Asia news roundup: Grab turns lender, Beijing bosses blockchain, Pacquiao plans knockout token
Here’s a wrap of the day’s news.
Grab moves into lending and insurance (Southeast Asia). The ride-hailing company unveiled its latest play at Singapore’s Money 20/20 conference today. Grab Financial Services Asia will offer micro-loans to Grab drivers, online-to-offline agents, and merchants through a joint venture with Japanese lender Credit Saison. It will also provide insurance products through a partnership with property and casualty insurer Chubb. Grab – which said it already has a loan book of US$737 million, with a 1.5 percent default rate among its lendees – aims to provide credit scoring services to banks and financial institutions in the future. (Tech in Asia)
Ofo raises US$866 million in Alibaba-led round (China). Ofo has been at the center of cash-crunch rumors of late, but today claimed it had secured the largest ever single financing by a bike-sharing firm to date. Alibaba was joined in the round by its affiliate Ant Financial and Chinese VC firms Haofeng Group, Junli Capital, and Tianhe Capital. (Reuters)
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
Manny Pacquiao plans to launch his own cryptocoin (The Philippines). The champion boxer and Philippine senator has reportedly invested in Singaporean blockchain startup Global Crypto Offering Exchange (GCOX) and will become one of its celebrity ambassadors. Pacquiao also plans to launch his own digital currency – the PAC token – which will allow its holders to access content relating to the pugilist exclusive to GCOX’s platforms. (Entrepreneur)
Beijing wants its own blockchain standard (China). The country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced it plans to set up a national committee for the standardization of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. The move comes amid increasing moves towards standardization at the global level – with initiatives ongoing at the International Organization for Standardization, International Telecommunication Union, and World Wide Web Consortium – as well as stricter regulatory oversight of cryptocurrencies in China itself. (Technode)
Pine Labs nabs US$82 million (India). The startup, which develops a cloud-based alternative to traditional point-of-sale systems, secured the funding in an Actis Capital-led round. Altimeter Capital also participated in the investment. Pine Labs said it would use the funding to expand its network in India and beyond. (Pine Labs)
Property and real estate
Co-working firm ucommune acquires Woo Space (China). Ucommune – formerly known as UrWork – has made yet another investment in a rival shared workspace operator, acquiring Woo Space for an undisclosed sum. Ucommune had previously invested in Woo Space; it merged with Chinese competitor New Space in April last year and invested in Indonesia’s ReWork in September. (e27)
Revolution Precrafted signs US$2.3 billion Dubai luxury development deal (The Philippines). The startup, which creates prefabricated designer homes, struck the deal with UAE property firm Seven Tides to build luxury apartments and villas in Dubai’s renowned World Islands development. Revolution Precrafted became the Philippines’ first unicorn after its undisclosed series B round last October. (Revolution Precrafted)
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