SoftBank’s Vision Fund plans to have an office in mainland China [Reuters]

The SoftBank-owned Vision Fun is now in the process of having a team based in Shanghai, China by next year, following its US$100 billion worth of expansion. It will then be followed by offices in Beijing and Hong Kong.

The Vision Fund has secured more than $93 billion last May with investors from the calibers of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi-based wealth fund, Apple Inc, and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (Foxconn). It’s still in an ongoing completion of their initial target of US$100 billion.

One of the first hires this year is Eric Chen as the head of the China team, coming from private equity firm Silver Lake and who owns a venture.

SoftBank has already had a footprint in China through its investment in Alibaba made by founder Masayoshi Son in 2000. It is to be noted that since 2013, the investment giant also has invested over US$13 billion in five Chinese companies, one of them is recently scandalous ride-hailing Didi Chuxing.

GrabPay partners with conglomerate SM group for easier payment in the Philippines [Press Release]

Grab and Philippines-based retail, banking, and property conglomerate SM Investments Corporation (SM) have announced today a partnership to expand the GrabPay mobile wallet in the Philippines and drive more financial inclusion for Filipinos.

Grab said that it is a strategic partnership leveraging on Grab’s user base and tech platform with SM’s portfolio of over 70 flagship shopping malls with more than 2,200 stores, the company-owned local bank BDO, and merchant-partners nationwide.

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This partnership will expand usage of the GrabPay mobile wallet in the Philippines beyond the Grab ecosystem to pay for shopping items, grocery supplies, cinema tickets, and other goods and services from offline stores that are part of SM and BDO’s extensive merchant network.

Grab users can also load their GrabPay mobile wallet directly from BDO bank accounts, BDO ATMs, SM Business Centers, and 2GO’s retail network.

This Thai crypto exchange plans to bring home US$10M in Security Token Offering [Cointelegraph]

Satang Corp, Thailand-based crypto exchange remains confident that it could raise US$10 million in a security token offering (STO), despite the recent market meltdown. The CEO of the company Poramin Insom said that the STO will be conducted in the first quarter of 2019.
With the support of the Government of Thailand, Satang is a part of the country’s bid to make the country a blockchain center and develop a regulatory framework for digital currencies and blockchain.

Satang reportedly plans to use the $9.9 million it raises to develop an e-wallet that enables users to make payments, as well as establish Satang Shops in tourist centers like Phuket and Pattaya.

STOs in Thailand currency operate in a regulatory grey-zone, as the new financial product straddles two different regulatory classifications with deputy secretary of the Thai Securities and Exchanges Commission Tipsuda Thavaramara declared that Thai-related STOs launched in an international market break the law.

At the same time, just recently Thailand’s Revenue Department is reportedly testing blockchain technology for tracking value-added tax (VAT) payments.

Ex-Googler Mike Orgill has been appointed as Airbnb’s GM of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan [e27]

Today, the online hospitality marketplace Airbnb announces that it has appointed its previous APAC Director of Public Policy Mike Orgill as General Manager of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

In this new role, Orgill will be responsible for building long-term growth in some of Airbnb’s fastest growing markets. Stay true its previous handle in Google, Orgill will continue to support Airbnb’s public policy efforts in the interim until a new APAC Director of Public Policy is appointed.

Orgill has expressed his outlook on Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan will play a massive role as Airbnb aims to welcome one billion users on to the platform by 2028. “I can’t wait to build on my five years at Airbnb and help grow our community of guests and hosts in the years ahead,” said Orgill.

Airbnb claims that over the past one year it has hosted more than nine million guests in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Energy startup SolarHome bags US$10M in debt financing to expand to Myanmar [e27]

Singapore-based SolarHome that brings pay-as-you-go solar solutions into off-grid households in Southeast Asia, has secured US$10 million in debt funding from international investors, including Crowdcredit, a cross-border crowdfunding platform based in Japan, and Trine, a Sweden-based crowdfunding platform for off-grid solar.

The new funds will enable SolarHome to accelerate expansion across Myanmar. The company aims to reach 100,000 homes with its product packages that include budget, basic, and premium solar system bundles for lighting and phone charging purposes, as well as TV bundles.
The funding follows a US$4.2 million in convertible note funding raised in 2018 from international investors, including Trirec, Insitor Impact Asia, Beenext, and a group of Singapore-based family offices.

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SolarHome was founded by FORUM, a Singapore-based fintech venture builder. It offers off-grid households a solar lighting system at a low-cost 24-month subscription plan, with an initial US$10 down payment, followed by daily, weekly, or monthly repayments through scratch cards or mobile money.