Will SEA become a dominant force in the digital currency space?; A survey reveals two ASEAN countries rank second and third among countries with the highest rates of cryptocurrency adoption; These are Vietnam and the Philippines, which have 21% and 20% of their respective populations saying that they have used or owned digital assets in the past year. More here

The SEA fintech ecosystem sees a flood of investments this new year; Mynt’s US$1bn funding announcement is one of 15 listed in the region in January; Other funding announcements include Singapore’s Lendela, Pintek and Alami from Indonesia, Malaysia’s microLEAP, GPay, and Momo from Vietnam, collectively garnering investments over US$50mn. More here

Singapore faces talent crunch for engineering and product manager roles: Report; Salary differences for senior roles relative to junior roles were the highest in Vietnam for both tech and non-tech talent compared to Singapore and Indonesia; The report was jointly done by Monk’s Hill Ventures and Glints. More here

B Capital launches US$415mn fund; to expand investment activity in India, Indonesia; Named Elevate, the new fund will provide follow-on capital to high-performing, later-stage companies in B Capital’s portfolio; The VC firm also said will formally launch in China; The Chinese unit will be based in HK. More here

AirAsia to launch ride-hailing services in Malaysia; This move comes after it launched a food delivery service in Singapore; Understanding the potential comparison with existing ride-hailing giants such as Grab, CEO Tony Fernandes says AirAsia can become successful in this sector even with the heavy competition, citing history where the company managed to raise funding quicker than any other airline company. More here

A startup within an MNC: How Thales Digital Factory spins a new take on corporate innovation; The factory has developed a solution called DIVA (distributed intelligent video analytics), which leverages existing CCTV cameras to enable effective crowd management at train stations and onboard trains. More here

YJ Capital, LINE Ventures merge to form a new US$271M fund; Z Venture Capital Corporation invest in startups across Japan, Southeast Asia, South Korea, the US and China; For global investments, ZVC will adopt a sector-agnostic approach but with a strategic focus on sectors like consumer internet, e-commerce, fintech and O2O. More here

Ajaib, which aims to be the ‘Robinhood of Indonesia’, bags US$65mn Series A from Ribbit Capital; This comes after the investment platform raised US$25mn in a Series A round led by Li Ka-Shing’s Horizons Ventures; Ajaib claims to have processed 10mn+ transactions in the last four months and has over 1mn monthly users on its platform. More here

Endowus snags US$17mn Series A to grow its investment platform regionally; Investors include Lightspeed and Softbank Ventures Asia; Singapore-based Endowus offers retail, accredited, and institutional investors a platform to invest cash, CPF and SRS savings. More here

Blockchain firm Ripple buys 40% stake in Malaysia’s Tranglo; Ripple is a provider of enterprise blockchain solutions for global payments whereas Tranglo is a cross-border payments firm; The partnership will allow Ripple to expand the reach of on-demand liquidity, which uses the digital asset XRP to send money instantly and reduce working capital needs. More here

Dash Living secures US$8.8mn+ Series A; Backers include Grosvenor Asia Pacific, Gobi Partners, and Mindworks; Dash provides serviced living and co-living spaces in HK and Singapore; It plans to launch in Japan and Australia and expand its asset-light management model for long-stay and SaaS for landlords. More here

Singaporean firm specialising in supply-chain risk management Nimbly raises US$4.6mn pre-Series A; Investors are Insignia Ventures (lead), Sovereign Capital and Saison Capital; Nimbly enables companies to monitor and verify the implementation of SOPs in multiple locations, uncover data-driven operational insights and track issues until resolution. More here

Singapore’s fintech firm Tazapay lands US$1.75mn; It provides a digital payments platform for SMEs engaging in cross-border trade; Investors are Sequoia’s Surge, Saison Capital, RTP Global, and January Capital; The fintech firm also provides SMEs with fast, simple background checks on potential business partners. More here

Fundiin receives financing for its Vietnam-focused BNPL platform; Investors include 1982 Ventures and Zone Startups Ventures; The funds will go towards bankrolling market expansion plans as the startup seeks to serve a “growing waitlist of merchants and their customers.” More here

Vietnam launches first autonomous vehicle; Manufactured by local conglomerate Phenikaa Group, the self-driving vehicle boasts AI features including 3D maps, Lidar sensors, simultaneous localisation and mapping technology, and incorporates machine and deep learning within its software. More here

Ex-Zilingo exec joins Singapore VC firm Smile Asia as chief strategy officer; Billy Naveed spent the last two years at Zilingo as head of strategy; Apart from managing the company’s US business, he helped its fintech unit and assisted with the acquisition of nCinga, a software-as-a-service business based in Sri Lanka. More here

This startup is elevating smart security through sound detection; Singapore-based startup SoundEye whose IoT solutions allow for emergency monitoring, home monitoring, and security surveillance; SoundEye’s solution employs edge computing – meaning the system selectively records sound anomalies in an environment as they happen. More here

Singapore fintech firms Stacs and Bluecell to transform green finance; They will partner to push for industry-wide adoption of blockchain-powered infra to support effective green and sustainability-linked loans; Bluecell, an aggregator of lenders, will connect its loans matching engine to Stacs’ blockchain-based sustainability-enabling tech infra, GreenStacs. More here

Successful subscription models are like a well-choreographed dance; Essentially, a subscription relationship is a continuous dance with your customer and the data is your instructor; There are several important steps to this dance — from attracting new customers, to retaining them, to renewing them — and perfecting those steps is no small feat. More here

Iceland fintech startup Meniga plans APAC growth; The digital banking solutions firm entered the Southeast Asian market in 2019, when it opened a new office location in Singapore; It has since successfully launched some of the most popular banking apps in the region, including for UOB. More here

Singapore trials solar-powered buses; The 1.6mm-thick panels will convert solar energy into electricity to charge the buses’ batteries; This reduces the load on the vehicle’s alternator, and in turn, saves fuel and reduces carbon emissions. More here

Mall Group eyes return to e-commerce; The Thai company will start afresh by launching two shopping websites — M Online and Gourmet Market Thailand — and also approach customers on other platforms such as social commerce and online marketplaces; Despite being behind other players in digital commerce, there is still an opportunity for growth for the company as the ratio of e-commerce to retail businesses in Thailand is still small. More here

Can fintech partnerships solve the challenges of micro and small businesses?; Simplified access to basic financial services can be a vital catalyst for small business owners to recover from the fallout of this pandemic; This is where fintechs can play a vital role by analysing alternative data-sources, building new credit-scoring models and expanding financial access without bias. More here

Indonesia’s next digital boom lies beyond metropolitan cities; E-commerce, digital payments and lending is poised for mass adoption in tier 2 & 3 cities and expected to grow 30-50% annually for the next five years; In particular, e-commerce GMV could hit US$45bn, five times that of 2020’s estimated US$9bn. More here

In Asia Pacific, SEA consumers are most receptive to challenger banks: Study; It polled 5K digital banking customers in ten key APAC markets to gain better insights on consumer preferences, interactions and engagements; Thailand scored the highest with 78% of respondents stating they were open to consider a fintech, followed by Vietnam with 77%, and Indonesia with 69%. More here

How Alibaba’s technology is changing the face of philanthropy; Teaching farmers how to promote their products with livestreaming, connecting engineers with welfare organisations in need of digital experts and using its platform to encourage users to “go green” are just some examples of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s philanthropic efforts. More here

Photo by Harrison Kugler on Unsplash

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