Apple brings Alibaba-linked payment system into China stores amid market push [Reuters]

Apple Inc will accept Chinese mobile payment app Alipay in its local stores, boosting its ties with giant e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding amid a push by the iPhone maker to revive growth in the world’s No.2 economy.

The tie-up will make Alipay, run by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, the first third-party mobile payment system to be accepted at any physical Apple store worldwide, Ant Financial said in a statement on Wednesday. Apple’s own payment system has had a lukewarm reception in China.

WeWork to open co-working space in Hong Kong’s LKF Tower [South China Morning Post]

WeWork, one of the most valuable startups in the world at nearly US$20 billion, said it will expand its presence in eight more Chinese cities and bring the popular co-working space to Hong Kong’s bustling bar district of Lan Kwai Fong this year.

The New York-based co-working space company last July received US$500 million in funding from China’s Hony Capital and Japan’s SoftBank Group to launch its China unit and expand its operations beyond Beijing and Shanghai.

It currently has 212 physical locations in 66 cities worldwide and more than 200,000 members spanning from corporate clients to individual workers, including big names like HSBC, Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings.

Bitcoin PoS maker eyes India entry [The Hindu]

Jakarta-based Pundi X is planning to bring cryptocurrency Point of Sale (POS) devices into India. This is significant given that the government, in its Budget last week, had made it clear that cryptocurrencies were not legal tender in India.

“We respect the sovereignty of the local currency,” Zac Cheah, CEO of Pundi X told The Hindu. “We have developed a platform based on blockchain technology to facilitate secure transactions.”

The company has developed a POS device that store owners can use. The device interacts with a ‘pass card’ that customers hold, similar to a debit card but only for cryptocurrencies.

WeChat bans over 1K illegal mini apps to comply its content with latest regulations [YiCai Global]

WeChat, also known as Weixin, China’s largest social media messaging app, has removed some accounts and apps suspected of illegal activities. It has permanently banned more than 1,000 third-party apps on its platform which it said engaged in illegal cash loan business. WeChat’s move comes at a time when China tightens regulations on content in social media.

WeChat yesterday posted a statement on one of its official accounts on the platform, @wx-pai, saying some app developers and businesses are committing malicious marketing by leading users to external channels via their mini apps. WeChat has, therefore, banned over 1,000 illegal mini cash loan apps permanently and has cracked down on those who tried to evade qualification checks.

Singapore’s Sirius Venture backs US$3M round in Israeli foodtech startup SuperMeat [DealStreetAsia]

Singapore-based venture capital firm Sirius Venture Capital has made a strategic investment in Israeli biotech and foodtech startup SuperMeat‘s seed funding round, which raised US$3 million.

In a statement, Sirius said it joined in the seed funding round led by US-based venture capital firm New Crop Capital and venture capital fund Stray Dog Capital.

The round also saw SuperMeat striking partnership with PHW, one of Europe’s top poultry producers. The seed capital will be used to help SuperMeat achieve breakthroughs in the science of growing meat in a lab and develop a scalable process to produce this alternative meat source, Sirius said.

Joveo raises US$5M led by Nexus Venture Partners [press release]

Joveo, a job advertising technology platform, has raised US$5 million in Series A funding, led by Nexus Venture Partners.

Joveo will use the recently raised funding to continue to accelerate its product offerings, expand its partnerships and scale its AI/deep learning layer.

Apart from the funding announcement, the company also announced their acquisition of Ripple Media Inc., a programmatic media buyer which partners with agencies to provide an open publisher marketplace and trading expertise.

“Our vision is to build the most democratic online job marketplace by enhancing the reach and targeting of job boards and agencies alike,” said Kshitij Jain, CEO & Founder, Joveo. “Unlike others in the industry, we are a pure-play technology which does not compete with agencies or job boards. We are completely agnostic. Ours is a transparent market place existing only to assist our partners.”

ID Capital announces the second edition of the Future Food Asia Award [press release]

After a successful inaugural year, the Future Food Asia Award returns to recognise the leading agritech and foodtech startups across Asia Pacific. Competitors will compete for a grand prize of US$100,000, and an additional four S$50,000 Startup SG grants sponsored by SPRING Singapore.

Applications will open in the first week of February. To qualify, applicants need to have done a proof-of-concept and come up with an innovative and sustainable technology that impacts the food ecosystem positively.