Here’s a wrap of the day’s news.
Amazon to integrate Alexa in smart homes (India). The online retailer is bringing its voice assistant to Embassy Group’s residential project, Embassy Edge. Homes built by the Indian developer will come pre-installed with Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo smart speakers. This will allow residents to control nearly all electronic aspects of their home, from appliances to multimedia, as well as make purchases from Amazon India. (The Economic Times)
Bonphul Air Products gets US$293,000 angel investment (India). The startup manufactures the OxyMax oxygen optimizer. OxyMax collects oxygen from outside a building and pumps the air inside, raising a room’s level of ambient oxygen by 21 percent. Bonphul received the funding from Rx Infotech’s Atul Gupta and Saurabh Rastogi, and Karmesh Global Technologies. The capital will be used to expand the company’s product line and marketing network. (VCCircle)
Uber to reinvest in emerging markets (India). The ride-hailing company will put profits back into its emerging markets such as in India, according to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Uber sold its Southeast Asia business to regional rival Grab earlier this year, following similar deals with Didi Chuxing in China and Yandex in Russia. Khosrowshahi said Uber’s core business continues to perform well, with the number of bookings on the platform up by 55 percent compared to last year, hitting US$11.3 billion. (Livemint)
JD to launch in-car delivery service (China). The ecommerce company has partnered with electric vehicle startup Nio for its new service, which lets customers have their online purchases delivered directly to their car’s trunk. JD’s In-Car Delivery Service will use technology to locate a customer’s car and allow delivery personnel to open the trunk and deposit the package securely inside. Nio will be shipping its newest car model, the ES8, with JD’s service as a standard option. (JD)
Property and real estate
Harbour sets up US$1.58 billion fund for rental housing (China). The co-living space operator, backed by Gaw Capital Partners and Trustbridge Partners, launched the buyout fund to procure wholesale land plots. The Chinese government has been increasingly promoting options such as co-living in an attempt to address housing demand amid rising property prices in the country. (South China Morning Post)
Joint venture to launch hotel and mall blockchain (Singapore). Proptech startup FundPlaces and real estate developer Hatten Land are creating what they claim to be the first “hospitality blockchain platform” in Southeast Asia. Called StayCay, the platform is set to launch in December and will issue two kinds of utility tokens: one for purchasing hotel accommodation packages from Hatten Land, the other for reward tokens for the group’s retail and hospitality venues. (Tech in Asia)
Arzooo gets Omphalos backing (India). The reverse-auction ecommerce platform founded by two former Flipkart executives has received an undisclosed amount of funding from Omphalos Ventures India. Arzooo allows sellers to bid for the prices that they are willing to take for their products or services. Co-founder Khushnud Khan said the new capital will be used for strengthening the startup’s tech team and advancing its expansion plans. (VCCircle)
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
Tencent to use blockchain to aid Shenzhen government against tax evaders (China). The tech company has partnered with the Shenzhen Taxation Bureau to develop and implement digital fapiao (tax receipts). China has a major issue with fake fapiao, which people use to evade taxes or commit fraud against their employers. It is hoped that, through the use of blockchain tech, tax officials will be able to to trace and verify fapiao. (China Money Network)
Investors, incubators, and accelerators
Siam Commercial Bank ups VC purse to US$100 million (Thailand). The bank increased its VC fund with a US$50 million injection via its fintech investment arm Digital Ventures. Digital Ventures is targeting opportunities investments in technologies such as blockchain, quantum computing, and geolocation, among others. (e27)
See: Previous Asia tech news roundups
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