Asia's tech news, weekly: February 21st 2023
India & lithium, Korea's digital assets moves, $1BN China-Saudi fund, Asia-Pac & alt-protein, Taiwan's cybersec institute, Australia & digital privacy, Thailand's VC space...
• Australia: Comm's & Media Authority mulls SMS sender ID register to block scammers sending fake-ID texts, system used in the UK, Spain, Ireland and Singapore
• India announces discovery of 5.9M ton reserve of Lithium, rare critical mineral used in electric vehicle and solar panel manufacture, in Jammu and Kashmir region
• South Korea: Busan sets sight on global digital asset hub status with creation of publicly-run crypto exchange, in part to draw blockchain firms and foreign investment
Is AI artwork stealing from artists?: "According to the lawyer behind a new class-action suit, every image that a generative tool produces 'is an infringing, derivative work.'"
• China's Alipay+ preps for activation in 8000 retailers using Australia's epay, boosting cross-border mobile payments with global wallets
• Australia: Securities & Investments Commission supports regulation of 'buy now, pay later' financial products as a form of credit, seeing growing issues in consumer ability to repay, and provider fees
• China: E-commerce giant JD to launch 'industrial version' of ChatGPT-like product for retail and finance to leverage expertise in e-commerce, logistics and payments
• China's Alibaba and VC fund backed by Saudi Public Investment Fund nears completion of $1BN fundraise to back tech startups in Asia and the Middle East
• India: 'Quick commerce' stalls with Reliance Retail JioMart pausing JioMart Express services
• Taiwan unveils Nat'l Institute of Cyber Security to research and recommend policy in cyber and data security, and to aid private/public sectors in the event of breaches
"Spammers use ChatGPT to create fake websites using natural language processing. It allows malicious actors to quickly generate bogus sites that generate revenue from ads or other malicious content."
• China's Fujian province to establish 2 industrial zones to draw in ethnic Chinese-owned businesses from Indonesia and the Philippines
• Download: 'Future of the Thai startup and venture capital ecosystem' from Deloitte
• Japan: 20 startups selected for JETRO x Techstars Startup City Acceleration Program, working in social media, blockchain-based novels as NFTs, health-tech and more
Japan: "...the country plans to encourage its industrial giants - long at the forefront of chips, cars, batteries and machines - to invest in startups and pique technological progress at home..."
• Asia-Pacific & alt-protein: "...year-on-year funding for alternative proteins across Asia Pacific has increased by 43% and shows strong growth across all sector verticals from cultivated to plant-based to fermentation..."
• Enterprise Singapore and Australia's Haymarket HQ partner for 6-month Singapore-Australia Accelerator to help Singapore startups expand into Australia
• Philippines: Gobi-Core Philippine Fund gains accreditation as a Co-Investment Partner of the government's Startup Venture Fund
• Australia: Gov't privacy reform proposal would give citizens greater control of personal information, and to opt out of targeted ads, erase their data and sue for serious breaches of privacy
• China: State-owned China Telecom partners Conflux Network for blockchain-based SIM cards, aiming for BSIM pilot program in Hong Kong later this year
• Australia: SwarmFarm Robotics raised $8.3M Series A with driverless tech, specialty robotics solutions and an open platform to develop on
India: "There appear to be continuing attempts to strengthen the government's control over the digital space—whether to censor content or to shut down the internet..."
• Download: 'Chinese AI Investment and Commercial Activity in Southeast Asia' from the Center for Security and Emerging Technology
• Australian tech major Atlassian apparently hacked, seeing staff and office details posted online as a result of compromised third-party service
• Vietnam: GIMO earned wage access startup hits first close of Series A at $5.1M
“From delivery ‘bots to burger chefs, meet the startups driving the future of foodservice robotics'“
• China's VSPO esports firm gains $265M backing from Saudi Arabia’s Savvy Games Group, seen as part of Kingdom's bid to become a global esports and gaming hub
• India: An intro to Chara Technologies, building scalable, cloud-controlled electric vehicle motors - minus rare-earth metals
• Singapore: Transcelestial gains $10M backing, building a network of wireless devices that emit lasers to create a fiber-like network
• Philippines: An intro to Tomorrow Bars, chocolate bars made with 'mushroom milk' and Filipino cacao
• China: Cambricon chip firm gains approval to issue $244M in A-shares to specific target investors for chips in AI-generated content concept and applications like ChatGPT
• Hong Kong: Gov't issues its first tokenized green bond of HK$800M, part of bid to rebrand as a virtual assets hub
"Further, the data shows that digital advertising spend in Vietnam crossed US$1.04 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach US$1.18 billion in 2023..."
• China's gaming industry: "The market grossed 265.9 billion yuan ($39 billion) from video gaming sales in 2022, a 10.33% drop year-over-year..."
• Australia: Loam gains Au$105M Series B funding with soil carbon capture technology utilizing fungi
• Nat'l Bank of Cambodia preps to join China's RMB Cross-border Interbank Payment System, CIPS, looking at int'l payments and more via yuan-denominated transactions
And in other news…
» Sustainable Bitcoin Protocol startup completes first transaction of a 'clean bitcoin mining blockchain asset', aiming to encourage miners to use enviro-friendly energy sources in tokenization
» Abu Dhabi launches $2BN Hub71+ Digital Assets ecosystem initiative to back Web3 and blockchain startups
» UAE central bank to issue 'digital dirham' CBDC to push digital payments, one of 9 wide-ranging initiatives of new Financial Infrastructure Transformation Program
» Google to launch 'prebunking' ad-based campaign across Europe, using short videos to illustrate how disinformation works and how to identify it
» European Investment Bank and governments of 5 EU countries agree to new €3.75BN fund of funds to invest in VCs that back European scaleups, with expectation of more gov'ts joining
» "Amazon took a 35.2% cut from the average merchant sale in 2016. The following year it leaped to 40%, and by 2020 it had reached 45.8%. Last year it jumped from 2021's 48% to 51.8%."
» Russia & 'shadow' oil supply: '…a fifth of the world’s fleet, has exited mainstream operation “ostensibly to do Russian business,” he said. And 200 smaller product tankers, or 7% of that market, have followed suit.'
» Binance admits to problems with BUSD Peg, as investigation showed the crypto exchange undercollateralized its holdings by *at least* $1 billion on three occasions
» Crypto: A brief look at 'Ordinals', a system where image data can be embedded into the Bitcoin blockchain
» Automobili Lamborghini partners VeVe digital collectibles firm for first round of four first-edition NFT collectibles
» Google starts rolling out features for EV drivers in vehicles with Google Maps integration, showing charging station locations, estimated remaining charge and more
"Companies like Vector Atomic and Infleqtion are helping the [US] military harness quantum technologies to develop underground sensing, secure communications and alternatives to GPS."