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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Philippines fintech business Voyager raises $215M in Tencent-led round

One of the year’s largest fintech investments in Southeast Asia has closed after Philippines-based Voyager announced it raised $215 million.

The bulk of the deal comes via a previously announced investment from Tencent which, alongside PE firm KKR, agreed to invest $175 million. Added to that, Voyager has pulled in a further $40 million from International Finance Corporation (IFC) and its Emerging Asia Fund, although that portion of the deal will take a few weeks to close.

Together, the deal is the largest piece of funding for a Philippines-based startup in history, although Voyager is hardly a startup. The business was started by telecom operator PLDT, and it operates as its fintech arm with services that include a prepaid wallet, digital payment option for retails, a remittance network for sending money, a digital lending service and a loyalty and rewards program.

Voyager can now step up its efforts to make its innovative financial and internet platforms more accessible to more Filipinos in more parts of the country,” Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman and CEO of PLDT, said in a statement.

As we reported last month, the Tencent-led investment in Voyager draws parallels with Chinese rival Alibaba which last year backed Philippines-based Mynt, a fintech business started by PLDT rival Globe Telecom, via its Ant Financial affiliate. That sets up an intriguing new battleground for China’s two top tech firms.

While Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem is rising with homegrown unicorns like Grab, Go-Jek, Traveloka and Tokopedia, the Philippines has lagged the region’s other six largest countries. Fintech has been a particularly fertile area for what little funding that the Philippines has attracted; SME lender First Circle closed a $26 million investment just before the initial Tencent-KKR deal Voyager.


Source: TechCrunch

Taylor Swift named 'most influential' person on Twitter in 2018 – CNET

The singer only tweeted 13 times this year, but that turned out to be the magic number she needed to be crowned the social platform’s most influential user.
Source: CNET

This laptop sling bag transforms into a camera bag – CNET

The NIID Decode Tech Sling is awesome for a daily commute and its customizable design has enough space for more than essentials.
Source: CNET

The Handmaid's Tale sequel is coming, says Margaret Atwood – CNET

The Testaments will be published in September 2019.
Source: CNET

Nintendo Switch has best selling week ever in US thanks to Black Friday, Cyber Monday – CNET

Aggressive deals over the peak holiday shopping days paid off.
Source: CNET

Spotify's 'Wrapped' Ads Highlight the Weird and Wonderful

Yanny and Laurel and yodeling and more appear in Spotify’s annual celebration of quirky playlists and music streaming.
Source: Wired

Another Net Neutrality Day of Action Draws Fewer Big Names

Etsy and Tumblr will prod users to call legislators ahead of a Dec. 10 deadline for Congress to restore net neutrality protections.
Source: Wired

China’s Didi adds driver training program to counter sharp decline in rides

Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company by number of users, has been struggling to recover from a major setback following the deaths of two passengers earlier this year. On Wednesday, its founder and CEO Cheng Wei released a letter detailing the company’s moves to step up safety oversight and meet new government rules, including a training program for drivers.

The Softbank-backed transportation giant, which acquired Uber’s China-based service in 2016 and was last valued at $56 billion, has been hit by a shortage of rides as regulators slashed stricter licensing requirements on drivers in the aftermath of the murders.

A number of Didi drivers who TechCrunch recently spoke to said they were considering quitting because the cost of compliance outweighs the return. Drivers need to, for instance, study and pass an exam to attain the desired papers. They must also register their car as a commercial vehicle and scrap it after eight years.

To attract drivers, Didi plans to offer training sessions and help them legalize, according to Cheng.

“We look forward to helping tens of millions of drivers to reach compliance goals and continue to work with us to meet the mobility demands of users and achieve sustainable long-term growth of the industry,” the CEO says in a statement.

There are still a large number of illegal rideshare drivers on the road, China’s Ministry of Transportation said during a joint meeting with the country’s internet security agency and other government organs on Wednesday. But that may change as soon as January 1 when Didi starts to ban unlicensed drivers from taking orders.

Other safety measures that Didi has taken include a continued suspension of its once popular carpooling service – which is linked to the passenger murders – Cheng announced today.

Didi isn’t the only ride-hailing firm facing increased regulatory scrutiny. During the government meeting, the Ministry of Transportation also lambasted smaller players, including state-owned Shouyue, Meituan Dianping’s ride-hailing app, and Alibaba’s AutoNavi, for lax safety practices.


Source: TechCrunch

The Widely-Spoken Languages We Still Can’t Translate Online

People who speak languages missing from Google Translate, Siri, and Wikipedia will face future crises—leaving aid organizations scrambling.
Source: Wired

The Era of Cheap and Easy STD Treatment Is Over. What Went Wrong?

Better drugs and easily accessible clinics had stemmed the spread of diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis. Now, a perfect storm is tearing this system apart.
Source: Wired

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