Ofo launches in Thailand

Chinese bike-sharing startup ofo has begun a trial run for its Thailand launch and plans to officially open the service to the public on August 1.

The company launched 546 bikes in July and aims to bring this number up to 1,000. By the end of September, ofo hopes to have 6,000 bikes roaming the streets of Bangkok.

“We aim to promote a cycling culture and help improve the traffic situation in Bangkok and other Thai cities in the near future,” said Lawrence Cao, the ofo Head of APAC in a statement.

“The company has been committed to bringing localised service for riders and providing a sustainable ‘last-mile’ solution for city dwellers.”

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ofo wants to be in 200 cities across 20 countries by the end of the year.

Mindvalley launches cross-platform digital learning platform

Malaysian startup Mindvalley announced today the launch of its digital learning platform called ‘Quests’. The startup offers a digital library of 15- to 90-day online learning courses that fall into one of the following two categories.

The first is micro-learning, which involves 20-minute lessons that people use to build an education over time. The other is community driven, whereby Quests are taken at the same time by people from across the world, allowing for collaboration and communication in large groups.

The core topics for Mindvalley are personal well-being — users can take classes on subjects like fitness, mental well-being, spirituality and leadership.

84 per cent of Chinese surveyed feel comfortable spending their day without cash

There seems to be little doubt that China is leading the world in building a cashless society, and a survey from WeChat — an admittedly biased source — seems to confirm the common sense.

According to Technode, 84 per cent of respondents feel comfortable going through their day without having any cash in their wallet. In the developed parts of China, the proliferation of smartphones, coupled with the popularity of WeChat and Alipay, means that most people feel they can function well in society without having cash in their pocket.

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The Technode article quoted Stratechery’s Ben Thompson in a The New York Times article. It is worth passing the quote forward:

“The U.S. was first to credit cards, and everyone there has a personal computer. But China, where everyone is on their phones all the time, is now ahead in mobile commerce and mobile payments by virtue of leapfrogging the PC and credit cards.”

Meet the upscale deliverymen of China’s luxury e-commerce industry

It is more than possible to find products online that sell for 10, 20 or 30 thousand dollars. Designer handbags, expensive jewelry and verified antiques can fetch a large sum online. And while companies put a lot of effort in verifying the product so the customer can feel confident it is real, what happens when this luxury good is in route for delivery?

Does it get the same treatment as a basket of groceries or a new charging cord?

No, and a fun New York Times article profiles a tuxedo wearing, white gloves donning deliveryman named Tang Hongliang.

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Part of the attraction of buying luxury goods offline is being treated like royalty during the experience. Tang is trying to bring the same experience to his customers at JD.com.

VPNs take a hit

For people who live in restrictive internet environments like China and Russia, VPNs are often a necessity for functioning in modern society. These governments often tolerate them as a necessary evil, accepting the censorship-loophole as a price of commerce.

Over the weekend, VPNs took a hit. In China, Apple said it is removing VPN services from its App Store in China, which created controversy across the globe.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin signed a law that carpet-banned VPNs in Russia. Starting November 1, Russians will see VPNs and anonymisers banned across the country.

Facebook could unlock ‘public stories’

Facebook wants to make its Snapchat clone ‘stories’ public, a move that could be a financial boon for influencers and social media celebrities. According to TechCrunch, people will now be able to adjust their profile settings so the general public can view their online stories.

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Previously, Facebook stories were only visible to a person’s network of friends.