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Tag Archives: southeast

Indonesian fintech startup Moka raises $24M led by Sequoia India

Indonesia’s Moka , a startup that helps SMEs and retailers manage payment and other business operations, has pulled in a $24 million Series B round for growth. The investment is led by Sequoia India and Southeast Asia — which recently announced a new $695 million fund — with participation from new backers SoftBank Ventures Korea, EDBI — the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board — and EV Growth, the later stage fund from Moka seed investor East Ventures. Existing investors Mandiri Capital, Convergence and Fenox also put into the round. The deal takes Moka to $27.9 million raised to date, according to data from Crunchbase . Moka was started four years ago primarily as a point-of-sale (POS) terminal with some basic business functionality. Today, it claims to work with 12,500 retailers in Indonesia and its services include sales reports, inventory management, table management, loyalty programs, and more. Its primary areas of focus are retailers in the F&B, apparel and services industries. It charges upwards of IDR 249,000 ($17) per month for its basic service and claims to be close to $1 billion in annual transaction volume from its retail partners. That’s the company’s core offering, a mobile app that turns any Android or iOS device into a point-of-sale terminal, but CEO and co-founder Haryanto Tanjo — who started the firm with CTO Grady Laksmono — said it harbors larger goals. “Our vision is to be a platform, we want to be an ecosystem,” he told TechCrunch in an interview. That’s where much of this new capital will be invested. Tanjo said the company is opening its platform up to third-party providers, who can use it to reach merchants with services such as accounting, payroll, HR and more

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Facebook bans Myanmar military accounts for ‘enabling human rights abuses’

Facebook is cracking down on the military leadership in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country where the social network has been identified as a factor contributing to ethnic tension and violence. The U.S. company said today that it removed accounts belonging to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the military-owned Myawady television network. In total, the purge has swept up 18 Facebook accounts, 52 Facebook Pages and an Instagram account after the company “found evidence that many of these individuals and organizations committed or enabled serious human rights abuses in the country.” Some 30 million of Myanmar’s 50 million population is estimated to use Facebook, making it a hugely effective broadcast network. But with wide reach comes the potential with misuse, as has been most evident in the U.S. But the Facebook effect is also huge far from the U.S.  A report from the UN issued in March  determined that Facebook had played a “determining role” in Myanmar’s crisis. The situation in the country is so severe that an estimated 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees are thought to have fled to neighboring Bangladesh following a Myanmar government crackdown that began in August. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has  labeled  the actions as ethnic cleansing. Facebook’s action today comes a week after an investigative report from Reuters  found more than 1,000 posts, comments and images that attacked Rohingya and other Muslim users on the platform. “During a recent investigation, we discovered that they used seemingly independent news and opinion Pages to covertly push the messages of the Myanmar military. This type of behavior is banned on Facebook because we want people to be able to trust the connections they make,” Facebook said in a statement. “While we were too slow to act, we’re now making progress – with better technology to identify hate speech, improved reporting tools, and more people to review content,” it added.

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Stealthy Singapore VC firm Qualgro is raising a $100M fund

Southeast Asia’s venture capital space is booming right now. Openspace Ventures just announced the close of its newest $135 million fund , Golden Gate Ventures hit the first close on its upcoming $100 million vehicle , and a third Singapore-based fund is also raising big right now: Qualgro. Unlike others, Qualgro has operated relatively under the radar to date. That’s been very deliberate, according to managing partner Heang Chhor, who started the firm after leaving McKinsey following a 26-year stint that spanned Europe and Asia. Cambodian by birth, Chhor grew up in France and he rose to become a member of the McKinsey Global Board, whilst also leading the business in Japan. Prior to McKinsey, Chhor started a number of businesses — of which he says he got a modest exit but plenty of experience — and now he is turning his attention to Southeast Asia, where growing internet access among a cumulative base of 650 million consumers is opening up new opportunities for tech and internet businesses. The region’s digital economy is forecast to pass $200 billion by 2020, up from an estimated $50 billion in 2017, according to a much-cited report from Temasek and Google . Qualgro — which stands for ‘quality’ and ‘growth,’ in case you wondered — opened its doors in 2015 with a maiden $50 million fund. Alongside Chhor is Jason Edwards, formerly with PE firm Clearwater Capital and Peter Huynh, who joined from the Singtel Innov8 VC arm. To date, Qualgro has made 19 investments, which include IP and data firm Patsnap , e-commerce startup Shopback , and lending platform Funding Societies . The aim is to super-size that with this new fund, which this week completed a first close of $60 million. The total target is $100 million

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Singapore’s Openspace Ventures closes new $135M fund for Southeast Asia

It seems like everyone is out there raising new funds in Southeast Asia. Weeks after we reported Golden Gate Ventures hit a first close on its third fund aimed at $100 million , so Openspace Ventures — the Singapore-based firm formerly known as NSI — has announced a final close of $135 million for its second fund. Founded in 2014 by entrepreneur Hian Goh and finance exec Shane Chesson, Openspace is best known for being an early backer of Indonesian ride-hailing unicorn Go-Jek. A selection of its other investments includes fintech startup FinAccel, e-commerce player Love Bonito, restaurant booking service Chope, health-focused insurance brokerage CXA Group, and bread maker Rotimatic. Openspace specializes in Series A with a typical check size of $3 million to $5 million, and capital for follow-on deals. Goh told TechCrunch around the time of the first close that the plan is to expand the focus on startups operating marketplaces and/or the e-commerce space to cover emerging verticals such as fintech, health tech and education. Chesson, his partner, said that in areas like healthcare, progress from startups has been “remarkable” while he sees “great opportunities” to develop new kinds of consumer-centric brands in e-commerce, both B2C and B2B. Beyond vertical expansion, the firm may also seek opportunities in new geographies — it invested alongside Go-Jek in Bangladesh-based on-demand service Pathao , for example. It also plans to utilize local teams in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam and perhaps expand its network to more markets, too. The target for the capital is Southeast Asia, a region of more than 650 million consumers where rising internet access is creating new opportunities for tech startups and internet-based businesses. A report co-authored by Google last year forecast the region’s internet economy reaching $200 billion per year by 2025, up from $31 million in 2015. Already, Southeast Asia has more internet users than the U.S

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Kredivo raises $30M to build a digital credit card for Southeast Asia

FinAccel , a Southeast Asia-based startup that offers a digital credit card service in Indonesia, has closed a $30 million Series B round as it begins to consider overseas expansion. The company launched its ‘Kredivo’ service two years ago  to help consumers pay online in Southeast Asia, where credit card penetration is typically low, and it is essentially the combination of a digital credit card and PayPal. The service is available in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, where it uses a customer’s registered phone number — there is no physical credit card — and a dedicated checkout on online retail websites. For consumers, the service offers a 30-day payback option and then more longer-term options of three, six and 12-month payback windows. The 30-day option is interest-free, but other plans come with a 2.95 percent per month charge on the reducing principle, which effectively makes it 25 percent flat. FinAccel says it has credit scored close to two million consumers in Indonesia, while on the retail side it has partnered with 200 online sales platforms including large names such as Alibaba’s Lazada, Shopee (which is owned by U.S.-listed Garena), and unicorn Tokopedia, which counts SoftBank and Alibaba among its investors. This new investment, by the way, is a notable one for Southeast Asia, which has generally been considered to have a gap in Series B funding, so $30 million for a two-year-old business is quite something. The round itself is led by Australia’s Square Peg Capital — in what is one of its highest-profile overseas deals to date — alongside new investors MDI Ventures, which is affiliated with Telkom Indonesia, and UK-based Atami Capital. Existing investors Jungle Ventures, Openspace Ventures, GMO Venture Partners, Alpha JWC Ventures and 500 Startups also took part in the round. FinAccel founders (left to right) Umang Rustagi (COO), Akshay Garg (CEO) and Alie Tan (head of product engineering) The startup raised a seed round of over $1 million in 2016 , before quietly raising a $5 million Series A last year, FinAccel co-founder CEO Akshay Garg revealed in an interview with TechCrunch. Garg, who founded ad tech firm Komli, said the company is processing “hundreds of millions” in U.S. dollars per year and the immediate  plan is to keep growing in Indonesia. Already, however, it is eyeing up potential expansions with its first move overseas is likely to be in Southeast Asia in early 2018, although he declined to provide more details. “Our goal is to become the preferred digital credit card for millennials in Southeast Asia,” he told TechCrunch. “Those are consumers who are mobile-first and already bankable.

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Golden Equator Capital and Korea Investment Partners announce $88M Southeast Asia fund

There’s more money flowing into Southeast Asia’s tech startup scene after Singapore’s  Golden Equator Capital and Seoul-based Korea Investment Partners announced plans for a collaborative $88 million (SG$120 million) fund for the region. The two investment firms will act as joint partners for the vehicle, which is expected to hit a first close before September and a final close by the end of 2018. Already, they claim to have 65 percent of the target capital committed by LPs. The firms are aiming for the Series A and B spaces with a typical check size of between $1.5 million and $3.7 million for what will be known as the GEC-KIP Fund. It isn’t exactly clear what focus the fund will adopt for investments. Southeast Asia often falls off the radar for investment in Asia, with the far larger countries of China and India typically getting the attention, but rising internet access among the region’s cumulative population of over 600 million signals growth potential. A recent report co-authored by Google forecasts Southeast Asia’s ‘internet economy’ reaching more than $200 billion by 2025, up from just $30 billion in 2015. A few unicorns, including ride-sharing companies Grab and Go-Jek, have also helped put it on the map for investors. Speaking of investors, Golden Equator Capital is part of Golden Equator , a Singapore-based group of businesses that includes financial services, consulting, an incubator and, of course, investment funds. The firm has existing ties with Korea — via a Korea-focused health tech incubator launched last year — and its advisory team includes Taizo Son , founder of Japanese VC firm Mistletoe and brother of SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son.

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Aspire Capital offers fast finance for SMEs in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia’s digital economy is tipped to grow more than six-fold to reach more than $200 billion per year, according to a report co-authored by Google , with e-commerce accounting for the dominant share. The emergence of e-commerce platforms like Alibaba’s Lazada and U.S.-listed Shopee have enabled online entrepreneurship across the region, but still financial support for online sellers, who are basically SMEs, is lagging. That’s where Singapore-based Aspire Capital , a six-month-old organization focused on speedy SME lending, is hoping to make a difference. The company certainly has opportunity. With a cumulative population of over 600 million consumers and a rising middle class, Southeast Asia is increasingly an attractive market for businesses of all kind, and online companies in particular. Chinese giants Alibaba and Tencent have long devoted significant resources to the region where, like India, they see significant growth potential. E-commerce is the clear winner, in terms of size, with the e-Conomy SEA report — a joint research project between Google and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek — forecasting e-commerce revenue will hit $88 billion by 2025 from $10.9 billion in 2017. Data from the e-Conomy SEA report The crux of its problem is that online sellers who use Lazada, Shopee or other platforms that are forgoing profit in order to grow, are ironically less able to scale their business since there are few ‘e-commerce friendly’ financing options. That problem became apparent to Aspire founder and CEO Andrea Baronchelli during a four-year stint with Lazada Singapore where, as CMO, he identified a financing disconnect for Lazada merchants. “I saw the problem while trying to rally small businesses trying to grow in the digital economy,” Baronchelli told TechCrunch in an interview. “The problem is really about providing working capital to small business owners. We started with online sellers, but we have expanded a bit as we see demand. There are 65 million small businesses in Southeast Asia, that’s ten times more than the U.S. so we see so much potential,” he added. Aspire founder and CEO Andrea Baronchelli pictured while at Lazada Today, Aspire Capital covers Singapore where it has expanded beyond e-commerce merchants to cover other things of SMEs who seek loans, primarily for working capital as Baronchelli explains.

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Grab co-founder says Southeast Asia still has plenty of competition despite Uber’s exit

Grab may have bought itself a dominant position in Southeast Asia through its acquisition of Uber’s regional business , but the company still believes there’s competition in the ride-hailing space despite what consumers may feel. But Grab customers aren’t alone in feeling that the Grab-Uber deal is detrimental, the Competition and Consumer Commission Singapore (CCCS) last week expressed concern that the tie-up is hurting consumers and that a lack of competition will reduce innovation. The watchdog is in the process of an investigation into the deal which could see it dish out fines for Uber and Grab, or potentially unwind the deal in Singapore altogether. Despite that threat looming, Grab co-founder Hooi Ling Tan told an audience at the Rise conference in Hong Kong that the market, and ride-hailing more generally, remains competitive in Southeast Asia despite Uber’s exit. “There’s still a lot of existing competition, we don’t foresee it ending ever.. and to be honest we don’t want it to because we continue to learn from them,” Tan said. “We continue to learn from alternative players who take alternative strategies and operational tactics.” Go-Jek, the billion-dollar firm that dominates Indonesia and is plotting a regional expansion to fill Uber’s void, may be the most obvious rival, but Tan said that Grab is competing with more basic forces. “From day one, our primary competitor has never been other ride-hailing apps, it’s actually been what Grab CEO Anthony Tan calls the hand — the hand that waves down a taxi on the side of the road,” Tan, who is not related to the Grab CEO, said. “That market is huge, and it is something we’re trying to provide an alternative service to because it isn’t exactly efficient as is.” 10 July 2018; Tan Hooi Ling, left, Co-Founder, Grab, and Kara Swisher, Executive Editor, Recode, on Centre Stage during day one of RISE 2018 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / RISE via Sportsfile CCCS, the Singaporean watchdog, doesn’t agree, however. Last week it expressed concern that no other taxi apps rival Grab and that a prohibitive barrier of cost and network effects prevents new entrants from competing squarely. A lack of competition has already led to Grab raising prices, it argued, although Grab has denied doing so. Tan didn’t comment directly on the regulator’s comments, but she did say at a subsequent press briefing that regulating ride-hailing is a tricky process. “We’re all trying to figure out what’s the right way to balance the needs of the consumer and need to create an environment that’s supportive of innovation,” she said

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Singapore watchdog threatens to unwind Uber’s Southeast Asia exit deal

Uber’s exit from Southeast Asia may be done and dusted , but the deal — which saw Grab take over its local operations in exchange for a 27.5 percent stake — is coming under pressure in Singapore where the country’s antitrust regulator has threatened to unwind the deal because it has reduced competition. The Competition and Consumer Commission Singapore (CCCS) today  announced  the result of a three-month investigation into the deal and its provisional findings offer some fairly scathing conclusions. Primarily, CCCS said that Uber and Grab “have not been able to show that the transaction gives rise to efficiencies that would outweigh the harm to competition.” In more specific detail, it said that “taxi booking services pose an insufficient competitive constraint.” The organization voiced concern that new ride-hailing entrants are significantly disadvantaged because require a “significant amount of upfront capital” to compete and, even then, they must battle existing networks that favor larger organizations. The commission claimed Grab has already taken advantage of its dominant position by raising prices, although that’s something that Grab denies doing. Furthermore, CCCS also expressed concern that Grab’s service will stagnate if it is not challenged by competitors in the ride-hailing space. “Without sufficient competition post-transaction, Grab would be able to raise fares for riders and commission rates for drivers, lower the quality of its services and reduce innovating its product offerings,” CCCS wrote in its findings. Grab criticized the report for taking “a very narrow approach in defining competition.” “While we are one of the most visible players in transport, we are not the only player in the market. CCCS has not taken into account the dynamic developments and intense competition going on over the past few months, from both new and incumbent taxi and ride-hailing players,” the company addd in a statement. Grab’s acquisition of Uber Southeast Asia drives into problems As a next step, CCCS has asked Grab to restore its pre-deal pricing and commission rates, cut exclusivity agreements with taxi operators, and remove lock-in for drivers that use its rental partners or Uber’s Lion City Rentals business. The deal is, of course, long-since closed but the organization has threatened that it could unwind the transaction in Singapore or hit both Uber and Grab with fines. The initial Singapore investigation pushed the closure of Uber’s Southeast Asia service back by one month, while it was extended by a week in the Philippines . Uber’s service covered a total of seven markets, but this action from CCCS would only impact Singapore. Here’s Grab statement in full: We have considered the CCCS’ Proposed Infringement Decision and disagree with their analysis. The CCCS appears to have taken a very narrow approach in defining competition.

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Go-Jek prepares to launch ride-hailing services in Vietnam and Thailand

It looks like Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek will finally initiate its long-awaited expansion in Southeast Asia over the next month. The company announced today that it’ll launch businesses in Vietnam and Thailand under the names of Go-Viet and Get, respectively, using a model that sees local founders run each business independently with backing from local partners and the Go-Jek mothership. TechCrunch understands that the Thai and Vietnamese entities will go live for customers from August. The plan is to initially launch motorbike and car-based services. Later, it may introduce services-on-demand as it done with significant success in Indonesia. Go-Jek didn’t provide a timeline for launches in its announcement today, but a source with knowledge of the plans told TechCrunch that Go-Viet is likely to be up and running by August with Get in Thailand set to follow a month later. The Philippines launch will come next, but the timeframe is currently unspecific and simply “before the end of 2018.” That just leaves Singapore, which is a more complicated market since it doesn’t support Go-Jek core motorbike on-demand service and it has been flooded by new entrants following Uber’s exit. As TechCrunch previously reported , Go-Jek has held partnership talks with Comfort Del Gro, Singapore’s largest taxi operator which formerly had an agreement with Uber. However, it looks like any potential deal will take time and Go-Jek is prioritizing other markets initially. Interesting, our source confirmed that the apps — Go-Jek, Get and Go-Viet — will not be interoperable. On one side that gives the local teams the flexibility and autonomy to introduce services and customize their offerings to suit the local market, but it will mean that consumers traveling between countries will need to download different apps. Back in May the company formally announced plans to enter four new markets via a $500 million budget. Consumers may have been expecting a quick launch, particularly since Uber’s exit from Southeast Asia , but the process takes significant time. Now that Go-Jek has installed local teams — led by Nguyen Vu Duc in Vietnam and former head of Line Man Thailand Pinya Nittayakasetwa for Get — it is readying the operations side of the service to launch for consumers. Grab, Go-Jek’s key rival, raised $2.5 billion over the last year and it is currently raising a new round that values its business at over $10 billion.

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