What The FinTech #129 - 20 Feb 2023
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What The FinTech Episode 51 - StashAway
Stephanie Leung, the Chief Investment Officer of StashAway, and I engaged in an insightful conversation about their cutting-edge digital wealth management platform. StashAway's platform provides a range of investment and cash management portfolios to both accredited and retail investors. Our discussion explored the impact of technology on investors' behavior and performance through automated, personalized portfolio management tailored to each client's unique needs.
To delve deeper into this fascinating topic, you can watch the video or listen to the audio recording.
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What was the FinTech this week in: 📰
Hong Kong plans first digital green bond offering, said to target US$102 million proceeds
Hong Kong plans first digital green bond offering, said to target US$102 million proceeds
Hong Kong is in the process of issuing tokenized green bonds and has hired the Bank of China, Credit Agricole, Goldman Sachs, and HSBC to work on the issuance. The HK$800m ($102m) digital green bond issuance is part of a pilot tokenization program. The digital bond issuance and ownership will be logged on the Goldman Sachs Digital Asset Platform (GS DAP), the enterprise blockchain that debuted with a €100m tokenized bond issuance for the European Investment Bank (EIB) in late November 2022. Goldman was one of two banks, alongside Thailand’s Krungthai Bank, involved in Hong Kong green bond experiments with the BIS Innovation Hub as part of Project Genesis 2.0. By using blockchain, the record-keeping aspect of the issuance process can be automated, rather than using emails and spreadsheets. Going forward, ownership details are also recorded on the distributed ledger, dramatically reducing reconciliation costs. The efficiencies make smaller bond issuances more feasible. Distributed ledger technology also enables additional business model innovation. In the Hong Kong green bond trials, the green claims (mitigation outcome interests or MOIs) were separated from the financial instrument and separately tokenized, enabling their independent trading. New green claims are issued annually based on the underlying investment.
1. S’poreans to get extra cash of up to S$650 under AP and S$100 more CDC Vouchers
2. Gov’t increases GST cash voucher amount from S$500 to S$700 in 2023
3. S'pore has a strong digital economy, to expect 17,000 new jobs
4. Green Link Digital Bank eyes Chinese market after a strong start in S’pore
S’poreans to get extra cash of up to S$650 under AP and S$100 more CDC Vouchers
On top of enhancements to the GST Voucher (GSTV) scheme, DPM Lawrence Wong announced that he will increase the cash payouts by between S$300 and S$650 for eligible Singaporeans over the remaining years of the Assurance Package (AP), which runs from 2022 to 2026. This will bring the total AP cash payments to adult Singaporeans to between S$700 and S$2,250 over five years. He will increase the Community Development Council (CDC) Voucher amount by S$100 in 2024. All Singaporean households can look forward to another S$300 worth of CDC Vouchers in January 2024. These enhancements will help the majority of Singaporean households to offset additional GST expenses for at least five years, and for about 10 years for lower-income households. In addition, the government will provide a one-off cost-of-living special payment of between S$200 and S$400 for each eligible adult Singaporean. Eligible Singaporean seniors aged 55 and above will receive additional support, with a cost-of-living bonus of between S$200 and S$300. Last but not least, there will be double U-Save rebates provided to households. This year, eligible households can expect up to S$760 in rebates. For households with children, each child up to six years old will get a S$400 top-up to his Child Development Account. Children older than six will get a S$300 top-up to their Edusave or Post-Secondary Education Account. Enhancements to the Assurance Package will cost $3 billion, raising the cost of the package from S$6.6 billion to S$9.6 billion. A lower-income family with two young children will receive about S$5,500 in benefits. This includes cash, CDC vouchers, and government top-ups to the Child Development Account.
Gov’t increases GST cash voucher amount from S$500 to S$700 in 2023
Singapore government will raise the amount of GST vouchers in the next few years to help cushion the impacts of the GST raise. Those with assessable incomes of up to S$34,000 and residing in homes with an annual value of up to S$21,000 are eligible for the voucher scheme. Singaporeans residing in homes with an annual value of S$13,000 and below can expect to receive S$700 in 2023, a S$200 increase from before. This amount will increase by S$150 to S$850 in 2024. Meanwhile, individuals living in homes with an annual value of above S$13,000 and up to S$21,000 will receive S$350 in 2023, and S$450 from 2024 onwards. These enhancements to the permanent GSTV scheme can ensure most retirees as well as lower-income households will not be affected by the GST rate increase. No other changes will be implemented to other components of the permanent GSTV scheme, including MediSave top-ups, U-Save rebates, and service and conservancy charges.
S'pore has strong digital economy, to expect 17,000 new jobs
Singapore’s Economic Development Board held its year-in-review briefing, discussing economic trends in Singapore as well as what it expects for Singapore’s future. In 2022, EDB drew in a record-high S$22.5 billion in Fixed Asset Investment (FAI) commitments, which refers to incremental capital investment in facilities, equipment, and machinery by companies. Previously, EDB had reported a fall in FAI in 2021, from a previous high of 17.1 billion in 2020. This year, FAI commitments came primarily from the electronics sector and accounted for 66.7 percent of total FAI in 2022. The United States remains Singapore’s largest FAI contributor, though its share fell to 50 percent in 2022, as opposed to 67 percent in 2021. Meanwhile, Chinese investment increased from one percent in 2021 to eight percent in 2022. EDB has also secured S$6.2 billion in Total Business Expenditure per annum (TBE), which refers to a company’s incremental annual operating expenditure in Singapore. The Headquarters and Professional Services sector accounted for about half of TBE commitments, as more global businesses used Singapore as a hub to build resilience in their operations as well as to access regional and global markets.
Green Link Digital Bank eyes Chinese market after strong start in S’pore
Green Link Digital Bank (GLDB), one of Singapore’s two wholesale digital banks, is setting its sights on China’s vast micro, small, and medium-sized enterprise market even as it gains a foothold here. The bank, owned by a Chinese developer and state-owned enterprise Greenland Group and Hong Kong-listed supply chain financing platform Linklogis, was up and running in October after a soft launch in June. Customers include those with generic cash and loan requirements, and firms engaged in trade between Singapore and China. They largely comprise businesses in the commodity, trade, and infrastructure sectors, government suppliers, as well as high-tech companies and start-ups. Greenland holds a majority stake in GLDB. The group uses a supply chain platform that serves as a bridge to connect buyers and suppliers from around the world and within China. The lender is currently supporting its expansion here by growing its workforce –largely made up of local staff –by 50 percent to 130 people this year, hiring in areas such as risk management, compliance, and business development. GLDB lends to firms that might not have the credit history or collateral needed to borrow funds from traditional banks. Its platform, which taps technologies such as artificial intelligence and the blockchain, allows it to collect data about these companies by tracking their role in supply chains. This gives it a more accurate picture of the firm’s revenue, profit, and other financial data.
1. Huawei tests virtual medical insurance card with its digital wallet
2. Ping An launches first ocean carbon sink index insurance policy for marine ecosystem protection
3. JD.com to launch the industrial version of ChatGPT
4. Baidu to acquire healthcare data provider GBI
5. AI and robot innovation to boost Shanghai's economic development
6. Chinese tech firms working on ChatGPT-style technology
Huawei tests virtual medical insurance card with its digital wallet
Huawei has launched a beta version of the Wallet application, allowing users to test an early version of the virtual medical insurance card business. This virtual medical insurance card feature is jointly developed by Huawei Wallet, the National Government Service platform, and the National Medical Security Administration of China. The current public beta is only supported by smartphones with NFC, while other models will open in subsequent versions. The virtual card is designed for one-to-one use cases and is uniquely mapped to the physical social security card. Similar to a physical social security card, the electronic social security card is unified and universal throughout the country and has the features such as identity certificates, information records, self-service inquiries, medical insurance settlements, payment and benefit collections, and financial payments. Huawei wallet allows one to conduct digital transactions on smartphones and terminals. Aside from transactions, the app allows people to add loyalty cards, gift cards, and coupons. One can instantly add his bank card to pay in-store with just a tap or scanning the bar code.
Ping An launches first ocean carbon sink index insurance policy for marine ecosystem protection
Ping An Property & Casualty Insurance (Ping An P&C) has launched its first ocean carbon sink index insurance policy in the city of Dalian. This follows Ping An P&C's pilot of the forest carbon sink remote sensing index insurance in 2021. The ocean carbon sink index insurance provides carbon sink risk protection with RMB400,000 for 13.3 mu (8,866.67 square meters) of kelp, shellfish, and algae, enriching Ping An P&C's carbon sink insurance coverage on terrestrial and marine ecosystems, including forests, mangroves, and grasslands. Ping An P&C will provide compensation when specific changes in the marine environment damage local species such as kelp, shellfish, and algae and lead to the weakening of carbon sink. The loss compensation can be used for post-disaster marine species rescue to restore the carbon sink resource, as well as ecological protection and restoration. The index insurance enhances ocean carbon sequestration capacity by encouraging fishing to protect and repair marine ecosystems. It also enables carbon sink indicators of marine aquaculture to be listed and traded, thus increasing the income of fishermen, and turning the marine carbon sink from resources into assets.
JD.com to launch industrial version of ChatGPT
China-based e-commerce platform JD.com has announced that it will launch an industrial version of ChatGPT dubbed ChatJD on JD Cloud's artificial intelligence application platform, Yanxi. the platform is set to integrate past industrial practice and technology accumulation, with the company having announced ChatJD's landing application roadmap "125" plan, with the power of industrial AI, to accelerate AI technology implementation and development in China, and promote the development of the real economy.JD Cloud's Yanxi artificial intelligence application platform will launch ChatJD, looking to create an industrial version of general ChatGPT with advantages, high frequency, and rigid needs.ChatJD is believed to quickly reach the standards for landing applications via deep cultivation in vertical industries and is also set to continue promoting the generalization between different industries to create increasingly general-purpose industrial versions of ChatGPT. Furthermore, the aim is to build a ‘flywheel’ of data and models to subdivide real and professional scenarios, improve the platform’s capabilities, offer feedback, and refine the industrial application capabilities of the general ChatGPT. ChatJD is set to leverage the ‘125’ plan as a roadmap for landing applications, including one platform, two fields, and five applications; one platform: ChatJD intelligent human-computer dialogue platform for understanding and generating tasks in natural language processing, having an estimate of hundreds of billions in parameter volume; two fields: retail and finance. Due to JD Cloud’s accumulation of real scenarios in the retail and financial fields for over 10 years, it has a four-layer knowledge system, over 40 independent systems, more than 3,000 intents, 30 million high-level Q&A knowledge points, and an e-commerce knowledge map that covers over 10 million self-operated products, increasingly vertical and focused; five applications: content generation, man-machine dialogue, user intent understanding, information extraction, and emotion classification, covering the most re-used application scenarios in the two industries, as well as customer consultation and service, marketing copy generation, product summary generation, and e-commerce. Fields of the likes of live broadcast, digital human, research report generation, and financial analysis are believed to play an extensive range of landing values
Baidu to acquire healthcare data provider GBI
Baidu had completed the acquisition of healthcare data provider GBI, which assisted Baidu in entering an“AI+Healthcare Big Data Whole Chain Insight” new era. Baidu indicated that after this acquisition, GBI will become an important impetus and growth engine for Baidu's HCG, breaking the traditional business models and achieving “from R&D, pipeline planning, to market access and commercialization ”digital-intelligent transformation for corporate users such as pharmaceutical, medical equipment, CRO, or healthcare capital. GBI has built a diverse portfolio of market intelligence solutions for pharmaceutical and device companies and other service providers. Focused on China and the Latin American markets, GBI's value-added industry information, news, and data services power individuals' and organizations' decision-making and enable more effective communication. With the deep integration of Baidu HCG's powerful data, technology, and resource, GBI will launch a brand-new business intelligence service section. This section will help users in the whole industry and closed-loop business decision-making through think tanks, patient behavior insights, and marketing analysis. Meanwhile, Baidu NLP and big data governance will increase GBI's efficiency in data acquisition, governance, precise search, and matching empowering clients at all stages including R&D, clinical trial, registration, access, sales, and financing.
AI and robot innovation to boost Shanghai's economic development
A dozen employees from various countries including Russia, Spain and Mexico are attending a two-week cobot operation training program at Shanghai-based JAKA. Collaborative robots, autonomous production for automotive components and AI-powered industrial design, new tech and innovation have become engines to fuel high-quality economic development in Shanghai. JAKA, with giant clients including Toyota, offers collaborative robots or cobots and has sped up global expansion with high growth expectations in 2023. With its overseas expansion plan, it has set up a global training center in its headquarters in Minhang, for Dister -stop training for tech, sales, and clients in overseas markets. A growing segment in the robot industry, the cobot has direct human-machine interaction within a shared space. It focuses on flexibility, safety, and coloration with people. Currently, Chinese market demand accounts for 40 to 50 percent of the global cobot market, which is expected to generate revenue of over US$10 billion by 2025. Also in Minhang, LEEKR Technology has established an autonomous factory for producing components for new-energy vehicles with autonomous driving features.
Chinese tech firms working on ChatGPT-style technology
1. BAIDU: Baidu Inc would complete internal testing of a ChatGPT-style project called "Ernie Bot" in March.
2. TENCENT: Tencent Holdings is conducting research on the ChatGPT-tool technology and the firm will continue to invest in AI research based on its current technical reserves in foundation model, machine learning algorithms, and natural language processing.
3. JD.COM:E-commerce company JD.Com plans to launch a product similar to ChatGPT that it said will be called ChatJD and will be aimed at serving other businesses.
4. NETEASE: Gaming firm NetEase plans to deploy large language model technology to serve its education business.
5. 360 SECURITY TECHNOLOGY INC:360 Security Technology possessed language model technology but it could not give a clear indication of when it would launch any related products.
6. KUAISHOU TECHNOLOGY: Short video app Kuaishou Technology is conducting research on large language models, which it will use to improve its products such as AI customer service.
7. NSPUR ELECTRONIC INFORMATION INDUSTRY: Inspur Electronic Information Industry said on its investors' relation website that it has long invested in AI-Generated Content (AIGC) from arithmetic, and algorithms to the application of technology.
8. KUNLUN TECH: Beijing based-mobile games firm Kunlun Tech said it planned to launch a Chinese version of ChatGPT this year whose code will be open source.
9. ALIBABA: Alibaba Group is developing a ChatGPT-style tool currently in internal testing.
1. McKinsey: Asia’s Booming Affluent Segments Introduce New Opportunities in Digital Wealth
2. Nomura invests in 'Hybrid Finance' startup Infinity
3. Super apps to help conversational commerce market reach $135 bn by 2027
4. Amazon, Google win RBI nod to serve as payment aggregators
5. India is working on a regulated framework for digital credit
6. Alibaba exits India’s Paytm app with USD 166m sale
7. Tencent cloud supports MIXCHANNEL to enable a seamless livestreaming experience in Japan
8. India’s InsuranceDekho raises $150 million despite market slump
9. AIIB launches US$130m venture capital programme for sustainable infrastructure
10. Grab Indonesia inks partnership with SRCIS for digital services
11. Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia backs cross-border payments startup Tazapay
12. SoftBank Group reports USD 5.9 billion loss amid tech downturn
McKinsey: Asia’s Booming Affluent Segments Introduce New Opportunities in Digital Wealth
In Asia, the wealth of affluent and mass-affluent customer segments is growing rapidly, bringing about new opportunities and growth prospects for banks and wealth managers alike in the region. But to tap into this opportunity, services providers will need to embrace technology and digital platforms to not only provide customers the services they expect but also gain in productivity and efficiency, a new report by global consultancy McKinsey says. In 2021, the wealth pool of households with investable assets of US$100,000 to US$1 million in Asia totaled US$2.7 trillion. That sum is projected to soar to US$4.7 trillion by 2026 as incomes continue to rise across the region, the report says. To capture this, banks and wealth managers must embrace technology, it says, and adopt what the consultancy refers to as an “AI-led full-stack approach”. This approach, the report says, focuses on leveraging data analytics and AI to improve efficiency, access critical insights, and offer superior customer experience. It’s articulated around four pillars: analytics-driven customer segmentation, impactful digital engagement, AI-powered decision-making, and core technology as well as the right operating model and talent.
Nomura invests in 'Hybrid Finance' startup Infinity
Nomura's digital assets subsidiary, Laser Digital, has invested in Infinity, a decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol for institutional lending and borrowing. Infinity offers an interest rate protocol that forms the basis for benchmark rates and institutional-grade lending, borrowing, and risk management in DeFi. Infinity’s wholesale exchange provides inter-exchange clearing, fixed and floating rate markets, as well as enterprise-grade risk management utilizing hybrid on-chain/off-chain infrastructures. The investment by Nomura’s Laser Digital marks a concerted advance by traditional investment banks into the institutional DeFi or 'Hybrid Finance' space. Hybrid Finance is a new term coined to describe the combination of decentralized and centralized finance, tapping the scalability of on-chain transactions by using off-chain risk management and computing. This enables practitioners to access blockchain efficiencies while still retaining enterprise-grade risk management.
Super apps to help conversational commerce market reach $135 bn by 2027
As super apps slowly become a reality, global spend via conversational commerce will reach $135 billion by 2027, rising from $39 billion in 2023, a report showed on Tuesday. In 2027, 47 percent of spending will be attributable to OTT-based channels, including WhatsApp and WeChat. The Asia-Pacific region will account for 75 percent of total spend over informal commerce channels in 2027. This will be driven by country-specific apps such as WeChat, LINE, and KakaoTalk embedding in-house payment solutions. The research identified that the versatility of these apps, which combine features from WhatsApp, Twitter, PayPal, and Uber, will be key to developing a strong digital marketplace; offering an improved user experience.
Amazon, Google win RBI nod to serve as payment aggregators
The Reserve Bank of India has granted “in-principle approval" to 32 entities to function as online payment aggregators, according to a list released by the central bank. Those that were granted approval include Billdesk, Amazon, Google, Reliance, Razorpay, Pine Labs, Cashfree, Infibeam, Zomato Payments, Open, and Stripe. Payment aggregators will facilitate payments to merchants by offering their technology platform and won’t be involved in the settlement of funds. They will charge a fee for their services.
India is working on a regulated framework for digital credit
The Indian government has revealed its plans to introduce a digital credit framework regulated by the Reserve Bank of India. During the Digital Payments Utsav launch in February 2023, India’s technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw revealed the Indian Government’s plan to introduce a framework that would facilitate secure digital credit to small and micro businesses. This framework would abide by the regulations of the Reserve Bank of India. The news comes in the context of a recent crackdown on some digital lending apps over alleged links with China, data privacy concerns, and an unlawful code of conduct. In order to ensure that digital credit becomes as secure and as reliable as the country’s digital payment system, the Indian Government is working on an RBI-regulated framework. Vaishnaw also informed citizens that a construct of digital credit will be created over the next 10 to 12 months and that the National Payments Corporation of India is heavily involved in the project. The facility aims to allow even small businesses such as street vendors to get associated with banks for easy credit.
Alibaba exits India’s Paytm app with USD 166m sale
Alibaba Group Holding has sold off its remaining stake in Indian digital payment platform Paytm, a move that hints at a shakeup of the Chinese tech giant’s investment strategy in India. An Alibaba unit in Singapore offloaded 21.43 million shares in Paytm’s operator One97 Communications, India’s National Stock Exchange reports. The transaction is worth 13.7 billion rupees (USD 166 million) as each share was priced at 642.74 rupees. This sell-off revealed in a notice dated Friday, follows Alibaba’s disposal of 19.2 million Paytm shares on Jan. 12. Last year, Alibaba pulled its ownership in Paytm’s online shopping app, Paytm Mall. Alibaba owned about 6% of One97 Communications at the end of December. Ant Group, Alibaba’s fintech affiliate, holds an approximately 25% stake in Paytm and remains a major shareholder.
Tencent cloud supports MIXCHANNEL to enable a seamless livestreaming experience in Japan
Tencent Cloud, the cloud business of global technology company Tencent, today announced its support for Japanese top-tier live streaming application MIXCHANNEL to uplift the live streaming experiences in Japan. Leveraging Tencent Cloud Media Service's low latency, high-quality multimedia solutions, the collaboration allows MIXCHANNEL to further enhance its app development, operation, and maintenance efficiency with the introduction of brand-new voice chat features, providing a more immersive live streaming user experience. Among the new capabilities provided by MIXCHANNEL is the real-time voice-chat features. To facilitate the introduction of its new features and ensure an ultra-low latency streaming experience, Tencent Cloud provides MIXCHANNEL with access to its secure, reliable high-quality solutions including Tencent Real-Time Communication (TRTC) –featuring an end-to-end latency of less than 300 ms, outstanding anti-network jitter, anti-packet loss performance, as well as the ability to connect to Stream Services and Video on Demand (VOD) to meet the needs of additional business scenarios of MIXCHANNEL. MIXCHANNEL also has access to excellent SDKs such as Tencent Cloud's Tencent Real-Time Communication (TRTC) SDK, User Generated Short Video (UGSV) SDK, a one-stop integration solution for short video; Tencent Effect SDK, an AI beauty solution for both a short video and live streaming application; and Live Event Broadcasting (LEB), the ultra-low-latency version of Stream Services featuring end-to-end latency of less than 500 ms for all platforms with unlimited connections, breaking through the playback latency in traditional live broadcasting which is up to tens of seconds, and relying on self-developed transmission optimization algorithm and multi adaptive bitrate function to optimize the QoS indicators for live streaming. All these could help reduce their developers' time spent on application development and enhance the app's live streaming experience.
India’s InsuranceDekho raises $150 million despite market slump
The Indian insurance platform InsuranceDekho has raised $150 million in a Series A funding round as the firm eyes merger and acquisition opportunities at a time when the market slump has engulfed most startups in the South Asian nation.InsuranceDekho works with most insurance providers in the country and has direct integration with nearly four-dozen firms through which it offers nearly 400 insurance products. The coverage on automobiles is currently the most popular insurance product the startup sells, it said, as it gears up to expand into health and life categories as well as serving small and medium-sized enterprises.InsuranceDekho currently relies on more than 80,000 gig-economy workers, called “agents” to educate the market and sell insurance coverages. Agrawal defended that the larger India is currently not ready to download an app and buy an insurance product. They need awareness of its benefits and someone to whom they can ask questions, he said. The startup plans to more than double the workforce of agents, who are not its employees, by the end of the year.InsuranceDekho also plans to deploy fresh funds to acquire smaller firms that could increase its capabilities or give it a wider geographical advantage.
AIIB launches US$130m venture capital programme for sustainable infrastructure
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has launched a venture capital (VC) investment program for green and technology-enabled infrastructure. The three-year program will utilize US$130 million in funds, with an additional US$30 million as a co-investment sleeve, the development bank said on Thursday (Feb 9). Its initial target portfolio will comprise 12 to 15 VC funds. Through small-scale VC funds, AIIB aims to support early-stage companies across its members in adopting new technologies or creating new business models that help promote sustainable infrastructure. The program will help AIIB build strategic partnerships and diversify its equity portfolio by partnering with reputable and seasoned VC fund managers.
Grab Indonesia inks partnership with SRCIS for digital services
Continuing Grab’s long-term commitment to accelerating the digitalization for local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), Grab Indonesia has inked a partnership with PT SRC Indonesia Sembilan (SRCIS). Both parties said in a statement last week that the collaboration enables various digital services from Grab and OVO’s ecosystem to be integrated into the AYO SRC application, a digital platform developed by Sampoerna Retail Community (SRC). This MSMEs partnership on digitalization was carried out through the availability of OVO QRIS at SRC stores and GrabExpress delivery service in the AYO SRC application and was kicked off with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by both parties in Jakarta on Jan 31. Contributing to more than 60 percent of Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP), Grab and SRCIS recognize that MSMEs played a very significant role in the country’s economy. However, only 19.5 million MSMEs were digitalized, or equal to around 30 percent of the total of 64 million MSMEs. As an important part of Indonesian MSMEs, they said the local retail stores need to be empowered, especially to remain competitive in the burgeoning digital era.
Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia backs cross-border payments startup Tazapay
Tazapay, the Singapore-based fintech, which enables cross-border payments in more than 170 markets, has raised $16.9 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital Southeast Asia. Other participants included EscapeVelocity, PayPal Alumni Fund, and angel investor Gokul Rajaram. Existing investors Fundamental, January Capital, RTP Global, and Saison Capital also returned for the round. Tazapay was created to solve those problems. Its API covers more than 170 markets for card payments, and 85 markets for local payments collection, which means its customers can accept payments in different countries without having to set up local entities. Shinghal said the service supports a wide range of customers, including B2B operations, e-commerce platforms selling directly to consumers, and B2B2C. Some of the startup’s customers include B2B marketplace IndiaMART, which claims more than 7.4 million sellers and 165 million buyers on its platform; live-learning platform BrightCHAMPS; used trucks marketplace WTX; travel platform Rezlive; and employee engagement SaaS platform Advantage Club. It is also partnered with Standard Chartered, the British multinational bank, to offer digital escrow services. The funding will be used to scale Tazapay’s business in Asia and expand in regions like the Middle East and Europe. The startup plans to apply for payment licenses and add more local payment methods to serve its verticals, which include cross-border e-commerce, edtech, SaaS, and travel.
SoftBank Group reports USD 5.9 billion loss amid tech downturn
SoftBank Group reported a net loss of JPY 783 billion (USD 5.9 billion) for the three months through December, as its Vision Fund business suffered from the tech market downturn, marking the company’s first loss in two quarters. Japanese group’s loss on its Vision Fund investments reached JPY 730 billion (USD 5.5 billion) for the quarter, as its portfolio startups continued to face a challenging environment stemming from rising interest rates and a worsening global economic outlook. During the September to December quarter, the group logged unrealized valuation losses from many of its portfolio companies, including USD 1.1 billion from Indonesian tech group GoTo and USD 800 million from South Korean e-commerce operator Coupang as their share prices fell. But Goto stressed that the quarterly loss from the Vision Fund investments narrowed for the third quarter from a peak of over USD 25 billion recorded in January to March. The latest results reversed a quarterly net profit of JPY 3.033 trillion (USD 23 billion) in the July-September quarter when the Japanese group logged massive gains related to sales of its shares in China’s Alibaba Group Holding. While SoftBank Group now focuses on defense for its Vision Fund investments—it invested only about USD 300 million during the quarter, a huge downshift from USD 9.6 billion a year earlier—it is preparing to list its U.K.-based chip design company, Arm.
BLOCKCHAIN - CRYPTO - DIGITAL ASSETS - DE FI
1. UAE to build CBDC and card scheme
2. NFT marketplace magic Eden partners with MoonPay to offer credit card payments
3. JPMorgan sees promise in ‘deposit tokens’ issued by banks
4. India discussing global crypto regulation in G20
5. China to create National Blockchain Technology Innovation Center
UAE to build CBDC and card scheme
The United Arab Emirates is planning to launch a CBDC and domestic card scheme as part of a wide-ranging financial infrastructure transformation program. The Central Bank of the UAE says the program will be made up of nine initiatives designed to make the country a financial and digital payments hub. The first stage of the program will see the introduction of the card scheme, a CBDC for cross--border and domestic use, and an instant payments platform. These, says the bank, will drive financial inclusion, promote innovation and help create a cashless society. The second stage will see work on the financial cloud, e-KYC, and Open Finance platforms in an effort to improve regulatory compliance, reduce the cost of operation and strengthen security and operational resilience. Full integration is set for 2026, according to the central bank.
NFT marketplace magic Eden partners with MoonPay to offer credit card payments
Non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace Magic Eden has partnered with Web3 payment platform MoonPay to offer new payment options for buying digital collectibles. Magic Eden users can purchase NFTs across chains using a credit or debit card, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. The goal of the strategic partnership is to make the process of onboarding new users easier.MoonPay teamed up with NFT marketplace LooksRare to allow users of the platform to buy and sell cryptocurrencies through MoonPay, enabling them to purchase NFTs via credit card.
JPMorgan sees promise in ‘deposit tokens’ issued by banks
A potential new form of digital money —deposit tokens issued by banks on blockchain—may become more widely used than stablecoins. Commercial banks can play a key role in digital money by issuing tokens. The tokens represent the same deposit claims as balances held at a bank, but are recorded on a blockchain and can be used for cross-border payments or on decentralized-finance platforms.JPMorgan has been exploring the use of blockchain for years. In 2019, it launched JPM Coin to move money within the bank on a private blockchain. In 2021, it teamed up with Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and DBS Group Holdings to develop Partior, which enabled payments among financial institutions.
India discussing global crypto regulation in G20
India is discussing with Group of 20 (G20) members ways to develop a standardized global framework for regulating cryptocurrencies. If technology-driven assets such as cryptocurrencies are to be regulated, “one country alone cannot do anything”. India holds the G20 presidency this year, and crypto regulation and climate change are likely to be among the many topics of discussion. While India does not ban trading in crypto assets, it introduced a harsh tax rate last year, virtually choking the activity. Offsetting losses in one crypto asset with gains from another have also been disallowed.
China to create National Blockchain Technology Innovation Center
China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has approved the construction of the National Blockchain Technology Innovation Center in Beijing. The city is already home to the Beijing Microchip Blockchain and Edge Computing Research Institute (Blockchain Research Institute), which is leading the Innovation Center initiative. The same institute has led the efforts for China’s massive home-built blockchain, Chainmaker, also known as Chang’an Chain. The new Innovation Center will focus on cutting-edge technologies, including the theory of blockchain and software and hardware development. The Blockchain Research Institute will collaborate with universities, other research organizations, and enterprises. There will be a significant overlap between the organizations involved in the Innovation Center and those in the Chang’an Chain ecosystem.
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