Razer goes big on payments with Visa prepaid card


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The latest pairing between a tech upstart and a financial titan is a digital prepaid card targeted at Southeast Asia’s 430 million-plus unbanked and underserved population.

On Monday, Razer, the Singapore-based company best known for its gaming laptops and peripherals, announced a partnership with Visa to develop a Visa prepaid solution. The service, which allows unbanked users to top up and cash out easily, will be available as a mini program embedded in Razer Pay, the gaming company’s mobile payments app. That means Razer’s 60 million registered users will be able to pay at any of the 54 million merchant locations around the world that take Visa.

Going virtual is the natural step given the region’s fast-growing digital population, but the pair does not rule out the possibility to introduce a physical prepaid card down the road, Razer’s chief strategy officer Li Meng Lee told TechCrunch over a phone interview.

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California has let two Chinese startups offer robotaxis to the public


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China’s driverless cars are coming for passengers in the United States. AutoX and Pony.ai just became the first Chinese companies allowed to offer fully self-driving cars in the state of California, according to notices posted on the website of the California Public Utilities Commission this week.

Started in 2016 by Princeton University professor Jianxiong Xiao, called “Professor X” by his students, AutoX is now one of China’s most well-funded autonomous driving startups alongside Pony.ai, which was co-founded in 2016 by two former executives at Baidu’s self-driving department.

AutoX said in January that it was in talks with investors to raise a lofty $100 million. Pony.ai had banked at least $214 million in funding as of April.

While more than 62 companies hold the permits to test autonomous vehicles in California, very few are actually allowed to transport people in those cars. Zoox passed a new milestone when

autonomous driving

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China to lose top spot to U.S. in 2019 gaming market


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China is losing its global lead in games. By the end of 2019, the U.S. will replace China as the world’s largest gaming market with an estimated revenue of $36.9 billion, says a new report from research firm Newzoo.

This will mark the first time since 2015 that the U.S. will top the global gaming market, thanks to healthy domestic growth in consoles. Globally, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo and other console games are on track to rise 13.4% in revenue this year. Driving the growth is the continued shift toward the games-as-a-service model, Newzoo points out, on top of a solid installed base across the current console generation and spending from new model releases.

China, on the other hand, suffered from a nine-month freeze on game licenses last year that significantly shrank the stream of new titles. Though applications have resumed, industry experts warn of a slower

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Xiaomi’s latest products for Russia include its smart TVs and flagship Mi 9T


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Xiaomi, best known for its smartphones, is making serious inroads into Russia as it launched a collection of products in the country where some 145 million people live. That includes its smart TVs featuring 700,000 hours of content, smart wristbands, wireless earbuds, and flagship phone Mi 9T, which is identical to its recently announced Redmi K20 for China under a different identifier.

Customers can find these products online on Xiaomi’s website and offline at its 31 authorized retail stores across the country. The hardware giant aims to open 100 new Mi Stores in Russia this year, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch. Russian news outlet Kommersant reported the plan last week.

Xiaomi began shipping to Russia back in 2017 by introducing three handset models and its offering has since broadened. Russia marks the third international country following India and Indonesia — its biggest markets outside China — where it has

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Huawei says US ban will cost it $30B in lost revenue


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Following a string of trade restrictions from the U.S., China’s telecoms equipment and smartphone maker Huawei expects its revenues to drop $30 billion below forecast over the next two years, founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei said Monday during a panel discussion at the company’s Shenzhen headquarters.

Huawei’s production will slow down in the next two years while revenues will hover around $100 billion this and next year, according to the executive. The firm’s overseas smartphone shipment is tipped to drop 40%, he said, confirming an earlier report from Bloomberg.

That said, Ren assured that Huawei’s output will be “rejuvenated” by the year 2021 after a period of adjustment.

Huawei’s challenges are multifaceted as the U.S. “entity list” bars it from procuring from American chip makers and using certain Android services among a list of other restrictions. In response, the Chinese behemoth recently announced it has been

huawei

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China’s housing unicorn Danke appoints ex-Baidu exec as new COO


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A few months after nabbing a handsome $500 million funding round, China’s shared housing startup Danke Apartment got a talent boost.

On Monday, Danke announced the appointment of Gu Guoliang as its new chief operating officer to ramp up the company’s offline operational crew. Gu, whose nickname is Michael, stepped down from Baidu after five years as one of the key figures in search, historically the company’s biggest revenue-generating division. He’s known to have managed several tens of thousands of marketing staff and helped generate sales of close to 100 billion yuan ($14.44 billion) for Baidu annually.

Gu’s arrival followed a period of explosive expansion at Danke, which is now managing almost 500,000 units of rooms across 10 Chinese cities after founding four years ago. The startup takes the co-living approach akin to that of WeWork’s Welive and rents out fully furnished apartments targeted at young professionals who

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How China’s first autonomous driving unicorn Momenta hunts for data


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Cao Xudong turned up on the side of the road in jeans and a black T-shirt printed with the word “Momenta,” the name of his startup.

Before founding the company — which last year topped $1 billion in valuation to become China’s first autonomous driving “unicorn” — he’d already led an enviable life, but he was convinced that autonomous driving would be the real big thing.

Cao isn’t just going for the moonshot of fully autonomous vehicles, which he says could be 20 years away. Instead, he’s taking a two-legged approach of selling semi-automated software while investing in research for next-gen self-driving tech.

Cao, pronounced ‘tsao’, was pursuing his Ph.D. in engineering mechanics when an opportunity came up to work at Microsoft’s fundamental research arm in Asia, putatively the “West Point” for China’s first generation of artificial intelligence experts. He held out there for more than four years

momenta
momenta
Momenta

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China opens Nasdaq-style board to lure tech firms back home


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China’s much-anticipated Science and Technology Innovation board officially launched in Shanghai today, marking Beijing’s major step in drawing high-potential tech companies to list at home.

The new Star Market, first announced by President Xi Jinping in November, is expected to be a key fundraising avenue for tech companies from an array of stages, given its criteria (link in Chinese) are less stringent than other domestic boards. Beijing has over the past year encouraged local firms to become more self-reliant in producing chips and other core technologies as an escalating trade war threatens to cut China off the U.S. supply chain.

The new startup board began taking applications in late March and have so far received applications from 122 companies, according to information from the Shanghai Stock Exchange .

The tech bourse debuted on the same day that China’s ecommerce titan Alibaba filed confidentially for a second listing in Hong

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Report: Chinese spend nearly 5 hours on entertainment apps daily


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Like the rest of the world, China is getting more glued to smartphones that can perform an endless list of tasks, from talking to workmates, shopping for groceries, all the way to getting a dose of dopamine through games. Chinese internet users now spend an average of 4.7 hours on their handsets a day just for entertainment purposes, according to new data (in Chinese) collected by research firm QuestMobile.

The number is up from the 4.1-hour average from a year ago. By ‘entertainment’, QuestMobile is counting services like e-reading, music streaming, online karaoke, video streaming, mobile gaming, live streaming, and of course, short videos that are taking the world by storm. The total screen time could be much higher given the country now prefers taking QR code payments instead of cash, not to mention eyeball time contributed by children using smartphones to do their homework and housewives

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Alibaba’s Ant Financial and Hellobike team up on $145M e-bike battery JV


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Shared e-scooters aren’t just gaining popularity in the United States; they’re hitting the streets of China, too. Recognizing the possibility that some people just don’t want to pedal that last mile, China’s transportation startup Hellobike is setting up a 1 billion yuan ($145 million) joint venture with Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial and battery maker CATL to provide battery-swapping services for scooters.

That’s according to an announcement from Hellobike on Wednesday, though it did not specify individual shares of the three partners.

Hellobike, backed by Ant Financial, has evolved from a bike sharing service into a one-stop app to include ride-hailing and other transportation means. That puts it in competition with car-hailing leader Didi Chuxing and Mobike, the bike sharing service now owned by Meituan Dianping.

Three-year-old Hellobike claims it’s now serving more than 200 million users in some 360 cities around China. It has its eye set on

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Alibaba’s Ant Financial and Hellobike team up on $145M e-bike battery JV


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Shared e-scooters aren’t just gaining popularity in the United States; they’re hitting the streets of China, too. Recognizing the possibility that some people just don’t want to pedal that last mile, China’s transportation startup Hellobike is setting up a 1 billion yuan ($145 million) joint venture with Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial and battery maker CATL to provide battery-swapping services for scooters.

That’s according to an announcement from Hellobike on Wednesday, though it did not specify individual shares of the three partners.

Hellobike, backed by Ant Financial, has evolved from a bike sharing service into a one-stop app to include ride-hailing and other transportation means. That puts it in competition with car-hailing leader Didi Chuxing and Mobike, the bike sharing service now owned by Meituan Dianping.

Three-year-old Hellobike claims it’s now serving more than 200 million users in some 360 cities around China. It has its eye set on

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Luxembourg to get €100M investment from Chinese payments startup Pingpong


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For financial services firms looking to enter Europe, Luxembourg has historically been a popular anchoring point for its political and economic stability as well as a favorable regulatory environment. Another bucketload of capital is coming to the country after Chinese fintech startup Pingpong announced to invest more than €100 million ($113 million) in Luxembourg in the coming years.

Founded in 2014, Pingpong has been celebrated by its home city Hangzhou — also Alibaba’s backyard — as a pioneer in the country’s booming cross-border ecommerce sector. Backed by one of China’s largest investment banks CICC, the startup collects payments for Chinese exporters selling through Amazon, Wish, Shopee, Newegg and some other 14 ecommerce platforms around the world, which means clearing local regulatory hurdles is key to its business.

Its European ambition does not stop with Luxembourg. Luo Yonglong, a partner at Pingpong, said at a Saturday event that within three years,

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China grants first 5G licenses amid Huawei global setback


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It’s official. After much anticipation, China named the first companies to receive 5G licenses for commercial use on Thursday.

The announcement from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the country’s telecoms authority, came as Huawei, the Chinese company that captured nearly 30% of the world’s telecom gear revenues in 2018, faces mounting scrutiny in the west over potential security concerns.

The greenlight arrived months ahead of the long-expected due date for China’s 5G licenses, which was said to be late 2019. The acceleration clearly demonstrates Beijing’s ambition to race ahead in the global 5G race where the United States and South Korea already had a head start in commercial deployment.

The MIIT approved three network operators — China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom — and cable network company China Broadcasting Network to run the next-gen cellular connectivity.

Other players in 5G, including network equipment makers, smartphone manufacturers, chip

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China says apps should get user consent before tracking


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Chinese regulators might follow the European Union’s lead to make life harder for internet companies such as TikTok that closely track behavior of their users in a move that could significantly hurt their revenue.

Last week, Beijing proposed a new set of measures to enforce data security for individuals and the nation overall. According to Article 23 of the draft (see translation from China Law Translate), companies that are “using user data and algorithms to deliver news information or commercial advertisements shall conspicuously label them with the words ‘targeted’ and provide users with functionality to stop receiving information from targeted delivery.”

This is good news for users in China, who could potentially take more control over what they are shown and what tech companies collect about them.

On the flip side of the coin, stepped up data protection will “definitely have an impact” on companies that rely heavily on

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Apple is now restricting Chinese language podcasts in China


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Just as podcasting hits the mainstream in the west, China, which is also experiencing an audio boom, is seeing restrictions tighten around shows as evidenced by new curbs from Apple.

This week, the U.S. tech giant has pulled a handful of Chinese-language podcasts from its Chinese Podcasts store, one of the few remaining channels for people in mainland China to find content immune from scrutiny by the country’s media regulators.

The crackdown seems to be taking an incremental pace so far. Three podcasters, including hosts of NickTalk and Two I.T. Uncles (两个iT大叔), confirmed with TechCrunch on Tuesday that their shows disappeared from Apple’s Chinese Podcasts app this week.

Several other noted shows, including Yitianshijie (一天世界), appear to remain unaffected while others, such as Suijiya (随机鸭), seem to have suffered from a partial blockade. That’s to say that individual episodes appear in search results, but the podcast homepages

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China says it will ‘soon grant’ 5G licenses for commercial use


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There’s a widely accepted method to interpret China’s official announcements: the shorter the news, the heavier it is. Today, in one concise sentence, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China’s telecom regulator, announced that it will “soon grant 5G licenses for commercial use.”

That’s according to the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily. TechCrunch reported four months ago that China planned to “fast-track” the commercial use of the next-gen networking technology at a time when Huawei, the champion of the country’s 5G development, faces mounting pressure in the west.

It manages to find allies in other parts of the world. Just last week, the Shenzhen-based telecom giant launched a 5G lab in South Korea but decided to keep the event “low-key,” Reuters reported, notably because the Asian country is a security ally of the U.S.

The acceleration

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Science publisher IEEE lifts ban on Huawei reviewers


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After a temporary ban, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, commonly known as the IEEE, announced on Monday it has lifted curbs on editors and peer-reviewers that work for Huawei and the Chinese firm’s affiliates.

The reversal is yet another example of the regulatory murkiness in the U.S.-China trade negotiations. In response to the U.S.’s order to bar American companies from conducting businesses with Huawei without government approval, the New York-based scientists’ association last week restricted Huawei and affiliated firms from its peer-review process.

The IEEE said then that the ban should have a “minimal impact” on its members around the world and assured that Huawei was still allowed to submit papers, attend IEEE-hosted conferences and participated in other activities that are open to the public.

The IEEE said it’s

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China lays out official stance on trade talks with U.S.


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On Sunday, China released a comprehensive white paper to formalize its positions on trade negotiations with the U.S. The set of statements come as the trade war escalates and Beijing threatens to hit back with a retaliatory blacklist of U.S. firms. Here are some key takeaways from the press conference announcing the white paper:

U.S. ‘responsible’ for stalled trade talks

The “U.S. government bears responsibility” for setbacks in trade talks, chided the paper, adding that the U.S. has imposed additional tariffs on Chinese goods that impede economic cooperation between the two countries and globally.

While it’s “common” for both sides to propose “adjustments to the text and language” in ongoing negotiations, the U.S. administration “kept changing its demands” in the “previous more than ten rounds of negotiations,” the paper alleged.

On the other hand, reports of China backtracking on previous trade deals are mere

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Science publisher IEEE bans Huawei but says trade rules will have ‘minimal impact’ on members


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The IEEE’s ban on Huawei following new trade restrictions in the United States has sent shock waves through the global academic circles. The organization responded saying the impact of the trade policy will have limited effects on its members, but it’s hard at this point to appease those who have long hailed it as an open platform for scientists and professors worldwide to collaborate.

Earlier this week, the New York-headquartered Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers blocked Huawei employees from being reviewers or editors for its peer-review process, according to screenshots of an email sent to its editors that first circulated in the Chinese media.

The IEEE later confirmed the ban in a statement issued on Wednesday, saying it “complies with U.S. government regulations

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Easy Transfer processes billions of dollars in tuition for overseas Chinese students


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For a founder building a consumer-facing business, overseas Chinese students might just be one of the most coveted targets: they’re young, well educated and have access to the ‘bank’ of mom and dad.

This is a large addressable audience since millions of Chinese families send their children out West to study every year. It doesn’t come cheap. Tuition and living costs can easily add up to $50,000 annually at a top-tier university in the United States, which is still many Chinese people’s favored destination despite heightened tensions between the two countries.

The notion that all overseas Chinese students are rich isn’t always true, as more mid-income parents are willing to compromise their living standards for what they perceive as a “better” education their children can obtain overseas. But, all told, living and studying abroad still costs a lot more than it does back home. At the prestigious Peking University, for

Easy Transfer

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