KrAsia Daily: Grab Enriches Its Indian Think Tank By Acquiring Mobile Payment Startup Ikaaz

Plus, Didi launched its bike rental platform in Beijing and Shenzhen. Polling company SurveyMonkey is preparing to go public later this year.

Photo by Jeff Brown on Unsplash.

Editor’s note:

India is increasingly becoming Grab’s think tank.

Last March, the Singapore-based company announced it is set to build an R&D center in Bangalore, hiring 200 engineers to focus on its mobile payment service GrabPay.

The acquisition of Indian digital payment startup iKaaz will see the later’s team join Grab’s local center.

Grab is currently focusing on SE Asian markets, but its R&D centers aren’t limited to where the company is active, for example, it had already set up its R&D centers in Beijing and Seattle.

Taking advantage of the global talent and putting people in the right place by expertise, those are probably why Grab has the confidence to take on the fierce competition with Uber.

Kr-ASIA Daily is a five-minute read to brief you everything you need to know to start your day. We only choose the latest tech & startup news that is worth your time, with a focus on Southeast Asia and China.

Southeast Asia:

SE Asia: Grab has acquired iKaaz, a Bangalore-based digital payments startup. The iKaaz team will join Grab’s Bangalore R&D centre upon completion of the acquisition. Grab will also integrate its mobile payments tech, allowing it to build new features and onboard new partners for GrabPay. (e27)

Singapore: Morpheus Labs, a blockchain-platform-as-a-service startup accelerated by SGInnovate, has raised an undisclosed sum in funding from a Chinese angel investor at a valuation of $2 million. The firm has also launched an initial coin offering (ICO) with a target fundraise of $25 million through the sale of 125 million Morpheus Infrastructure Tokens (MiT) from the first round. (Deal Street Asia)

The Philippines: Tata Consultancy Services Asia-Pacific (TCS), an IT consulting services firm, has agreed to sell its 8 per cent stake in Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corporation (PDS Holdings) to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) for P152.114 million ($3 million), the PSE said in a disclosure on Wednesday. (Deal Street Asia)

Myanmar: International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private lending arm of the World Bank – is advising the implementation of Yangon’s first elevated expressway under a public-private partnerships scheme. (Deal Street Asia)

Thailand: J-Ventures, the venture capital arm of Thai listed mobile retailer Jaymart Pcl (JMART), is targeting to raise $20 million via an initial coin offering (ICO), marking the first such fundraising initiative by a public company in the country. (Deal Street Asia)

Vietnam: Mekong Capital, the first private equity firm in Vietnam founded in 2001, is placing its bets on consumer-focussed sectors among top themes to watch out for in the south-east Asian country up to 2020. (Deal Street Asia)

Thailand: J-Ventures, the VC arm of Thailand’s public-listed mobile phones retailer Jaymart Pcl, is looking to raise US$20 million via initial coin offering (ICO), according to news reports. (e27)

Singapore: Taizo Son, brother of SoftBank’s CEO Son Masayoshi, unveiled the next move in his Southeast Asian campaign, with the official launch of his incubator Mistletoe’s office in Singapore-based tech-focused business club SPECTRUM. (e27)

China:

Didi Chuxing has announced that it is launching its bike rental platform today in Beijing and Shenzhen. The platform will be integrated into the ride-hailing giant’s original app and will include both ofo’s and Bluegogo’s bicycles. (Technode)

Ofo’s largest shareholder Didi is reportedly blocking Ofo’s new round of financing led by Alibaba and is working on its self-owned bike-sharing brand. (36Kr)

Staff-less store Bingobox has closed a Series B round worth US$80 million led by Fosun Capital, joint by Ventech China, Qiming Venture Partners, Prometheus Capital and GGV Capital. (36Kr)

Google has opened an office in the Chinese city Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong and known for being a global hardware hub. (TechCrunch)

A man accused of stealing 100 bitcoins worth US$1.3 million has been detained by the Beijing Police, following a complaint by his employer. (e27)

Shanghai’s subway system has announced that passengers will soon be able to pay fares through Alipay by binding their account with the Shanghai Metro app. (Technode)

Caocao Zhuanche, an electric vehicle sharing company backed by Chinese automaker Geely, has completed a RMB1 billion (US$156 million) series A round from various investors, at a valuation of over RMB10 billion (US$1.6 billion). (China Money Network)

YY’s subsidiary, game video streaming platform Huya is in its IPO quiet period and will go public in the U.S. as soon as in the Q2 in 2018. (36Kr)

JD rolled out hundreds of marketing products powered by big data at its Marketing Summit 2018. (JD)

Jack Ma donated HK$6.4 million to Our Hong Kong Foundation to support researches and projects in education and innovation. (Sina)

Nvidia Corp said on Tuesday China’s Chery Automobile would use its self-driving technology that it has developed with Baidu and ZF Friedrichshafen AG. (Reuters)

Baidu upgraded Baidu input, adding two features, “shorthand” and “AR emoji” powered by AI. (tech.iFeng)

Mobike and Ofo provide big data on their operation to the government in a bid to help better regulate the bike-sharing industry. (The Paper)

Alibaba-backed bike-sharing startup Hellobike rolled out its deposit free bike-sharing services in ten more cities across China. (tech.huanqiu)

Alibaba said Wednesday that Hungarian-American computer scientist Mario Szegedy will join its DAMO Academy’s quantum computing lab. (Alizila)

JD Liu Qiangdong: JD is set to invest RMB 1 billion to 10 billion (approx. US$155.4 million to US$1.554 billion) in three northeastern provinces. (Toutiao)

Didi is reportedly foraying into the electric-bikes-sharing industry by operating a brand named Jie Tu. (tech.sina)

China’s paid-content pioneer Logic Talkshow is planning for an IPO in 2018. (eeo)

Huabei, the consumer loan product of Alibaba’s financial arm Ant Financial, has finished its RMB 4 billion (approx. US$621.8 million) issuance of ABS. (Yicai

Fitness startup Space Cycle closed an RMB 100 million (approx. US$15.54 million) Series B round led by Alibaba Taiwan Entrepreneurs Fund II. (prnasia)

World:

The 19-year-old polling company SurveyMonkey is preparing to go public later this year, accelerating its conversations with bankers ahead of what would be one of 2018’s most closely-watched IPOs. (Recode)

Google announced the alpha launch of AutoML Vision, a new service that helps developers — including those with no machine learning (ML) expertise — build custom image recognition models. (Tech Crunch)

Toronto-based Wattpad, a storytelling and reading/viewing app that combines crowdsourced content with professionally produced material, has picked up another $51 million (C$61.25 million) in venture funding. (Tech Crunch)

Bitconnect, the lending and exchange platform that was long suspected by many in the crypto community of being a Ponzi scheme, has announced it’s shutting down. (Tech Crunch)

Google announced a significant change in how it ranks websites for mobile searches: it will now take page speed into consideration as one of its signals. (Tech Crunch)

Apple will issue each employee below director level a $2.5K bonus in restricted stock grants, following passage of tax overhaul, over coming months. (Techmeme)

Facebook today began testing Watch Party, a new feature available to groups that lets members watch videos at the same time while continuing to comment and interact. (The Verge)

Google‘s Project Fi now caps data bills at $60, entering the crowded market of “unlimited data” plans, will throttle speeds at 15GB. (Techmeme)

Curve, the London fintech startup that offers a platform that lets you consolidate all your bank cards into a single Curve card and app to make it easier to manage your spending, is finally launching to U.K. consumers. (Tech Crunch)

Google’s Arts and Culture app that matches users face with artworks from museums around the globe became the number one free app on the iOS app store, according to the company. (artnet)

Sharing Economy International Inc., a Chinese textile machinery maker with blockchain ambitions, said it’s pursuing the acquisition of a boutique hotel from Hong Kong property billionaire Lee Shau-kee. (Bloomberg)

India’s news aggregator Newsdog launched its live trivia game, following the games alike went viral in the U.S. and China. (tech.sina)