Singaporean startup fintech firm Friz lands six-figure funding; Investors are Y Combinator, Iterative VC, 500 Durians, and 500 TukTuks; Friz is a financial platform for freelancers in SEA that leverages data insights to provide credit cards, personal loans, insurance, savings, and investments in a timely and affordable manner. More here

How Sustenir Group makes sustainable farming possible in the island nation; The indoor farm uses methods like controlled environment agriculture, vertical farming, and hydroponics to grow kale, strawberries and more; The indoor farming facility has sensors operating 24 hours to provide the company with data on the health and status of all its plants. The parameters used include humidity, temperature, and light. More here

Digital art NFTs are all the rage — but they’re horrible for Mother Earth; Because they depend on a blockchain, NFTs use a lot of energy; Most creators still use Ethereum; This involves an energy-intensive computer function called mining; Specialist mining computers take turns guessing the combination to a digital lock (a long string of random digits). More here

Bank of Thailand gearing up for digital currency tests; The central bank says it will begin testing use of its retail digital currency for the general public in Q2 2022, before fully implementing it over the next three to five years; A retail CBDC is a digital form of money issued by a central bank comparable to physical banknotes; It can be used in financial transactions both online and offline. More here

Thai edutech startup Conicle bags US$3mn Series A; Investors are InVent, 500TuksTuks, Stormbreaker Venture and Stundi; Conical’s learning management platform help organisations enhance employee capabilities and efficiency; Its ConicleX offers a “cloud university” where employees can learn skills including business acumen, data analysis and personnel management. More here

MDEC grants US$2.5mn to 50 SMEs and enterprises in Malaysia; Through MDEC, the government has been actively offering grants to spur innovation, support creation of new intellectual property, and increase adoption of business automation to positively contribute towards growing Malaysia’s digital economy. More here

CEO of Indonesian P2P lending startup is in police custody over gun-related incident; In a video, Restock CEO Muhammad Farid Andika was seen aiming a gun from his car at women who were standing in the middle of a road; Restock issues working capital loans to MSMEs; In 2020, it raised US$1mn from Tunas Nusantara Kapital, Silverbacks Ventures, others. More here

Taiwan’s Appier aims to follow Tokyo IPO with global growth; Appier went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Tuesday after raising US$130mn in an IPO; As a public company, Appier faces the difficult task of meeting high growth expectations and achieving profitability. On Tuesday, it said it expects to generate US$105mn in revenue this year, up from US$84mn in 2020, while operating losses will slightly widen to US$14.9mn. More here

Grab Financial Group (GFC) has sold 100mn+ insurance policies across SEA since the service was launched; In the last six months, GFG has launched multiple financial services products for consumers, such as micro-investment, third-party loans and buy-now-pay-later products; This includes its first micro-investment solution, AutoInvest – offered by GrabInvest — a solution that allows users to invest small sums of money while spending in Grab’s ecosystem. More here

Why customer education plays an important role in Wise’s international expansion plan; The company aims to solve the problems of high fees and currency mark-ups on foreign exchange transaction by building a platform that provides “instant, convenient, transparent and eventually free” international remittance. More here

How to optimise email deliverability for a digital-first world; Your email deliverability rate decides whether you can send at scale without being marked as spam; A few key criteria influence the rate: your reputation as a sender, email engagement, content quality, and infrastructure. More here

OpenSys launches digital payment solution X-Kiosk for underserved; X-Kiosk allows customers to conduct payment services for themselves (or behalf of other users) as the kiosk can be used for prepaid reloads, e-wallet top-ups, SIM card replacement, SIM card purchasing, bill payments and loan repayments. More here

Hanoi, Vietnam unveils AI centre; In the long term, the AI Centre will serve as the place to connect domestic and international AI operators to deploy basic research and to create “Made in Vietnam” core technologies; The aim is to accelerate digital transformation and boost the 4.0 industrial revolution in the country. More here

Singapore-based researchers develop daylight harvesting smart device; Authorities are looking at the feasibility of digging deeper underground to create new space for infra, storage, and utilities; Demand for round-the-clock underground lighting is therefore expected to rise in the future. More here

MSMEs empowered by cloud-based kitchens in Indonesia; Local companies are quickly embracing cloud technology to cut their cost of operations; The government is at the forefront of the development of cloud data centres and virtualisation technology in the country; They aim to deploy consolidated, distributed data infrastructure with strong disaster recovery capabilities. More here

Knowing when your startup should go all-in on business development; BD is rarely, if ever, the solution to succeeding in a crowded industry, differentiating an offering or delivering a truly exceptional customer experience; But standing up an effective BD operation that brings in sustainable revenue and helps validate product-market fit can be the difference between survival and failure for a startup. More here

Don’t hide behind ‘best practices’ for business success — experiment!; Relying on best practices does not guarantee success; As we saw in 2020, what used to be best practice in 2019 was pretty irrelevant; And this year is another new story yet again when it comes to customer behaviour. More here

Australia funds innovation in Vietnam; Aus4Innovation is a 4-year collaboration between the two countries; In 2018-22, they are together exploring emerging areas of technology and digital transformation, trialling new models for partnerships between public and private sector institutions, and strengthening Vietnamese capability in digital foresight, scenario planning, commercialisation, and innovation policies. More here

Mobile money good, but carries potential risks: Vietnamese economist; If we don’t manage them well, there will be a situation of the telecom network operator abusing people’s accounts, says Dr. Cấn Văn Lực, chief economist of the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam; The second risk is related to technical and IT infra; If the infrastructure is unstable, it can make mobile money users feel insecure, while technical errors can even cause loss of money. More here

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

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