All you need to know today.
1. Thanks to “Khun Tong”, requesting money won’t be awkward
Never awkwardly split the bill for last night’s dinner again. Yesterday, Kasikorn Bank launched its social chatbot, “Khun Tong” (myna bird), designed to help facilitate payment reminders between groups of friends, colleagues or anyone who’s had a meal or planned a trip together.
For those who are familiar with the US’s Venmo, the concept is similar.
The use is easy. Simply tie your K Bank app to Khun Tong’s platform via Line, pay your bill without leaving the chat and share the e-payment slip QR code to your Line group, where you can easily divide how much each person owed for last night’s Korean bbq. This way, payment reminders are quick and painless, and that friend who never pays will finally have no excuse.
2. India’s Jio attracts more investors in the US
This is the platform that keeps on giving (away its shares). Since Facebook kicked off with a $5.7 billion cash injection about a month ago, every private equity firm in the US followed suit.
The latest investors are Texas based private equity firm TPG (which manages $79 billion) and an LVMH backed fund, L Catterton. TPG will be putting in $600 million for a 0.93% stake, giving Jio a $65 billion valuation.
L. Catterton will invest $250 million for a 0.39% stake.
Jio has secured $13.49 billion by selling nearly 22% stake in the company to Facebook, Silver Lake, General Atlantic and more.
“Foreign investors see that owning the pipes is a race to the bottom in terms of ARPU (average revenue per user) but having so many bundled services seems like it’s the future for telecommunications companies,” said Pankaj Jain, a high-profile angel investor.
3. SoftBank has some interesting ties with Credit Suisse
SoftBank has reportedly invested over $500 million into Credit Suisse investment funds that then made bets on the debt of struggling startups backed by SoftBank’s Vision Fund.
The story was first reported in the Financial Times.
SoftBank made the investment into the Swiss bank’s $7.5 billion range of supply-chain finance funds.
SoftBank’s Vision Fund had a disastorous year, particularly post Covid, as most of its companies are consumer facing (Uber, WeWork, Didi, OYO). $18 billion in equity value was wiped out this year.
At the centre of the circular flow of funding is Greensill Capital, a Vision Fund-backed company that says it is “making finance fairer”. Greensill Capital specialises in supply-chain finance, where businesses borrow money to pay their suppliers.
The arrangement has allowed SoftBank effectively to provide financial assistance to other Vision Fund companies by paying their suppliers upfront but through a fund commingled with other investors
This means external investors also bear the risk of these companies failing to pay their debts. This circular relationship wasn’t proactively disclosed to investors.
4. Beijing’s new outbreak cluster has brought back some old measures
Half of Beijing’s districts reported new coronavirus cases on Monday, in the most serious cluster case in over two months. The source? Beijing’s largest seafood and vegetables market.
Authorities announced that 79 people had been hospitalised and there were 36 new infections in the Chinese capital. Samples of 8,950 people who were identified as recently being at Xinfadi market had been collected and over 6,000 has luckily been negative.
Districts began to reimpose measures to control the movement of people. Restaurants and other businesses were again required to collect personal information of customers. Measures imposed included erecting round-the-clock security checkpoints, closing schools and sports venues, and reinstating temperature checks at malls, supermarkets and office buildings.
The outbreak was also a shock to the government, who are under pressure to revive economic activity following months of lockdown.