Asia news roundup: Carousell unveils payments app, Ofo rejects Didi advances

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In today’s top stories, Carousell finally gets into digital payments, Didi gets permission to test its autonomous cars in the US, and three food-delivery services purge their apps of unsafe vendors.

Ecommerce

Carousell to launch payments app (Singapore). Due to launch next month in Singapore, CarouPay will allow the C2C marketplace’s buyers and sellers to complete transactions in-platform for the first time. Analysts have been critical of Carousell’s the lack of integrated payments, suggesting that the absence of such an option reduces user trust in the platform. Carousell confirmed this week that it raised US$85 million in a series C round co-led by Rakuten Ventures and EDBI. (Tech in Asia)

Nykaa raises US$24.5 million in series D funding (India). The online beauty product marketplace secured the capital from returning investors including Hero Corporate Service chairman Sunil Kant Munjal, the family office of Harsh Mariwala, and private equity veteran Dalip Pathak, among others. The funding round will be used to fuel Nykaa’s brick-and-mortar expansion. The company plans to widen its offline presence from 17 stores, to around 55 stores by the end of the 2019 fiscal year. (Inc42)

Transportation

Ofo reportedly rebuffs Didi Chuxing takeover talks (China). The dockless bike-sharing company’s CEO Dai Wei rallied his employees to “fight till the end” after an apparent buyout proposal from the ride-hailing firm. Sources said that Dai spoke to Didi CEO Cheng Wei two weeks ago about the potential offer. Ofo’s main competitor Mobike was acquired by Meituan last month. (South China Morning Post)

Meanwhile, the ride-hailing giant got California’s approval to test driverless cars. Didi has been granted permission by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to road-test its self-driving vehicles. Earlier this year, Uber’s self-drive tests in Arizona were suspended after one of its autonomous cars struck and killed a pedestrian. Last week, a similar incident in Florida involving a self-driving Tesla Model S resulted in two deaths. (CNBC)

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Regulators step up probe into UPbit (South Korea). The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) will help the Korean Financial Intelligence Unit and Financial Services Commission (FSC) in investigating the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Regulators are looking into possible liquidity issues and won’t charge UPbit with criminal or illegal activity, said media reports that quoted insiders. The move comes after FSS created a task force that will zero in on suspicious operations and practices in the cryptocurrency market. (China Money Network)

Delivery and logistics

Gravity gets US$7 million backing (Hong Kong). The logistics management startup raised the capital from Wavemaker Partners. Earlier this year, Gravity secured new contracts across its Purchase Order Management software, and recently launched its Shipment Tracking Software. Gravity will use the funding for global expansion. (Gravity Supply Chain)

Baidu, Meituan, and Ele.me remove thousands of food vendors (China). The food-delivery apps are cracking down on unqualified merchants that violate food safety regulations. After internal investigations, Baidu Waimai banned 4,413 vendors from its app, while Meituan Waimai removed 7,247 and Ele.me dropped 7,926. The Beijing Food and Drug Administration has discovered over 20,000 illegal vendors since a food safety regulation for online services came into effect last January. (TechNode)

Property and real estate

Court orders PropertyGuru to pay 40 percent of 99.co’s legal costs. (Singapore). The ruling came after a copyright infringement lawsuit involving the two rival real estate portals. In 2016, PropertyGuru sued 99.co , claiming to own the rights to content first published on its site that was later re-published by property agents on 99.co. The Singapore Supreme Court dismissed PropertyGuru’s copyright claims in March this year, though it did find that 99.co had partially breached an earlier settlement agreement with its competitor. (99.co)

Fintech

Startup looking to disrupt home loan market raises US$15 million (Australia). Sydney-based Athena aims to connect home buyers with loans backed by superannuation funds. Macquarie Capital and Square Peg co-led the round, with participation from Apex Capital and Rice Warner. Established by two former National Australia Bank execs, Athena says it can save borrowers up to US$100,000 over the life of the loan when compared to traditional bank lenders. (Australian Financial Review)

Enterprise software and services

SpringRole raises US$1.3 million (India). The blockchain-based job-listing startup secured the amount from early investors AlphaBlock Investments, DNA, BlockWater, and Wavemaker Genesis. SpringRole will use the money to develop tech , including a blockchain-based network that features searching, directory listing, and reputation scoring, among other functions. (Inc42)

Life sciences

Medisix secures US$20 million series A (Singapore). The biotech firm, which develops cellular therapies for leukemia and lymphoma, raised the funding in a round led by Lightstone Ventures. Temasek Holdings and Osage University Partners also participated. The money will be used to grow the Medisix team, boost product development, and launch early pre-clinical studies. (DealStreetAsia)

Consumer tech

Xiaomi becomes Indonesia’s second most popular smartphone brand (Indonesia). The Chinese smartphone maker rose just behind Samsung after a stellar first quarter performance in the country, according to market analysts Canalys. Xiaomi registered a year-on-year growth rate of 1,455 percent, going from 107,000 in Q1 2017 to 1.7 million users in in Q1 2018. (KrAsia)

Investors, incubators, and accelerators

IIM Ahmedabad receives US$12 million for startup and innovation programs (India). The money will make up part of CIIE’s US$25 million Bharat Inclusion Initiative which aims to incubate and seed-fund tech startups that tackle the country’s inclusion challenges with technology. The funding was given by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Omidyar Network. (Inc42)

See: Previous Asia tech news roundups

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