Alibaba doubles down on Lazada with fresh $2B investment and new CEO

Alibaba is increasing its control of Lazada, its e-commerce marketplace in Southeast Asia it acquired control of in 2016, after it injected another $2 billion into the business and replaced its CEO with a long-standing Alibaba executive. Alibaba’s first investment came in April 2016 when it bought 51 percent of Lazada for $1 billion, and it added another $1 billion last summer to increase its equity to around 83 percent. With today’s news, Alibaba has invested $4 billion to date which it said will “accelerate the growth plans” and help further tie the Lazada business into Alibaba’s core e-commerce service. There’s already been plenty of evidence of increased ties between Alibaba and Lazada. The latter began offering products from Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace across Southeast Asia last year, and Alibaba has replaced Lazada’s tech team leadership with executives of its own. The latest shakeup is the appointment of Lucy Peng as
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AirAsia, Southeast Asia’s low-cost airline, is considering an ICO

AirAsia, the low-cost airline in Southeast Asia, is considering an initial coin offering (ICO) as part of a push into financial services. Tony Fernandes, CEO of the $3 billion company which is publicly listed in Malaysia, told TechCrunch that he is analyzing the potential to hold an ICO that would raise money by introducing its own cryptocurrency. “We have two things that are very interesting which will have relevance to ICOs, one is our loyalty card where we have [loyalty program] BIG Points, and I think those BigPoints can be easily transferred to the blockchain,” Fernandes said on the sidelines of Money2020 in Singapore. “We have a product that can be a currency in Big Loyalty, [and] we’re building a payment platform so the two can marry quite nicely. We have an ecosystem that enables you to use that currency, there’s no point having a currency that can’t be used,”
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Ripple wants to invest in startups that will put its XRP cryptocurrency to work

 Payments company Ripple says it plans to invest in startups and technology companies to develop more uses for XRP, its cryptocurrency that is currently the third largest digital token behind bitcoin and Ethereum based on total market cap. The value of XRP shot up in December and January following a crypto market rally that saw bitcoin reach nearly $20,000 per coin. The collective value of… Read More

Grab, Uber’s Southeast Asia rival, now offers micro-loans and other financial services

 Ride-hailing service Grab is being heavily linked with a deal to buy out Uber’s business in Southeast Asia, but those rumors aren’t stopping it from building its fintech platform after announced a financial services unit. The Singapore-based company has been pushing itself into fintech for some time, with the most visible moment being the launch of its mobile payments service… Read More

India’s Ola takes its Uber rivalry to Australia with launch in Sydney

 Ola, Uber’s key rival in India, has taken its first step overseas after its service officially went live in Australia via a launch in Sydney. The company announced its plans to go Down Under at the end of January and in Sydney, which is its first full launch, Ola said it has signed up over 7,000 registered drivers. Initially, passengers will be able to enjoy free rides for a limited… Read More

Mad Paws, Australia’s Wag, raises $5M led by airline giant Qantas

 SoftBank’s Vision Fund invested $300 million into dog walking app Wag earlier this year, and a new deal on the other side of the world is evoking similarities. Mad Paws, an Australia-based startup that offers dog-walking, pet-sitting and other services for the fluffy friend in your life, has pulled in a $5 million investment led by Qantas, the $8 billion-valued Australian airline. Yes… Read More

Grab launches a bike-sharing service in Southeast Asia

After much speculation, Southeast Asian Uber rival Grab has jumped into the bike-sharing space after it launched a service in Singapore. GrabCycle Beta will offer services from a range of services, including bike-sharing services oBike — which includes Grab as an investor — GBikes and Anywheel, plus electric scooter rental Popscoot. The project is the first to launch… Read More