Indonesian logistics startup SiCepat raises $170 million Series B

SiCepat, an end-to-end logistics startup in Indonesia, announced today it has raised a $170 million Series B funding round. Founded in 2014 to provide last-mile deliveries for small merchants, the company has since expanded to serve large e-commerce platforms, too. Its services now also cover warehousing and fulfillment, middle-mile logistics and online distribution.

Investors in SiCepat’s Series B include Falcon House Partners; Kejora Capital; DEG (the German Development Finance Institution); Telkom Indonesia’s investment arm MDI Ventures; Indies Capital; Temasek Holdings subsidiary Pavilion Capital; Tri Hill; and Daiwa Securities. The company’s last funding announcement was a $50 million Series A in April 2019.

In a press statement, The Kim Hai, founder and chief executive officer of SiCepat’s parent company Onstar Express, said the funding will be used to “further fortify SiCepat’s position as the leading end-to-end logistics service provider in the Indonesian market and potentially to explore expansion to other markets in Southeast Asia.” SiCepat claims to be profitable already and that it was able to fulfill more than 1.4 million packages per day in 2020.

The logistics industry in Indonesia is highly fragmented, which means higher costs for businesses. At the same time, demand for deliveries is increasing thanks to the growth of e-commerce, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SiCepat is one of several Indonesian startups that have raised funding recently to make the supply chain and logistics infrastructure more efficient. For example, earlier this week, supply chain SaaS provider Advotics announced a $2.75 million round. Other notable startups in the space include Kargo, founded by a former Uber Asia executive, and Waresix.

SiCepat focuses in particular on e-commerce and social commerce, or people who sell goods through their social media networks. In statement, Kejora Capital managing partner Sebastian Togelang, said the Indonesian e-commerce market is expected to grow at five-year compounded annual growth rate of 21%, reaching $82 billion by 2025.

“We believe SiCepat is ideally positioned to serve customers from e-commerce giants to uprising social commerce players which contribute an estimated 25% to the total digital commerce economy,” he added.

#asia, #ecommerce, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #last-mile-delivery, #logistics, #sicepat, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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Payfazz invests $30M in Xfers as the two Southeast Asian fintechs form Fazz Financial Group

Payfazz and Xfers, two startups that want to increase financial inclusion in Southeast Asia, announced today they have joined forces to create a new holding entity called Fazz Financial Group. As part of the deal, Payfazz, an agent-based financial services network in Indonesia, invested $30 million into payments infrastructure provider Xfers.

Based in Singapore, Xfers will serve as the B2B and Southeast Asia arm of Fazz Financial Group, while Payfazz, which already uses Xfers’ payments infrastructure, will continue expanding in Indonesia. The two companies will retain their names while working together under the new holding entity.

Both Payfazz and Xfers are Y Combinator alums, and want to make financial services accessible to more Southeast Asians, even if they don’t have a bank account. Xfers co-founder Tianwei Liu told TechCrunch in an email he and Payfazz co-founder Hendra Kwik began talking about joining forces in early 2020 because of their startups’ shared goals.

“This is also coupled with the fact that last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a significant increase in demand for digital payments and financial services across Indonesian rural areas, creating a huge growth opportunity for us,” Liu added.

Kwik will serve as Fazz Financial Group’s group CEO, while Liu will be the financial entity’s deputy CEO. Both will continue serving as CEOs of their respective companies. Fazz Financial Group also appointed as its chief financial officer Robert Polana, who previously held the same role at booking platform Tiket.com.

In Indonesia, Payfazz has built a network of 250,000 financial agents to reach people in rural areas where many banks don’t operate branches. Customers deposit cash with agents, and that balance can used to pay phone, electricity and other bills.

Payfazz, which announced a $53 million Series B in July from investors including Tiger Global and Y Combinator, also offers loans and payment services for offline retailers. As part of Fazz Financial Group, it will continue to build its agent banking network.

Payfazz uses payment infrastructure developed by Xfers to accept digital payments. Originally launched six years ago with an API for bank transfers, Xfers has since expanded its portfolio of software to include payment acceptance for businesses, tools for disbursing and transferring funds and a cryptocurrency wallet. In 2020, Xfers obtained a Major Payment Institution license for e-money issuance from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Xfers will continue to serve clients in Indonesia and Singapore with its payments infrastructure, which enables them to accept bank transfers, e-wallet funds and payments through convenience stores and agent banking networks (like Payfazz). Xfers says it has access to more than 10 million underbanked consumers in Indonesia through its work with agent banking services, and also plans to expand into Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Fazz Financial Group plans to launch two new products later this year: a zero-integration payment solution for Singapore-based merchants and a single-integration solution that will connect local payment methods across Southeast Asia.

Liu said that, unlike the United States, Southeast Asia “has a fragmented local payments landscape, even within each country,” meaning that consumers often use several payment methods. Creating a single-integration for payment methods in Southeast Asia gives brands a growth channel when entering new countries, allowing them to scale up more quickly, he added.

“The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown has also driven a big surge in online sales and transactions across Southeast Asia, so there is a huge need for online payments by businesses and merchants across the region,” Liu said. “The zero-integration and single-integration solution will help businesses and merchants start accepting online payments quickly and easily with a simple integration within minutes, without any need to deal with complex regulation/license handling and technology development.”

#asia, #financial-inclusion, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #payfazz, #payments, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #xfers

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Indonesian supply chain startup Advotics raises $2.75M led by East Ventures

The rapid growth of e-commerce in Indonesia, especially during the pandemic, is placing increasing demands on its supply chain infrastructure. But the country’s logistics industry is highly fragmented, with companies usually relying on multiple providers for one shipment, and many warehouses are still concentrated around major cities. Advotics wants to help with software to make the whole supply chain easier to track, and recently closed a $2.75 million funding round led by East Ventures.

Founded in 2016 by Boris Sanjaya, Hendi Chandi and Jeffry Tani, Advotics currently counts more than 70 clients, ranging from individual resellers to large corporations like Exxonmobil, Danone, Reckitt Benckiser, Sampoerna, Kalbe and Mulia Group.

According to research institution Statistics Indonesia, there are about 5 million small and medium-sized manufacturers in Indonesia. They use a supply chain with 15 million small to mid-sized distributors and about 288,000 large distribution companies. This fragmentation means higher expenses, with Report Linker estimating that logistics costs range between 25% to 30% of Indonesia’s gross domestic product.

To help make logistics more efficient for its clients, Advotics offers SaaS solutions to monitor almost their entire supply and logistics chain, from warehouse inventory to generating delivery routes for drivers. It includes a product digitalization feature that uses QR codes to track products and prevent counterfeiting. The company’s new funding will be used to launch a online-to-offline system for SMEs and grow its sales team.

Advotics is among several tech startups that are taking different approaches to tackle Indonesia’s logistics infrastructure. For example, Shipper wants to give sellers access to “Amazon-level logistics,” while Logisly is focused on digitizing truck shipments. Waresix recently acquired Trukita to connect businesses to shippers and truck shipment platform Kargo’s backers include Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick.

#advotics, #asia, #ecommerce, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #logistics, #southeast-asia, #startups, #supply-chain, #tc

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Indonesian payments infra startup Xendit raises $64.6M in Accel-led Series B

Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation is happening all over the world. And Southeast Asia is no exception.

Indonesia’s Xendit, a startup focused on building digital payments infrastructure for the region, has just raised $64.6 million in a Series B led by Silicon Valley heavyweight Accel. The funding brings the total amount raised by the Jakarta-based company to $88 million since its 2015.

Notably, Y Combinator also participated in the financing. In fact, Xendit is the first Indonesian company to go through Y Combinator’s accelerator program. It also was ranked No. 64 on Y Combinator’s top 100 companies (by valuation and top exits) list in January 2021

Xendit works with businesses of all sizes, processing more than 65 million transactions with $6.5 billion in payment value annually. Its website promises businesses that “with a single integration,” they can accept payments in Indonesia and the Philippines. The company describes itself as building out financial services and digital payments infrastructure “in which the next generation of Southeast Asian SaaS companies can be built on top of,” or put more simply, it aspires to be the Stripe of Southeast Asia.

Xendit has been growing exponentially since its launch — with its CAGR (compound annual growth rate) increasing annually by 700%, according to COO and co-founder Tessa Wijaya. In 2020, the company saw its customer count increase by 540%. Customers include Traveloka, TransferWise, Wish and Grab, among others. Xendit declined to reveal hard revenue figures.

It also declined to reveal its current valuation but we do know that as of October 2019, it was valued at at least $150 million – a pre-requisite for appearing on this Y Combinator liston which it ranked No. 53. 

The idea for Xendit was formed when CEO Moses Lo met his co-founders while studying at University of California, Berkeley. Shortly after, they went through Y Combinator, and launched Xendit in 2015. 

One of the company’s main benefactors was Twitch co-founder Justin Kan. According to Lo, “he happened to have some family in Indonesia, and it was also about the time when Asia was becoming more interesting for YC.”

Xendit was originally launched as a P2P payments platform before evolving into its current model.

Today, the startup aims to help businesses of all sizes seamlessly process online payments, run marketplaces, distribute payroll manage finances and detect fraud via machine learning. It aims for fast and easy integrations so that businesses can more easily accept payments digitally.

The market opportunity is there. One of the world’s most populous countries that is home to more than 270 million people — an estimated 175 million of which are internet users — Indonesia’s digital economy is expected to reach $300 billion by 2025.

Add to that a complex region that is home to 17,000 different islands and a number of regulatory and technological challenges.

“Trying to build the businesses of tomorrow on yesterday’s infrastructure is holding Southeast Asia’s businesses back,” Lo said.

The global shift toward more digital transactions over the past year led to increased demand for Xendit’s infrastructure and services, according to Wijaya. To meet that demand, the company doubled its employee headcount to over 350 currently.

The pandemic also led to Xendit branching out. Prior to 2020, many of the company’s customers were large travel companies. So the first few months of the year, the startup’s business was hit hard. But increased demand paved the way for Xendit to expand into new sectors, such as retail, gaming and other digital products.

Looking ahead, the startup plans to use its new capital to scale its digital payments infrastructure “quickly” with the goal of providing millions of small and medium-sized businesses across Southeast Asia with “an on-ramp to the digital economy.” It is also eyeing other markets. Xendit recently expanded into the Philippines and also is considering other countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, according to Wijaya.

Xendit is also similar in scope to San Francisco-based Finix, which aims to make every software company a payments company. Xendit acknowledges the similarities, but notes it is also “looking to tackle broader challenges related to accessibility, security and reliability that are unique to Southeast Asia,” with a deep understanding of the region’s unique geographical and cultural nuances.

To Accel partner Ryan Sweeney, Xendit has “quietly” built a modern digital payments infrastructure that’s transformed how Southeast Asian businesses transact.

“Their team’s combination of deep local expertise and global ambitions means they’re uniquely positioned to do what no other company could do in the region,” he said. “The vision of Xendit is a bold one: they are building the digital payments infrastructure for Southeast Asia, and fits squarely into Accel’s global fintech thesis.”

Other fintechs that Accel has backed include Braintree/Venmo, WorldRemit,GoFundMe and Monzo, and more recently Galileo, TradeRepublic, Lydia, Public.com and Flink.

#accel, #digital-services, #digital-transformation, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #jakarta, #payment-solutions, #payments, #philippines, #recent-funding, #ryan-sweeney, #southeast-asia, #startups, #venture-capital, #xendit, #y-combinator

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This Bird Wasn’t Seen for 170 Years. Then It Appeared in an Indonesian Forest.

The black-browed babbler has long been one of Indonesia’s most enigmatic birds.

#birds, #birdwatching, #borneo-indonesia, #bw-galeatus, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #indonesia, #your-feed-science

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Singapore-based Raena gets $9M Series A for its pivot to skincare and beauty-focused social commerce

A photo of social commerce startup Raena’s team. From left to right: chief operating officer Guo Xing Lim, chief executive officer Sreejita Deb and chief commercial officer Widelia Liu

Raena’s team, from left to right: chief operating officer Guo Xing Lim, chief executive officer Sreejita Deb and chief commercial officer Widelia Liu

Raena was founded in 2019 to create personal care brands with top social media influencers. After several launches, however, the Singapore-based startup quickly noticed an interesting trend: customers were ordering batches of products from Raena every week and reselling them on social media and e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Tokopedia. Last year, the company decided to focus on those sellers, and pivoted to social commerce.

Today Raena announced it has raised a Series A of $9 million, co-led by Alpha Wave Incubation and Alpha JWC Ventures, with participation from AC Ventures and returning investors Beenext, Beenos and Strive. Its last funding announcement was a $1.82 million seed round announced in July 2019.

After interviewing people who were setting up online stores with products from Raena, the company’s team realized that sellers’ earnings potential was capped because they were paying retail prices for their inventory.

They also saw that the even though new C2C retail models, like social commerce, are gaining popularity, the beauty industry’s supply chain hasn’t kept up. Sellers usually need to order minimum quantities, which makes it harder for people to start their own businesses, Raena co-founder Sreejita Deb told TechCrunch,

“Basically, you have to block your capital upfront. It’s difficult for individual sellers or micro-enterpreneurs to work with the old supply chain and categories like beauty,” she said.

Raena decided to pivot to serve those entrepreneurs. The company provides a catalog that includes mostly Japanese and Korean skincare and beauty brands. For those brands, Raena represents a way to enter new markets like Indonesia, which the startup estimates has $20 billion market opportunity.

Raena resellers, who are mostly women between 18 to 34-years-old in Indonesia and Malaysia, pick what items they want to feature on their social media accounts. Most use TikTok or Instagram for promotion, and set up online stores on Shopee or Tokopedia. But they don’t have to carry inventory. When somebody buys a product from a Raena reseller, the reseller orders it from Raena, which ships it directly to the customer.

This drop-shipping model means resellers make higher margins. Since they don’t have to carry inventory, it also dramatically lowers the barrier to launching a small business. Even though Raena’s pivot to social commerce coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, Deb said it grew its revenue 50 times between January and December 2020. The platform now has more than 1,500 resellers, and claims a 60% seller retention rate after six months on the platform.

She attributes Raena’s growth to several factors, including the increase in online shopping during lockdowns and people looking for ways to earn additional income during the pandemic. While forced to stay at home, many people also began spending more time online, especially on the social media platforms that Raena resellers use.

Raena also benefited from its focus on skincare. Even though many retail categories, including color cosmetics, took a hit, skincare products proved resilient.

“We saw skincare had higher margins, and there are certain markets that are experts at formulating and producing skincare products, and demand for those products in other parts of the world,” she said, adding, “we’ve continued being a skincare company and because that is a category we had insight into, it was our first entry point into this social selling model as well. 90% of our sales are skincare. Our top-selling products are serums, toners, essences, which makes a lot of sense because people are in their homes and have more time to dedicate to their skincare routines.”

Social commerce, which allows people to earn a side income (or even a full-time income), by promoting products through social media, has taken off in several Asian markets. In China, for example, Pinduoduo has become a formidable rival to Alibaba through its group-selling model and focus on fresh produce. In India, Meesho resellers promote products through social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

Social commerce is also gaining traction in Southeast Asia, with gross merchandise value growing threefold during the first half of 2020, according to iKala.

Deb said one of the ways Raena is different from other social commerce companies is that most of its resellers are selling to customers they don’t know, instead of focusing on family and friends. Many already had TikTok or Instagram profiles focused on beauty and skincare, and had developed reputations for being knowledgeable about products.

As Raena develops, it plans to hire a tech team to build tools that will simplify the process of managing orders and also strike deals directly with manufacturers to increase profit margins for resellers. The funding will be used to increase its team from 15 to over 100 over the next three months, and it plans to enter more Southeast Asian markets.

#asia, #e-commerce, #indonesia, #malaysia, #personal-care, #raena, #singapore, #skincare, #social-commerce, #southeast-asia, #tc

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ErudiFi raises $5 million Series A to give students in Southeast Asia more education financing options

Based in Singapore, ErudiFi wants to help more students in Southeast Asia stay in school by giving them affordable financing options. The startup announced today it has raised a $5 million Series A, co-led by Monk’s Hill Ventures and Qualgro.

ErudiFi currently works with more than 50 universities and vocational schools in Indonesia and the Philippines. Co-founder and chief executive officer Naga Tan told TechCrunch that students in those countries have limited financing options, and often rely on friends or family, or informal payday lenders that charge high interest rates.

To provide more accessible financing options, ErudiFi partners with accredited universities and schools to offer subsidized installment plans, using tech to scale up while keeping costs down. Interest rates and repayment terms vary between institutions, but can be as low as 0%, with loans payable in 12 to 24 months.

By providing their students with affordable financing plans, ErudiFi can increase retention rates at schools, helping them keep students who would otherwise be forced to drop out because of financial issues.

Tan said ErudiFi’s value proposition for educational institutions is “being able to offer a data-driven financing solution that helps with student recruitment and retention. Students also greatly benefit because our product is one of the few, if not the only, affordable financing option they have access to.”

In a press statement, Peng T. Ong, co-founder and managing partner of Monk’s Hill Ventures, said, “Access to affordable tertiary education remains a huge pain point in Southeast Asia where the cost is nearly double then the average GDP per capita. ErudiFi is tackling an underserved market that is plagued with high-interest rates by traditional financial institutions and limited reach from peer-to-peer lending companies.”

ErudiFi’s Series A will be used on hiring for its product and engineering teams and to expand in Indonesia and the Philippines.

#asia, #education, #erudifi, #finance, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #philippines, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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One Album Released by 44 Labels. Is This the New Global Jukebox?

For a decade, Senyawa has helped redefine how Indonesian music sounded. Now, the duo wants to revolutionize how it gets heard.

#alkisah-album, #audio-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #content-type-personal-profile, #indonesia, #phantom-limb-co, #pop-and-rock-music, #senyawa-music-group, #shabara-rully, #suryadi-wukir, #yogyakarta-indonesia

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Indonesian investment platform FUNDtastic lands $7.7 million Series A

Despite the market impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, retail investing is increasing in Indonesia, especially among people aged 18 to 30. Today, investment platform FUNDtastic announced it has raised a $7.7 million Series A to tap into that demand, with plans to launch new products for retail investors, reports DealStreetAsia.

The round was led by Singapore-based Ascend Capital Group, with participation from other investors including tech holding company Indivara Group. FUNDtastic plans to add retail bonds, insurance and peer-to-peer lending to its current roster of mutual funds and gold investment options.

FUNDtastic acquired Invisee, a mutual funds and securities portal, last year for $6.5 million, allowing it to sell mutual fund products directly.

Based in Jakarta, FUNDtastic was founded in 2019 by Harry Hartono, Franky Chandra and Medwin Susilo. While capital investing in Indonesia remains relatively low, with many preferring to invest in real estate instead, that number is gradually increasing as young professionals diversify their holdings. The Indonesian Stock Exchange is also launching initiatives to attract more retail investors.

Other startups focused on making retail investment more accessible to Indonesians include Ajaib and Bibit, which both recently raised funding.

#asia, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #fundtastic, #indonesia, #investment, #retail-investing, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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What Made the Indonesian Plane Crash? New Report Sheds Light

In a preliminary report on Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, investigators said the crash might have been caused by several factors, including a problem controlling the engines’ thrust.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #boeing-company, #indonesia, #jakarta-indonesia, #java-indonesia, #sriwijaya-air-flight-182

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GajiGesa, a fintech startup serving underbanked Indonesian workers, raises $2.5 million seed round

GajiGesa, a fintech company that offers Earned Wage Access (EWA) and other services for workers in Indonesia, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding. The round was co-led by Defy.vc and Quest Ventures. Other participants included GK Plug and Play, Next Billion Ventures, Alto Partners Multi-Family Office, Kanmo Group and strategic angel investors.

The company was founded last year by husband-and-wife team Vidit Agrawal and Martyna Malinowska. Agrawal was Uber’s first employee in Asia and has also served in leadership positions at Carro and Stripe. Malinowska led product development at Standard Chartered’s SC Ventures and alternative credit-scoring platform LenddoEFL.

About 66% of Indonesia’s 260 million population is “unbanked,” which means they don’t have a bank account and limited access to financial services like loans. Agrawal and Malinowska decided to launch GajiGesa in Indonesia because Malinowska worked with many unbanked workers while at LenddoEFL. While at Uber, Agrawal also worked with drivers across Southeast Asia whose average earnings were $250 USD a month (excluding Singapore), and he said the top issue they face was harassment by money lenders.

Screenshots showing how GajiGesa's app works. GajiGesa is a startup that offers earned wage access and other services to Indonesian workers.

GajiGesa’s app

“These hardworking Indonesians had no fair or formal sources for easy access to capital. Further, the most common reason for borrowing was short-term liquidity issues,” Agrawal told TechCrunch. “But workers were forced to borrow either long-term, high ticket size loans or short-term loans with exorbitantly high-interest rates.”

Having immediate access to earned wages, instead of waiting for a semi-monthly or monthly paycheck, can help alleviate financial stress and make it easier for workers to manage their income and handle emergencies. Companies that have started instant payment services for workers in other countries include Square, London-based startup Wagestream and Gusto.

Since launching in October 2020, GajiGesa has added over 30 employers on its platform, serving tens of thousand of workers in total. It integrates into a company’s existing human resources management and payroll systems. Workers can get earned wages immediately, track earnings, pay bills, buy prepaid cards and access financial education resources through an app.

GajiGesa does not charge interest rates or require collateral, since all its users are pre-approved by their employers. Companies decide to charge fees or offer GajiGesa as part of their benefits packages, and also get access to analytics that can help them create targeted incentives or new benefits for their workforce.

During COVID-19, Agrawal said the startup has “seen insatiable demand and support for GajiGesa’s EWA solution from employers. This is partly attributed to the various challenges employers are facing due to the effects of COVID-19, but our platform is designed to support employers and employees in the long-term. The value of EWA and the other services we offer is not limited to the pandemic.”

#asia, #earned-wage-access, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #gajigesa, #indonesia, #southeast-asia, #tc

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Judge Postpones Guantanamo Arraignments Over Covid Concerns

A military judge who was to travel to Guantánamo Bay this week ruled that the health risks the base posed were reason enough to delay the arraignments of three prisoners.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #detainees, #guantanamo-bay-naval-base-cuba, #indonesia, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-navy

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BukuWarung, a startup digitizing Indonesia’s SMEs, raises new funding from Rocketship.vc

BukuWarung, an Indonesian startup focused on digitizing the country’s 60 million small businesses, announced today it has raised new funding from Rocketship.vc and an Indonesian retail conglomerate.

The amount was undisclosed, but sources say it brings BukuWarung’s total funding so far to $20 million. The company’s last round, announced in September 2020, was between $10 million to $15 million. Launched in 2019, BukuWarung was founded by Chinmay Chauhan and Abhinay Peddisetty and took part in Y Combinator last year.

Rocketship.vc is also an investor in Indian startup Khatabook, which reached a valuation between $275 million to $300 million in its last funding round. Like Khatabook, BukuWarung helps small businesses, like neigborhood stores called warung, that previously relied on paper ledgers transition to digital bookkeeping and online payments. BukuWarung recently launched Tokoko, a Shopify-like tool that lets merchants create online stores through an app, and says Tokoko has been used by 500,000 merchants so far.

Chuahan, BukuWarung’s president, said it has started making revenue through its payments solution. In total, BukuWarung now claims more than 3.5 million registered merchants in 750 Indonesian towns and cities, and says it is recording over $15 billion worth of transactions across its platform and processing over $500 million in terms of volume.

SMEs contribute about 60% to Indonesia’s gross domestic product and employ 97% of its domestic workforce, but many have difficulty accessing financial services that can help them grow. By digitizing their financial records, companies like BukuWarung can make it easier for them to access lines of credit, working capital loans and other services. Other companies serving SMEs in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, include BukuKas and CrediBook.

BukuWarung will use its new funding to grow its tech and product teams in Indonesia, India and Singapore. It plans to launch more monetization products, including credit, and grow its payments solution this year.

#asia, #bukuwarung, #digital-bookkeeping, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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CrediBook gets $1.5 million to help Indonesian retail wholesalers digitize their finances

CrediBook, a startup that helps Indonesian retail wholesalers digitize the financial side of their operations, has raised $1.5 million in pre-Series A funding led by Wavemaker Partners, with participation from Alpha JWC Ventures and Insignia Ventures Partners. The capital will be used for product launches and expansion into more Indonesian cities.

Founded in February 2020, CrediBook is part of a wave of startups focused on digitizing small- to medium-sized businesses in Indonesia. SMEs contribute more than 60% of the country’s gross domestic product, but many still use traditional bookkeeping systems like paper ledgers. Digitizing them makes it easier for them to use services like online invoicing and payments, and keep financial records to apply for working capital loans.

Some other startups serving Indonesian SMEs include BukuKas and BukuWarung, two digital bookkeeping apps for small B2C businesses like neighborhood stores and restaurants (both have also recently raised funding). Moka and Jurnal, meanwhile, are used by larger companies. CrediBook is carving out a niche for itself by serving small-to-medium sized B2B businesses in the retail sector, including wholesalers.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Gabriel Frans told TechCrunch that the company is moving toward a profitable business model and currently has more than 500,000 customers, who use the app for bookkeeping, tracking orders from retailers and digital payments. CrediBook also works with financial services provider PayFazz, one of its seed investors, to provide financing to SMEs.

Frans said CrediBook plans to add more features, including online invoicing, to create an end-to-end platform like Tel Aviv and New York-based B2B payment startups Melio, which announced a round of funding this week that brought its valuation to $1.3 billion. “We are digitizing not only the bookkeeping, but also the invoicing and payment processing,” Frans said.

Most of CrediBook’s customers are currently concentrated in the cities of Jabodetabek and Bandung, and part of its funding will be used for building its user base in more areas. Frans said many of the startup’s customers relied on paper ledgers before signing up for CrediBook, so part of the process of convincing them to go online includes demonstrating how having more visibility into their finances can grow their businesses.

“We are very close to our users because this is a very localized market,” said Frans, who previously worked at O2O platform Kudo (now called GrabKios after its acquisition by Grab in 2017) and bookings platform Traveloka. “I was already familiar with the industry based on my previous experience, and if they try our app and experience the benefit of how it will make their day-to-day problems less, they will love it.”

#asia, #credibook, #digital-bookkeeping, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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Pentagon Official Approves Guantánamo Trial of 3 Men for Indonesia Bombings

The case was dormant throughout the Trump administration, and then a military official suddenly approved it as the first new case at Guantánamo since 2014.

#bali-indonesia, #detainees, #guantanamo-bay-naval-base-cuba, #indonesia, #jemaah-islamiyah, #military-tribunals, #terrorism, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-politics-and-government

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Families of Indonesia Plane Crash Victims Begin Their Anguished Goodbyes

The authorities continue to piece together what happened aboard Sriwijaya Air Flight 182. For many victims’ families, the uncertainty has added to immeasurable grief.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #families-and-family-life, #funerals-and-memorials, #indonesia, #jakarta-indonesia, #sriwijaya-air, #sriwijaya-air-flight-182

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This painted pig is the world’s oldest figurative art

Color photo of stylized pig painted in red on a rock wall

Enlarge (credit: Brumm et al. 2021)

A pig painted on the wall of an Indonesian cave is the world’s oldest figurative art—that is, it’s the oldest known drawing of something,

rather than an abstract design or a stencil.

The 45,500-year-old ocher painting depicts a Sulawesi warty pig, which appears to be watching a standoff between two other pigs. If that interpretation is correct, the painting is also a contender for the world’s oldest narrative scene. And it hints at how much the earliest Indonesians observed and recorded about the animals and ecosystems around them. A growing pile of evidence tells us that the first people to reach the islands of Indonesia carried with them a culture of art and visual storytelling, as well as the means to cross the expanses of water between the islands, eventually reaching Australia.

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#ancient-asia, #ancient-people-did-stuff, #archaeology, #cave-art, #cave-paintings, #human-migration, #indonesia, #pleistocene, #rock-art, #science, #sulawesi, #uranium-series-dating

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Indonesia Quake Kills Dozens and Injures Hundreds

The 6.2-magnitude earthquake, Indonesia’s third deadly disaster in a week, struck Sulawesi island, flattening a hospital, destroying homes and setting off landslides.

#deaths-fatalities, #earthquakes, #indonesia, #sulawesi-indonesia

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Pig Painting May Be World’s Oldest Cave Art Yet, Archaeologists Say

The depiction of the animal on an Indonesian island is at least 45,500 years old, the researchers say.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #art, #caves-and-caverns, #indonesia, #pigs, #research, #science-advances-journal, #sulawesi-indonesia, #your-feed-science

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App stores saw record 218 billion downloads in 2020, consumer spend of $143 billion

Mobile adoption continued to grow in 2020, in part due to the market forces of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile” industry report, mobile app downloads grew by 7% year-over-year to a record 218 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, consumer spending grew by 20% to also hit a new milestone of $143 billion, led by markets that included China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Consumers also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone, the report found.

In another shift, app usage in the U.S. surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours on their mobile device.

The increase in time spent is a trend that’s not unique to the U.S., but can be seen across several other countries, including both developing mobile markets like Indonesia, Brazil and India, as well as places like China, Japan, South Korea, the U.K., Germany, France and others.

The trend isn’t isolated to any one demographic, either, but is seen across age groups. In the U.S., for example, Gen Z, millennials and Gen X/Baby Boomers spent 16%, 18% and 30% more time in their most-used apps year-over-year, respectively. However, what those favorite apps looked like was very different.

For Gen Z in the U.S., top apps on Android phones included Snapchat, Twitch, TikTok, Roblox and Spotify.

Millennials favored Discord, LinkedIn, PayPal, Pandora and Amazon Music.

And Gen X/Baby Boomers used Ring, Nextdoor, The Weather Channel, Kindle and ColorNote Notepad Notes.

The pandemic didn’t necessarily change how consumers were using apps in 2020, but rather accelerated mobile adoption by two to three years’ time, the report found.

Investors were also eager to fuel mobile businesses as a result, pouring $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year. According to Crunchbase data, 26% of total global funding dollars in 2020 went to businesses that included a mobile solution.

From 2016 to 2020, global funding to mobile technology companies more than doubled compared with the previous five years, and was led by financial services, transportation, commerce and shopping.

Mobile gaming adoption also continued to grow in 2020. Casual games dominated the market in terms of downloads (78%), but Core games accounted for 66% of games’ consumer spend and 55% of the time spent.

With many stuck inside due to COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines, mobile games that offered social interaction boomed. Among Us, for example, became a breakout game in several markets in 2020, including the U.S.

Other app categories saw sizable increases over the past year, as well.

Time spent in Finance apps in 2020 was up 45% worldwide, outside of China, and participation in the stock market grew 55% on mobile, thanks to apps like Robinhood in the U.S. and others worldwide, that democratized investing and trading.

TikTok had a big year, too.

The app saw incredible 325% year-over-year growth, despite a ban in India, and ranked in the top five apps by time spent. The average monthly time spent per user also grew faster than nearly every other app analyzed, including 65% in the U.S. and 80% in the U.K., surpassing Facebook. TikTok is now on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021, App Annie forecasts.

Other video services boomed in 2020, thanks to a combination of new market entrants and a lot of time spent at home. Consumers spent 40% more hours streaming on mobile devices, with time spent in streaming apps peaking in the second quarter in the west as the pandemic forced people inside.

YouTube benefitted from this trend, as it became the No. 1 streaming app by time spent among all markets analyzed except China. The time spent in YouTube is up to 6x that of the next closet app at 38 hours per month.

Of course, another big story for 2020 was the rise of e-commerce amid the pandemic. This made the past year the biggest ever for mobile shopping, with an over 30% increase in time spent in Shopping apps, as measured on Android phones outside of China.

Mobile commerce, however, looked less traditional in 2020.

Social shopping was a big trend, with global downloads of Pinterest and Instagram growing 50% and 20% year-over-year, respectively.

Livestreaming shopping grew, too, led by China. Downloads of live shopping TaoBao Live in China, Grip in South Korea and NTWRK in the U.S. grew 100%, 245% and 85%, respectively. NTWRK doubled in size last year, and now others are entering the space as well — including TikTok, to some extent.

The pandemic also prompted increased usage of mobile ordering apps. In the U.S., Argentina, the U.K., Indonesia and Russia, the app grew by 60%, 65%, 70%, 80% and 105%, respectively, in Q4.

Business apps, like Zoom and Google Meet among others, grew 275% in Q4, for example, as remote work and sometimes school, continued.

The analysis additionally included lists of the top apps by downloads, spending and monthly active users (MAUs).

Although TikTok had been topping year-end charts, Facebook continued to beat it in terms of MAUs. Facebook-owned apps controlled the top charts by MAUs, with Facebook at No. 1 followed by WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.

TikTok, however, had more downloads than Facebook and ranked No. 2 by consumer spending, behind Tinder.

The full report is available only as an online interactive experience this year, not a download. The report largely uses data from both the iOS App Store and Google Play, except where otherwise noted.

#amazon, #android, #app-annie, #apps, #argentina, #brazil, #china, #computing, #e-commerce, #facebook, #financial-services, #france, #freeware, #germany, #google, #india, #indonesia, #instagram, #japan, #kindle, #linkedin, #messenger, #mobile-app, #mobile-applications, #mobile-commerce, #mobile-device, #mobile-devices, #mobile-technology, #operating-systems, #pandora, #paypal, #pinterest, #roblox, #russia, #snapchat, #social-media, #software, #south-korea, #spotify, #the-weather-channel, #tiktok, #twitch, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #video-services

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Data Recorder Recovered From Indonesian Plane Crash

The recovery of the so-called black box will help officials understand why Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 plummeted into the Java Sea on Saturday.

#aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #indonesia, #recording-equipment, #sriwijaya-air-flight-182

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‘Black Box’ From Indonesia Plane Crash Is Recovered

The recovery of the so-called black box will help officials understand why Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 plummeted into the Java Sea on Saturday.

#aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #indonesia, #recording-equipment, #sriwijaya-air-flight-182

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Zipmex, which aspires to build the Asia Pacific region’s largest digital assets exchange, raises $6 million led by Jump Capital

Zipmex, a digital assets exchange headquartered in Singapore, announced today it has raised $6 million in funding led by Jump Capital. The startup, which plans to become a digital assets bank, says the round exceeded its initial target of $4 million. Along with earlier funding, it brings the total Zipmex has raised so far to $10.9 million.

The exchange is regulated in Singapore, Australia and Indonesia, and licensed in Thailand. It focuses on investors new to cryptocurrency with educational features, as well as high net-worth individuals, and says it has transacted over $600 million in gross transaction volume since launching at the end of 2019.

The funding will be used on hiring and to add more product offerings. In addition to its cryptocurrency exchange, Zipmex’s services also include ZipUp, its interest-bearing accounts, and its own ERC-20 token ZMT.

Zipmex’s goal is to become the largest digital exchange in the Asia Pacific, where interest in cryptocurrency investing and blockchain technology is increasing quickly. For example, DBG Group Holdings, Southeast Asia’s largest lender, recently launched a crypto exchange, though it is currently open only to professional investors.

But Zipmex is also up against a roster of competitors, including regional exchanges like BitKub in Thailand and Swyftx in Australia, as well as players like Luno, Coinbase and Binance which are targeting growth in the Asia Pacific region.

Zipmex chief executive officer Marcus Lim said the company’s ambition to become a digital assets bank sets it apart from other exchanges. “We currently offer customers to invest and earn interest on their digital assets,” he told TechCrunch. “In the future, we are planning to roll out payments and lending and the investment into securitized tokens.”

Other cryptocurrency startups that Jump Capital, an American venture capital firm, has invested in include BitGo and TradingView. Its parent company, trading firm Jump Trading, powers Robinhood’s crypto trades.

#apps, #asia, #australia, #cryptocurrency, #digital-assets, #digital-currency-exchange, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #thailand, #zipmex

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BukuKas raises $10 million led by Sequoia Capital India to build a “end-to-end software stack” for Indonesian SMEs

The backbone of Indonesia’s economy are small- to medium-sized businesses, which account for 60% of its gross domestic product. Many still rely on manual bookkeeping, but the impact of COVID-19 has driven small businesses to digitize more of their operations. BukuKas, one of several startups helping SMEs go online, announced today it has raised a $10 million Series A led by Sequoia Capital India.

BukuKas launched in December 2019 as a digital bookkeeping app, but is growing its range of services with the goal of creating an “end-to-end software stack” for small businesses. Eventually, it wants to launch a SME-focused digital bank.

The funding, which brings BukuKas’ total raised so far to $22 million, included participation from returning investors Saison Capital, January Capital, Founderbank Capital, Cambium Grove, Endeavor Catalyst and Amrish Rau.

As of November 2020, BukuKas had a registered user base of 3.5 million small merchants and retailers, and had crossed 1.8 million monthly active users. During that month, the platform also recorded $17.4 billion worth of transactions on an annualized basis, a figure corresponding to more than 1.5% of Indonesia’s $1.04 trillion GDP.

BukuKas was founded by chief executive officer Krishnan Menon and chief operating officer Lorenzo Peracchione, who met eight years ago while working at Lazada Indonesia.

Menon’s previous startup was Fabelio, an Indonesian online home furnishings store. Every two months, he would visit smaller small cities in Indonesia, like Jepara and Cirebon, to source furniture.

“One of the things that stood out was how different the Jakarta bubble is from the rest of Indonesia, all the way from the penetration of software to financial services,” he told TechCrunch. While talking to merchants and suppliers, Menon realized that “no one is building products with them as the center of the universe,” despite the fact that there are 56 million small businesses.

Peracchione said he and Mebon had been brainstorming startup ideas for a while. “When he told me about the idea of solving cash flow visibility to SMEs, it immediately struck me,” Peracchione said. “My dad used to be a SME owner himself and during my childhood I experience first hand the struggles and ups and downs connected to running a small business.”

The two decided to start with digital bookkeeping after speaking to 1,052 merchants because helping them keep track of their business performance would generate data that would in turn enable access to more financial services.

“Our vision expanded into providing an end-to-end software stack to digitize SMEs and help them across a wide range of activities as a prequel to building an SME-focused digital bank down the line,” Menon said.

In addition to digital ledger features, BukuKas also sends payment reminders to buyers through WhatsApp and automatically generates invoices, includes an an inventory management module and analyzes expenses to help businesses understand what is impacting their profit. The company plans to add digital payments this month. During the rest of 2021, it will also introduce more features to help businesses sell online, including tools for online store fronts, a promotions engine and social sharing.

“With COVID-19, SMEs are rushing to get digitized, but they lack the right mobile-first tools to sell online as well as to manage their business,” said Menon.

The app focuses on smaller Indonesian cities and towns, since about 73% of the merchants who use BukuKas are located outside of tier 1 cities like Jakarta. Its users represent wide range of sectors, including retailers, food vendors, grocery markets, mobile and phone credit providers, social commerce sellers, wholesalers and service providers. BukuKas acquired digital ledger app Catatan Keuangan Harian, which has 300,000 monthly active users, in September 2020 to expand its market share in Indonesia.

With its large number of SMEs, Indonesia is seen as a desirable market for companies helping the drive toward digitization. For example, India’s Khatabook, which was valued between $275 million to $300 million after its last round of funding in May 2020, recently launched BukuUang in Indonesia. Other startups in the same space include Y Combinator-backed BukuWarung, Moka and Jurnal, all of which offer tools to help SMEs bring more of their operations online.

Menon said BukuKas’ advantage is its team’s experience building businesses in Indonesia over the past seven years. For example, it launched a “Know Your Profits” module based on user feedback. It also offers a self-guided onboarding process, a simple user interface and an offline mode for users in areas with poor network connections.

“In general, individual features can be copied but we believe our ‘integrated end-to-end software stack approach,’ coupled with our obsessive focus on simplicity, deep understanding of our users and a superior level of service will be key in differentiating BukuKas from competing offerings,” he added.

BukuKas’ Series A will be used on user acquisition, its engineering and product teams in Jakarta and Bangalore and to introduce new services for merchants. The company may eventually expand into other Southeast Asia markets, but “in the short term consolidating and further expanding our leadership in the SME space in Indonesia is our top priority,” said Menon.

 

#apps, #asia, #bukukas, #digital-bookkeeping, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #smes, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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Indonesia Plane Crash Shakes Small Fishing Village

A sleepy island has become a base for the aircraft search and recovery operation after Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 fell from the sky. “I’m lucky it didn’t hit me,” said one fisherman.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #boats-and-boating, #borneo-indonesia, #indonesia, #jakarta-indonesia, #java-indonesia, #lion-air, #maritime-accidents-and-safety, #ships-and-shipping, #sriwijaya-air, #sriwijaya-air-flight-182, #surabaya-indonesia

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Indonesian investment platform Ajaib gets $25 million Series A led by Horizons Venture and Alpha JWC

Ajaib Group, an online investment platform that says it now runs the fifth-largest stock brokerage in Indonesia by number of trades, announced it has raised a $25 million Series A led by Horizons Ventures, the venture capital firm founded by Li Ka-Shing, and Alpha JWC. Returning investors SoftBank Ventures Asia, Insignia Ventures and Y Combinator also participated in the round, which was made in two closes.

Founded in 2019 by chief executive officer Anderson Sumarli and chief operating officer Yada Piyajomkwan, Ajaib Group focuses on millennials and first-time investors, and currently claims one million monthly users. It has now raised a total of $27 million, including a $2 million seed round in 2019.

Stock investment has a very low penetration rate in Indonesia, with only about 1.6 million capital market investors in the country, or less than 1% of its population (in comparison, about 55% of Americans own stocks, according to Gallup data).

The very low penetration rate, coupled with growing interest in the capital market among retail investors during the pandemic, has spurred VC interest in online investment platforms, especially ones that focus on millennials. Last week, Indonesian investment app Bibit announced a $30 million growth round led by Sequoia Capital India, while another online investment platform, Bareksa, confirmed an undisclosed Series B from payment app OVO last year.

Ajaib Group’s founders said it differentiates as a low-fee stock trading platform that also offers mutual funds for diversification. Bibit is a robo-advisor for mutual funds, while Bareksa is a mutual fund marketplace.

In an email, Sumarli and Piyajomkwan told TechCrunch that the stock investment rate is low in Indonesia because it is typically done by high net-worth individuals who use offline brokers and can afford high commissions. Ajaib Group was launched in 2019 after Sumarli became frustrated by the lack of investment platforms in Indonesia where he could also learn about stock trading.

Inspired by companies like Robinhood in the United States and XP Investimentos in Brazil, Ajaib Group was created to be a mobile-first stock trading platform, with no offline brokers or branches. It appeals to first-time investors and millennials with a simple user interface, in-app education features and a community where people can share investment ideas and low fees.

Since people prefer to invest small amounts when trying out the app for the first time, Ajaib requires no minimums to open a brokerage account. Piyajomkwan said “we typically see investors triple their investment amount within the second month of investing with Ajaib.”

Ajaib Group’s platform now includes Ajaib Sekuritas for stock trading and Ajaib Reksadana for mutual funds. The company says that Ajaib Sekuritas became the fifth-largest stock brokerage in Indonesia by number of trades just seven months after it launched in June 2020.

The Indonesian government and Indonesia Stock Exchange have launched initiatives to encourage more stock investing. Some of Ajaib Group’s Series A will be used for its #MentorInvestai campaign, which works with the government to educate millennials about investing and financial planning. The round will also be spent on expanding Ajaib’s tech infrastructure and products, and to hire more engineers.

Ajaib may eventually expand into other Southeast Asian markets, but for the near future, it sees plenty of opportunity in Indonesia. “Ajaib was built with regional aspiration, having two founders from the two biggest capital markets in Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Thailand,” Piyajomkwan said. “But for the immediate term, we are focused on Indonesia as investment penetration is still low and there are many more millennial investors we can serve.”

 

#ajaib, #asia, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #investment-app, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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Indonesia Crash Thwarts Push to Rehabilitate Country’s Airlines

The loss of Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 on Saturday was a grim start to the year in a sprawling archipelago nation where barely a year goes by without an air disaster.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #boeing-737-max-groundings-and-safety-concerns-2019, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #indonesia, #jakarta-indonesia, #pilots, #sriwijaya-air, #sriwijaya-air-flight-182

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Indonesia Crash: What to Know About the Boeing Plane

The 737-500 that crashed near Jakarta was a 26-year-old workhorse without the new technology that plagued the 737 Max.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #boeing-737-max-groundings-and-safety-concerns-2019, #boeing-company, #indonesia, #sriwijaya-air, #sriwijaya-air-flight-182

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What to Know About the Boeing 737-500 Sriwijaya Air Plane Crash

The 737-500 that crashed near Jakarta was a 26-year-old workhorse without the new technology that plagued the 737 Max.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #boeing-737-max-groundings-and-safety-concerns-2019, #boeing-company, #indonesia, #sriwijaya-air, #sriwijaya-air-flight-182

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Indonesia Boeing Plane Crashes Into Sea: The Latest Updates

The Boeing 737-524, a Sriwijaya Air flight, had taken off from Jakarta. Officials said they believed they found part of the wreckage.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #boeing-company, #indonesia, #jakarta-indonesia, #sriwijaya-air, #sriwijaya-air-flight-182

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Indonesia Loses Contact With Plane Over Java Sea

More than 50 people were believed to be aboard the Boeing 737-524, a Sriwijaya Air flight that had taken off from Jakarta.

#aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #boeing-company, #indonesia

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Abu Bakar Bashir, Indonesian Cleric Tied to Bali Bombing, Is Freed

Abu Bakar Bashir, 82, the spiritual leader of an extremist group that bombed churches, hotels and a Bali nightclub in the 2000s, is released after 10 years behind bars.

#bali-indonesia, #bashir-abu-bakar, #indonesia, #islamic-defenders-front, #terrorism

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Indonesian robo-advisor app Bibit raises $30 million led by Sequoia Capital India

Bibit, a robo-advisor app that wants to make investing more accessible in Indonesia, has raised $30 million from Sequoia Capital India. Returning investors East Ventures, EV Growth, AC Ventures and 500 Startups also participated.

Part of Stockbit Group, about 90% of Bibit’s users are millennials and first-time investors. Like other robo-advisors, the aim of Bibit is to make it easier to create a portfolio tailored to each person’s risk profile and investment goals. Other investment apps in Indonesia tapping into growing demand for retail investment producgts include Bareksa and SoftBank Ventures-backed Ajaib.

Bibit claims that over the past year, it has registered more than one million first-time investors. As an example of market potential, the company cites data from the Indonesian Stock Exchange and Indonesia Central Securities Depository that showed the number of retail investors in the country grew 56% year-over-year in 2020, with about 92% of new investors aged between 21 to 40. But only about 2% of Indonesians have participated in the stock market.

Bibit chief executive officer Sigit Kouwagam told TechCrunch that most Indonesians invest their money in term deposit bank accounts or leave it in low-yield checking accounts.

“Traditionally, they also invest real estate or physical godl bars,” he added, but millennial and Gen Z investors are shifting toward “higher-yielding liquid investments that are also convenient to manage and can be started with a lower ticket size.”

The pandemic has also prompted more users build an emergency fund, with more Indonesians looking at the capital market for higher-yielding assets as an alternative to low-interest bank accounts.

#apps, #asia, #bibit, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #robo-advisor, #southeast-asia, #startups, #stockbit, #tc

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Is the Vaccine Halal? Indonesians Await the Answer

President Joko Widodo hopes to begin inoculations soon, but the vaccine from the Chinese company Sinovac still needs approval from safety regulators and an influential council of Muslim clerics.

#china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #halal-foods-and-products, #indonesia, #muslims-and-islam, #pork, #shariah-islamic-law, #sinovac-biotech-ltd, #vaccination-and-immunization

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Indonesia Disbands Islamic Defenders Front Over Charges of ‘Terrorism’

The government dissolved the Islamic Defenders Front over charges that its members committed terrorism. Its leader is already under arrest.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #indonesia, #jakarta-indonesia, #muslims-and-islam, #rizieq-shihab, #shariah-islamic-law, #terrorism

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Singapore-based open finance startup Finantier gets backing from Y Combinator

Being “underbanked” doesn’t mean that someone lacks access to financial services. Instead, it often means they don’t have traditional bank accounts or credit cards. But in markets like Indonesia, many still use digital wallets or e-commerce platforms, creating alternative sources of user data that can help them secure working capital and other financial tools. Finantier, a Singapore-based open finance startup, wants to streamline that data with a single API that gives financial services access to user data, with their consent. It also includes machine learning-based analytics to enable credit scoring and KYC verifications.

Currently in beta mode with more than 20 clients, Finantier is busy getting ready to officially launch. It announced today that it has been accepted into Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 startup batch. The startup also also recently raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding led by East Ventures, with participation from AC Ventures, Genesia Ventures, Two Culture Capital and other investors.

Finantier was founded earlier this year by Diego Rojas, Keng Low and Edwin Kusuma, all of whom have experience building products for fintech companies, with the mission of enabling open finance in emerging markets.

Open finance grew out of open banking, the same framework that Plaid and Tink are built on. Meant to give people more control over their financial data instead of keeping it siloed within banks and other institutions, users can decide to grant apps or websites secure access to information from their online accounts, including bank accounts, credit cards and digital wallets. Open banking refers mainly to payment accounts, while open finance, Finantier’s specialty, covers a larger gamut of services, including business lending, mortgages and insurance underwriting.

While Finantier is focusing first on Singapore and Indonesia, it plans to expand into other countries and become a global fintech company like Plaid. It’s already eyeing Vietnam and the Philippines and has established partnerships in Brussels.

Before launching Finantier, Rojas worked on products for peer-to-peer lending platforms Lending Club and Dianrong, and served as chief technology officer for several fintech startups in Southeast Asia. He realized that many companies struggled to integrate with other platforms and fetch data from banks, or purchase data from different providers.

“People are discussing open banking, embedded finance and so on,” Rojas, Finantier’s chief executive officer, told TechCrunch. “But those are the building blocks of something bigger, which is open finance. Particularly in a region like Southeast Asia, where about 60% to 70% of adults are unbanked or underbanked, we believe in helping consumers and businesses leverage the data that they have in multiple platforms. It definitely doesn’t need to be a bank account, it could be in a digital wallet, e-commerce platform or other service providers.”

What this means for consumers is that even if someone doesn’t have a credit card, they can still establish creditworthiness: for example, by sharing data from completed transactions on e-commerce platforms. Gig economy workers can access more financial services and deals by giving data about their daily rides or other types of work they do through different apps.

Building Southeast Asia’s financial infrastructure

Other open banking startups focused on Southeast Asia include Brankas and Brick. Rojas said Finantier differentiates by specializing on open finance, and creating infrastructure for financial institutions to build more services for end users.

The benefit of open finance for financial institutions is that they can create products for more consumers and find more opportunities for revenue sharing models. In Southeast Asia, this also means reaching more people who are underbanked, or otherwise lack access to financial services.

While taking part in Y Combinator’s accelerator program, Finantier will also be participating in the Indonesia Financial Service Authority’s regulatory sandbox. Once it completes the program, it will be able to partner with more fintech companies in Indonesia, including bigger institutions.

There are 139 million adults in Indonesia who are underbanked or unbanked, said East Ventures co-founder and managing partner Wilson Cuaca.

The investment firm, which focuses on Indonesia, conducts an annual survey called the East Ventures Digital Competitiveness Index, and found that financial exclusion was where one of the largest divides existed. There significant gaps in between the number of financial services available in heavily-populated islands like Java, where Jakarta is located, and other islands in the archipelago.

To promote financial inclusion and alleviate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has set a goal for 10 million micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to go digital by the end of the year. There are currently about 8 Indonesian million MSMEs that sell online, representing just 13% of MSMEs in the country.

“Providing equal access to financial services will create multiplier effects to the Indonesian economy,” Cuaca told TechCrunch about East Ventures’ decision to back Finantier. “Currently, hundreds of companies work with their own unique solutions to bring financial services to more people. We believe Finantier will help them offer more products and services to this underserved section of the population.”

 

#asia, #finantier, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #open-banking, #open-finance, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

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Google expands its cloud with new regions in Chile, Germany and Saudi Arabia

It’s been a busy year of expansion for the large cloud providers, with AWS, Azure and Google aggressively expanding their data center presence around the world. To cap off the year, Google Cloud today announced a new set of cloud regions, which will go live in the coming months and years. These new regions, which will all have three availability zones, will be in Chile, Germany and Saudi Arabia. That’s on top of the regions in Indonesia, South Korea, the U.S. (Last Vegas and Salt Lake City) that went live this year — and the upcoming regions in France, Italy, Qatar and Spain the company also announced over the course of the last twelve months.

Image Credits: Google

In total, Google currently operates 24 regions with 73 availability zones, not counting those it has announced but that aren’t live yet. While Microsoft Azure is well ahead of the competition in terms of the total number of regions (though some still lack availability zones), Google is now starting to pull even with AWS, which currently offers 24 regions with a total of 77 availability zones. Indeed, with its 12 announced regions, Google Cloud may actually soon pull ahead of AWS, which is currently working on six new regions.

The battleground may soon shift away from these large data centers, though, with a new focus on edge zones close to urban centers that are smaller than the full-blown data centers the large clouds currently operate but that allow businesses to host their services even closer to their customers.

All of this is a clear sign of how much Google has invested in its cloud strategy in recent years. For the longest time, after all, Google Cloud Platform lagged well behind its competitors. Only three years ago, Google Cloud offered only 13 regions, for example. And that’s on top of the company’s heavy investment in submarine cables and edge locations.

#amazon-web-services, #aws, #chile, #cloud-computing, #cloud-infrastructure, #france, #germany, #google, #google-cloud-platform, #indonesia, #italy, #microsoft, #nuodb, #qatar, #salt-lake-city, #saudi-arabia, #south-korea, #spain, #tc, #united-states, #web-hosting, #web-services

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Brainly raises $80M as its platform for crowdsourced homework help balloons to 350M users

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a major upswing in virtual learning — where some schools have gone (and stayed) remote, and others have incorporated significantly stronger online components, in order to help communities maintain more social distancing. That has in turn led to a surge in the usage of tools to help home learners do their work better, and today, one of them is announcing a growth round that speaks to the opportunity in that market.

Brainly, a startup from Poland that has built a popular network for students and their parents to engage with each other for advice and help with homework questions, has raised $80 million, a series D that it will be using both to continue building out the tools that it offers to students as well as to hone in on expansion in some key emerging markets such as Indonesia and Brazil. The news comes on the heels of dramatic growth for the company, which has seen its user base grow from 150 million users in 2019 to 350 million today.

The funding is being led by previous backer Learn Capital, with past investors Prosus Ventures, Runa Capital, MantaRay, and General Catalyst Partners also participating. The company has now raised some $150 million and while it’s not disclosing valuation, CEO and co-founder Michał Borkowski confirmed it is “definitely” an upround for the company. For more context, Pitchbook estimates that the company was valued at $180 million in its last round, a Series C of $30 million in 2019.

That C round was raised specifically to help Brainly grow in the U.S. It currently has some 30 million users in that market, and it happens to be the only one in which Brainly is monetising users. Everywhere else, Brainly is currently free to use. (In the U.S. there are also some formidable competitors, like Chegg, which has strong traction in the market of helping students with homework.)

“Brainly has become one of the world’s largest learning communities, achieving significant organic growth in over 35 countries,” said Vinit Sukhija, Partner at Learn Capital, in a statement.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Brainly was finding an audience with students — primarily those aged 13-19, said Borkowski — who were turning to the service to connect with people who could help them with homework when they found themselves at an impasse with, say, a math problem or getting to grips with the sequence of events that led to the revolutions of 1848. The platform is open-ended and is a little like a Quora for homework, in that people can find and answer questions they are interested in, as well as ask questions themselves.

That platform, however, took on a whole new dimension of importance with the shift to virtual learning, Borkowski said.

“In the western world, online education wasn’t a big investment area [pre-Covid] and that has changed a lot, with huge adoption by students, parents and teachers,” he said. “But that big transition, switching from offline to online, has left kids struggling because teachers have so much more to do, so they can’t engage in the same way.”

So with “homework” becoming “all work”, that has effectively led to needing more help than ever with home studies. And while many parents have tried to get more involved to make up the difference, “having parents as teachers has been hard,” he added. They may have been taught differently from how their kids are learning, or they don’t remember or know answers.

One thing that Brainly started to see, he said, was that with the pandemic more parents started using the app alongside students, either to work out answers together or to get the help themselves before helping their kids, with a number of these being from parents of kids younger than 13. He said that 15-20% of all new registrations currently are coming from parents.

Brainly up to now has been mainly focused on how to build out more tools for the students — and now parents — that use it, and has so far been about organic growth for those communities.

However, there is clearly scope to expand that to more educational stakeholders to better organise what kind of questions are answered and how. Borkowski said that the company has indeed been approached by educators, those building curriculums and others so that answers might tie in better with the kinds of questions that they are most likely to ask of students, although for now the company “wants to keep the focus on students and parents getting stuck.”

In terms of future products, Brainly is looking at ways of bringing in more tutoring, video and AI into the mix. The AI aspect is very interesting and will in fact tie in to wider curriculum coverage based on more localised needs. For example, if you ask for help with a particular kind of quadratic equation technique, you can then be served lots of same practice questions to help better learn and apply what you’ve just been learning, and you might even then get suggested related topics that will appear alongside that in a wider mathematics examination. And, you might be offered the chance to meet with a tutor for further help.

Tutoring, he said, is something that Brainly has already been quietly piloting and has run some 150,000 sessions to date. Having such a large user base, Borkowski said, helps the startup run services at scale while still effectively keeping them in test mode.

“It will be about looking at what students are studying and how to map that to the curriculum in the country, and what we can do to help with that.” Borkowski said. “But it will require a heavy lift and and machine learning to pinpoint students” for it to work properly, which is one reason it has yet to roll it out more comprehensively, he added.

Tutoring and more personalization are not the only areas where Brainly is actively testing out new services. The company is also creating more space for adding in video to demonstrate different techniques (which I suspect is especially good for something like mathematics, but equally helpful for, say, an art technique).

There are “thousands per week” being added already, but as with tutoring “that, for us, is a testing stage,” added Borkowski. There should be more coming in Q1 about new products, he said.

#articles, #artificial-intelligence, #brainly, #brazil, #e-commerce, #education, #europe, #funding, #gamification, #general-catalyst, #general-catalyst-partners, #homework, #indonesia, #machine-learning, #online-education, #poland, #prosus-ventures, #quora, #runa-capital, #subscription-services, #tc, #united-states

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Waresix acquires Trukita to connect more of Indonesia’s fragmented logistics chain

Andree Susanto, CEO and co-founder of Waresix, left, with Ady Bangun, CEO and co-founder of Trukita

Andree Susanto, CEO and co-founder of Waresix, left, with Ady Bangun, CEO and co-founder of Trukita

Waresix, one of Indonesia’s largest logistics startups, has acquired Trukita, a company that focuses on the “first mile.” The term refers to the part of the supply chain where goods are transported from ports to warehouses.

While Waresix’s platform digitizes all parts of the supply and logistics chain, its current focus is on mid-mile logistics services, or transportation from warehouses to distributors. Trukita has an extended network of over 10,000 trucks, and the combination of the two companies means it is “now one of the largest logistics technology providers in Indonesia,” said co-founder and chief executive officer Andree Susanto. Both Waresix and Trukita operate by connecting businesses to shipper and warehouses, and the acquisition will enable them to lower customer costs.

Waresix, which recently announced it raised $100 million in funding over the past year from investors like EV Growth, Jungle Ventures and SoftBank Ventures Asia, works with more than 375 warehouses and 40,000 trucks across Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country. It currently serves more than 100 cities.

Indonesia’s geography creates unique challenges for logistics companies, especially those operating outside of major cities, because it is an archipelago made up of more than 17,500 islands, of which 6,000 are inhabited. This means supply chains often span ships, trucks and several warehouses before goods make it to their final destination. The high costs of logistics has a sizable impact on Indonesia’s economy and the government is currently engaged in an initiative to develop more infrastructure, integrate databases and simplify export-import licensing.

Indonesia’s complicated logistics landscape has given rise to startups like Waresix, Kargo and Ritase, which focus on removing middlemen, managing shipments in real-time and using data analytics to uncover inefficienies in the supply chain.

Trukita was founded in 2017, and its investors include Astra International, EverHaüs and Plug and Play.

 

#asia, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #logistics, #southeast-asia, #startups, #supply-chain, #tc, #trukita, #waresix

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In Indonesia, a Blurred Boundary Between the Living and the Dead

The Toraja people of southern Sulawesi, one of Indonesia’s largest islands, are known for their elaborate death rituals, which include preserving and exhuming the dead.

#death-and-dying, #funerals-and-memorials, #indonesia, #photography, #sulawesi-indonesia, #travel-and-vacations

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Used car marketplace Carsome gets $30 million Series D for its Southeast Asia growth plans

Carsome, which bills itself as Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform for used cars, announced it has closed a $30 million Series D. The funding was led by Asia Partners, with participation from returning investors Burda Principal Investments and Ondine Capital.

The startup claims that this is one of the largest “all-equity financings to-date in Southeast Asia’s online automotive industry.” Part of the Series D may be used for mergers and acquisitions to consolidate the company’s supply chain.

Founded five years ago in Malaysia, Carsome’s platform serves both C2C and B2C segments, and ensures quality by conducting inspections before vehicles are listed on its platform. It now has 1,000 employees and claims to transact 70,000 cars on an annualized basis, totaling $600 million.

In a press statement, co-founder and group chief executive officer Eric Cheng said that the company, which now also operates in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, doubled its monthly revenue over the past six months, compared to pre-pandemic levels. The company claims that this is partly because more people and businesses are buying their own cars for safety reasons.

While sales of new vehicles have plummeted around the world, used car sales, especially through e-commerce platforms, are recovering more quickly, according to Counterpoint Research. This largely because people want to avoid public transportation and ride-hailing, but also want cheaper options.

Other used car platforms in Southeast Asia include Carro, OLX Autos (formerly called BeliMobilGue) and Carmudi.

#asia, #carsome, #ecommerce, #indonesia, #malaysia, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #thailand, #used-cars, #vehicles

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Rizieq Shihab, Back in Indonesia, Calls for ‘Moral Revolution’

Rizieq Shihab and his vigilante movement have spent decades calling for harsh Islamic rule. Now he’s back from self-imposed exile and promising a “moral revolution.”

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #defense-and-military-forces, #indonesia, #islamic-defenders-front, #jakarta-indonesia, #joko-widodo, #muslims-and-islam, #rizieq-shihab, #saudi-arabia, #shariah-islamic-law, #suharto, #vigilantes

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Indonesian telecom network Telkomsel invests $150 million in GoJek

Telkomsel, Indonesia’s biggest telecom network, has invested $150 million in ride-hailing firm GoJek, the two companies said on Tuesday.

As part of the “strategic partnership,” the two firms said they will explore a “broad range of collaboration opportunities” to reach millions of Indonesians. Since 2018, GoJek and Telkomsel have maintained a deal to subsidize the cost of mobile data consumed by the ride-hailing firm’s driver partners.

With over 170 million subscribers, Telkomsel is the largest telecom operator in Indonesia. In addition to ride-hailing, GoJek has expanded to several additional businesses including digital payments and food delivery in Indonesia.

The firm, which has raised over $3 billion to date and was valued at about $10 billion earlier this year, is backed by some of the biggest names in tech including Facebook, Google, PayPal, and Tencent. GoJek, which also serves about 170 million users, competes with just as heavily backed firm, Grab.

“This is a great day for Gojek and for Indonesia, as we strengthen our collaboration with Telkomsel, one of Indonesia’s most forward-looking telecommunication companies. By working together, we hope to help Indonesia become a true digital powerhouse in Southeast Asia, and bring the benefits of the digital economy to millions more consumers, driver-partners and small businesses,” Gojek co-chief executive Andre Soelistyo said in a statement.

More to follow…

#asia, #funding, #gojek, #indonesia