Tencent, Alibaba chase remittances in battle for Southeast Asia [Reuters]
For Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent, Southeast Asian domestic helpers in Hong Kong may prove key to their global ambitions in financial services.
Both companies recently launched money-transfer services that allow Hong Kong-based workers from Indonesia and the Philippines to send money home cheaply and easily. The moves are a first step in going after a global remittance business that moves more than US$600 billion around the world annually.
But the initiatives are also part of the firms’ broader efforts to take their wildly successful WeChat Pay and Alipay mobile payment system overseas.
Southeast Asia, with a growing population of 600 million people who mostly lack bank accounts, is a strategic battleground for Asian tech behemoths and their US rivals.
Grab halts late-night car-pooling in Singapore after driver complaints [The Star ]
Ride-hailing firm Grab said on Sept 25 it would stop offering car-pooling services during late-night hours in Singapore after drivers complained about some passengers being drunk and argumentative.
Citing feedback from drivers who described intoxicated commuters vomiting in their cars or arguing with them during the ride, the company said it would stop its GrabHitch service between 1am and 5am from next month.
GrabHitch enables private car drivers to offer a ride to passengers heading in the same direction for a fee.
Fresh meat, seafood et-tailer Licious raises US$25M [press release]
Licious, a fresh meat and seafood brand in India, announced today it has raised US$25 million in a Series-C growth round led by Bertelsmann India Investments, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India.
UCLA and existing investors Mayfield India, 3one4 Capital, Sistema Asia Fund and InnoVen Capital also joined the round.
The funds will be used to expand to new cities, fostering the value-added product category, and strengthening the supply chain.
Licious was founded in 2015 with the vision to disrupt the vastly unorganised meat and seafood market. Licious is built on the farm to fork business model, which owns the entire back-end supply chain powered by stringent cold chain control to maintain the quality and freshness of each product from the time of procurement, processing, storage to the time it reaches the end consumer.
Grab to expand GrabPay in Philippines [press release]
Southeast Asia’s leading O2O platform, Grab, announced today it will rapidly expand the GrabPay mobile wallet in the Philippines.
The announcement comes as Grab receives the e-money license from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank in the Philippines.
With the e-money license, Grab consumers in the near future will be able to use GrabPay for payments services. The Philippines is the fifth country in Southeast Asia where the full suite of GrabPay mobile wallet services becomes available.
91mobiles acquires majority stake in 500 Startups-funded Pricebaba [press release]
91mobiles.com, a smartphone discovery platform in India, announced today it has acquired a majority stake in Pricebaba.com, a 500 Startups-funded company.
With this, 91Digital Web Pvt Ltd, the parent company of 91mobiles, now operates three websites in the gadgets vertical -– 91mobiles.com, KillerFeatures.com and Pricebaba.com, with a combined reach of 30 million visits per month.
Pricebaba.com, which currently serves five million users per month, will continue to run as a separate property focused on helping electronics buyers make their purchase decisions. While 91mobiles will remain focused on smartphone enthusiasts and buyers, Pricebaba shall cater to people looking to buy any electronics product, including TVs, washing machines, ACs and refrigerators, in addition to smartphones.
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