gojek, Tokopedia inch closer to largest ever Indonesian tech merger, seek shareholder nod; The two firms are pursuing to set up a holding company structure that will house the unicorns as independent entities and enable them to retain their individual brands; A combined entity will be valued at as much as US$40bn in a public listing. More here

Traveloka in talks for a merger with Peter Thiel’s SPAC to go public: Report; A deal could value it at about US$5bn; The potential transaction could also involve raising between US$500mn and US$750mn through a private investment in public equity. More here

Impact-tech investor ADB Ventures in talks to raise US$100mn debt fund; According to its Senior Fund Manager Daniel Hersson, there’s a gap between equity funding and traditional bank financing that needs to be bridged; ADB Ventures already runs an US$60mn equity fund which recently invested in India’s Euler Motors and Smart Joules. More here

WhiteCoat banks US$8mn for its on-demand telemedicine services platform; Investors include GEC-KIP Technology and Innovation Fund (led), SGInnovate and Asia Resource Corporation; Its app connects users to an “extensive and curated” network of medical practitioners that assist in treating common ailments and chronic illnesses. More here

MVLLabs snags US$15mn Series B to launch its 3-wheeler EV, the ONiON T1; Investors are Korea’s CENTRAL (lead) and TRIVE Ventures; MVL operates a blockchain-based platform where data such as transactions, movements, accidents and maintenance of vehicles are recorded in a single ecosystem. More here

Taronga Ventures expands its RealTechX programme to support Singapore’s proptech startups; The initiative will be supported by the government agency Enterprise Singapore; Companies participating in RealTechX will receive access to global real estate corporate customers, potential investment and expert advice on global and domestic growth strategies. More here

Australia’s Finder acquires GoBear’s digital assets, trademark; While GoBear’s content will be integrated into Finder, its social media channels will continue to remain independent; GoBear had ceased operations early this year. More here

AIA Group establishes Variable Capital Company in Singapore; It is as part of its group-wide investment programme to facilitate capital deployment globally; AIA is now exploring how the new initiative can support its investment programme with particular focus on balance sheet exposure to specialist and alternative investment strategies. More here

Indonesia e-wallet transaction to reach US$18.5bn in 2021 amid fierce competition; According to Bank Indonesia, the value of using e-money nationally reached US$13.95bn in 2020, growing by 38.62% from IDR US$10.07bn in 2019; As of Jan 2020, the largest driver of digital transactions is retail at 28%, followed by online transportation (27%), food order (20%), e-commerce (15%), and bill payments (7%). More here

ZA Tech opens new Asia Fintech Centre (AFC) in Singapore; AFC will specialise in solving specific use-cases in insurance and financial services in collaboration with industry partners, with an initial focus on insurance use-cases by co-designing innovative propositions with insurers in ASEAN. More here

SPAC frenzy takes hold of Asia; Their growth has so far been mostly centred around the US with US-based SPACs raising more than US$64bn through IPOs so far this year, representing 37% of global deal volumes; Data from industry tracker SPAC Research reveal that more than 400 SPACs are currently seeking targets, with many are eyeing Southeast Asia’s highly valued tech companies. More here

BlackBerry launches innovation fund to drive future of transportation; The BlackBerry IVY Innovation Fund’s mission is to accelerate the expansion of the BlackBerry IVY ecosystem with innovative transportation solutions; The fund will initially allocate up to US$50mn to invest in startups focused on developing data-driven solutions that can benefit from IVY’s AI insights and support from BlackBerry and AWS. More here

The incredible rise of Forrest Li, modest founder of Singapore’s most valuable listed company; When the young Li – a China-born student – first arrived in Singapore 15 years ago, he was reportedly saddled with loans of USS$74mn; Li’s rise to billionaire status has come from leveraging on asset-light technology and intellectual property rather than asset-heavy bricks and mortar. More here

Social platforms now central in the commerce spectrum; Tapping into social commerce gives brands the ability to reach new audiences on platforms consumers already use and trust; Retailers find the social media outlets a no-brainer for direct selling because it streamlines the sales process and exposes brands to new purchases without having potential buyers leave the platform. More here

Some S’pore businesses already accept crypto payments, but a nationwide adoption is still unlikely; The increasing popularity of cryptocurrency payments is not the only reason for businesses to start accepting them; There are a myriad of compelling reasons that could prompt businesses to implement the new payment method. More here

Family businesses in Singapore lagging in digital transformation: poll; Of more than 2,800 family businesses surveyed globally, 80 of which were Singaporean, only 29% in Singapore were confident of their digital capabilities, as compared to 38% globally and 33% in APAC. More here

Alliance Islamic Bank to provide US$24mn financing to halal SMEs in Malaysia; It’s aimed at offering more digital solutions, market access and customised training to help businesses grow in the halal sector; Today, the global halal market is valued at US$3tn and is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. More here

Indonesia and Thailand in slow race for digital nomad visa; Digital nomads stay overseas for longer periods regular leisure tourists, and, even during the pandemic, the market is growing; Not a single Asian nation has seized on this trend to introduce a dedicated digital nomad visa to capitalise on the economic benefits of attracting such a population. More here

Singapore’s Primech Holdings launches green plan for the future; Over the next three years, the homegrown facility services provider will invest in EVs and charging points, develop green chemicals and other products for its cleaning services, train employees in ways to save water in their work. More here

China fines Alibaba record US$2.7bn for monopoly violations; The penalty, equivalent to around 4% of its 2019 revenues, comes amid an unprecedented regulatory crackdown on homegrown tech conglomerates in the past few months that have weighed on company shares. More here

Image Credit: Tokopedia

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