Xiaomi’s new products aim to upstage Apple’s

Ahead of Apple’s launch event tomorrow (where it will reportedly unveil the iPhone X or iPhone 8), Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has launched two new products designed to rival Apple’s offerings.

The first is the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2. The bezel-less smartphone is a slight upgrade from last year’s Mi Mix. The second edition has reworked its “cantilever piezoelectric ceramic acoustic technology” component — a system that generates sound via mechanical vibrations — by adding a tiny earpiece on top of the bezel instead of removing it altogether.

Also Read: The rise of China’s cashless society: Mobile payments trends in 2017

Mi Mix 2 also comes outfitted with the new Snapdragon 835 chips, which not only offers faster processing speeds than its predecessor, Snapdragon 821, it also uses less power, has enhanced security, among other things. Xiaomi has also decided to reduce its display from 6.4 inches to 5.99 inches, which made the phone more ergonomic.

But Mi Mix 2’s most noteworthy upgrade is that it now supports 43 LTE bands and a global Android r0m — previously, Mi Mix catered mainly to China audiences — opening up the phone to more international users, such as those residing in the US.

Mi Mix 2’s prices start at US$506, which is nearly half of the iPhone X’s rumoured US$1,000 price tag.

Xiaomi has also released its Mi Notebook Pro, which, as its name suggests, is meant to go head to head with Apple’s Macbook Pro. If that is not a blatant enough statement, Xiaomi has an official graphic detailing how many ports the Mi Notebook Pro has over the Apple version.

The laptop features one SD card slot, two USB-C slots, two regular USB slots, HDMI port, a 15.6 inch screen with thin 6.52 mm bezels (Xiaomi is throwing its full weight behind the bezel-less movement here) on its sides.

The Mi Notebook Pro’s most high-end version comes packed with an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of ram and costs US$1,072 (an Apple Macbook Pro with similar specs costs about US$2,600). The Mi Notebook Pro’s basic version — powered by an i5 processor with 8GB of ram — is priced at US$858. All its laptops run on a Windows OS.

17 Media launches an office in Japan

M17 Entertainment, a merged company between Singapore-based dating platform Paktor and Taiwanese video streaming platform 17 Media, has officially launched an office in Japan.

Hirofumi Ono has been appointed as the CEO of 17 Media Japan. Ono is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded several companies including fashion and lifestyle marketplace Farfetch Japan and Groupon rival Qpod (which got acquired by Groupon).

In 2008, he also co-founded Infinity Ventures LLP. Ono will work to grow 17 Media Japan’s user base, and attract local content creators and live-streaming talents to come on board the platform.

“The 17 Media brand name serves to provide Japanese audiences with the brand recognition as one of the largest Asian live-streaming companies with a complete range of service capabilities. I am excited to bring the best live-streaming experience to Japanese audiences,” said Ono, in an official press release.

The 17 Media app is currently ranked 11th in the social networking category on Japan’s App Store.

Also Read: M17 Entertainment, a merged company between Paktor and 17 Media, raises US$40M, partners KKBOX

“Unlike Taiwan, Japan’s live-streaming market is still very young with plenty of room for growth. It’s the perfect timing for 17 Media to go into Japan now. We will replicate the success of the brand in Taiwan to become a pioneer in live-streaming in Japan,” said M17 Entertainment co-founder and CEO, Joseph Phua.

M17 Entertainment claimed 17 Media reaches over 30,000 users live-stream on the platform each day, and globally, it has over 30 million users.

soCash now allows Standard Chartered customers withdraw cash from cash points

Singapore-based fintech startup soCash now allows Standard Chartered customers to withdraw from over 400 cash withdrawal points via its app. These cash points include merchants such as Buzz, U Star, U Mart, as well as convenience stores and mini-marts in Singapore.

They will be able to withdraw anywhere from S$20 (US$15) to S$500 (US$371) from these cash points.

Launched in May 2016 by co-founder and CEO Hari Sivan, soCash turns any physical retail store into a cash withdrawal point — and without the need for the customer to spend money first (unlike supermarket stores in Australia that require a purchase).

soCash is cheaper to set up compared to an ATM because all it takes is integrating a cash management platform into banks’ mobile apps.

The company received US$600,000 in funding early this year.

Tokopedia halts credit top-ups for its e-wallet

ndonesian e-commerce giant Tokopedia announced that users of its e-wallet service TokoCash will not be able to top-up their credits for an indefinite time, starting from September 13, 11:59PM.

In an official statement, the company said that it is currently applying for e-money license to Indonesia’s central bank Bank Indonesia.

“Seeing the good response and high enthusiasm of TokoCash users, Tokopedia wants the whole Indonesian society to be able to enjoy TokoCash, even outside of the Tokopedia platform,” the company said.

Though users are not able to top-up their TokoCash credits, they are still able to use other services that TokoCash offers such as transaction, cashback return, and redeeming gift cards.

P2P rental startup Averspace inks partnership AXA Insurance

Singapore P2P real estate startup Averspace has inked a partnership with AXA Insurance, so that it can provide its tenants and marketplaces with rental insurances.

“As a C2C real estate platform, protecting the interests and relationships of our Landlords and Tenants are key. As Singapore presses on its Smart Nation agenda, the trend of DIY transactions will rise. One of the ways to provide users peace of mind to transact on their own, is through providing affordable insurance protection against externalities in a rental relationship for both parties,” said Ivan Lim, Founder of Averspace, in an official press release.

Also Read: P2P hits real estate sector in Singapore with Averspace mobile app

Averspace is the first rental marketplace in Singapore to use blockchain technology. This means homeowners and prospective tenants can enter into a digital tenancy agreement right on their smartphones, without needing both parties to meet face to face – all communication can be facilitated through the in-app online chat feature.

Red Dot Payments raises US$5.2 million

Singapore-based Red Dot Payments (RDP) has raised US$5.2 million in a Series B round joined by GMO Venture Partners, Wavemaker Partners, MDI Ventures, Skype co-founder Toivo Annu and DORR Group.

The e-payments solutions provider will use the newly-raised financing to strengthen its tech platform and build up its team to tackle business needs in Asia.

RDP is focussed on developing customised end-to-end e-payment solutions that can be integrated with businesses’ legacy systems. RDP has worked with businesses in several industries, including travel, retail, hospitality, non-profit and education.

The company has offices in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Image Credit: Xiaomi.