KrASIA Daily: Grab Launches Fintech Platform to Provide Loans and Insurance

Plus, Ofo raised USD 866 million in a round led by Alibaba. WhatsApp mulls a payment service in India.

Jason Thompson, MD, GrabPay SEA. Image credit to Grab.

Editor’s note:

Grab’s new platform, Grab Financial, will encompass Grab’s fintech offerings, including payment services, rewards and loyalty services, agent network services and now also financial services.

To provide new financial services, loans and insurance, Grab reached partnerships with Credit Saison and Chubb.

KrASIA 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:

KrASIA Daily: Grab Launches Fintech Platform to Provide Loans and Insurance
Image credit to Grab.

Singapore: Grab announced a joint venture with Japanese financial services company Credit Saison to provide loans and lending services to millions of unbanked and underbanked consumers, micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses across Southeast Asia. (e27)

Singapore: Singtel Innov8, the venture capital arm of Singaporean telecom firm Singtel, has led the $20-million Series A funding round in Silicon Valley-based drone security solutions provider Airspace Systems Inc. (Deal Street Asia)

Singapore: Singapore has been ranked the number one smart city in the world by Juniper Research — a mobile digital research specialist. (e27)

Singapore: Venture debt as a percentage of venture capital in Southeast Asia is still low at approximately 5 percent, compared to 10-15 percent in more developed ecosystems, Chin Chao, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore and South East Asia at InnoVen Capital, said in an interaction. (Deal Street Asia)

Indonesia: Indonesia’s financial regulator said it was considering setting a cap on interest rates and the size of loans offered by fintech firms, in a move aimed at minimizing the risk of defaults. (Deal Street Asia)

Indonesia: Bank Indonesia, the country’s central bank, is set to launch the second part of its National Payment Gateway initiative. The hope is the project will help make cross-bank transfers more efficient and affordable, according to the Jakarta Post. (e27)

The Philippines: Philippine-based developer Revolution Precrafted, a unicorn startup that provides prefabricated properties around the world, has sealed a landmark $3.2-billion deal to build luxury apartments and hotel villas in Dubai’s The World Islands. (Deal Street Asia)

Thailand: A possible 10% capital gains tax on investment gains in cryptocurrencies will seek cabinet approval today, says a source at the Finance Ministry. (Bangkok Post)

Myanmar: Yangon-based private equity firm Delta Capital Myanmar has invested $7 million in Easy Microfinance, backed by international investment group Meridian Capital, the companies announced in a statement on March 13. (Deal Street Asia)

Vietnam: In a major deal collapse in Vietnam, MobiFone, the second largest network operator, has called off the acquisition of Audio Visual Global (AVG), the operator of An Vien pay-TV service, in the wake of a long-drawn inspection by the government. (Deal Street Asia)

SE Asia: Southeast Asia investment veteran Rajendra Pai has joined Asia-focused private equity firm Navis Capital Partners as a partner, a move that he claims is in line with the current efforts by Navis to keep up with the growth in investment opportunities in the region. (Deal Street Asia)

Malaysia: Malaysia-based investment holding firm UMW Holdings Berhad has announced plans to acquire a majority stake in carmaker Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) by taking over automotive group MBM Resources Bhd (MBMR) and acquiring a stake held by PNB Equity Resources Corp (PERC). (Deal Street Asia)

China:

KrASIA Daily: Grab Launches Fintech Platform to Provide Loans and Insurance
Image credit to 123rf.com.cn.

China’s top bike-sharing startup Ofo raised USD 866 million in a Series E2-1 round led by Alibaba, joined by Haofeng Group, Tianhe Capital, Ant Financial and Junli Captial. This is the biggest fundraising to date in China’s highly competitive bike-sharing sector. (KrASIA)

Didi, Ofo’s shareholder, said the company has never used the veto to curb Ofo‘s latest funding round. (Tech.Sina)

China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) is actively seeking to relist overseas-listed Chinese tech giants in China through financial certificates. (Jiemian)

Alibaba Group is happy to help promote the inclusion of competitive video games as an Olympic sport, just as long as they aren’t violent or gory. (Bloomberg)

The world’s largest O2O platform Meituan-Dianping will launch its ride-hailing service in Beijing. To glue drivers, the lifestyle-e-commerce major provides subsidies and fee waiver.  (36Kr)

Local government in Shanghai said the negotiation with Tesla concerning the latter’s new factory in the city continues. (Sina)

Webo reached a partnership with online reading company Migu Digital Media, providing over ten thousand ebooks to Weibo-Migu members for free. (36Kr)

Hema Xiansheng, Alibaba’s new retail store for fresh food, is set to open 50 stores in the next 3 years in Wuhan where its Central China headquarter locates. (Jiemian)

WeWork, together with Ant Financial’s Zhima Credit, launches deposit-free office rental services in 14 cities in China including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. (The Paper)

Xiaomi founder LEI Jun resigned from Cheetah Mobile and will no longer serve the company as chairman of the board and board member. CEO FU Sheng will be the new chairman of the board. (36Kr)

China is creating a stronger environmental watchdog as it aims to cap world-leading carbon dioxide emissions and clear smoggy skies. The newly created Ministry of Ecology & Environment will be tasked with cutting emissions and leading the nation’s fight against climate change. (Bloomberg)

Binance announced Tuesday that it is launching a public blockchain to facilitate the creation of a new decentralized exchange. (Coindesk)

Ant Financial and Telenor Group have reached a strategic partnership agreement in Pakistan, where Ant Financial will invest USD 184.5 m for a 45% stake in Telenor Group’s subsidiary Telenor Microfinance Bank to further develop TMB’s mobile payment and digital financial services. (Press Release from Ant Financial)

HNA Group is in talks with China’s e-commerce site Dangdang for a potential acquisition. (21jingji)

EV maker Faraday Future registered a new company in Guangzhou, potentially seeking to manufacture cars in China. (Tech.Sina)

World:

KrASIA Daily: Grab Launches Fintech Platform to Provide Loans and Insurance
Image credit to WhatsApp.

With more than 200 million Indians already using its messaging, WhatsApp is piloting a payment service that lets them transfer money to each other. The well-timed move has riled rivals, who say the Facebook Inc. unit hasn’t adhered to security requirements and doesn’t link to other digital wallets. (Bloomberg)

With his swift rejection of Broadcom Ltd.’s hostile takeover of Qualcomm Inc., President Donald Trump sent a clear signal to overseas investors: Any deal that could give China an edge in critical technology will be swatted down in the name of national security. (Bloomberg)

U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports and will target the technology and telecommunications sectors, two people who had discussed the issue with the Trump administration said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Amazon.com Inc. expressed interest in buying Texture before Apple Inc. acquired the digital magazine service, according to a person familiar with the matter. (Bloomberg)

YouTube will introduce a new tool to combat online conspiracy theories in the coming weeks, the latest effort from Google’s video site to halt the spread of misinformation. (Bloomberg)

Zara, the fashion chain owned by the world’s biggest clothing retailer Inditex, will introduce augmented reality displays from April, it said on Tuesday, in an effort to lure millennials into its stores. (Reuters)

Twitch has just announced Free Games With Prime, a program in a similar vein as Microsoft’s Games with Gold on Xbox Live, or Sony’s offerings alongside PlayStation Plus. In short: each month, they’ll offer a selection of PC games. (Tech Crunch)