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Demystifying Omise parent Synqa’s plans to disrupt payment networks

Imagine being able to pay for a cup of coffee at a Starbucks outlet in Singapore as well as a taxi ride in Japan using any digital value in your possession – be it bitcoin, GrabRewards, or airline miles. That’s the future Synqa (formerly called Omise Holdings) group CEO and founder Jun Hasegawa envisions.

Does Indonesia lack an ESOP culture?

A pioneer employee of a unicorn startup in Indonesia got some money when they left the company several years ago by cashing out their employee stock option plan (ESOP). The employee didn’t tell Tech in Asia the exact amount, but it was enough to buy “instant noodles for a housing complex” or “siomay from hundreds of stalls.”

A primer on how eSIMs can change the telco game

On July 21, the Singapore-headquartered Circles Life launched its eSIM service that allows users to sign up and activate their mobile plans without the need for a physical SIM card.

Telio founder is accused of breaching fiduciary duty by his previous startup. He denies the claims

Sy Phong Bui, founder and CEO of Telio, a business-to-business ecommerce marketplace in Vietnam that enables small retailers to procure goods from its web and mobile apps, is embroiled in an ongoing legal dispute with his former startup, according to two sources familiar with the matter and several internal documents seen by Tech in Asia.

Behind Sorabel’s shutdown: could it have been avoided?

Sorabel had been on the right track. The Indonesian fashion ecommerce startup was seeing healthy growth after a rebrand in early 2019 and was on a path to profitability, says co-founder and recently resigned CEO Jeffrey Yuwono.

Why are Gojek, Bukalapak, and Tokopedia gunning for digital gold?

Jakarta-based journalist Nabila Marsya takes 500,000 Indonesian rupiah (US$34) from her salary every month to invest in gold, she tells Tech in Asia. What’s uncanny about the gold that the 28-year-old owns is that she’ll probably never see or touch it. That’s because it’s being managed by local ecommerce giant Bukalapak, which launched its digital gold-buying feature, BukaEmas, in September 2019.

Lessons from the Luckin fiasco

Luckin Coffee was hailed as a success story last year when the Chinese startup debuted on Nasdaq. The company was a growth miracle: Founded in October 2017, it reached the coveted unicorn status in less than a year and went public in just 17 months. In China, Luckin was the only homegrown coffee chain to challenge the longstanding dominance of US giant Starbucks.

Analysis: FMCG ecommerce set to boom in Asia

Covid-19 has been a major catalyst for ecommerce adoption, catapulting digital shopping from a convenience to a necessity for households all over the world. In particular, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) appear to be having a moment as consumer behavior and purchasing habits permanently shift to ordering groceries and daily necessities online.

Can AirAsia’s super-app ambitions take off?

Whether it’s ecommerce, digital payments, travel, or online media, you name it, AirAsia’s in it.

Mitra Bukalapak’s roadblock: Indonesia’s FMCG giants

Bukalapak is at a crossroads. It sits in fourth place among Indonesia’s mobile ecommerce apps, behind Shopee, Tokopedia, and Lazada, according to estimates seen by Tech in Asia and price comparison site iPrice.

How a potential merger can shake up Vietnam’s $23b ecommerce market

Hoang Vu said he has recently closed his fashion-focused stores on Tiki and Sendo, arguably the two most notable homegrown names in Vietnam’s fast-growing ecommerce space. The merchant cited high return rates and fees as well as a lack of support for sellers as his reasons for the move. But beyond these concerns, Vu also said that online marketplaces Shopee and Lazada as well as social media platforms Facebook and Instagram have proven to be much more effective in attracting Vietnamese consumers.

A Chinese smartphone brand’s rapid rise in Southeast Asia, India

India and Southeast Asia have emerged as the heated battleground for smartphone makers, especially those from China. Amid such tight competition, it seems unlikely that a new player can get into the game, but budget brand Realme seems to have done exactly that. Starting out of Oppo, Realme was spun-off as an independent company just two months later, in May 2018.

Tackling a taboo: Cannabis tech on the rise in Asia

Drugs such as cannabis are considered taboo in Asia, especially in Singapore, where airplane disembarkation cards are printed with “Warning: Death penalty for drug traffickers under Singapore law.”

Zilingo cuts 12% of jobs – here’s what happened behind the scenes

Zilingo, the Singapore-headquartered business-to-business fashion ecommerce company with close to US$1 billion in valuation, has cut more jobs in Singapore, Thailand, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia as it deals with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, several sources close to the situation tell Tech in Asia.

As Oyo Indonesia furloughed 400 staff, some workers and hotels pushed back

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought down the occupancy rates of budget hotel chain Oyo, forcing it to make sudden moves to stay afloat.

Lessons from the fall of luxury e-tailer Leflair

Angry suppliers have confronted Leflair, alleging that the newly defunct Vietnam-based ecommerce startup owed them around 6.5 billion dong (US$280,000) in unpaid goods. As a result of these claims, the firm’s chief executive, Loïc Gautier, was summoned by the Ho Chi Minh City police department.

As remote work rises, HR tech firms spot an opening

If you live in Singapore, this might be your fourth consecutive month of working from home (WFH) since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Examining GudangAda’s unprecedented numbers

Within just a few months, GudangAda has skyrocketed to become one of the most well-funded tech startups in Indonesia. After raising US$10.5 million in seed funding in February, the company raised US$25.4 million in a series A round held three months later from prominent investors such as Sequoia India, Pavilion Capital, Alpha JWC Ventures, and Wavemaker Partners.

Shared powerbanks: A billion-dollar opportunity or fool’s gold?

This story is a joint effort by Stefanie Yeo, Nicole Jao, Willis Wee, Maria Li, and Terence Lee.

How big will livestreaming ecommerce get in Southeast Asia?

This durian season, Lawrence Lim, who runs traditional confectionery store Gin Thye, is turning to ecommerce platforms Lazada and Shopee to livestream his shop’s products. That’s on top of the livestreams it conducts regularly on Facebook via partnerships with third-party seller pages like KakilangSG that have their own following.

Iflix deal signals Tencent’s big push into original content

In a bid to expand the presence of its streaming platform in Southeast Asia, Tencent has struck a deal to buy Iflix, a regional player that has established a sizeable user base but failed to generate equivalent financial results.

Ovo-Dana merger could be Indonesia’s most ambitious crossover event

The merger of Indonesia-based mobile payment services Ovo and Dana, which is reported to be in its final stages, would be the most concrete step toward a duopoly in the country’s digital payments landscape. But its implications could be even larger.

Can Tencent’s Joox beat Spotify in Asia?

After seeing success with its QQ Music streaming service, Tencent was thirsty for more. But rather than just growing within China, the internet giant launched Joox in January 2015 in a bid to offer its music services to overseas markets.

Tencent’s “dog-eat-dog” gaming empire

When Tencent’s blockbuster multiplayer online battle arena game Honor of Kings (internationally known as Arena of Valor) rolled out in 2015, it had a fierce competitor – We MOBA.

Exclusive: One Championship CEO explains what’s next after steep layoffs

One Championship has been weathering a barrage of hits from doubters lately after announcing on June 15 that it’s laying off 20% of its headcount.

Trouble at LenddoEFL: Staff departures, culture clashes, and a contentious hire

Cracks have been forming at LenddoEFL, a startup regarded as a success story in the Philippines and an industry pioneer in Southeast Asia for using non-traditional data for credit scoring.

10 tech investment winners for a post-Covid world

While the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic is undeniable, data reported by key companies reveal that there are specific segments of the tech industry that are crushing it right now.

Can online food delivery ever be profitable?

For many of the world’s biggest online food delivery platforms, being profitable in a thin-margin space remains elusive. But China’s Meituan-Dianping seems to prove that it’s entirely possible.

A uniquely Chinese strategy is helping Zynn take on TikTok

In May, Chinese short-video company Kuaishou quietly launched Zynn, a new app that looks and functions like ByteDance-owned TikTok.

Gojek’s GoPlay is more like Spotify and Amazon Prime Video – not Netflix

It wasn’t too long ago when Indonesia had plenty of over-the-top (OTT) video providers. International streamers such as Netflix, Iflix, Hooq, and Viu as well as local players like Genflix and Vidio, which are subsidiaries of media conglomerates Mega Media and Emtek, respectively, crowded the scene.

Smove endured layoffs and a stalled Uber partnership, but not Covid-19

Every startup has earned its fair share of battle scars, and Singapore-based Smove Systems is no exception. Since it was established in 2011, the car-sharing startup had recovered from failed expansion plans and a round of retrenchments, survived a halted partnership with Uber, and even teetered on the brink of bankruptcy several times.

Behind Oyo’s layoffs in Malaysia, which affected hundreds of people

India-headquartered budget hotel chain Oyo cut hundreds of employees – or most of the team – in Malaysia this year, five affected ex-staff tell Tech in Asia.

Analysis: Facebook, PayPal will help Gojek win Indonesia, but not Southeast Asia

Earlier this week, Gojek announced that it received investment from US-based tech giants Facebook and PayPal. Both firms join existing backers Google and Tencent who also participated in this funding round.

How Deskera tore its house down – and built it back up

The “number one integrated business software in Singapore,” proclaims the bright red Deskera ad, which can be spotted wrapped around the buses plying the city-state’s roads.

Analysis: Why Meituan could dominate China’s shared powerbank market

Meituan-Dianping has moved back into China’s powerbank rental sector after abandoning it around three years ago. This will reshape the industry by enticing millions of retail space providers with an offer they can’t refuse: Sign up for our powerbanks and get visibility in our apps for a better chance of reaching hundreds of millions of customers.

Does this $133m bet on biodegradable ‘plastic’ hold water?

Around 1.4 trillion – that’s the amount of single-use plastic straws Singapore-based startup RWDC Industries is aiming to replace by 2025. Straws made from its bioplastic raw material called Solon can biodegrade in two months – a mere fraction of the 200 years that polypropylene plastic straws take to decay and be absorbed by the environment.

What happens when remote working becomes the new normal?

Depending on which city you’re based in, you’ve probably been working from home for at least two months. Chances are, you’ll continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future as companies figure out how they can resume their businesses while instituting social distancing measures.

There’s no such thing as a perfect layoff

Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on the economy, and founders are forced to find ways to reduce burn and extend runway. As a result, layoffs have become increasingly common among tech companies, and there’s a lot of advice floating around on how best to do it.

A new accelerator’s pro-founder solution to investor ‘bad behavior’

For Mikaal Abdulla, founder of Hong Kong-based personal finance startup 8 Securities, raising venture capital can be “miserable,” no thanks to flaky investors who disappear after signing term sheets or indiscreet backers who share confidential data with competitors, just to name a few.

Can TikTok’s new CEO solve all its problems?

Short-video platform TikTok announced last week that it had pulled off a major coup by hiring Kevin Mayer, Disney’s head of streaming, as its chief executive.

Is RBF an alternative to traditional loans and venture capital?

The era of “move fast and break things” looks to be over. Once conducive to unicorns and venture capitalists with a kingmaker bent, this high-growth and high-risk mentality is losing appeal among business owners amid decreasing stock prices and the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why Kopi Kenangan leads Indonesia’s VC-backed coffee wars

A couple of years into Indonesia’s coffee wars, and one company appears to have separated itself from the pack.

Bytedance employee quits to start app that pays you to read the news

Ever dreamt of being paid to scroll through news? US-based BuzzBreak is making that come true by rewarding reading behavior with money, paying out around US$0.10 per article. The company says that its most voracious users have cashed out over US$1,000 in a month – it would’ve taken them at least 10,000 unique article clicks to arrive at that amount.

The dark – and bright – side of cloud kitchens

We know this much about cloud kitchens: Also called dark or ghost kitchens, they are spaces designed to prepare food that’s meant for delivery. Simply put, they are centralized kitchens without a storefront, though some include a dine-in option.

India’s social commerce startups are dodging Amazon, Flipkart

Lockdown or not, Navjot Kaur gets up every day and greets her online audience from her living room. The 30-year-old fitness trainer works as an influencer on Indian livestream commerce platform BulBul, helping sell health products to hundreds of viewers in smaller Indian towns.

The enigmatic tycoon guiding Oppo, Vivo, and Pinduoduo

In the early 2000s, BBK Electronics Corporation was at the brink of falling apart as its mainstay audiovisual business dwindled. Under the leadership of founder Duan Yongping, the Chinese consumer electronics firm pivoted to smartphones.

Indonesia’s Fore Coffee closes 16 stores, denies shutdown rumors

Indonesia’s Fore Coffee has permanently closed 16 of its 133 outlets in the country in April as it adapts to the changing business conditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Another 45 outlets are also temporarily closed during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to co-founder and CEO Elisa Suteja.

After 1.8 billion downloads, a file-sharing app makes a big pivot

With over 1.8 billion downloads, Shareit is one of the most popular Google Play apps of all time, according to App Annie.

A roadmap for online travel’s long, painful path to recovery

Five months into the Covid-19 pandemic, at least one online travel company in Southeast Asia has shut down. The rest face cratering revenues and are making both ends meet by cutting costs. But since the economic fallout from this black swan event will likely be felt for some time, there are limits to this strategy.

A new point-of-sales race is brewing in Indonesia

Despite the growing popularity of online transactions in ecommerce platforms like Tokopedia and Bukalapak, around 96% of total transactions in Indonesia still happen offline.

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