Cashback News – Feb 15: Asia cashback & e-commerce roundup

Asia VC growthOur recent coverage of the Indian e-commerce and cashback market has attracted a great deal of reader interest and attention. We’re looking today at recent news and developments in cashback and e-commerce in other markets across Asia. Rakuten  announced year-end financials with small growth overall, but highlighted the strong performance of cashback site Ebates whose gross merchandise sales grew 43%. A new German group of investors called Asian E-Commerce Alliance (AECAL) has a new fund looking for early stage e-commerce opportunities in India and Asia. Japanese VC IMJ Investment Partners (IMJ), launched a new $52 million fund targeting Japanese startups.

The Indonesian government is finalizing an e-commerce roadmap expected to grow to $130 billion in value by 2020. e27 reports on four Russian tech startups looking for opportunities in Asia. In India, Snapdeal struggled to respond to disaffected merchants protesting against withheld payments and “irrational” penalties. TechinAsia published a valuable list of 48 VC companies operating in Singapore.

The first Russian-Chinese e-commerce platform opened in Harbin, China led by Russia’s group.  DealStreetAsia reported crowdfunding in Thailand expects to grow from $2.84 million in 2015 to $284 million in 2016 led by groups including Meefund.

Rakuten Writes Down $340M in Assets, Shutters Marketplaces in SE Asia

Rakuten staffRakuten’s main domestic business is stagnating. Its Japanese e-commerce division grew 10 percent on GMV — the total amount of goods sold on platforms — but profit was up just six percent and revenue 13 percent on the previous financial year. Rakuten’s Internet services division has expanded with some early promise in Japan — revenue grew 22 percent with profit up 45 percent year-on-year — but there’s also pressure on overseas investments to pull in cash to compensate.

Mikitani placed plenty of emphasis on Ebates, the cash-back website it bought for $1 billion in 2014, which Rakuten said “contributed significantly to the growth” of its overseas businesses, with GMV rising 43 percent annually to $4.9 billion. Under its new plan, Ebates is tipped to triple to $15 billion GMV by 2020.

That’s the model that the company is looking for, but it’s tough to find that in emerging markets like Southeast Asia and Brazil. Yes, millions of new Internet users are coming online via smartphones, but there’s plenty of competition in e-commerce (Rocket Internet alone has poured more than $1 billion into its two players in Southeast Asia) while buying online is not yet a mainstream trend among consumers. As a result, Rakuten looks to be clearing out its longer-term, less-certain bets and doubling down where it believes the healthiest chances of returns lie. Via

Exclusive: German angels scout for Indian startups a time when European investors mostly remain apprehensive about the Indian startup ecosystem, a group of German angel investors is building a portfolio of early-stage ventures in India.

The Asian E-Commerce Alliance (AECAL), a seed fund co-founded in 2014 by Germany-based digital entrepreneurs and investors Peter Kabel and Dominik Gyllensvard, has put in $10,000 to $700,000 in seven Indian startups and is close to making follow-on investment of $1 million in a portfolio company.

Besides investing on their own, Kabel and Gyllensvard have brought along a dozen other angel investors from Germany to invest in Indian companies. They declined to share the names of these individual investors for privacy reasons but said all of them are experienced entrepreneurs. One investor, for instance, has sold his e-commerce business in Germany for around $300 million and the other is running a big retail chain, they added. Via

IMJ Investment Partners launches $52m Japan fund venture capital firm IMJ Investment Partners (IMJ), has launched a new $52 million fund that will target Japanese startups, it said in a blog post on its website. IMJ, which is Singapore-base, had established IMJ Investment Partners Japan to look at investments in that country last year, and this is the first vehicle under that arm.

The blog post added that IMJ had already got commitments to the tune of US$17.44 million for its Japan fund. IMJ had so far been focussed on the South East Asian market, and has invested in about 12 startups in this region. Via

Indonesia to launch comprehensive e-commerce roadmap Indonesian government has finally completed the e-commerce roadmap draft, which will form the basis for future guidelines regulating the sector. The roadmap will cover critical aspects of the industry such as funding, taxation, communication infrastructure, logistics, cyber security, consumer protection and education.

The e-commerce sector, which is currently highly regulated in Indonesia, has been a subject of heated discussion in the public sphere, The roadmap is expected to launch in February in the form of government regulation.

Minister for Information and Communication Rudiantara said, at a press conference, “these are the seven points that the government will work on in order to achieve the e-commerce transaction value of $130 billion by 2020.” Via

Cheers from snowy Russia! Four fantastic stories of tech startups tackling SEA you know what motivates startups to jump on the path towards global growth? Many Founders are put in humble economic circumstances, restricted by the local market, creating a vested interest to expand the business, find new investors and clients, or even challenge their entrepreneurial stamina.

For Russian startups, the Asian market may serve as a tantalising prospect for success due to a growing economy and high investment flows. Over the last nine months, the venture market in Asia has exploded up to US$28.3 billion, thus justifying it as a good place to make a mark. But the question is, are Russian brands out-innovating their Asian counterparts and those in the West? Via

Irate Snapdeal Sellers Rise Against the Etailer Over Withheld Payments & Irrational Penalties“At Snapdeal, we are committed to create life changing experiences for more than 1 million sellers by 2017,” said Vishal Chadha, senior vice president, market development, Snapdeal, when the ecommerce giant announced the launch of its ‘Professional Services Panel’, last year in November, to strengthen the ecosystem for its sellers. However, the sellers on Snapdeal’s platform seem to be far from being satisfied with the etailer’s services.

A constantly growing group of Snapdeal sellers have rose up against Snapdeal, accusing it for withholding their payments – as prior recoveries – and charging them huge and irrational amounts as penalties for minor infractions. Sellers from all across the country are raising their grievances and some of them have been making the rounds of the Snapdeal’s Gurgaon office, hoping the company would hear them out and settle their issues. Via

A list of venture capital firms in Singapore

VCs SingaporeVenture capital firms have entered Singapore in droves, which means startups can look forward to a wider variety of funding options (not clear on what venture capital is? Read this article first).

Here are the venture capital firms with a presence in Singapore that have been investing in startups in the past six months. It includes funds that are supported by the Singapore government through the NRF TIS and ES. Via

First Russian-Chinese E-Commerce Platform Opens in China first Russian-Chinese platform for online trading has opened in China, the Russian Economic Development Ministry said in a statement. “Employees of the Trade Representation of Russia in China took part in the official opening ceremony of China’s first Chinese-Russian platform of e-commerce,” the statement, published Monday, reads.

According to the statement, the platform was set up by a Chinese company based in the city of Harbin. The ceremony was reportedly attended by the Heilongjiang Province and Harbin city authorities, as well as by representatives of the Chinese business community . Via

Thailand: Meefund aims to raise $1.13m in funding for projects on its crowdfunding platform in 2016 being launched in late 2015, Thailand’s leading crowdfunding website Meefund targets to feature 40 projects with total fundraising value of around 40 million baht ($1.13 million) this year. To date, there have been seven projects including dancing, movie and stage drama vying for financial supports from the general public through meefund’s website. It expects to attract more different projects such as animation and computer graphic to feature on the website.

“We believe that the crowdfunding will grow rapidly here in line with the world’s mega trend. It is forecast that the value of crowdfunding will be higher than the value of venture capital in the next one to three years,” Nathawut Paopreecha, CEO of First Coin Co, the operator of Meefund, told DEALSTREETASIA. He said that total value of the crowdfunding globally was $34 billion in 2015, doubled from 2014. Meanwhile, total value of crowdfunding in Thailand is expected to touch 100 million baht ($2.84 million) this year and drastically skyrocket to 10 billion baht ($284 million) in 2016. Via

Asia looks to be an exciting market to cover this year in e-commerce, cashback, retail, mobile and venture capital investment. We’ll be providing you with regular news, roundups and insight into these fast-growing SE Asian regional markets.