Thailand’s fintech startup Ascend Cash lands $150M at a $1.5B valuation – TechCrunch

Money go up, the Thai fintech startup behind TrueMoney, an e-wallet service, announced today that it has raised a $ 150 million Series C round valued at $ 1.5 billion.

The Series C round was led by Charoen Pokphand group, a major shareholder in Ascend Money, with the participation of Bow Wave Capital Management and returning supporters Ant group.

Ascend Money will use the proceeds to grow its e-wallet application – TrueMoney Wallet – and expand its digital financial services, which range from digital lending and digital investments to cross-border money transfers in Southeast Asia.

Founded in 2013, the company also plans to expand its global operations in six countries – Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, electronic payments through TrueMoney Wallet have grown exponentially due to social distancing measures and growing public awareness of contactless transactions across the region, Tanyapong Thamavaranukupt, co-president of Ascend Money, told TechCrunch. Its users in Thailand have grown from 17 million in early 2021 to 20 million now, while its online payment application case transactions have increased by over 75%, Thamavaranukupt said.

“The growth in e-payment suggests that consumer spending habits are changing as Southeast Asia moves towards a digital economy and a cashless society,” said Thamavaranukupt.

“The disruptive effects of the pandemic have accelerated the growth of the digital economy across Southeast Asia,” said Itai Lemberger, Founder and CEO of Bow Wave Capital Management.

The total payment volume in the six countries of Southeast Asia in 2020 was 14 billion US dollars, which corresponds to a growth of 84% between 2019 and 2020. About 70% came from Thailand while 30% came from the international market, said Co-President Thamavaranukupt. According to its own research, Ascend Money has around 70% of the market share in Thailand, Thamavaranukupt said.

Ascend Money informs TechCrunch that it has accumulated a total of 50 million users through TrueMoney and offline channels to date, including approximately 88,000 TrueMoney agent networks, which is its core strength for regional expansion.

The e-wallet service also serves as a payment channel for B2B, from big brands to local SME owners to street market entrepreneurs. The TrueMoney Wallet platform offers a digital loan service along with the payment service to customers including small business owners who do not have traditional credit ratings to access the digital loans, Thamavaranukupt said.

“Aside from e-wallet, we are an agent-based payment and transfer service provider. We also launched TrueMoney Wallet for agents last year [networks] and have migrated our offline agent to the online platform, which would help improve and digitize their operations, ”said Thamavaranukupt.

True Money agents are local business owners who have registered with Ascend Money to generate additional income by providing services such as bill payment, phone top-up, and domestic and cross-border remittance services as their agents, he explained.

“We offer TrueMoney Wallet and the TrueMoney Agent service in several other countries outside of Thailand. Most users do not have a bank account and the low-bank population has limited access to basic financial services, ”Thamavaranukupt said.

“Ascend Money offers a financial platform with opportunities for the financially marginalized as well as SMEs in the region. The company’s success is also testament to Thailand’s ability and strong ecosystem to help domestic fintech companies and startups expand overseas, ”said Ascend Money Founder and Chairman of the Board, Suphachai Chearavanont.

Last year, Ascend Money also opened a service for expatriates such as Myanmar and Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand that they can use to register with TrueMoney Wallet and send money to their families back home, Thamavaranukupt said.

Ascend Money is considering an IPO after hitting $ 1.5 billion valuation, co-president Monsinee Nakapanant told TechCrunch, without giving a specific timeline.

BizStarts lands AARP seed cash for entrepreneurial startup program

The entrepreneurial startup organization BizStarts is launching its third BizStarts Institute program on Saturday, this time in collaboration with AARP Wisconsin.

“AARP Wisconsin has provided BizStarts with $ 20,000 worth of seed money to help entrepreneurs in the institute program get their businesses up and running,” BizStarts said in a statement.

The BizStarts Institute is a program launched in 2020 that teaches entrepreneurs from underserved areas the basics of business management.

The program wants to help Low-income entrepreneurs are making their dreams come true – and improve the Milwaukee neighborhood at the same time.

The first part of the program takes place at St. Ann’s Center for Intergenerational Care and takes place every Saturday for six weeks. After the entrepreneurs go through the program, they are matched with a mentor and student counselors to help them start their business.

“I can’t tell you how excited we are to be working with AARP,” said Patrick Snyder, Executive Director of BizStarts, in a statement. “These companies only need a small amount to get started and generate positive cash flow.

“Most of our entrepreneurs are customer-financed – they grow when more people buy from them,” said the organization’s statement. This means that “with just a little start-up capital, you will never feel the pressure to take out a loan.”

More:Northwestern Mutual launches a $ 100 million impact investing fund for black communities

More:5 angel investors set up Milwaukee Venture Partners to support startups in the region

The bootcamp program, which starts on Saturday, ends with a competition in which the participants can pitch their business plans.

“The winner of the pitch competition will be rewarded with $ 1,000 in prize money,” said Snyder. “The rest of the starting capital will be divided equally between the rest of the cohort.”

You can find more information about the BizStarts Institute at https://bizstarts.com/bizstarts-institute/

Drone Racing League lands $100 million take care of crypto platform Algorand

Drone Racing League

Source: Drone Racing League

The New York-based Drone Racing League has signed its most significant sponsorship agreement to date with the cryptocurrency platform Algorand, the company announced on Tuesday.

DRL is a first-person view racing league in which drone pilots race devices through neon-lit courses and compete for prize money. The company was founded in 2015 and is now valued at $ 200 million, according to PitchBook.

The terms of the deal with Algorand weren’t released, but people who knew about the deal told CNBC that it was a five-year pact worth $ 100 million. The league partner remains the German financial services company Allianz, which has held the title rights since the beginning of the DRL. Excel Sports Management has negotiated the deal with Algorand.

In an interview with CNBC last week, DRL President Rachel Jacobson called the pact with Algorand “transformative” and the “perfect marriage”. She added the crypto platform and DRL is aimed at a “tech-setter” fan base.

Jacobson described Gen Z audiences as digitally savvy, early adopters, “who are just as interested in an Apple iPhone launch as they are in sports and entertainment.”

“When you look at what’s going on with crypto and blockchain, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right audience,” she added.

Boston-based Algorand has a blockchain or digital ledger and is traded on the cryptocurrency exchange under the ticker symbol SOME. As crypto continues to evolve in the financial sector, companies are positioning themselves to attract more digital consumers by using sports sponsorship to create awareness.

This year, crypto companies took over the sport Naming rights assets in the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, and one company achieved a $ 100 million deal with Freedom media– own Formula 1.

Drone Racing League

Source: Drone Racing League

Jacobson, a former NBA executive, said sports help newer companies gain brand awareness, but added that crypto firms still need to educate younger audiences about the field and use engaging platforms to get their message across. According to DRL, it reaches around 75 million fans worldwide

“You have to put in the right programming so it doesn’t just be a logo slap,” Jacobson said. “The crypto community is too smart – they only see through a jersey patch or signage. They want to know, ‘How can I get involved? And how will that change my sports experience?'”

DRL starts its sixth season on September 29th. The league has media rights deals with NBCUniversal and a streaming deal with Twitter. miscellaneous Include sponsorships Agreements with Draft kings, T-Mobile, Body armor that US Air Force. DRL is helping the Air Force recruit and train future drone drivers.

Drones used in racing events are designed and built by DRL who build models for each race. The drones are worth around $ 2,000 and can fly up to 90 miles per hour.

The global drone market – described as the “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” sector – is expected to become $ 58 billion by 2026, by markets and markets. Since DRL also acts as a drone manufacturer, Jacobson said it wants to use products to generate more revenue.

“The possibilities are endless,” Jacobson said, noting that more and more companies are testing deliveries with drones. “We build our drones and when we think of other lines of business it could be anything. We’re just getting started.”

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the year DRL was introduced.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

Edelman Lands Leisure Impartial Company Of The 12 months Award

CANNES – Edelman was named Independent Agency of the Year on the Cannes Lions Entertainment Track, an award based on the accumulation of points earned in this area at the Festival of Creativity last week.

The award on Friday concluded a remarkable Cannes Lions Festival for Edelman. The world’s largest PR company landed at the beginning of the week Entertainment Grand Prix for its Asics Eternal Run Campaign, possibly the first instance of a PR firm that leads the brainstorming for a Grand Prix winner at the festival.


Edelman also won a Golden Lion in Radio and Audio for A New Jingle for A New Era by Good Humor and a Bronze Lion in Entertainment for Dove, Hair Love for Unilever. The agency received 16 shortlists as an independent participant and 17 wins and 15 shortlists as a partner / PR agency in 22 of the 28 Lions categories.

“Our appearance at this year’s festival is proof of the hard work, commitment and pride that the entire agency puts into the work we do for our clients,” said CEO Richard Edelman. “Five years ago we made a decision to invest in and develop a creative offering that would produce industry-leading work. Today we not only produce world-class creative work, but also meaningful and culturally relevant work that drives change. I couldn’t be more proud of our people for the work they have done this year. ”

Edelman Lands Leisure Grand Prix For Asics Everlasting Run

CANNES – Edelman won the Entertainment Grand Prix for its Asics Eternal Run campaign, possibly the first instance of a public relations firm to lead the brainstorming for a Grand Prix winner at the Cannes Lions Festival.

The ASICS Eternal Run campaign turned the concept of a traditional race on its head, removed the finish line and urged participants not to compete against anyone but themselves.

Edelman was the independent agency for the effort, took care of brainstorming, implementation and PR. Many PR firms have supported Grand Prix winners in subordinate roles, but the leading brainstorming at the international festival has proven to be a far elusive honor.

“Winning an Edelman Grand Prix feels enormous,” said Richard Edelman. “This is an endorsement of our approach to building trust and inspiring branding actions. We believe that trust drives our customers’ growth. Trust can’t be paid for, it has to be earned.”

SpaceX lands Starship rocket SN15 after take a look at flight

Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched and landed the latest prototype of its Starship rocket on Wednesday’s fifth test flight of the system at high altitude.

The spaceship prototype rocket Serial Number 15 or SN15 launched and flew up to 10 kilometers or about 33,000 feet in altitude. It is constructed of stainless steel and represents the early version of the rocket that Musk unveiled in 2019.

“Spaceship is nominally landing!” Musk tweeted after landing. Nominal is a space industry term used to denote when things go according to plan.

SN15 was the first Starship prototype that SpaceX did not destroy after a test flight at high altitude. While a small fire broke out at the base of the rocket after landing, the fire appeared to be contained a few minutes later.

The company is developing Starship to bring cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars.

Earlier this month NASA has awarded SpaceX nearly $ 3 billion Contract to build a moon variant of Starship to bring astronauts to the surface of the moon for the agency’s Artemis missions. While Musk’s company continues to develop Starship, NASA has stopped SpaceX work on the HLS program thereafter Jeff Bezos’ Blue origin and Read‘Daughter of Dynetics each filed protests against the NASA contract award.

The SN15 flight was similar to what SpaceX has conducted over the past six months with the test flights of the prototypes SN8, SN9, SN10 and SN11. While each of the previous missiles was successfully launched and several development goals were met, all four prototypes were explosively destroyed – SN8 and SN9 on impact during landing attempts. SN10 a few minutes after landingand SN11 shortly before the attempt to land.

The Starship prototypes are about 150 feet tall, or about the size of a 15-story building, and are each powered by three Raptor rocket engines.

The Starship prototype SN15 rocket is on the company’s launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX

SpaceX noted in a statement on its website that the SN15 has “vehicle enhancements in terms of structure, avionics and software” compared to previous Starship prototypes.

“Specifically, a new, improved avionics suite, an updated fuel architecture in the tail skirt, and a new design and configuration for Raptor engines,” said SpaceX.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which has an inspector at the SpaceX facilities to monitor the test flights, conducted a “breakdown” investigation of the SN11 flight.

Last week, the FAA announced the approval of the next three Starship launches – SN15, SN16, and SN16 – and said it would “verify that SpaceX has implemented corrective actions resulting from the SN11 breakdown investigation”.

The FAA approved multiple launches “because SpaceX makes few changes to the launcher and relies on the FAA-approved method to calculate the risk to the public.”

Ryan Reynolds lands Snapchat sequence Ryan Does not Know | Leisure

Ryan Reynolds has published his own Snapchat series “Ryan Don’t Know”.

With the “Deadpool” star’s Snap Original 12 parter broadcast on the Discover feature of the social media platform, the actor learns a few new skills, from flower shapes to casting a chainsaw.

In the trailer, the 44-year-old star makes fun of himself and jokes that he’s doing the series to prove he’s a “less boring husband and father”.

Ryan – who has daughters James, six, Inez, four, and Betty, 15 months old with spouse Blake Lively – quipped, “You could fill a gym with things I don’t know. Hoping a less boring husband and dad, I meet talented new artists to learn a little about a lot of new things. “

The premise for the show goes like this: “He will be joined by a group of talented emerging artists and creators from a number of fields. He will speak to incredibly talented experts to work together and try their hand at their honed craft on the show, Ryan try out the ice sculpture with Shintaro Okamoto, try out visual tricks with VFX expert Trevor Bell, learn flower sculpture from the creative designer Aurea Molaei, try ax throwing and much more! “

“Ryan don’t know” starts on Saturday (01/30/21).

Meanwhile, Ryan joked that he loved and hated spending more time with his family in quarantine.

In November he said, “I don’t live from paycheck to paycheck like so many people across the country and around the world, but you know for me the best – I would say obviously the time that I spend with the family is spending with my kids, I have an incredibly focused time with them at a time in their life I’ll never get back … if I want to single out the worst, it’s probably the incredibly focused time I had with my kids a time I’ll never get back. “