E27.CO: Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons Ratan Tata has made an undisclosed amount of investment in mobile payments and commerce company Paytm. With this investment, Tata will pick up a small stake in One97 Communications, the company that owns and operates Paytm. He will also take on the role of an advisor at the company.
TECHCRUNCH: Paytm, a India-based mobile payments service operated by (now) Alibaba-backed One97, has introduced a big new feature that lets 25 million users transfer money to bank accounts. Mobile wallets, like that of Paytm, have grown in popular in India, where credit card adoption is low and many services, including online retailers, process a lot of cash-based transactions. (Its billion-plus population is estimated to have just 450 million bank accounts, with many unused.) Wallets are at the intersection of that, providing greater reliability than cash, but without requiring users to get bank accounts.
TECHINASIA: As smartphone usage booms across Asia and web services become more commonplace, private equity firms and venture capitalists are exploring the lucrative potential of the region. There are a number of global VC firms, especially in Silicon Valley that are keeping an eye on startups on the other side of the planet. Below we’ve identified some big-name VCs who have backed South Asian startups.
BLOOMBERG: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. plans to invest in Snapchat Inc., the mobile application for sending disappearing photos, at a valuation of $15 billion, people familiar with the situation said. China’s biggest e-commerce company intends to invest $200 million, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
TECHCRUNCH: Snapchat, one of the ten most popular instant messengers in the world, has raised $200M from Alibaba Group and Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal at the valuation of $19B. Alibaba’s only weakness against its traditional rival – Chinese Tencent – is the lack of a strong position in the messaging market. With this investment (as well as the investment of $215M in Tango messenger last year) Alibaba is trying to strengthen its position in the market by diversifying assets and insuring itself against the negative effects of the growing popularity of instant messengers as a means for communication, shopping, financial transactions, etc.
TECHINASIA: Cloud-based billing platform ChargeBee has just announced its series B funding round of US$5 million led by Tiger Global. Its existing investor Accel Partners participated in the latest round. ChargeBee provides its clients with an easy plug-and-play interface to accept payments through a choice of 30 gateways, such as Authorize.Net, Braintree, Stripe, PayPal, eWay, Pin Payments, AmazonPayments, and WorldPay.
TECHINASIA: Last week, the Singapore government issued new laws that will allow drivers to receive payments for carpools. The statute was completed on Monday, March 2, and reported by the Straits Times on Friday. According to the statute, car owners can accept monetary compensation for driving passengers, provided the driver does not accept hails on the street or in a parking lot. In addition, payment cannot exceed the cost of taking the passenger to his or her destination, which must be agreed upon before the ride begins. Drivers are also prohibited from making more than two rides a day.
E27.CO: The startup aims to make transactions simpler by offering easy multi-currency management. Tofupay is one of the 11 teams chosen to join the blueprint accelerator programme. This international team of five will be working on their not-so-stinky idea, Tofupay, an alternative service to make online payments and transactions easier and more economical.
TECHINASIA: It’s official: Twitter has arrived in Jakarta and opened an office space in the 15th floor of the One Pacific Place office building, SCBD, Jakarta. In November 2014 at our Tech in Asia Jakarta 2014 conference, Rick Mulia, head of business development for Twitter in Indonesia, announced that Twitter would open a local office by early 2015. It seems today he’s made good on that promise. (more…)
COMPUTER WORLD: The Hong Kong government will be offering financial assistance to technology startups with its plan to set up a HK$50 million corporate venture fund. The amount is earmarked for companies located at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP) and those that have participated in its incubation programs. (more…)