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Vietnam Briefings 2020: Telecom giants Viettel and Mobifone receive 5G test licenses

04 Nov 2020

Vietnam has granted telecom giants Viettel (Vietnam’s state owned telecom market leader), and Mobifone trial licenses to “commercially test” 5G in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, the country’s two biggest cities.

Asia’s largest warehouse builder GLP launches in Vietnam with three warehouse projects

15 Oct 2020

Singaporean real estate company GLP has set up a joint venture with SEA Logistics Partners – a Ho Chi Minh City-based startup co-founded by GLP’s former China president Kent Yang – to invest in and develop logistics properties in Vietnam. The new joint venture has already secured sites in both northern and southern Vietnam. 

Social Bella, Indonesia-based beauty tech startup to expand into Vietnam

15 Oct 2020

Indonesia-based beauty-tech startup – Social Bella – is set to expand into its first international market – Vietnam – through its e-commerce platform Sociolla. Social Bella is aiming to profit from Vietnam’s fast-growing online beauty and personal care market which the company says grew 80%, citing a report by Cosmetics Design Asia.  “As one of the fastest-growing markets for beauty and personal care in Southeast Asia, with a young and highly digitalized population, Vietnam shares many similarities with Indonesia,” said Christopher Madiam, co-founder and president at Social Bella.

AppotaPay acquires payment intermediary license

13 Oct 2020

Vietnamese game publisher Appota Group’s fintech arm AppotaPay, became the largest fintech player to acquire a payment intermediary license from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), according to an announcement. AppotaPay joins 38 other other licensed e-wallet players. Founded in 2015, AppotaPay claims to have 55 million users.  

Vietnam B2C e-commerce revenue rises 25% YoY in 2019

24 Aug 2020

Vietnam’s B2C e-commerce revenues rose 25% YoY to USD 10.08 billion in 2019, according to the e-Commerce White Book 2020 released by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s e-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency (iDEA). The number of online shoppers reached 44.8 million in 2019, a 1.12% YoY growth from 2018 when the number of online shoppers stood at 39.9 million. Average online shopping spend rose to USD 225 per person, up USD 23 from 2018. 

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Philippines Briefings: Grab, DTI, and Mayani partner to bring Cagayan Valley farmers online

30 Oct 2020

Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and homegrown agritech platform Mayani have partnered with GrabPay – the e-wallet owned and operated by Singapore-headquartered ride-hailing startup Grab – to further develop the online purchase and delivery system for fresh and processed products from Cagayan Valley, Philippines. The objective of the partnership is to increase the market access of smallholder farmers, farmer cooperatives, and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in the region.

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Japan Briefings: Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi to double engineer headcount in Japan

10 Dec 2020

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi (HKG:1810) is reportedly doubling its engineer workforce at its Japanese research and development center next year, in an effort to expand its market share in consumer electronics.

Japan industrial output rises for fifth straight month

30 Nov 2020

Japan’s industrial production rose by 3.8% month-on-month (MoM) in October 2020, compared with a 3.9% rise a month earlier, marking the fifth straight month of growth according to data from Ministry of Economy Trades & Industry (METI).

Japan consumer prices fall 0.7% YoY, biggest drop since March 2011

20 Nov 2020

Japan’s consumer prices, which excludes volatile fresh food costs, fell 0.7% YoY in October, marking the third straight month of declines and the biggest year-on-year drop since March 2011, according to latest government data.

Japan Q3 2020 GDP up 5% QoQ

16 Nov 2020

Japan posted a 5% QoQ GDP growth for the quarter ended September 2020, a reversal from the 8.2% QoQ contraction recorded in Q2 2020. The positive Q3 2020 GDP growth put the brakes on three quarters of contraction in the world’s third-largest economy, and was also the fastest quarterly growth since 1980 when comparable data became available.

Walmart sells majority stake in supermarket chain Seiyu to KKR and Rakuten

16 Nov 2020

US retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is selling an 85% stake in Japanese supermarket chain Seiyu to investment firm KKR (NYSE:KKR) and Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten (TYO:4755) for about USD 1.6 billion. The deal values Seiyu at JPY 172.5 billion and the sale will mean Walmart will nearly exit from its operations in Japan.

According to the agreement, KKR will acquire a 65% stake in Seiyu while Rakuten, Japan’s largest e-commerce company, will acquire a 20% stake, through a newly created subsidiary named Rakuten DX. Walmart will retain a 15% stake in Seiyu.

Softbank and KDDI to invest USD 38 billion into 5G

04 Nov 2020

Two of Japan’s biggest mobile network operators, Softbank (TYO:9984), and KDDI (TYO:9433) are planning to invest a total of USD 38 billion into 5G wireless networks over the next decade.

Interactive video solutions startup Paronym raises USD 6.5 million Series B

28 Oct 2020

Interactive video solutions Saas startup Paronym has raised USD 6.5 million in Series B funding led by Japan Post Capital, and NTT Docomo Ventures. InVent (the venture capital arm of Thailand’s telecom giant Intouch Holdings) participated. The fresh capital will be used to help Paronym expand into Thailand. Tokyo-based Paronym’s SaaS solution – TUG – is an interactive video technology that enables users to tag information to objects in the video such as persons, places, clothing. The technology has tremendous potential in the areas of e-commerce and advertising.

Genesia Ventures closes USD 75 million fund

26 Oct 2020

Tokyo-based venture capital firm Genesia Ventures has announced the closing of its second fund which aims to invest in early stage startups in Japan and Southeast Asia. The fund raised USD 75 million, short of its USD 80 million target.

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Sri Lanka Briefings: Inflation up 4.1% YoY in November

03 Dec 2020

Sri Lanka’s headline inflation as measured by the year-on-year (YoY) change in the Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI = 2013) increased 4.1% in November 2020, from 4.0% in October 2020. The increase was attributed to an increase in prices in both Food and Non-Food categories. Food inflation rose 10.3% YoY in November 2020 from 10.0% a month earlier. Non-food inflation inched up 1.6% YoY in November 2020 from 1.3% in October 2020. 

Rigid Tyre to commence production in January 2021

23 Nov 2020

Rigid Tyre Corporation’s new state-of-the-art, fully integrated manufacturing plant which was built with an investment of USD 250 million will begin operations in January 2021. Construction of Phase 1 with an investment worth USD 100 million is complete while Phase 2 is expected to be complete by mid-March 2022. The plant will produce passenger car radials, as well as tyres for two-wheelers, three-wheelers, trucks, buses, and solid tyres, which will serve the local and export markets. Natural rubber, a key raw material, will be sourced locally, empowering Sri Lanka’s rubber farmers, and creating job opportunities. 

“It is the largest foreign direct investment in the last ten years; it will also be one of the country’s foremost exporters when the production commences,” Executive Director Dhammika Lokuwithana said in a statement. “Besides rejuvenating the export sector which has suffered due to different crises over the past few years, this project will also serve to revive the local rubber industry which Sri Lanka was once world renowned for,” he added. 

ICICI Bank shuts down Sri Lanka operations

24 Oct 2020

Indian bank ICICI Bank has ceased its Sri Lanka operations, following the bank receiving approval from the Sri Lankan monetary authority.

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%.

Australian AI-powered agtech startup GoMicro partners with John Keells PLC to grade tuna

12 Oct 2020

South Australian startup GoMicro which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to solve agricultural problems such as detecting pests, plant disease, and food quality has partnered with one of Sri Lanka’s leading conglomerates John Keells Holdings PLC to test its solution to  to grade tuna for consumption. Using a phone microscopic device with an artificial intelligence suite to recognize patterns, GoMicro’s unique solution will enable John Keells to grade seafood such as tuna using a database of hundreds of photos (rather than the thousands usually required). GoMicro is backed by Sri Lankan serial entrepreneur, and CEO of  St. Anthony’s Industries Group Jeevan Gnanam. 

Mobitel introduces Huawei’s next generation 5G Nova SE to the Sri Lankan market

01 Oct 2020

Sri Lanka’s national mobile service provider Mobitel has introduced Chinese telecom giant Huawei’s next generation 5G Nova SE, as part of Mobitel’s continuing efforts to bring the latest technologies to Sri Lanka. Mobitel was the first mobile network provider to demonstrate 5G technology in South Asia back in 2019, and the company has held the crown for two consecutive years as the mobile network operator with the fastest LTE network in Sri Lanka, according to Ookla. 

Sri Lanka Telecom ready to launch 5G

21 Jan  2020

One of Sri Lanka’s leading telecom operators Sri Lanka Telecom says it is ready to launch 5G in the country via fixed wireless broadband access. The company currently provides a full range of ICT services covering voice, data, broadband, TV, mobile, and enterprise solutions to its customer base which currently numbers more than 1.6 million.  

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Indonesia Briefings: Gojek acquires 22% stake in tech-based bank

19 Dec 2020

Homegrown unicorn startup Gojek shelled out IDR 2.2 trillion to acquire a 22% stake in Bank Jargo, a technology-based bank, as part of Gojek’s efforts to expand its digital banking footprint. Gojek’s acquisition of a minority stake will not alter control of Bank Jargo as current controlling shareholders Metamorfosis Ekosistem Indonesia and Wealth Track Technology (WTT) will continue to hold a combined 51% stake in Bank Jargo. 

Gojek is currently considered to be super app – similar to that of Chinese tech giant Tencent’s WeChat (HKG:0700). Gojek’s acquisition of a stake in Bank Jargo is part of a long term plan to strengthen its ecosystem of financial services.

Indonesia enters first recession in 22 years

05 Nov 2020

Southeast Asia’s largest economy slid into recession with its economy contracting 3.49% YoY in Q3 2020, following a contraction of 5.32% YoY the previous quarter as the Covid pandemic and weeks of lockdown continued to batter the economy. The two successive quarters of contraction mean Indonesia has entered a technical recession. The last time Indonesia was in recession was during the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

Microsoft joins e-commerce startup unicorn Bukalapak’s USD 100 million funding round

04 Nov 2020

Technology giant Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is joining Indonesian e-commerce startup Bukalapak’s USD 100 million funding round which includes investment from existing backers GIC, and Emtek Group. As part of Microsoft’s strategic investment, Bukalapak will be hosted on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

GIC-Backed Data Center Provider SpaceDC Opens New Data Center In Indonesia

04 Nov 2020

GIC-backed data center provider SpaceDC has opened its inaugural data center facility, JAK2, in Jakarta, Indonesia, in an effort to tap into the country’s rapidly growing digital market. Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest digital economy.

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.

Social Bella, Indonesia-based beauty tech startup to expand into Vietnam

15 Oct 2020

Indonesia-based beauty-tech startup – Social Bella – is set to expand into its first international market – Vietnam – through its e-commerce platform Sociolla. Social Bella is aiming to profit from Vietnam’s fast-growing online beauty and personal care market which the company says grew 80%, citing a report by Cosmetics Design Asia.  “As one of the fastest-growing markets for beauty and personal care in Southeast Asia, with a young and highly digitalized population, Vietnam shares many similarities with Indonesia,” said Christopher Madiam, co-founder and president at Social Bella.

Indonesian government develops National Logistics Ecosystem (NLE) 

24 Sep 2020

The Indonesian government is developing a reformed National Logistics Ecosystem (NLE) which expects to lower the logistics costs from 23.5% to 17% of the country’s GDP. 

Bukalapak onboards 3 million new merchants in the first seven months of 2020

14 Sep 2020

Homegrown e-commerce startup Bukalapak said 3 million merchants joined its ecommerce platform in the first seven months of the year, with the strongest growth recorded in rural areas and smaller cities. Bukalapak president Teddy Oetomo said that “Almost 70% of our TVP (total processing value) comes from the outside of the tier-one cities due to our previous infrastructure penetration through our (offline) partners”.

Indonesia August inflation hits 20-year low

02 Sep 2020

August inflation in Southeast Asia’s largest economy dropped to a 20-year low due to weakening purchasing power according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS). The Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined to 1.32% in August, the lowest level since May 2000.  The Covid pandemic has caused rising unemployment in the country.  

eBay-backed ceases operations

02 Sep 2020, the e-commerce platform co-owned by American e-commerce giant eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and state-owned telecom giant PT Telkom Indonesia (IDX:TLKM), has ceased operations on September 1, according to an official statement. Founded in 2012 as a C2C marketplace famous for offering gadgets bundled with an internet data package from Telkomsel, the wireless net arm of Telkom Indonesia. reportedly struggled to competed against e-commerce unicorns Tokopedia and Bukalapak. 

Fashion e-commerce startup Sorabel shuts operations

25 Jul  2020

Fashion e-commerce startup Sorabel has ceased operations. Sorabel, which has so far secured about US$27 million in four rounds from the likes of Gobi Partners, Golden Equator, Open Space Ventures, and InnoVen Capital, was on the verge of raising a new massive funding round when it changed course and decided to close business.

The Covid pandemic was a boon to e-commerce startups that focused on essentials such as Sayurbox and Tanihub which focused on groceries or Halodoc which focused on healthcare, or even Carsome which focused on financing second-hand vehicle sales. Sorabel however which focused on fashion struggled as consumers, faced with an economic downturn curtailed non-essential expenditure. The Covid pandemic resulted in as much as a 50%-70% drop in revenue for the fashion industry (which was particularly devastating as the Ramadhan season is a time of relatively high fashion sales). Although Sorabel made an effort to pivot to masks and PPE, the startup’s lack of cash reserves impeded this effort. 

Mandiri Capital looking to invest USD 5 million in startups

12 Mar 2020

Bank Mandiri’s venture capital subsidiary Mandiri Capital is on the hunt to expand its portfolio of startups with about USD 5 million of capital available for investment.  Since its launch in 2016, he corporate venture firm has so far invested about IDR 1 trillion in 13 startups. 

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Malaysia Briefings: Top Glove profit soars 2,030% to MYR 2.38 billion in 1QFY2021

09 Dec 2020

The world’s largest glove maker, Top Glove Corp (KLSE:TOPGLOV) said quarterly profit for the September-November quarter jumped 20-fold to MYR 2.375 billion, from MYR 111.4 million a year earlier. Top Glove’s net profit margin jumped as well to 50% during the period compared to 9.24% in the same quarter last year. Top Glove’s stellar bottom-line performance came on the back of solid top-line growth with revenues rising 294% YoY to MYR 4.76 billion from MYR 1.21 billion a year earlier. 

Sony Corp to shut Penang plant

05 Dec 2020

Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp will close a factory in Penang, Malaysia next year, to consolidate its operations in its other plant (in Selangor) for operational efficiency, according to a Reuters report. Operations at the Penang plant will end by September 30, 2021, and will be shut by March 2022. About 3,600 of its employees in Penang are expected to be affected, some of whom will be transferred to the Selangor plant.

Sony’s Penang plant currently  produces home audio, network Walkman, headphones and battery products. The Selangor plant meanwhile produces  LCD TV, Blu-ray players and DVD recorders. 

This isn’t the first time Sony transferred production to its Selangor plant. In 2010, Sony shut its plant in Godollo, Hungary, operations of which were shifted to its Selangor plant. The shutdown was part of an effort to improve operational efficiency. 

Petronas posts MYR 3.4 billion loss in Q3 2020

27 Nov 2020

Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas has posted a net loss of MYR 3.4 billion for Q3 2020, a sharp deterioration from Q3 2019 when the company posted a profit of MYR 7.4 billion. The financial downturn was partly due to higher impairment loss on assets and higher tax expenses attributed to derecognition of deferred tax assets, primarily as a result of lower oil and gas prices outlook. 

Revenues declined 25% YoY to MYR 41.1 billion in Q3 2020, from MYR 55.1 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. The decline was attributed to lower average realized prices for major products.  

Malaysia October CPI down 1.5% YoY 

25 Nov 2020

Malaysia saw its eighth consecutive month of  deflation with the country’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) falling 1.5% YoY in October according to Malaysia’s Department of Statistics.  October’s CPI decline was an inch higher than the 1.4% YoY decline recorded in September. 

Western Digital pledges MYR 2.3 billion investments in Malaysia

05 Nov 2020

Global data storage equipment manufacturer Western Digital’s (NASDAQ:WDC) Malaysian subsidiary Western Digital Sdn Bhd, has decided to invest an additional MYR 2.3 billion to upgrade its facilities and expand production capacity in Malaysia. In a statement, the PMO said this was agreed upon during a meeting between Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Western Digital group chairman Datuk Dr Syed Hussian Aljunid today.

The new investment will be channeled towards the expansion of facilities and factory capacity at Western Digital Media Penang, and Western Digital Sarawak. The additional investment brings Western Digital’s cumulative investment in Malaysia to MYR 18 billion, and would create job opportunities for more than 2,000 people according to the Prime Minister’s Offce (PMO). Western Digital noted that the group’s export value amounted to MYR 18 billion in 2019. 

Nikon Malaysia will cease operations starting January 1, 2021

05 Nov 2020

Nikon (M) Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian subsidiary of Japanese optical products brand Nikon (TYO: 7731), will be shutting down operations in Malaysia starting January 1, 2021, under a proposed restructuring plan that will see the company’s sales, marketing, and after-sales services being handled by two business partners on behalf of Nikon in Malaysia. Nikon has appointed Futuromic Photo AV Sdn Bhd to be their authorized distributor in Malaysia. QES (Asia-Pacific) Sdn Bhd will continue to be the authorized distributor for Nikon’s industrial metrology products in Malaysia. 

Fintech startup CapBay teams up with Kenanga to form Malaysia’s first Islamic supply chain finance fintech

04 Nov 2020

Malaysian fintech startup CapBay has entered into a joint venture with Malaysian Investment Bank Kenanga Investment Bank Berhad (KLSE:KENANGA), to form Malaysia’s first Islamic supply chain finance fintech. The JV comes after CapBay acquired 49% stake in Kenanga Capital Islamic Sdn Bhd (KCI). Following the acquisition, CapBay co-founder Xing Xian Ang will serve as KCI’s CEO. 

Malaysian cinemas temporarily suspend operations starting November

30 Oct 2020

Heavily impacted by the Covid pandemic, cinema operators in Malaysia, or the Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE), have decided to temporarily suspend all cinema operations nationwide starting in November. GSC Cinemas and TGV Cinemas will cease operations from November 2 onward, while other cinemas will suspend movie screenings and/or concessions operations at their locations.

The Covid pandemic which saw Malaysia impose a Movement Control Order (MCO) from March 2020, required cinemas to close, causing heavy revenue losses for the sector with admissions dropping 90% year-on-year according to MAFE. 

Malaysian car listing network iCar Asia gets takeover offer from China’s Autohome

30 Oct 2020

Malaysia-headquartered car listing platform iCar Asia (ASX:ICQ) has received a non-binding proposal from Chinese automotive platform Autohome (NYSE:ATHM) to acquire 100% of iCar Asia’s shares for AUD 0.50 cash per share, in a deal that could be worth approximately AUD 216 million based on iCar Asia’s outstanding shares.  

Department store chain Robinsons ceases Malaysia operations

30 Oct 2020

162-year old Singaporean department store retailer Robinson Co (Malaya) Sdn Bhd is shutting down for good, as the Covid pandemic dealt a double whammy amid the ongoing struggles faced by department store operators worldwide to adapt to changing consumer behaviors as a result of rising e-commerce. Robinsons has had operations in Malaysia since 1928, and currently has two stores – an outlet at The Gardens Mall which has been in operation for more than 13 years, and an outlet at The Shoppes Four Seasons Place which opened its doors just two years ago.   

Robinsons will also be shutting down its Singapore operations after more than 160 years of operations in the country, with the closure of its last two stores  -one located at The Heeren, and the other at Raffles City Shopping Centre.

Catcha Group CEO launches new online home rental platform in Malaysia

28 Oct 2020

Tech company Catcha Group CEO Patrick Grove has launched an online home rental platform – Instahome – targeted at Southeast Asia. 

Telco Maxis Berhad Q3 net profit up 1.95% YoY

23 Oct 2020

Malaysian telecom company Maxis Berhad (KLSE:MAXIS) saw net profits inch up 1.95% year-on-year (YoY) in Q3 2020 to MYR 365 million from MYR 358 million in Q3 2019. This is despite a 3.2% YoY fall in revenues from MYR 2.21 billion from MYR 2.28 billion previously. Service revenue was unchanged from the MYR 1.94 billion reported in Q3 2019 with the loss of the wholesale business and international roaming due to the Covid pandemic, offset by the growth in enterprise and fibre businesses. Service revenue excluding wholesale revenue amounted to MYR 1.93 billion,  a 0.52% YoY increase compared to Q3 2019’s MYR 1.92 billion.

Postpaid service revenue decreased to MYR 956 million from MYR 979 million in Q3 2019, a 2.3% YoY decline.  Average revenue per user (APRU) decreased to MYR 84 in Q3 2020 from MYR 90 in Q3 2019, a 6.6% YoY decline largely due to the mobile termination rate reduction, dilution effect from Hotlink Postpaid and the lack of international roaming income.

Prepaid service revenue declined 9.7% YoY to MYR 717 million from MYR 794 million driven by the 6,6% YoY fall in Maxis’s prepaid subscription base to 5.91 million from 6.33 million due to the continued SIM consolidation, successful migration to the Hotlink entry point postpaid service and lower foreign worker base. Prepaid ARPU fell 2.43% to MYR 40 from MYR 41. 

Normalized earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization dropped 4.14% YoY to MYR 924 million versus MYR 964 million in Q3 2019, however, normalized profit was up 0.83% at MYR 364 million from MYR 361 million.

Capital expenditure for the quarter rose 31.81% YoY to MYR 319 million from MYR 242 million in Q3 2019. Investments were focused on protecting network performance and rebalancing capacity, 5G readiness and enterprise business.

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.

Malaysia unemployment rate unchanged at 4.7% in August 2020

13 Oct 2020

Malaysia’s Department of Statistics said that the country’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.7% in August 2020. The number of unemployed persons however, dipped slightly by 3,500 people to 741,600 during August compared to July as employment continued to trend upwards driven by the gradual resumption of economic activities starting in June 2020 when the country shifted from a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) to a Recovery movement Control Order (RMCO). The RMCO was extended by a further four months until to 31 December 2020. 

Malaysia to launch Halal Integrated Platform (HIP) next year

06 Oct 2020

Malaysia’s Halal Development Corporation (HDC) plans to launch the Halal Integrated Platform  (HIP) by the first quarter of 2021, as part of the government’s drive to promote Malaysia as a halal digital economy hub. It is envisioned that the HIP will assist businesses by offering services such as customized Halal consultancy services, Halal industry training services, funding opportunities, online business networking and matchmaking, a Halal ingredient database, online advertising and promotion, as well as an e-marketplace that will connect suppliers to buyers.  

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

17 Sep 2020

Malaysian-owned halal products marketplace Halal Street UK launched its e-commerce platform,, 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.

945 people, aged 18-35 years declared bankrupt between January and July 2020

10 Sep 2020

A total of 945 people aged between 18 and 35 years were declared bankrupt during the seven months to July 2020 said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Shabudin Yahaya. He further said that according to the Malaysian Insolvency Department (Mdl), more than 100 bankruptcy cases were recorded during the year to July 2020, involving people aged 31 to 35. 

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 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 Briefings: 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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China Briefings: AI chipmaker Horizon Robotics raises USD 150 million

23 Dec 2020

Chinese AI chipmaker Horizon Robotics which is aiming to be China’s answer to NVDIA, has raised USD 150 million in a funding round co-led by 5Y Capital, Hillhouse Capital, and Capital Today.   

Tencent buys 10% stake in Universal Music Group, taking total stake to 20%

21 Dec 2020

A consortium led by tech giant Tencent will exercise its option to acquire a further 10% stake in Universal Music Group (UMG), based on an enterprise value of EUR 30 billion. The transaction raises the consortium’s holding to 20%.

“The consortium comprises the same members as that for the initial 10% investment in UMG, Tencent Music Entertainment Group and other financial co-investors,” Tencent said.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

Data centre startup AirTrunk opens first data centre in Hong Kong

10 Dec 2020

Australian data centre startup AirTrunk opened its first data centre in Hong Kong yesterday, along with its first data centre in Singapore as well.  AirTrunk’s 20+ MW HKG1 data centre is strategically located in a key hub for international connectivity. AirTrunk converted an eight-storey industrial building into a world-class hyperscale data centre in record time to support cloud customers ramping up in the region.

Xiaomi to double engineer headcount in Japanese R&D center

10 Dec 2020

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is reportedly doubling its engineer workforce at its Japanese research and development center next year, in an effort to expand its market share in consumer electronics.

Baidu gets approval for fully driverless road tests in Beijing

07 Dec 2020

Chinese search giant Baidu said that it had obtained China’s first permit for fully driverless road tests in Beijing. The approval, granted on Dec 04, makes Baidu the first and only company to have been given the green light to conduct driverless tests on public roads in China’s capital city of Beijing.

China manufacturing activity expands at fastest pace since September 2017

01 Dec 2020

China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) rose to 52.1 in November from 51.4 in October according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. This is the highest PMI reading since September 2017.

Xiaomi posts record high quarterly revenue of CNY 72.2 billion in Q3 2020

26 Nov 2020

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has posted a record high quarterly revenue of CNY 72.2 billion in Q3 2020, according to unaudited financial results.  Xiaomi’s smartphone business posted strong growth during the quarter with revenue jumping 47.5% year-on-year (YoY) to CNY 47.6 billion, driven by smartphone shipments which grew 45.3% to 46.6 million units.

Strong smartphone shipments helped Xiaomi emerge as the third biggest smartphone company in Q3 2020 according research firm Canalys.

Huawei sells budget phone brand Honor amid US sanctions

17 Nov 2020

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd announced that it is selling its budget smartphone brand – Honor – to a consortium of over 30 agents and dealers, in a move aimed at ensuring its survival, as well the survival of its supply chain. Huawei will not hold any shares in the new Honor company – Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co., Ltd, or be involved in any decision-making after the sale. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Founded in 2013, the Honor brand focused on the youth market with phones targeted at the low to mid-end price range. The budget phone brand ships over 70 million units annually according to Huawei.

Tencent Q3 2020 net profit jumps 89% YoY

13 Nov 2020

Chinese tech giant Tencent reported an 89% year-on-year (YoY) jump in Q3 2020 net profit to CNY 38.54 billion, while revenues rose 29% YoY CNY 125.5 billion.  Tencent’s biggest segment by revenue – Value Added Services (VAS) (which includes its highly successful gaming unit) reported a 37.8% YoY growth in revenue to CNY 69.8 billion. Fintech and Business Services which includes revenues from its mobile wallet WeChat Pay – Tencent’s second biggest segment by  revenue – reported a 24% YoY increase in revenue which reached USD 21.35 billion during the quarter. The company’s Online Advertising segment which includes revenues from online advertisements and Mini Program advertisements rose 16% YoY to CNY 21.35 billion.

Alibaba and Richemont invest a combined USD 1.1 billion into Farfetch

06 Nov 2020

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba along with luxury goods holding company Richemont are investing a combined USD 1.1 billion into UK-based online luxury and fashion retailer Farfetch. Alibaba and Richemont will each invest USD 300 million into private convertible notes issued by Farfetch. They will also invest an additional USD 250 million each into Farfetch China – a new joint venture – in return for a 25% stake.

As part of the deal, Farfetch will launch luxury shopping channels on Alibaba’s e-commerce including Tmall Luxury Pavilion, Luxury Soho, and Tmall Global.

Pinduoduo signs MOU with Denmark to promote Danish products to Chinese shoppers

06 Nov 2020

Pinduoduo has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Royal Danish  Consulate General in Shanghai to introduce high-quality Danish products to Chinese shoppers, and at the same time introduce Pinduoduo’s merchant platform to  Danish businesses.

Tencent Games partners with British fashion house Burberry

05 Nov 2020

Tencent Games, the gaming business of Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, has partnered with British luxury fashion house Burberry to integrate and promote Burberry products in Tencent Games’ popular mobile game Honor of Kings. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Tencent and Burberry said that they were targeting China’s “fashion-forward, digital-first customers” with this new effort.

VC firm Bits x Bites raises USD 30 million for foodtech fund

05 Nov 2020

Chinese venture capital firm Bits x Bites has raised USD 30 million in the first close of its USD 70 million foodtech fund. Investors who participated in the round include Singapore investment firm Temasek,  Nissin CEO Henry Soesanto, and other unnamed conglomerates and family offices.

Bits x Bites  is targeting early stage Chinese and international business in the agrifood technology space. Areas of focus include precision agriculture, crop and animal health, alternative proteins, and nutrition.

Alibaba-owned food delivery startup teams up with Beijing Daxing International Airport

05 Nov 2020

Alibaba-owned food delivery startup has forged a partnership with one-year old airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport, to offer passengers the ability to have their food delivered to the departure gate.

Hong Kong PE firm Alta Capital seeking to raise USD 50 million for hospitality fund

04 Nov 2020

Hong Kong private equity firm Alta Capital is looking to raise USD 50 million from global investors for its first hospitality fund – the Alta Hospitality Fund Asia – which promises to deliver a return of between 15% and 25% over six years. The opportunistic fund aims to raise all the capital by October next year, with the first round closing by the end of January 2021. The funds will be used to acquire hotel assets in Asia Pacific which are showing signs of distress as a result of the Covid pandemic which has devastated the travel and tourism sectors worldwide. Countries of interest include Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan.

Alta Capital has already identified a couple of assets namely a prime hilltop greenfield development in Galle, Sri Lanka, and a 2.5-star, 90-room boutique hotel in Bali.

Tencent’s Honor of Kings crosses 100 million daily users

02 Nov 2020

Chinese tech giant Tencent’s mobile game Honor of Kings has crossed 100 million daily active users, a new world record according to the company.

Xiaomi overtakes Apple as world’s No.3 smartphone maker

30 Oct 2020

Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi has overtaken Apple as the world’s third biggest smartphone maker by shipments in the quarter ended 30 September 2020.  This is Xiaomi’s first time in the top three ranking and is the first time in 10 years for Apple out of the global top three ranking according to data from three data providers Canalys, IDC, and Counterpoint Research. South Korean smartphone giant Samsung reclaimed its number one position during the quarter.

Counterpoint research said Xiaomi saw a 46% YoY increase in smartphone shipments amounting to 46.2 million units in the July-September quarter. Apple in contrast saw a 7% YoY drop in shipments to 41.7 million units during the same period.

Canalys figures revealed that Xiaomi shipments jumped 45% YoY while Apple’s declined 1% YoY during the same period.

IDC said that Xiaomi shipments rose 42% YoY while Apple shipments dropped more than 10% during the same period.

China Q3 smartphone shipments down 8% QoQ

30 Oct 2020

Smartphone shipments in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market fell 8% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ), and 15% year-on-year (YoY) according to data from Canalys. The decline was led by homegrown smartphone giant Huawei which was forced to curtail smartphone shipments following US sanctions imposed on August 17. Huawei fell 18% YoY in Mainland China, while Vivo and Oppo fell 13% and 18% respectively. Xiaomi rose 19% YoY.

Chinese biotech startup Genecast raises USD 149 million Series E funding

27 Oct 2020

Chinese biotech startup Genecast Biotechnology has raised USD 149 million in its Series E funding round led by China Structural Reform Fund. Taikang Asset Management, CCB Private Equity Investment Management, Hillhouse Capital’s venture capital unit GL Ventures and China Renaissance, participated. The fresh capital will be used to develop new diagnostics products for tumors, accelerate development of in vitro diagnostic devices as well as for market expansion.

Chinese robotic startup Fourier Intelligence raises CNY 100 million Series C

26 Oct 2020

Chinese robotic startup Fourier Intelligence has raised CNY 100 million in its Series C funding round from Vision Plus Capital, and existing investor Qianhai Fund of Funds.

Chinese electronics startup VanTop raises CNY 300 million Series A from Sequoia China

26 Oct 2020

Chinese consumer electronics startup VanTop has raised CNY 300 million from Sequoia China in Series A funding. Founded in 2017, VanTop designs, and develops consumer electronics such as dash cameras, action cameras and smart home devices.

E-sports startup VSPN raises USD 100 million Series B led by Tencent Holdings

26 Oct 2020

Chinese e-sports solutions provider Versus Programming Network (VSPN) has raised USD 100 million in its Series B funding round led by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings. Video-sharing startup Kuaishou, Shenzhen-headquartered venture capital firm Tiantu Capital, and Susquehanna International Group (SIG) participated in the round. The new funds will be used to further develop its e-sports products and for market expansion. 

“We look forward to building an esports research institute, an esports culture park, and further expanding globally

VSPN CEO Dino Ying

There has been growing Investor interest in e-sports amid the pandemic with expectations the sector will continue growing in the foreseeable future. Canadian e-sports startup GoodGamer raised USD 2.5 million in seed funding last week. About a fortnight ago (mid October), Singaporean e-sports startup EVOS raised USD 12 million in Series B funding, led by Korea Investment Partners. Just last month German e-sports data provider Bayes Holding raised USD 6 million and Indian e-sports platform Mobile Premier League raised USD 90 million in Series C funding.

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).

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,, or other independent brand websites.

Indonesian government launches national online store on e-commerce platform Pinduoduo

19 Oct 2020

The Indonesian government has launched a national online store on rising e-commerce platform Pinduoduo in a move aimed at boosting trade with China.

The Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia in Shanghai, Deny W. Kurnia, livestreamed on Pinduoduo on Saturday, promoting various products including packaged food, bird’s nest supplements, and cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian batik, according to Chinese media outlet The livestreaming session lasted from 5:00 p.m. Beijing time to 10:00 p.m. and attracted 450,000 viewers in total, and saw more than 10,000 Indomie Mi goreng instant noodles sold. The store stocks 500 products made by different companies, with over 100,000 items sold since the launch two days ago, data from the Pinduoduo app shows.

BBC Studios signs strategic agreement with Chinese video platform Bilibili

19 Oct 2020

BBC Studios and Chinese online video platform Bilibili 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 and iQiyi 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, whereas Tencent Video and iQiyi offer video collections of professionally-produced content, similar to that of Netflix. 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, and Tencent, is hugely popular among “Generation Z” which reportedly accounts for 80% of its users according to QuestMobile.

Alibaba to increase Sun Art Retail stake to 72%

19 Oct 2020

CHinese tech giant Alibaba Holdings said it will invest USD 3.6 billion to increase its stake in Sun Art Retail Group Ltd., one of China’s largest supermarket operators. Following the transaction, Alibaba’s stake in Sun Art will increase to approximately 72%. This new investment in Sun Art will be made by acquiring 70.94% of equity interest in A-RT Retail Holdings Ltd., which holds approximately 51% of the equity interest in Sun Art.

Alibaba first invested in Sun Art back in 2017, when it splashed out about USD 2.88 billion to acquire a 36.16% share in the supermarket chain, as part of Alibaba’s New Retail strategy.

Tencent and Burberry team up to launch interactive WeChat store

26 Aug 2020

Chinese tech giant Tencent has partnered with British luxury fashion house Burberry to launch Burberry’s first social retail store in Shenzhen. The interactive, social retail store uses Tencent’s WeChat app (China’s most popular social media app) to enable shoppers to interact and engage with the Burberry store, for instance by interacting with the window display, book fitting rooms, pre-select the clothes to try on, and play their own music in the fitting rooms while trying on those clothes.

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 Briefings: India’s Gulf Oil to acquire several assets of Hin Leong shipping arm

10 Dec 2020

India’s Hinduja Group-owned Gulf Oil International, has inked an agreement to acquire a lubricant blending plant with wharf access, a storage farm, and a terminal facility located in Singapore’s Tuas region on the western tip, from Singapore’s Ocean Tankers Pte Ltd, the shipping arm of Singaporean oil trader Hin Leong which has been rocked by a financial scandal. Ocean Tankers, one of the biggest tankers in the world has been placed under judicial management following parent company Hin Leong’s financial fraud allegations.

Australian data center startup AirTrunk opens first Singapore data centre

10 Dec 2020

Australian data center operator AirTrunk opened the initial stage of its Singapore data center facility yesterday. In Loyang Singapore, the 60+ MW SGP1 data centre is set on 1.5 hectares, close to the Changi North Cable Landing Station for strong international interconnection. With over 20,000 square metres of data hall area, the scalable campus is designed for hyperscale customers, supporting their rapid growth in Singapore and throughout South East Asia. The campus opens today with its first 30 MW phase and will soon be followed by a second phase that is already under construction to cater for strong customer demand.

The same day, AirTrunk also announced the opened a data centre in Hong Kong.

Hin Leong bunkering arm Ocean Bunkering Services to be liquidated

07 Dec 2020

Ocean Bunkering Services, formerly Singapore’s largest bunker supplier will be liquidated following parent company Hin Leong’s financial scandal. Leow Quek Shiong and Gary Log Weng Fatt of BDO Advisory Pte Ltd have been appointed provisional liquidators.

Singapore, Tianjin ink MOU to deepen cooperation in trade, development

02 Dec 2020

Singapore and China’s northern port city of Tianjin signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to deepen cooperation in sustainable and smart development, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges.

CapitaLand divests three malls in Japan, office building in South Korea, ventures into logistics

02 Dec 2020

CapitaLand (CGX:C31) has divested three malls in Japan and an office building in South Korea for SGD 448.7 million as part of the company’s portfolio reconstitution strategy, it announced in a stock exchange filing.

The company also made its first foray into Japan’s logistics sector through a joint venture with Mitsui & Co Real Estate Ltd to develop and operate a logistics project in Greater Tokyo.

“The divestment of these mature malls … is part of CapitaLand’s capital recycling strategy to unlock value by reinvesting the capital into new growth opportunities such as the logistics sector in Japan,” said Jason Leow, president, Singapore & International, at CapitaLand Group. “By paring down our exposure in Japan’s retail sector and leveraging our logistics experience in markets such as Singapore, Australia and the UK to expand into the new economy sector in Japan, we are responding swiftly to shifting market trends and consumer behaviors, positioning CapitaLand for future growth,” he added.

German chipmaker Infineon to make Singapore its first global artificial intelligence hub

01 Dec 2020

German semiconductor company Infineon Technologies will spend SGD 27 million over the next three years to make Singapore its first global hub that will see artificial intelligence (AI) embedded in all job functions.

According to Mr Chua Chee Seong, president and managing director of Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific, the plan includes the upskilling of more than 1,000 of its 2,200 employees in Singapore and the deployment of about 25 unique AI projects covering the entire value chain of activities by 2023. Singapore is already home to Infineon’s Asia-Pacific headquarters.

Keppel Land divests remaining 30% stake in Dong Nai Waterfront City (DNWC)

01 Dec 2020

Keppel Corp’s (SGX:BN4) real estate subsidiary Keppel Land is divesting its remaining 30% stake in Dong Nai waterfront City (DNWC) for about VND 1.95 trillion. Keppel Land had divested its 70% stake in DNWC earlier in 2019 to Nam Long Investment Corporation (NLG). NLG is also the buyer of Keppel Land’s remaining 30% stake in DNWC. The deal is expected to be complete in the first half of 2021. With the divestment of its remaining 30% interest, Keppel Land expects to recognize a gain on disposal of about SGD 52.5 million.

“The divestment of Dong Nai Waterfront City is in line with Keppel’s plan to monetize identified assets and apply the balance sheet space that is released for new growth opportunities under its Vision 2030,” said Mr. Joseph Low, general director of Keppel Land (Vietnam)

Singapore mental health startup reaches one million users within six months after launch

01 Dec 2020

Singapore mental health startup Intellect has reached more than 1 million users within just six months after launch. The startup’s consumer app – Intellect – was also selected by Google as one its best personal growth apps for 2020.

Non-banks to be granted access to real-time payment rails

30 Nov 2020

Eligible Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NFIs) will soon be granted direct access to Singapore’s coveted real-time payment networks FAST and PayNow starting February 2021, according to a statement by Singapore’s central bank -the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

PayNow, and FAST enable people to transfer funds between banks and digital wallets. “Direct access by NFIs to FAST and PayNow closes the last-mile gap in Singapore’s ePayment journey. Consumers who may not have ready access to debit or credit cards to fund their eWallets will now have the option to do so directly through their bank accounts,” said Ravi Menon, managing director, MAS.

According to MAS, more than 12.5 million FAST transactions were processed per month in the quarter ended September 2020, more than half of which were handled via PayNow.

Dyson to build new manufacturing hub in Singapore

27 Nov 2020

British household appliances company Dyson is planning to build a new advanced manufacturing hub in Singapore. The plan is part of Dyson’s GBP 2.75 billion worth of investments across Singapore, UK, and the Philippines.

Luxury watch retailer Cortina Holdings proposes to buy Sincere Watches

18 Nov 2020

Luxury watch retailer Cortina Holdings (SGX:C41) which carries well-known watch brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe has proposed to acquire privately-held rival luxury watch retailer Sincere Watches for SGD 84.5 million in cash according to an exchange filing.

Cortina said the proposed acquisition will provide it with exclusive distributorship rights to the Franck Muller brand in 12 countries within the Asia-Pacific. The acquisition will also give Cortina access to Sincere Watch’s portfolio of brands which includes luxury brands such as Omega, Panerai, Tudor, A. Lange
& Söhne, Franck Muller, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron, Constatin and Audemars Piguet. Sincere Watch runs multi-brand retail under the Sincere brand in Singapore and Malaysia, and under the Pendulum brand in Thailand. In addition, it runs mono-brand boutiques for Franck Muller in Singapore and Australia, A. Lange & Söhne in Malaysia, as well as A. Lange & Söhne, Breitling and IWC in Thailand.

New private home sales dive 51.7% MoM in October after latest curbs

16 Nov 2020

New private home sales in Singapore plunged 51.7% to just 642 units in October from a more than two-year high of 1,329 units in September. Compared to last year, October new private home sales were down 31.1% YoY from the 932 units sold by developers in October last year according to figures by the  Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). The October decline put the brakes on a five-month growth momentum.  The decline is likely to have stemmed from new rules imposed by the URA on September 28, which restricted developers from re-issuing Options to Purchase (OTPs) to the same buyer of the same unit within 12 months after the expiry of the earlier OTP.  Developers are also restricted from providing upfront agreements to buyers to re-issue OTPs.

Digital wealth management startup StashAway expands to UAE

16 Nov 2020

Singaporean digital wealth management startup StashAway has launched in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), making it the first digital wealth manager get an asset management license from the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) with retail endorsement.

Singapore Airlines posts record 1H FY 2021 loss of SGD 3.46 billion

07 Nov 2020

Singapore’s flagship airline Singapore Airlines (SIA) posted a record loss of SGD 3.46 billion for the six months ended September 2020, as global air travel came to abrupt halt as a result of the Covid pandemic. The loss is a reversal from the SGD 205.6 million profit earned in the same period last year.

Passenger volume amounted to 155,000 during the 1H FY 2021, a 99.1% decline from the same period last year, when passenger volumes amounted to 19.1 million. Revenue fell 80.4% year-on-year (YoY) to SGD 1.63 billion during 1H FY 2021, from SGD 8.33 billion a year earlier.

The sharp decline in 1H FY 2021 profit was also driven by impairments for older generation aircraft (SGD 1.33 billion impairment), goodwill impairment (SGD 170.4 million impairment of the goodwill from SIA’s Tiger Airways acquisition in October 2014), and  retrenchment cost (SGD 41.7 million). Furthermore, SIA recognized mark-to-market losses of SGD 563 million from fuel hedges during H1. Fuel hedging activities have been paused since March.

US-Singapore Hustle Fund raises USD 30 million

05 Nov 2020

US and Singapore-based pre-seed venture capital investment firm Hustle Fund has raised USD 30 million the first close of its second fund. The fund, which started fundraising in May 2019, will focus on making investments in pre-seed software startups in Southeast Asia, US, and Canada.

GIC-backed data center provider SpaceDC opens new data center in Indonesia

04 Nov 2020

GIC-backed data center provider SpaceDC has opened its inaugural data center facility, JAK2, in Jakarta, Indonesia, in an effort to tap into the country’s rapidly growing digital market. Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest digital economy.

September bank lending falls for 7th straight month

31 Oct 2020

Singapore bank lending fell 0.05% month-on-month (MoM) to SGD 677.46 billion from in September, from SGD 677.86 billion in August, marking the seventh consecutive month of decline driven by falling business loans which more than offset rising consumer loans according to preliminary data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Compared to September last year, total bank lending was down 1% year-on-year (YoY) in September.

Business loans fell 0.3% MoM to SGD 421.28 billion in September from SGD 422.54 billion in August. Loans to financial institutions were down 1.9% MoM to SGD 99.38 billion, the second straight month of decline. Loans to building and construction businesses – which account for the biggest share of business lending – rose 0.7% MoM in September to SGD 150.91 billion.

Compared to September last year, business loans were down 0.2% YoY.

Consumer loans inched up 0.3% MoM to SGD 256.28 billion in September, driven by housing loans and share financing. Housing loans, which account for three-quarters of consumer loans rose for the first time since January, up 0.1% MoM to SGD 199.09 billion in September. Housing loans are likely to have benefited from greater buying activity after the end of the circuit breaker period, which helped pushed Singapore’s new private home sales to a two-year high in September. 

Share financing loans rose 6.9% MoM to SGD 1.87 billion from SGD 1.75 billion in August.

Compared to September last year, consumer loans were down 2.5% YoY.

Department store Robinsons closes doors for good

30 Oct 2020

One of Singapore’s oldest department store operators Robinsons is shutting down for good after 162 years in the country, as the Covid pandemic dealt a double whammy amid the ongoing struggles faced by department store operators worldwide to adapt to changing consumer behaviors as a result of rising e-commerce.  Robinsons said that it had begun the liquidation process for its last two stores in Singapore – one located at The Heeren, and the other at Raffles City Shopping Centre. Australian advisory firm KordaMentha are the appointed liquidators.

Robinsons plans to do its best to transfer its 175 employees to other brands owned by its parent company, Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Group, which owns franchises such as Marks & Spencer and Zara.

Advanced materials startup gush raises SGD 4.65 million pre-Series A

26 Oct 2020

Singaporean advanced materials startup gush has raised SGD 4.65 million in its pre-Series A funding round led by TNB Aura. Existing backer Fidelium Group and strategic investors RSP Architects, SEEDS Capital, TRIREC and several unnamed individuals participated in the round. 

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.

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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India Briefings: India smartphone usage up 25% since April this year

21 Dec 2020

According to a study conducted by Chinese smartphone brand Vivo in collaboration with market research firm Cybermedia Research, Indians’ daily average use of smartphones is estimated to have increased by 25% since April this year to 6.9 hours a day. This is an acceleration from March 2020 when Indians’ average daily time spent rose 11% to 5.5 hours compared with 4.9 hours in March 2019.

The report found that Indians spent most time on work from home activities (75% increase since April), followed by voice and video calling (63% usage growth since April), a 59% increase in time spent on OTT platforms, a 55% increase in time spent on social media apps, and a 45% increase in time spent on mobile games.  

Moneyboxx Finance raises INR 100 million debt funding

21 Dec 2020

SME-focused finance company Moneyboxx Finance (BOM:538446) has raised INR 100 million in debt funding from Blacksoil Capital,  Caspian Impact Investments and Ashv Finance. The funding will be used to support the company’s its disbursement target of INR 800 – INR 850 million in the current fiscal, which equates to about 2.5 times of its lending in during FY 2019/20.

“We at Moneyboxx Finance have created a robust system to support micro-businesses and entrepreneurs and the fact that leading lenders such as BlackSoil, Caspian and Ashv Finance have reposed faith in us is a validation of our business model and we are indeed grateful to them for their support. The funds will help us to further our cause of supporting the deserving micro enterprises and create a positive impact in this segment,” said Deepak Aggarwal, Co-CEO& CFO of Moneyboxx Finance. “Our collection efficiency of 95 percent during moratorium and over 99 percent from September onwards despite CoVID-19 challenges is testimony to the fact that if underwriting and collection processes are robust, it is possible to create same or even better quality of book along with a sustainable and profitable business model in the unsecured lending segment,”he added. 

Food delivery unicorn Zomato closes USD 660 million round

20 Dec 2020

Homegrown food delivery and restaurant aggregator startup Zomato has closed a USD 600 million financing round at a post-money valuation of USD 3.9 billion. 10 new investors joined the round including Tiger Global, Kora, Luxor, Fidelity (FMR), D1 Capital, Baillie Gifford, Mirae Asset and Steadview Capital.

Flipkart sees 35% increase in merchants on its platform 

19 Dec 2020

Walmart-backed (NYSAE:WMT) homegrown e-commerce company Flipkart announced that is has seen a 35% increase in the number of sellers on its platform, most of whom were from Tie 2 and Tier 3 regions such as Tirupur, Howrah, Zirakpur, Hisar, Saharanpur, Panipat and Rajkot. 

Tata Group submits bid for Air India

16 Dec 2020

Indian conglomerate Tata Group has reportedly submitted its bid to acquire beleaguered state-run airline Air India, an acquisition that could make it one of the biggest players in India’s growing aviation sector. Tata Group currently owns two airlines – AirAsia India and Vistara -which currently command a market share of 7.1% and 6.4% respectively of India’s domestic traffic market making them the fifth and sixth biggest players in the market.  Air India with a 9.4% market share makes it the third biggest player in India’s domestic traffic market after Spicejet (NSE:SPICEJET) which owns 13.4% of India’s domestic air traffic, and market leader Indigo with 55.5%

Air India originated as Tata Air Services which was subsequently renamed to Tata Airlines in 1932 by Tata founder J.R.D. Tata.  It was subsequently converted into a public company in 1946 and renamed Air India when it was acquired by the government in 1953.

Edtech startup upGrad acquires recruitment platform Rekrut India

15 Dec 2020

Online learning and higher education startup upGrad has acquired homegrown recruitment platform Rekrut India. The acquisition offers upGrad students access to Rekrut’s hiring network. 

Jet Airways 2.0 could resume operations by summer of 2021

07 Dec 2020

Jet Airways 1.0 which had been grounded in April 2019 after struggling with a debt burden of more than INR 85 billion, is expected to resume operations as Jet Airways 2.0 by the summer of 2021 if all everything goes according to plan. The announcement was made by Murai Lal Jalan, and Kalrock Capital, which had been approved by Jet Airways creditors to revive the airline. 

G-Pay India profit soars 6.5 times in FY 2020

07 Dec 2020

G-Pay India – the Indian digital wallet owned by internet giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) saw profits soar 6.5 times to INR 330 million for the financial year 2020 from INR 61 million a year earlier according to a report by Entrackr. The company’s EBITDA margin also improved to 5.02% this year from 3.49% last year. However, while the company’s revenues grew 34.2% YoY to INR 15.05 billion in FY 2020 from INR 10.1 billion in FY 2019, 80.5% of this (about INR 11.73 billion) were actually reimbursements received from holding entity Google Asia Pacific.

G-Pay India is India’s second largest UPI payment platform with a 39.5% market share.  

Walmart eyes Flipkart IPO overseas

07 Dec 2020

Retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is preparing to sell around 25%  of its stake in Flipkart to raise USD 10 billion which if successful will double Flipkart’s valuation to USD 40 billion since Walmart’s acquisition of the homegrown e-commerce company. Goldman Sachs has been hired to assist with the listing. 

FreshToHome to receive incentives from Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO)

07 Dec 2020

Fresh produce online marketplace FreshToHome has announced that it will receive financial and non-financial incentives from the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) to develop projects to develop the emirate’s desert agriculture and aquaculture technologies. 

Flipkart to partially spin-off digital payments arm PhonePe

03 Dec 2020

Walmart-backed (NYSE:WMT) homegrown e-commerce behemoth Flipkart has announced a partial spin-off of its digital payments platform PhonePe. As part of the spin-off process, PhonePe has raised USD 700 million in new financing led by Walmart wit the participation of existing investors. The new funding round valued PhonePe at USD 5.5 billion post-money.

The partial spin-off will see Flipkart paring its stake in PhonePe from 100% to 87%.

Payment gateway BillDesk FY2020 profit up 53% YoY

28 Nov 2020

Visa-backed (NYSE:V) homegrown payment gateway BillDesk reported a 53% year-on-year (YoY) growth in consolidated profit which reached INR 2.112 billion in FY2020 from INR 1.38 billion a year earlier. Total consolidated income rose 30% YoY to INR 19.06 billion from INR 14.07 billion in FY2019. Expenses for the year amounted to INR 16.19 billion up 30.9% YoY from INR 12.36 billion the previous year. Bank fees and service charges paid on transactions remained the biggest cost which accounted for 84.6% of total expenses incurred during the period. 

Revenues from “BillDesk and other technology related services” which constitute the the company’s core payment gateway operations generated INR 11.94 billion, representing  63% of revenues. Its loyalty business offering meanwhile generated INR 4.18 billion, or 22% of revenues. Compared to FY2019, these segments saw revenue growth of 19.8% and 33% respectively.

The consolidated financials of the company include four subsidiaries – Loyalty Rewards Management Pvt LTD, Hatio Innovations Pvt Ltd, Jocata Financial Advisory and Jocata Corporation respectively.

BillDesk is reportedly in the market again for buyers, after an unsuccessful attempt two years ago.

Zetwerk revenue surges 20-fold to INR 3.2 billion in FY2020

28 Nov 2020

Accel Partners-backed B2B marketplace for custom manufacturing, Zetwerk, has reported a 20-fold jump in revenues to INR 3.2 billion in FY2020 from INR 164.5 million a year earlier.  89% of the company’s revenues were generated from the manufacturing of fabricated or machined metal products and tools while the remaining rest 11% was generated through the construction and maintenance of water canals, reservoirs including irrigation systems.

Amazon Pay, Paytm, PhonePE, and 26 others become NCPI shareholders

27 Nov 2020

India’s National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI) disclosed that is has expanded its shareholder base, through a private placement of 4.63% of its equity shares worth INR 816.4 million, which valued the entity at INR 17.63 billion.  The 19 new shareholders include mobile wallet operators Amazon Pay, Paytm  Payments Bank, PhonePe, Mobikwik, Pine Labs, and PayU. Banking entities include Standard Chartered Bank, Dhanlaxmi Bank Ltd. and IDFC Bank were also onboarded as shareholders. The latest private placement brings NCPI’s total shareholder count to 67. 

According to the shareholder list disclosed by NCPI, Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Punjab National Bank hold the highest stake with 9.15%, whereas Canara Bank holds 8.14% share. Lenders including State Bank of India, Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, HSBC and Citibank, each, hold a 7.12% stake. 

India enters technical recession for the first time since gaining independence in 1947 

27 Nov 2020

India’s GDP contracted 7.5% year-on-year (YoY) in Q3 2020, the worst performance among major advanced and technical economies. Although Q3 2020 was better than Q2 2020 when the economy shrank 23.9% YoY, the two consecutive quarters of economic contraction mean Asia’s third biggest economy has entered a technical recession for the first time since 1947.

India extends ban on international flights until December 31

27 Nov 2020

India’s civil aviation ministry has extended the suspension of international flights until December 31, 2020. 

AirAsia India Q3 2020 revenue plunges 62% YoY 

24 Nov 2020

Budget airline AirAsia India said revenues dropped 69% year on year to INR 2.21 billion during the quarter ended September 2020 from INR 7.24 billion a year earlier, as the pandemic hit the air travel industry. The budget airline is a joint venture between Malaysia budget carrier AriAsia Bhd (KLSE:AIRASIA) which owns a 49% stake and Indian conglomerate Tata Sons Ltd which holds the remaining 51%. AirAsia India said its capacity shrank 64% YoY during the July – September quarter. “Average fare also saw an increase of 12% to INR 3,143 as compared to 3Q 2019. Average load factor was 62% with AAI (AirAsia India) operating 65% of its fleet,” AirAsia Bhd said in its exchange filing. 

Bharti Airtel overtakes Jio in August 2020 subscriber growth

17 Nov 2020

According to figures by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Bharti Airtel (NSE:BHARTIARTL) added about 2.9 million users in August 2020, compared to 1.8 million for Reliance Jio – currently India’s biggest telecom operator. This represents a 0.91% monthly growth for Bharti Airtel compared with 0.47% for Reliance Jio.

Except for state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) which added 214,000 users in August, all other mobile operators saw falling subscriber numbers according to the data. VI (previously Vodafone Idea), which was the biggest telecom operator until October 2019, lost 1.2 million users in August. Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications lost 290 users, while state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) lost 6,081 wireless subscribers.

SBICap Ventures raises USD 25 million from European Investment Bank (EIB)

13 Nov 2020

The State Bank of India’s venture capital arm SBICap Ventures has raised USD 25 million from Luxembourg-based, publicly owned European Investment Bank (EIB) for its Neev II Fund. SBICap Ventures is aiming to raise USD 118 mill;ion for the fund from global and domestic investors. The fund’s current backers include SBI, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). 

SBICap Ventures is looking to invest in eight low-income and developing states, namely Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Areas of focus include infrastructure sub-sectors such as renewable energy, agricultural supply chain, healthcare, education, urban infrastructure and roads.  

POS company Mswipe’s losses grow 155% 

13 Nov 2020

Indian point of sales company Mswipe, reported losses of INR 1.481 billion for financial year (FY) 2020, a 155% increase from the previous year’s loss of INR 581 million. The company’s expanding losses comes despite a 34.6% rise in operating revenue to INR 3.48 billion from INR 2.585 billion in FY 2019. 

Whatsapp gets NCPI nod to expand payments system

06 Nov 2020

The National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI) has given approval for Whatsapp to ‘Go Live’ on UPI in the multi-bank model. The Indian payments authority’s approval allows Facebook to expand its UPI userbase in a graded manner starting with a maximum registered userbase of 20 million in UPI. 

Facebook first began testing its payment method two years ago. However, expansion efforts have been hampered by a slew of lawsuits over privacy concerns and its inability to meet the Indian government’s data localization requirements. This prevented the social media giant from launching its payment system beyond its beta version which is currently being used by around 1 million users in India. 

Amazon to invest INR 2.76 billion to build second data center region in India

06 Nov 2020

Amazon Web Services, the cloud arm of tech giant Amazon, is investing INR 2.76 billion to build a new AWS Cloud Region in the city of Hyderabad, in the southern state of Telangana, India, by 2022. In a press release, Amazon said, the new Amazon Web Services Asia Region will be Amazon’s second Infrastructure region in India and will enable even more developers, enterprises, and start-ups along with government, education, and non-profit organizations to run their applications and serve customers from data centers situated in India.

Flipkart acquires social gaming startup Mech Mocha

04 Nov 2020

Walmart-backed e-commerce giant Flipkart has acquired multiplayer social-gaming startup Mech Mocha for an undisclosed amount. With the acquisition, Flippkart aims to expand and retain its userbase by offering games to users of its mobile app. 

Hyperlocal search engine Justdial’s net profits drop 43.2% QoQ

01 Nov 2020

Homegrown hyperlocal search engine Justdial has reported net profits of INR 473 million for the quarter ended September 30, a 43.2% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) drop compared to the previous quarter when the company reported net profits of INR 833 million. The company’s profit margins followed a similar trend falling 51.3% QoQ, and 28.26% year-on-year (YoY). 

Revenues fell 30.9% YoY to INR 1.67 billion from INR 2.42 billion the same quarter a year earlier.  

UPI transaction value up 17.3% MoM in October

01 Nov 2020

India’s national payment system – United Payments Interface (UPI) – recorded 2.07 billion transactions (the highest ever since its  founding in 2016) worth INR 3.86 trillion in October according to data released by the National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI). October transactions were up 15% by volume and up 17.3% by value compared to September. 

Reliance Industries FY 2021 Q2 revenue up 27.2% QoQ

01 Nov 2020

India’s biggest company by market capitalization Reliance Industries posted revenues of INR 1.28 trillion in revenues for Q2 of financial year 2020-21, a 27.2% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) increase, driven by solid performance from its digital venture – Reliance Jio Platforms –  and its retail venture – Reliance Retail. Net profit for the quarter was up 28% QoQ, reaching INR 106 billion. 

Reliance Jio generated revenue of INR 210.7 billion, for the quarter, up 7.1% QoQ. Net profit reached INR 30 billion up 19.8% QoQ.  

Reliance Retail generated revenue of INR 410 billion for the quarter, up 30% QoQ. Net profit surged 125.8% QoQ to INR 9.73 billion. 

Reliance’s fibre-optic business bags USD 1.01 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s PIF and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA)

30 Oct 20020

India’s most valuable company by market capitalization – Reliance Industries – has announced that Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) will invest USD 1.01 billion into Reliance’s “critical asset” Digital Fibre Infrastructure Trust, which holds Reliance Industries’ fibre-optic assets.

Amazon Prime subscribers doubled during August Prime Day sales

30  Oct 2020

E-commerce giant Amazon’s video streaming platform Amazon Prime said is subscriber base doubled during August’s Prime Day sales, compared to last year.

Indian army launches Whatsapp-like encrypted messaging app

30  Oct 2020

The Indian army has launched its own messaging app – an indigenous end-to-end encrypted voice, text, and video calling app for Android smartphones. Called the Security Application for the Internet (SAI), the app was launched in an effort to prevent any sensitive information from reaching intelligence agencies. 

Proctor & Gamble sets up INR 4 billion ‘India Growth Fund’

30  Oct 2020

Global FMCG giant Proctor & Gamble has set up an INR 4 billion ‘India Growth Fund’ to identify, and collaborate with startups, businesses, and individuals offering innovative solutions to localize the manufacturing of finished goods, procurement of raw materials, and packaging.  The new fund is part of P&G’s ‘vGrow’ program.  

P&G claims that 95% of its products sold in India are manufactured locally. P&G also exports locally manufactured finished goods to more than 120 countries.  and the program aims to further localize manufacturing of finished products, procurement of raw materials and packaging materials, as well  adopt innovative solutions that enhance the company’s go-to-market technologies to better serve their customers in India. 

Online fresh fish, vegetables, and meat retailer FreshToHome raises USD 121 million, largest ever Series C funding in India

27  Oct 2020

Indian online fresh fish, vegetables, and meat retailer FreshToHome has raised a record-setting USD 121 million in Series C funding from the Investment Corporation of Dubai (the principal investment arm of the government of Dubai), Investcopr, Ascent Capital, the U.S. government’s development finance institution (DFC), and the Allana Group. This is reportedly the largest Series C funding to date for an Indian startup. 

The fresh capital will be used to accelerate expansion through India, as well as the Middle East. Banking on a rising demand for food safety, FreshToHome’s patent-pending AI-powered supply chain technology and its state-of-the-art cold chain enables sellers to source fresh fish, vegetables and meat directly from fishermen and farmers, cutting out layers of middlemen, and helping the company offer customers a safety guarantee of “100% Fresh and 0% Chemicals”.

Reliance-Future Group deal stalled, temporary relief for Amazon

25  Oct 2020

A Singapore-based arbitration panel has ruled that Reliance Retail and Future Group should not proceed with the deal, until it hears the matter. The ruling from the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SAIC) is a a win for Amazon who owns an indirect stake in Future Group and claims that Future Group violated the terms of the agreement between the two companies. In August last year, Amazon acquired a 49% stake in Future Coupons which owns a 7.3% stake in Future Retail. Amazon also had the rights to buy into Future Retail after a period between 3 and 10 years as part of the  deal. The contract signed between to the two firms contains a non-compete clause that bars Future Group from selling the business to rivals without Amazon’s approval.

Reliance Retail, the retail arm of India’s biggest company by market capitalization – Reliance Industries – has been moving aggressively  to grab market share in India’s booming e-commerce market, and is expected to emerge as a formidable force in Indian e-commerce, disrupting it similar to the manner in which Reliance Jio disrupted India’s telecom market to emerge as India’s biggest mobile operator by market share. For more insights on Indian e-commerce click here

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. 

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.  

For more insights on Indian e-commerce, click here

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).  

Reliance Jio, Qualcomm partner to fast track 5G network infrastructure in India

01 Oct 2020

Reliance Jio – the telecom arm of Reliance Industries – has teamed up with US semiconductor company Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) to accelerate the development and deployment of 5G network infrastructure and services in India. Qualcomm and Jio announced that they have achieved over a 1 gigabyte (GB) per second milestone during trials on the Jio 5GNR solution, leveraging Qualcomm’s 5G RAN platforms.

Indian government 118 mobile apps with Chinese links including PUBG, Alipay, and Baidu

04 Sep 2020

The Indian government has blocked 118 mobile apps with Chinese links, including popular mobile game PUBG, Alibaba-owned e-wallet Alipay, and Chinese search engine giant Baidu’s mobile app citing data privacy concerns, and a threat to national security. Other apps include Baidu Express Edition, Tencent Watchlist, FaceU, WeChat reading, Government WeChat, Tencent Weiyun, APUS Launcher Pro, APUS Security, Cut Cut, ShareSave by Xiaomi, CamCard, PUBG Mobile, and PUBG Mobile Lite.

The government ban takes the total count of Chinese-linked mobile apps banned by India to 224. 

Homegrown online travel agency Yatra partners with Amazon Business to cater to hospitality partners

19 Aug 2020

Homegrown online travel agency (OTA) Yatra (NASDAQ:YTRA) has struck a partnership with e-commerce behemoth Amazon to offer Yatra hospitality partners access to a wide range of products across a wide spectrum of hospitality-related categories such as commercial grade kitchen appliances, kitchen storage solutions, linen, etc. 

Online travel agency Yatra diversifies into edtech; partners with upGrad

14 Jul 2020

Homegrown online travel agency Yatra has announced an alliance with Mumbai-based edtech startup upGrad as part of Yatra’s efforts to diversify beyond travel.

Homegrown payment gateway BillDesk in the market for buyers

05 Jul 2020

Visa-backed (NYSE:V) Mumbai-based payment gateway BillDesk is in the market again for buyers, after an unsuccessful attempt two years ago. This time, BillDesk is open to selling off the entire business, an effort reportedly driven by increasing competition in India’s digital payments space as e-commerce firms up their digital payments game amid a thriving domestic e-commerce sector. 

BillDesk’s payment gateway is largely aimed at business clients, with BillDesk reportedly handling as much as 50%-60% of billing transactions. Despite this stronghold in India’s business digital payments space, there is a growing sense that BillDesk’s inability to offer an end-to-end, integrated payment system will see it fall behind the competition. BillDesk currently functions purely as a payment gateway company enabling banking and merchant website transactions. However, the rise in e-commerce is driving demand for digital payment platforms bundled with e-commerce capabilities, an area where BillDesk lags. Furthermore, private equity firms such as General Atlantic (BillDesk’s biggest shareholder) are showing greater preference for companies that offer more customer-facing digital payment and e-commerce services.

Yatra terminates merger agreement with Ebix

06 Jun 2020

Homegrown online travel agency Yatra (NASDAQ:YTRA) has announced that it has terminated a pending merger agreement with Atlanta-based insurance software company Ebix (NASDAQ:EBIX) and has reportedly filed a litigation against Ebix seeking damages for alleged breach of terms. In July last year, Ebix signed an agreement to acquire Yatra, India’s second largest online travel agency, at an enterprise value of USD 337.8 million.