Tencent and JD have joined forces on an investment aimed at challenging Alibaba’s ecommerce dominance, while Uber has signed a deal with a big Southeast Asian angle as it faces off against regional competitors Go-Jek and Grab. In other news, there was a flurry of activity in the Asia-Pacific accelerator space.
G7 Networks gets US$70 million strategic investment (China). Bank of China and Singapore’s General Logistics Providers led the round. G7 develops internet of things tech for fleet management purposes, and is working with Bank of China on areas including microfinance and big data analytics. (China Money Network)
Tencent and JD back Vipshop in US$863 million deal (China). The ecommerce giants have joined forces to invest in the online discount retailer, giving Alibaba a 7 percent stake and JD a 5.5 percent stake in the company. The alliance between the three will help them face off against Alibaba and its numerous ecommerce businesses. (JD)
Uber hooks up with BlackBerry Messenger (Asia-Pacific). Users will now be able to hail Uber rides through the messaging app. The move could strengthen Uber’s hand in Indonesia, where it trails regional ride-hailing rivals Go-Jek and Grab. Despite losing ground in much of the world, BlackBerry Messenger remains popular in the archipelago. Its intellectual property was acquired by Indonesian company Emtek last year. (TechCrunch)
No more local subsidies for electric vehicles (China). The country’s central government is planning to prevent local authorities from handing out grants to “new energy” carmakers in an effort to reduce public spending and discourage protectionism. Chinese manufacturers have relied on subsidies to keep their models affordable for domestic consumers. (Bloomberg)
Cash Suvidha secures US$2.7 million debt financing (India). Usha Financial Services, the startup behind the online microlending platform, got the cash from six undisclosed financial institutions. It takes the total debt funding raised by the firm to US$3 million. It will use the funds to replenish its loan books and underwrite loans. (VCCircle)
Government to cover merchant fees in digital payments push (India). The Indian state has pledged to pay merchants’ bank charges on purchases of up to US$31 made by consumers using their debit cards, the government-backed payments app BHIM, or payments linked to the Aadhar national ID scheme. The move is intended to encourage adoption of digital payments by merchants. (The Times of India)
Investors, incubators, and accelerators
Baidu and China Life unveil US$2.12 billion fund (China). The two companies are establishing the renminbi-denominated vehicle to invest in promising middle- and late-stage businesses in the artificial intelligence, fintech, and mobile internet spaces. (China Money Network)
IFCA launches US$2.45 million proptech accelerator (Malaysia). The Malaysian company, which develops enterprise software for the real estate industry, will select 10 startups working in the property tech space. In addition to funding opportunities, inductees will have access to expert advice and office space. (IFCA)
Animoca Brands invests up to US$767,000 in Zeroth.ai (Hong Kong). Australian online publisher Animoca is initially backing Zeroth, an accelerator for AI and machine-learning startups, to the tune of US$192,000 with the rest of the capital coming in future funding rounds. Animoca will get direct access to industry-leading AI and machine learning expertise, and equity exposure to Zeroth.ai’s investment portfolio. (Animoca)
Taiwan Incubator to invest US$1 million next year (Taiwan). The incubator program – a partnership between Taiwan Accelerator, Feng Chia University, and Chaoyang University of Technology – will provide up to US$33,000 in seed funding, as well as financial and legal services from partners KPMG and PwC, to participating startups in return for 6 percent equity. (e27)
See: Previous Asia tech news roundups
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