Ecosystem Roundup: Road to being a unicorn + cardless face recognition for Singapore ATM transactions

From MyTeksi to Grab: How this decacorn grew from a ride-hailing startup to a super app; The founders’ goal was to address the concerns of taxi commuters in Malaysia, but they ultimately wanted to solve the region’s pressing transportation problems; When Uber entered SEA in 2013, Grab was only a year old but it eventually proved to be a strong competitor in the region. More here

Dial an expert: How Sealed Network introduced SEA to the concept of expert networks; Sealed aims to connect organisations to the region’s top minds by providing what is perhaps the most valuable commodity in business – connections; Sealed has notable names such as Far East Ventures on its cap table. More here

A closer look at e-commerce payment trends in SEA; COVID-19 caused a massive shift in consumer spending habits in 2020; Despite the economic loss in other industries, e-commerce in SEA saw positive growth, probably thanks to the pandemic; Many consumers in the region expressed that they would likely continue to shop online and use the e-payment methods they habitually used during the lockdown periods. More here

Singapore first in the region to enable face recognition for ATM banking transactions; A Singapore-based bank is the first to tap the country’s National Digital Identity infrastructure, SingPass Face Verification, to securely verify customers for banking transactions at ATMs without the need for ATM cards; A customer’s scanned face is matched and verified against Singapore’s national biometric database containing the images and identities of 4mn Singapore residents. More here

Malaysian e-grocer Jocom raises US$4.1mn via listing on Singapore’s 1exchange (1X); Since its inception, Jocom claims to have built a sizeable base of 3mn users, 500 vendors and 15k SKUs; 1X is part of CapBridge Financial, and is backed by Singapore Exchange, SGInnovate, Hanwha Investment. More here

ADB Ventures debuts with 2 impact investments, raises US$60mn for its equity fund; The startups are Euler Motors, an EV manufacturer and fleet operator focused on last-mile commercial logistics, and Smart Joules, an energy efficiency-as-a-service company; ADB Ventures’s gameplan is to back early-stage tech companies that solve development challenges in emerging Asia and the Pacific. More here

Jungle Ventures leads US$17mn Series B in Leap Finance, an Indian startup focused on overseas education; Leap Finance provides assistance on the complex admission processes for overseas education and covers Canada, the UK and Australia; It claims to have 500K+ members and alumni with 200K monthly active users exchanging 9mn chat messages last month. More here

How fintech is Asia is enabling and making education affordable for everyone; Fintech platforms are the ideal partners to help schools address this issue; Through collaboration, fintech platforms can help schools drive their three main goals: expansion, efficiency, and equity. More here

Global fintech firm Ripple hires ex-Uber exec for SEA push; With 30 years of senior management experience in both financial services and technology, Brooks Entwistle will help Ripple drive digital asset and blockchain adoption in the region as the fintech firm is deepening and expanding its presence across SEA. More here

FWD kicks off insurtech and takafultech accelerator programme in Malaysia; The FWD Start-Up Studio aims to support insurtech and takafultech startups, with seed funding of US$290K over two years; With this in mind, the Studio has teamed up with 1337 Ventures, a Malaysia-based business accelerator, to launch a four-week pre-accelerator programme. More here

Alibaba’s grip on e-commerce pried loose by rivals and regulators; It has lost the lead in domestic users to upstart rival Pinduoduo; Pinduoduo’s social-oriented “team purchase” model, which lets groups of users buy the same product for a lower price than they would receive individually, has helped the service take off in China’s smaller cities and rural villages. More here

Can cryptocurrencies and their vast energy use co-exist with Singapore’s green goals?; Digital currencies require heavy computing power to solve complex algorithms in a process known as mining, which creates new coins; But they come at a heavy environmental cost; And the energy consumption by the Bitcoin network globally has doubled or even tripled since late-2017. More here

Chinese trading app Futu chooses Singapore as its regional base; The company launched its trading app in Singapore in March 2021 when it opened its office for business; The city-state will be seen as the key driver in Futu’s international expansion; The company is currently looking to expand to Thailand and Malaysia. More here

Tonik Digital Bank: What you need to know; It is Philippines’s first neobank which provides deposit, loan, payment, and card products to consumers through a digital banking platform; It is geared with protection against malware, ensuring customer data safety and privacy against any type of breach; User account security is protected against fraud by the DAON server-based face check security feature. More here

Bank of Thailand paves path for legal stablecoin; The Bank of Thailand has already set out appropriate guidelines for the regulation of financial services involving stablecoins, focusing only on legal baht-backed stablecoins; These are cryptocurrencies designed to minimise price volatility by being pegged to the baht and are intended to be used as a means of payment. More here

AI-based startups hold assurance for SEA; According to a report by Kearney and EDBI, AI could add US$1tn to the region’s GDP by 2030 while addressing various challenges that the region faces with productivity and infrastructure; Indonesia has already put strategies in place to develop its AI ecosystem further focusing on areas such as mobility, food security, and education. More here

How Singapore’s Sea used Facebook to become an e-commerce giant; It launched a Shopee app in 2015 and used Facebook in the ultimate growth hack: Sea aggressively poached merchants from Facebook, luring them to its own app by offering free shipping and other perks; And having observed how consumers used Facebook, Sea incorporated chat and other social features to get people hooked on Shopee. More here

Big Idea Ventures’s New Protein Fund invites applications for startup programme; In addition to providing US$200K investment (US$125,000 in cash and US$75,000 through in-kind benefits), the programme may also choose to invest up to US$3.5mn in top companies; The programme is part of the fund’s mission to invest in and accelerate up to 100 plant- and cell-based companies worldwide. More here

Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) and Remittance Association (Singapore) have signed MoU; The two associations will jointly launch the new SFA Remittance Sub-Committee, which aims to promote the adoption of technologies to strengthen the capabilities, efficiencies and governance of Singapore’s money remittance industry, and catalyse its members’ digital transformation and internationalisation efforts. More here

E-commerce boom likely to fuel growth of nascent logistics tech sector in SEA; According to Gobi Partners MD Jamaludin Bujang, the logistics sector is an important element in the e-commerce market; Even brick-and-mortar retailers have adopted this strategy to remain relevant; Going forward, startups that are expected to gain traction within the target logistics tech umbrella are those that provide market intelligence. More here

Breaking the glass ceiling: How women in tech succeed in a male-dominated industry; Never underestimate the power of mentorship; Mentors help women gain insight into professional and personal growth opportunities; Women need to be advocates for others, but they also need to be advocates for themselves. More here

India’s food delivery unicorn Zomato likely to file for IPO next month; It could raise US$650mn; Last month, Zomato raised an additional US$250mn; It completed the primary pre-IPO fundraise at a total valuation of US$5.4bn, a sharp rise from the US$3.9bn in December. More here

Facebook-backed ecommerce firm Meesho shuts its Indonesia operations; Meesho, an Indian company, connects independent resellers with suppliers and helps them curate a catalog of goods and services, which these “social sellers” then sell within their networks on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram; Many of these sellers are small retailers, women, students, and retired citizens, with a large chunk comprised of homemakers. More here

Photo by Eduardo Soareson Unsplash

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