Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has restructured its mobile phone business group amid increased competition in the Chinese market, Tencent Tech reports (in Chinese).The move comes one month after the company spun off its budget smartphone sub-brand Redmi.A new advisory team will be set up under the smartphone business group and led by Zhu Lei, formerly head of sales, combined with an operational team controlling product expenses within the company.Chinese media cited Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun as saying that the restructuring aims to enhance the company’s operation and strategy in its smartphone business.At the same time, Xiaomi established a department to conduct research and development into new technologies for touch control of mobile phone displays.Lei Jun made the announcements in an internal letter to employees.
Chinese telecommunications company Huawei is working with mobile carriers to construct indoor 5G networks at Shanghai’s Hongqiao Railway Station.The next-generation wireless networks will be deployed with Huawei’s in-building 5G platform, dubbed Digital Indoor System (DIS).The company claims it is the only commercially-available solution for indoor 5G networks.The 5G DIS technology, with the company’s in-house chips, can provide connectivity for augmented and virtual reality, positioning and navigation, as well as retail management.Huawei announced the launch of the 5G network with mobile operator China Mobile.Passengers will have to wait until the end of the year to use the service.
Tencent allegedly in talks with Electronic Arts to bring Apex Legends to China – SCMPWhat happened: Tencent is negotiating with Electronic Arts (EA) to bring its new hit game title Apex Legends to China, South China Morning Post reported, quoting a person with direct knowledge of the matter.The game, which is the latest release in the battle royale genre where many players fight in a battlefield until there is only one player or team left standing, passed 25 million registered players just one week after launch, according to the game’s developer, Respawn Entertainment.Why it’s important: The speed at which Apex Legends gains new players has prompted speculation that it could rival two other highly popular battle royale games, Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), or even become the most popular game in the genre.Once brought to China, Apex Legends could prove to be a powerful addition to Tencent’s already impressive line of products, which includes Fornite and PUBG, enabling the giant to dominate battle royale games in China.However, the issue of cheating, which has been plaguing both of Apex Legends’ rivals, still lingers.
China Freezes $1.5 Billion of P2P Assets in Intensified Probe – BloombergWhat happened: Chinese police have frozen RMB 10 billion (around $1.5 billion) worth of assets across more than 380 peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders in a large-scale investigation spanning 16 countries.The operation, code-named “Fox Hunt,” has led to the arrest of 62 suspects since June.Why it’s important: Chinese authorities have been clamping down on the P2P lending industry that started flourishing in an under-regulated environment a decade ago.Rife with fraud, P2P lending has earned a bad name in China.Most infamously, it spawned the country’s largest Ponzi scheme in 2015.
Guangzhou’s Intellectual Property Court has issued an injunction to stop Bytedance-owned video app Watermelon Video from streaming shows that involve Tencent’s wildly popular mobile game, Honour of Kings, according to media outlet Legal Daily (in Chinese).The injunction, which came out on Jan. 31, ruled that the three companies related to Watermelon Video—Yuncheng Sunlight Media, Bytedance-owned aggregator Jinri Toutiao, and Bytedance—infringed upon Tencent’s Honour of King’s copyright by broadcasting for-profit live video streams of the game.It ordered them to immediately stop any streams related to the game.This is the first injunction related to video game livestreaming in China.A Tencent spokesperson declined to provide further information.Bytedance was not immediately available for comment.
Gaming hardware manufacturer Razer is shutting its digital game store, less than a year after launching it in April 2018.In an announcement posted on the store, Razer said game sales would stop on February 28 as part of the company’s “realignment plans.”The company will fulfill any pre-orders and games purchased through the store as long as users retrieve the keys via Steam or Uplay before the last day.The company will still offer games through its Razer Gold and Silver rewards programs.(And yes, we’re serious about ethics and transparency.
The Singapore government has set aside an additional S$100 million (US$74 million) for small and medium enterprises, finance minister Heng Swee Keat announced in Parliament today, as part of his annual budget speech.The fund, dubbed SME Co-Investment Fund III, will be co-invested into startups alongside venture capital firms and private sector investors.Here are more SME-related announcements:Enterprise Singapore, a government agency that helps local enterprises, will launch a new program called Scale-up SG.It is designed to help startup scale up by linking them up with private and public sector partners.The government will pilot an Innovation Agents program, which will help companies tap experts who can advise on innovating and commercializing technology.
What happened: Chinese tech giant Tencent has reportedly suspended the research and development of its smart speaker Tingting, the company’s first effort to tap the vertical.Tencent suspended the production of the gadget, but its sales and after-sales service will not be affected.Launched in April last year, Tencent Tingting is a voice-based smart speaker, allowing users to access WeChat accounts and send or receive voice messages.Why it’s important: The suspension of Tingting reveals the internal pains of the Chinese tech giant.In a related business line, Tencent rolled out Alexa-like AI assistant service Jingle in 2017.The relationship between Tingting and Jingle was like that of Echo and Alexa, as well as HomePod and Siri.
Exclusive: China ride-hailing giant Didi plans Chile, Peru launches to take on Uber – ReutersWhat happened: Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi intends to launch its services in Peru, Chile, and Colombia, according to job listings and a company official.The company has already moved senior executives to South America to lead its expansion in the region.Didi has begun looking to fill positions relating to advertising, crisis management, marketing, and business development.Why it’s important: The move escalates the competition between Didi and its international rival Uber.The two companies are already battling for market share in Brazil and Mexico.
The southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu is looking to drive innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) by offering subsidies of up to RMB 3 million (around $430,000) to startups in the city.Chengdu hopes to establish itself as an AI-powered innovation center, covering a variety of applications including 5G, ultra high-definition video streaming, and virtual reality.The city government is offering subsidies of RMB 3 million to companies that innovate in a number of AI fields, including medical and military technologies, according to a statement released on Feb. 15 (in Chinese).The capital city of Sichuan province is facing increased pressure to acquire talent amid an AI race involving a slew of Chinese cities.Tianjin, another second-tier city in northern China, announced in May 2018 plans for a RMB 100 billion fund for AI development, including robotics and autonomous vehicles.Chengdu also aims to boost AI development by encouraging collaboration between companies that are leaders in their fields and universities by providing sponsorships of up to RMB 10 million to each project.
App自动保存用户图片 京东金融道歉功能存在技术问题 – Sina TechWhat happened: JD Finance’s customer service issued an apology over the weekend for the controversy surrounding a privacy issue within its Android app, which stored a screenshot of other apps in a folder on a user’s smartphone without authorization.JD Finance said that it is sorry for making such a “rudimentary mistake” and for hurting users’ trust in the company.The problematic function has been taken down.Why it’s important: Chinese netizens are becoming increasingly aware of privacy issues with the websites they visit and the apps they use.Not only have numerous privacy breaches and data leaks occurred, but a large number of mobile apps available in China have also been found to collect an excessive amount of personal data, according to a report released in December.
Singapore’s fintech company and life insurer Singapore Life is stepping into the prepaid card space with the recent purchase of Canvas from local payments platform Yolopay.Through the acquisition, former Yolopay partner Liam McCance joins Singapore Life as chief marketing officer and head of its new fintech venture division.“Singapore Life intends to leverage on [value-added fintech] innovations via acquisitions, investments, and partnerships with companies aligned with Singapore Life’s ‘digital-first’ ethos.We expect to make more collaborative announcements in the near future,” McCance revealed.See also: A former HSBC insurance CEO started his own insurtech firm.The Canvas-branded Visa prepaid card gives parents a cashless method to issue pocket money and manage spending limits.
Indonesia-based gaming platform PlayGame has secured an undisclosed investment from decentralized blockchain-powered protocol Tron Foundation.The newly acquired funding will allow PlayGame to fast-track its “proof of play” and launch its crypto payment gateway.It also plans to expand its platform to Japan, Korea, China, and Southeast Asia.Established in June 2018, PlayGame wants to “overcome the hurdles standing in the way of game developers,” such as “lack of transparency, piracy issues, inefficient payment calculation, and distribution.”The platform enables game publishers, developers, crypto-enthusiasts, and gaming communities to monetize the use of cryptocurrencies without affecting revenue.
A version of this article will appear in the first edition of Karateng Magazine of the African Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.Some of China’s largest tech giants are establishing roots in Africa’s budding e-commerce market, where structural limitations and immature markets have deterred global players.The prospect of getting an early seat at the table, however, has caught the eye of bigwigs such as Jack Ma, who has kickstarted a number of preliminary initiatives aimed at sowing seeds with promising African tech talent.In August, Ma launched a $10 million annual award called the Netpreneur Prize, which Ma hopes will foster hundreds of future African tech leaders.Each year 10 finalists will receive a $1 million grant from the Jack Ma Foundation for a business plan, as well as mentoring from Chinese industry leaders.“This prize demonstrates our support of the next generation of young entrepreneurs across Africa who are paving the way for a better future and imparting positive change in their communities.”
多款“网约护士”App服务价格动辄数百元 安全问题引人担忧 – China National RadioWhat happened: After surveying private apps that provide at-home nursing services, China National Radio concluded that many are expensive and may pose safety risks.While convenient compared to service at public hospitals, app-based services such as injections are much pricier.In addition, the vetting process for nurses can be uneven.An app called “Gold Medal Nurse” (our translation), for instance, doesn’t display the hospitals where nurses work, or what kind of qualifications and licenses they hold.In addition, according to self-reported information, many of the app’s nurses have less than five years of experience.
Singapore-based ABCC Exchange announced today that a consortium of investors, led by its co-founder Calvin Cheng, and Singaporean investor Eric Cheng, has acquired a controlling majority stake in the company.ABCC Exchange also has offices in Malta and Gibraltar, and was for most of the second half of 2018 one of the top 10 exchanges in the world by volume.Today, the exchange has a daily trading volume of US$35 million with communities in 12 different languages.Singaporean entrepreneur Calvin Cheng founded Shanghai-based, Sydney-listed edtech company Retech, and was previously head of Asia franchising for modeling agency Elite Models.Property investor Eric Cheng is perhaps best known for selling his house and luxury car collection to buy Japanese crypto exchange BitTrade for US$50 million last year, selling a controlling stake to Chinese exchange operator Huobi just a few months later.ABCC said that it will continue building its presence in its key markets of Europe and Southeast Asia following the acquisition.
Singapore- and Thailand-based blockchain startup Band Protocol has raised US$3 million in a seed funding round led by Sequoia India.Dunamu & Partners and SeaX also participated in the round.With the fresh funding, the startup wants to accelerate the development of its mainnet, which is the main blockchain network for transactions.It also wants to establish its go-to-market strategy for 2019 and expand its engineering team to support its solution launch later this year.“Because we are a protocol, we need to support other developers and enterprises who want to develop on top of our protocol, which will require a bigger team,” Soravis Srinawakoon, Band Protocol’s co-founder and CEO, tells Tech in Asia.Founded in 2017, Band Protocol enables users to create “token-curated” communities to solve problems like fake news and the misuse of user data.
DollarsAndSense, a Singapore-based personal finance portal, has acquired local financial planning startup FundMyLife.The value of the deal was not disclosed.DollarsAndSense claims the acquisition will give it better consumer insights, strengthen its position in insurance products and services, and help it to identify gaps in Singaporeans’ financial planning knowledge.Founded in 2017, FundMyLife connects consumers with a curated pool of financial advisers through a Q platform.Before the acquisition, DollarsAndSense worked with FundMyLife in multiple areas including affiliate partnerships, content marketing, and improving engagement with the financial adviser community.FundMyLife co-founders Jackie Tan and Wesley Goi will remain on board to oversee the transition and ensure continuity.
Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is planning to take on US rival Uber in some of Latin America’s fastest-growing markets, recruiting managers in Chile, Peru, and Colombia, according to job postings and a company official.Didi has moved senior executives from China to lead its expansion in markets like Chile and Peru, and began in recent weeks advertising for driver operations, crisis management, marketing, and business development personnel in those countries.Didi already faces off against Uber in Brazil, South America’s largest market, where it acquired local ride-hailing startup 99 for a reported US$1 billion last January.The Chinese company has also launched operations in Mexico, Japan, and Taiwan, and it’s an investor in Southeast Asia’s Grab.Yesterday, Didi revealed that it plans to cut up to 15 percent of its staff after leaked financials indicated it racked up a US$1.6 billion loss last year.
Konnectivity, a company jointly owned by Keppel Corporation and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), has announced that its voluntary conditional general offer for M1 Limited is now unconditional, as Konnectivity and its concert parties have achieved shareholding above 50 percent.Axiata Group, a long-term shareholder of M1, has tendered its entire 28.6 percent stake in acceptance of the offer.Konnectivity has received valid acceptances that result in it and its concert parties holding 75.5 percent of the maximum potential issued share capital of M1.With all the conditions of the offer having now been satisfied, the offer has become unconditional in all respects.M1 is one of Singapore’s four licensed telcos, alongside Singtel, Starhub, and TPG.The carrier has been facing increased competition, with the recent entry of Australia’s TPG and the emergence of mobile virtual network operators such as Circles.Life, MyRepublic, and Zero Mobile.