on starting October 21, will see electronic products such as kitchen appliances, and home appliances such as vaccum cleaners, and air purifiers, and personal care products such as electronic shavers, trimmers, and consumer electronics such as power banks, and electronic gadgets such as bluetooth headphones, and speakers from brands including Apple, Samsung, Sony, JBL, Philips, Bajaj, and SanDisk being offered to JioMart shoppers in Navi Mumbai.

Reliance Jio Platforms launches JioPages – a ‘Made in India’ web browser

22 Oct 2020

India’s youngest startup unicorn Reliance Jio Platforms has launched JioPages – a web browser based on Chromium Blink – an open-source browser engine developed by Google as part of the Chromium project. The new browser from the digital arm of India’s largest company by market capitalization – Reliance Industries – offers support for features such as encrypted connections, and support for eight Indian languages (Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, and Bengali).

Currently only available in Google Play, the browser has already racked up more than 10 million downloads as of 23 October 2020.

Edtech startup Ahaguru raises Series A funding

22 Oct 2020

Indian edtech startup Ahaguru has raised an undisclosed amount in Series A funding from an investment firm managed by Anand Mahindra’s family office. The funds will be used for teacher recruitment, technology and product development, and increase its student base across in India and the Middle East.

Popular among students for its science and math courses, Ahaguru is making investments in artificial intelligence to offer personalized learning experiences to students to better understand student learning patterns and make suggestions to enhance their knowledge and increase their chances of success.

AI-powered fintech startup Signzy raises USD 5.4 million

21 Oct 2020

Indian AI-powered fintech startup Signzy has raised USD 5.4 million in a funding round led by Arkam Ventures, and Mastercard (NYSE:MA). Existing investors Kalaari Capital and Stellaris Venture Partners participated. The fresh capital will be used for AI-related research and development, and sales, in an effort to capitalize on the heightened demand witnessed during the pandemic.

Signzy offers digital onboarding and identity verification solutions (such as customer onboarding and video KYC) for banks, NBFCs, and other financial institutions.  The startup’s solutions are used by major Indian banks and financial institutions such as ICICI Bank (NSE:ICICIBANK), Aditya Birla Financial Services (NSE:ABCAPITAL) and the State Bank of India.

Atlassian Ventures launches USD 50 million fund for Indian startups

21 Oct 2020

Australian software company Atlassian Corporation has announced the launch of its USD 50 million venture fund Atlassian Ventures which will invest in emerging startups as well as established players in the software space that are developing products within Atlassian ecosystem. The focus of Atlassian Ventures will be on early stage startups that are building apps as part of Atlassian’s cloud products; larger, established product partners looking to scale their business; and existing sales channel partners looking to expand their cloud offerings and create new products.

Indian extra-curricular startup Hobspace raises seed funding

21 Oct 2020

Indian extra curricular startup Hobspace has raised seed funding led by Artha Venture Funds. Other investors that participated in the round include crowdfunding platform AngelList India, venture capital firm Upsparks, and Icebreaker Tech LLP along with angel investors Abhinav Ashokkumar Daga and Siddharth Bhaskar Shah (Ascent Health).

Indian SaaS sales and marketing intelligence startup Slintel raises USD 4.2 million

21 Oct 2020

Indian SaaS sales and marketing intelligence startup Slintel has raised USD 4.2 million in a funding round led by American venture capital firm Accel. Sequoia Capital India and existing investor Stellaris Venture Partners participated. The startup’s intent-powered software processes billions of data points to identify high-intent prospects, thereby helping companies generate leads, and grow revenue. With more than 100 customers across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions, Slintel has reportedly grown 800% over the past year, and is growing its market share in the sales intelligence space. The fresh funds will be used for product enhancement, market expansion.

Restaurant directory startup Zomato ceases Indonesia business

20 Oct 2020

Indian restaurant directory startup Zomato has ceased all operations in Indonesia. Moving forward, users in the country can still access the restaurant directory however maintenance and development will be carried out from Zomato’s headquarters in India.
The move is likely a direct result of the Covid pandemic which negatively impacted the food service sector as consumers were compelled to stay indoors and minimize outdoor activities in an effort curb the spread of the virus. The drop in demand hurt top lines of players in the sector while squeezing bottom lines as expenses such as salaries and other overheads continued to drain cash.

Blackstone To Acquire Prestige Estates’ India Assets

18 Oct 2020

US private equity company Blackstone Inc. (NYSE:BX) has signed an agreement with Indian property developer Prestige Estate (NSE:PRESTIGE) to acquire some of the latter’s real estate assets in India. The deal will include certain commercial offices, retail, and hotel properties, mall management, and identified maintenance businesses.

Blackstone which has the biggest portfolio of office assets in India, has been aggressively investing in Indian real estate over the past decade, much of its attention focused on commercial real estate. Lately however, Blackstone has been making moves in industrial real estate which has been garnering considerable attention from global investors as the country’s e-commerce market booms triggering demand for warehouse space. In January this year Blackstone invested INR 3.8 billion to acquire a majority stake in Indian logistics behemoth Allcargo Logistics. The previous month, Blackstone formed a joint venture with Greenbase, a Hiranandani Group subsidiary to develop warehousing and logistics parks across the country.

JioMart forays into fashion

04 Oct 2020

Having disrupted the online grocery space within a few months of its launch, JioMart, the e-commerce arm of Reliance Retail is now venturing into fashion. The move will intensify competition in India’s burgeoning fashion e-commerce market which is dominated by Flipkart’s Myntra, Flipkart which is owned by US retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT), and global e-commerce behemoth Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).  

 

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Central Banks Turn Gold Net Sellers In August

17 Oct 2020

In August, central banks switched from net buyers to net sellers for the first time in around a year and a half according to figures from the World Gold Council. Global central banks sold a net 12.3 tonnes (t) in August largely due to sales from Uzbekistan which reduced its gold reserves by almost 32 tonnes, outweighing the purchases by regular buyers Kyrgyz Republic (5 tonnes), India (4 tonnes), Turkey (3.9 tonnes), UAE (2.4 tonnes), Qatar (1.6 tonnes), Mongolia (1.3 tonnes), and Kazakhstan (1.3 tonnes). Uzbekistan’s sales brought its gold reserves to slightly less than 300 tonnes (54% of total reserves).

Line chart showing world official gold reserves

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Thailand E-Commerce Fulfilment Startup Raises US$ 2 million Series A

16 Oct 2020

Thai e-commerce fulfilment startup MyCloudFulfillment (MCF) has raised US$ 2 million in Series A funding from local private equity firm ECG-Research, Gobi Partners, Bangkok-based alternative investment firm NVest Venture, and SCB 10X, a holding company of Siam Commercial Bank. The fresh capital will be used for product development, build a data-centric organization, and leverage its data to drive e-commerce growth in its home market, Thailand.

As its name suggests, MCF provides e-commerce fulfilment services such as storage, packing, shipping, sales channel integration, and data analytics for e-commerce and omnichannel businesses.

Like many of its Southeast Asian neighbors, Thailand’s logistics market is on a growth path, driven by a growing number of online shoppers. With an average annual online spend of US$ 1,746.20, Thais rank among the highest spending online shoppers in Southeast Asia according to an article by J.P. Morgan. 

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