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China is BMW’s largest market, and the German automaker knows in order to capture the country’s demanding consumers, its future models must support robust autonomous driving capability.

But to build it itself in China is hardly possible. The success of autonomous driving relies in part on high-definition mapping, a process that requires an expansive collection of geographic information. By law, foreign entities can’t host China-based data without local partnerships. Apple noticeably works with a Chinese firm to store user emails, text messages and other forms of digital footprint in the country.

That appears to be one of the catalysts for BMW’s new partnership with Tencent. The Chinese tech giant, which is best known for WeChat and runs an expanding cloud computing business, said on Friday it’s setting up a data computing and storage platform for the German premium carmaker. Reuters reported that the pair plans to launch the computing center by the end of this year in Tianjin, a port city near Beijing.

The tie-up came months after BMW’s earlier data expansion in the world’s largest passenger car market. In February, Here — a Google Maps alternative partly owned by BWM — joined forces with Chinese navigation service Navinfo which would help Here collect data locally. It’s perhaps by no coincidence that Navinfo and Tencent both bought small shares in Here three years ago.

As BMW gets more familiar with China’s road conditions, there’s no reason why it won’t apply those data to its freshly minted ride-hailing venture.

Teaming up with BMW can be a big win for Tencent, which has been placing more focus on enterprise-facing endeavors as its main gaming business copes with regulatory pressure. In the world of transportation, “Tencent is committed to assisting automotive companies in the digital transformation,” said Dowson Tong, the company’s president of Cloud and Smart Industry, in a statement.

Another relationship

BMW has previously sought after another Chinese tech leader to automate its vehicles. It has been working with Baidu, the country’s largest search engine provider with a growing list of artificial intelligence initiatives, on automated driving since 2014.

Last October, the duo ramped up their alliance after the German automaker joined Baidu’s autonomous driving open platform Apollo . The deal carried larger diplomatic significance as it came about during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit in Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Baidu president Zhang Yaqin said at the time the deal was meant to “accelerate the development of autonomous driving technologies that align with the Chinese market.”

BMW’s relationship with Tencent, on the other hand, has previously played out on other fronts including joint research into autonomous driving security and testing that involved Tencent’s noted Keen Security Lab.

Baidu and Tencent don’t compete directly for their core businesses, but both are making a big push into the future of mobility, whether the effort pertains to in-car entertainment or self-driving. It’s not uncommon for tech rivals in China to target the same partner. A spokeswoman for BMW told TechCrunch that “there is no overlap in the collaboration” and the German firm is “cooperating with different top-notch Chinese companies in different fields.”

Indeed, the setup with Tencent seems more comprehensive at first glance. The Chinese company is providing “IT architecture, tools and platforms supporting the entire process of [BMW’s] automated driving research and development,” according to the spokeswoman. When it comes to Baidu, she cited an example of the pair working on a self-driving safety white paper that also involved ten other partners.

That might be a roundabout way of saying that the Baidu alliance is looser. It’s worth pointing out that BMW isn’t unique to Apollo, which bills itself as the “Android for autonomous cars” and now counts more than 100 auto partners from across the world.

A large network helps generate conversations and potential leads down the road, but keeping it this way could compromise the depth of “collaboration” — a word that’s too often co-opted by publicists. As Cao Xudong, founder of Chinese autonomous driving unicorn Momenta, told TechCrunch earlier, collaboration in the auto sector “demands deep, resource-intensive collaboration, so less [fewer partnerships] is believed to be more.”

What about the other heavyweight Alibaba, which also wants to own the future of driving? The Chinese e-commerce and cloud computing company has become pally with state-owned carmaker SAIC, with which it has set up a joint venture called Banma to create autonomous driving solutions. This existing marriage means BMW will unlikely tap Alibaba for automation, an employee at a major Chinese self-driving startup suggested to me.

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Software grabs so much attention that it even has its own catchphrase — there’s an app for that. It’s not a bad thing, but we know nothing happens without hardware. That’s why we’re hunting for the best early-stage hardware startups to take center stage at Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen on November 11-12 in China.

Apply here to compete in TC Hardware Battlefield 2019, our hardware-focused pitch competition. If selected, you’ll go head-to-head against some of the world’s most innovative hardware makers for a shot at $25,000. What’s more, you’ll pitch your creations to the world’s top investors. Imagine what that kind of exposure could do for your bottom line.

This is our fifth Hardware Battlefield and our first in China. Shenzhen has a global reputation for the support it offers hardware startups through a combination of accelerators, rapid prototyping and world-class manufacturing. We’re thrilled to collaborate with our partner TechNode to host TC Hardware Battlefield 2019 as part of the larger TechCrunch Shenzhen that runs November 9-12.

Any early-stage hardware startup — from any country — can apply to this competition. We’ve seen an impressive range of hardware in previous Battlefields, including robotic arms, food testing devicesmalaria diagnostic tools, smart socks for diabetics and e-motorcycles. Show us what you’ve got!

Meet the minimum requirements listed below, and you’re qualified for consideration:

If you’ve never experienced one of our Battlefield pitch competitions, you’re in for the ride of a lifetime. Here’s how this Hardware Battlefield works.

The vetting process is very selective, and TechCrunch editors thoroughly review every qualified application. They’ll pick 10-15 outstanding hardware startups to compete. Every participating team receives extensive coaching from TechCrunch editors wise in the ways of Battlefield competitions. How extensive? Try six weeks of training that leaves you ready to step on the main stage in front of a panel of judges comprised of expert VCs, founders and technologists.

Each team has just six minutes to pitch and demo their products and then respond to an in-depth Q&A from the judges. One team will rise above the rest to become the Hardware Battlefield champion and take home a check for $25,000.

Even if you don’t win the whole shooting match, you’ll walk away with invaluable — some might say life-changing — media and investor exposure. Of course, we’ll capture the entire event on video and publish it on TechCrunch to a global audience.

Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen takes place on November 11-12. Don’t miss your chance to launch your hardware startup on the world’s most famous tech stage. Apply today!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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Team Telecom, a shadowy US national security unit tasked with protecting America’s telecommunications systems, is delaying plans by Google, Facebook and other tech companies for the next generation of international fiber optic cables.

Team Telecom is comprised of representatives from the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice (including the FBI), who assess foreign investments in American telecom infrastructure, with a focus on cybersecurity and surveillance vulnerabilities.

Team Telecom works at a notoriously sluggish pace, taking over seven years to decide that letting China Mobile operate in the US would “raise substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks,” for instance. And while Team Telecom is working, applications are stalled at the FCC.

The on-going delays to submarine cable projects, which can cost nearly half a billion dollars each, come with significant financial impacts. They also cede advantage to connectivity projects that have not attracted Team Telecom’s attention – such as the nascent internet satellite mega-constellations from SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon .

Team Telecom’s investigations have long been a source of tension within Silicon Valley. Google’s subsidiary GU Holdings Inc has been building a network of international submarine fiber-optic cables for over a decade. Every cable that lands on US soil is subject to Team Telecom review, and each one has faced delays and restrictions.

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The rise of data breaches, along with an expanding raft of regulations (now numbering 80 different regional regimes, and growing) have thrust data protection — having legal and compliant ways of handling personal user information — to the top of the list of things that an organization needs to consider when building and operating their businesses. Now a startup called InCountry, which is building both the infrastructure for these companies to securely store that personal data in each jurisdiction, as well as a comprehensive policy framework for them to follow, has raised a Series A of $15 million. The funding is coming in just three months after closing its seed round — underscoring both the attention this area is getting and the opportunity ahead.

The funding is being led by three investors: Arbor Ventures of Singapore, Global Founders Capital of Berlin, and Mubadala of Abu Dhabi. Previous investors Caffeinated Capital, Felicis Ventures, Charles River Ventures, and Team Builder Ventures (along with others that are not being named) also participated. It brings the total raised to date to $21 million.

Peter Yared, the CEO and founder, pointed out in an interview the geographic diversity of the three lead backers: he described this as a strategic investment, which has resulted from InCountry already expanding its work in each region. (As one example, he pointed out a new law in the UAE requiring all health data of its citizens to be stored in the country — regardless of where it originated.)

As a result, the startup will be opening offices in each of the regions and launching a new product, InCountry Border, to focus on encryption and data handling that keep data inside specific jurisdictions. This will sit alongside the company’s compliance consultancy as well as its infrastructure business.

“We’re only 28 people and only six months old,” Yared said. “But the proposition we offer — requiring no code changes, but allowing companies to automatically pull out and store the personally identifiable information in a separate place, without anything needed on their own back end, has been a strong pull. We’re flabbergasted with the meetings we’ve been getting.” (The alternative, of companies storing this information themselves, has become massively unpalatable, given all the data breaches we’ve seen, he pointed out.)

In part because of the nature of data protection, in its short six months of life, InCountry has already come out of the gates with a global viewpoint and global remit.

It’s already active in 65 countries — which means it’s already equipped to stores, processes, and regulates profile data in the country of origin in these markets — but that is actually just the tip of the iceberg. The company points out that more than 80 countries around the world have data sovereignty regulations, and that in the US, some 25 states already have data privacy laws. Violating these can have disastrous consequences for a company’s reputation, not to mention its bottom line: In Europe, earlier this month the UK data regulator is now fining companies the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars when they violate GDPR rules.

This ironically is translating into a big business opportunity for startups that are building technology to help companies cope with this. Just last week, OneTrust raised a $200 million Series A to continue building out its technology and business funnel — the company is a “gateway” specialist, building the welcome screens that you encounter when you visit sites to accept or reject a set of cookies and other data requests.

Yared says that while InCountry is very young and is still working on its channel strategy — it’s mainly working directly with companies at this point — there is a clear opportunity both to partner with others within the ecosystem as well as integrators and others working on cloud services and security to build bigger customer networks.

That speaks to the complexity of the issue, and the different entry points that exist to solve it.

“The rapidly evolving and complex global regulatory landscape in our technology driven world is a growing challenge for companies,” said Melissa Guzy of Arbor Ventures, in a statement. Guzy is joining the board with this round. “InCountry is the first to provide a comprehensive solution in the cloud that enables companies to operate globally and address data sovereignty. We’re thrilled to partner and support the company’s mission to enable global data compliance for international businesses.”

 

 

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EBay said today it is buying a 5.5% stake in e-commerce marketplace Paytm Mall as the global firm makes another push to gain footprint in India’s fast-growing e-commerce market.

The two firms did not disclose financial terms of the deal, but a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that EBay has invested between $150 million to $200 million in Paytm Mall at a valuation of $3 billion, up from under $2 billion last year. Paytm Mall had raised about $650 million prior to today’s announcement, the source said.

The agreement will see more than a million products of EBay be made available for purchase to users on Paytm Mall, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of Paytm said in a statement. “We will jointly select the inventory we want to bring here. It will be done in a month’s time,” he added. EBay will continue to operate its e-commerce site in India, the company said.

The deal could strengthen Paytm Mall’s position in India, where it competes with Walmart -owned Flipkart, and Amazon India. Online retail sales in India are expected to grow to about $72 billion in three years, according to research firm eMarketer.

Paytm Mall, which is backed by SoftBank, Alibaba, Ant Financial, and SAIF Partners, reported GMV sales of $188 million in 2018. In last one year, sales at the e-commerce arm of One97 Communications, which also runs Paytm wallet, has lost momentum after it cut down the lofty offers it was bandying out to customers, according to an Economic Times report.

Like Amazon and Flipkart, Paytm Mall operates on an inventory-led model in India, but in recent months it has shifted its focus to offline-to-online and online-to-offline models, wherein orders placed by customers are serviced from local brand stores. A second source told TechCrunch that Paytm Mall intends to aggressively grow its non-inventory based models. Paytm Mall claims to have over 100,000 seller partners on its platform.

This is EBay’s third investment in India. The company made its first investment in the country in Snapdeal in 2013, and then on Flipkart. After the Indian firm was acquired by Walmart for $16 billion, EBay sold its stake for $1.1 billion and relaunched its e-commerce site with cross-border trade as its new focus.

“We are deeply committed to India and believe there is huge growth potential and significant opportunity in this dynamic market,” said Jooman Park, Senior Vice President of EBay’s APAC business. “This new relationship will accelerate our cross-border trade efforts in a rapidly growing market, providing hundreds of millions of Paytm and Paytm Mall customers with access to EBay’s unparalleled selection of goods.”

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Taylor Host has been operating his artificial intelligence startup out of Hong Kong for more than two years. The American entrepreneur has clients from Europe, North America and Asia, but he settled in the city for its adjacency to Southeast Asia and mainland China’s massive market.

Miro, which Host co-founded in 2017 with a British software engineer, had bootstrapped to six employees before raising a small note investment. Backed by Silicon Valley-based SOSV, it’s now seeking $2 million in a new funding round. As trade tensions between China and the U.S. drag on, the company is considering relocating for the first time because being a Hong Kong entity starts to turn off western investors.

Miro uses computer vision to tag images and videos of runners for the brands they wear. It then attributes that data — sporting goods purchases — to consumers profiles that are part of its clients’ customer relations management (CRM) system. Miro’s AI processes data in markets around the world, but China data, in particular, is desirable for western sports brands.

The Chinese rising middle-class has been fueling a marathon fever in recent years as they search for a healthier lifestyle. When they participate in a race, Miro’s sensors could be tracking their shoes and outfits for event organizers and sponsors. The technology has so far been used in nearly 500 events around the world and analyzed more than 10 million athletes — while most of the technical development has been conducted in Hong Kong.

“My co-founder and I both spent a considerable amount of time in Hong Kong. The majority of our team would call themselves Hong Kong Chinese, so we have a very strong foothold in Hong Kong and we love it here,” Host told TechCrunch over a phone interview.

“Lately though, it’s become very difficult to rationalize keeping the business in Hong Kong. There’s a number of reasons for that, but I think the ones that stand out are geopolitical.”

For one, Host has sensed a “dramatic” sentiment change among western investors towards Hong Kong, where a contentious extradition bill triggered a wave of mass protests recently. At the heart of the issue are fears that the special administrative region is ceding autonomy to Beijing. Critics cite examples of the disappearance of a Hong Kong bookseller and a Financial Times journalist’s visa denied by the local government.

Miro, a Hong Kong-based startup, uses computer vision to tag images and videos of runners for the brands they wear. / Photo: Miro

In an alarming move, the U.S. government stated the extradition bill “imperils the strong U.S.-Hong Kong relationship” that includes a special trade arrangement independent from that of mainland China.

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam announced in early July that the bill was “dead“, but the die has been cast as concerns linger for Hong Kong’s autonomous status. Businesses in the territory now risk being dragged into the U.S.-China trade war.

In March, Miro won a pitch competition at SXSW and has since attracted institutional investors of all sizes. But two of its potential backers based in the U.S. have decided to leave the negotiation table seeing Hong Kong as a risk.

“Not a single firm has overlooked the issue of us being a Hong Kong-based company,” said Host. “There is zero appetite from the U.S. investors who we have talked to to invest in our Hong Kong entity right now.”

The risk of backing Miro, which processes seas of data with image recognition capabilities, is more pronounced than funding companies with little or no core technology as intellectual property is one of the main targets of the U.S.-China negotiations.

“Foreign venture capitalists have become more vigilant about investing in Chinese AI and chips companies, even when they don’t own core technology,” Joe Chan, founding partner of Hong Kong-based MindWorks Ventures, told TechCrunch in an interview.

Meanwhile, the trade war has had a tangential impact on U.S. fundings for Chinese startups that focus on education, lifestyle and other non-deep tech sectors, according to a handful of investors who we have spoken to in recent months.

Southeast Asia gains

With the help of legal and tax consultants, Miro has recently shifted to a U.S. entity by registering in Delaware but will keep its operations in Hong Kong. It’s a move which, in Host’s words, has “pleased and allowed the company to move forward” with some of its interested U.S. investors.

“It was a requirement of our conversations with those U.S. investors that they are investing in a U.S. — not Hong Kong — entity,” the founder noted. “If you are dead set on your company being the biggest company in your industry, why would you even consider being in a place that has so much uncertainty and risk?”

For China-based companies whose cross-border business is anchored in Asia, Southeast Asia could be a safe haven from the trade war. As Chan observed, some Chinese startups have intended to move to Singapore “to become less politically sensitive.”

Miro won a pitch competition at SXSW and has since attracted institutional investors of all sizes. But potential backers have decided to leave the negotiation table seeing Hong Kong as a risk. / Photo: Miro

Miro is also hedging risks by looking to Southeast Asia, which many would argue is emerging as a winner from the U.S.-China fight. Like China, the region has a burgeoning middle class that is getting into running and a range of other hobbies and habits that will spawn startup ideas.

Indeed, there’s been a lot of chatter about the rise of the region with a population of 640 million. A few big-name global investors, including Warburg Pincus and TPG Capital, have set aside new funds over the past few months to back Southeast Asian startups. Corporate investors including Tencent, Alibaba, Didi Chuxing and JD.com, are also clamoring to gain a foothold in this rising part of the continent, as we wrote two years ago.

“On a macro level, the trade war certainly has a substantial impact on China’s economy, so we are seeing a lot more money flowing to Southeast Asia,” said Chan.

“For example, some manufacturers have moved to Indonesia where labor is cheaper. China’s tech industry — and this is not entirely linked to the trade war — is reaching saturation and dominated by the BAT [Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent], so the window of opportunity is small. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia is still in development.”

In a way, the trade war has accelerated the shift of attention from China to neighboring countries. The momentum was what brought Miro to visit one of the region’s largest tech conferences Techsauce recently.

“Nobody is talking about the trade war out here in Bangkok. We are talking about how Southeast Asia is exploding. And that is not just Chinese investors. It’s western investors too,” said Host.

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Netflix said on Wednesday that it will roll out a cheaper subscription plan in India, one of the last great growth markets for global companies, as the streaming giant scrambles to find ways to accelerate its slowing growth worldwide.

The company added 2.7 million new subscribers in the quarter that ended in June this year, it said today, far fewer than the 5 million figure it had forecasted earlier this year.

The company said lowering its subscription plan, which starts at $9 in the U.S., would help it reach more users in India and expand its overall subscriber base. According to third-party research firms, Netflix has fewer than 2 million subscribers in India.

Netflix started to test a lower-priced subscription plan in India and some other markets in Asia late last year. The plan restricts the usage of the service to one mobile device and offers only the standard definition viewing (~480p). During the period of testing, which was active as of two months ago, the company charged users as low as $4.

The company did not specify the exact amount it intends to charge users for the mobile only, cheaper plan. During the testing period, Netflix also provided some users the option to get a subscription that would only last for a week. The company also did not say if it intended to bring the cheaper plan to other markets. TechCrunch has reached out to Netflix for more details.

“After several months of testing, we’ve decided to roll out a lower-priced mobile-screen plan in India to complement our existing plans. We believe this plan, which will launch in Q3, will be an effective way to introduce a larger number of people in India to Netflix and to further expand our business in a market where Pay TV ARPU is low (below $5),” the company said in its quarterly earnings report.

The India challenge

Selling an entertainment service in India, the per capita GDP of which is under $2,000, is extremely challenging. The vast majority of companies that have performed exceedingly well in the nation offer their products and services at a very low price. Just look at Spotify, which entered India earlier this year and for the first time decided to offer full access to its service at no cost to local users. Even its premium option that features playback in higher quality costs Rs 119 ($1.6) per month.

That’s not to say that winning in India, home to more than 1.3 billion people, can’t be rewarding. Disney-owned streaming service Hotstar, which offers 80% of its content catalog at no cost, has amassed more than 300 million monthly active users. There are about 500 million internet users in India, according to industry reports.

In fact, Hotstar set a global record for most simultaneous views to a live event — about 25.3 million users — during the recently concluded ICC cricket world cup. It broke its own previous records. Hotstar’s free offering comes bundled with ads, while its ad-free premium option costs Rs 999 ($14.5) for a year-long access.

Amazon, another global rival of Netflix, bundles its Prime Video streaming service in its Prime membership, which includes access to faster delivery of packages and its music service, for Rs 999 a year.

For Netflix, the decision to lower its pricing in India comes at a time when it has hiked the subscription cost in many parts of the world in recent quarters. In the U.S., for instance, Netflix said earlier this year that it would raise its subscription price by up to 18%.

During a visit to India early last year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the country could eventually emerge as the place that would bring the next 100 million service to his platform. “The Indian entertainment business will be much larger over the next 20 years because of investment in pay services like Netflix and others,” he said.

So far, Netflix has largely tried to lure customers through its original series. (Many popular U.S. shows such as NBC’s “The Office” that are available on Netflix’s U.S. catalog are not offered in its India palate.) The company, which has produced more than a dozen original shows and movies for India, this week unveiled five more that are in the pipeline.

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Atlanta-based software firm Ebix said today it is acquiring online travel booking company Yatra through a merger deal at an enterprise value of $337.8 million as they look to strengthen their position in India and footprints worldwide.

Once the acquisition has completed, Yatra will become part of Ebix’s EbixCash (the company’s Indian subsidiary) travel portfolio — which also includes Via and Mumbai-based Mercury — and will continue to serve customers under the Yatra brand, the two companies said.

Yatra, which went public in 2016 following a reverse-merger with listed company Terrapin 3 Acquisition Corporation, counts India’s Network18, Reliance Capital, Macquarie Group, and Rotation Capital among its shareholders. Yatra posted a revenue of $31.7 million in Q4 2018. It had about 800 corporate clients as of earlier this year.

The combined entity will leverage Yatra’s large and loyal existing customer base, comprehensive service offering and multi-channel platform to take advantage of the dynamic and growing multibillion-dollar opportunity in India, the companies said in a joint statement. Yatra’s shares were up over 17% following today’s announcement in pre-market trading.

Ebix’s growing footprint in India

The announcement follows months of negotiations between the two firms. In March, Ebix offered to buy Yatra for $336 million, adding that it might reduce its offer size if Yatra does not accept the proposal soon enough.

Ebix, which develops software solutions for insurance, financial, e-commerce, e-learning, healthcare, and travel industries, said it is targeting an EbixCash IPO in the second quarter of next year. “The synergies and the cross-selling opportunities can create tremendous economic value for the shareholders, once the IPO is done,” the companies said.

Ebix has acquired stake in a number of companies in India. Earlier this year, it acquired 80% controlling stake in on-demand SaaS travel firm Zillious. The U.S.-based company’s Indian subsidiary has also acquired stakes in remittance provider Weizmann, online cab hiring platform AHA Taxis, B2B marketplace Routier, travel business Centrum Direct, and e-learning firm Smartclass.

In 2017, Ebix acquired controlling stake in Itz Cash, a firm that offers prepaid cash cards, for over $120 million. It also owns assets of Delhi-based Pearl International Tour & Travels and Mumbai-based Lawson Travels & Tours.

In a statement, Dhruv Shringi, cofounder and CEO of Yatra, said, “Becoming a part of Ebix’s EbixCash travel portfolio will enable us to continue on that path. As part of a larger diversified organization with the necessary scale and resources to be a leader in today’s dynamic travel marketplace, we will provide more options and an enhanced experience for our joint customers and will be an even stronger partner to the airline, hotel, car rental and other businesses we work with.”

“We are confident that combining Yatra’s loyal customer base, comprehensive service offering and multi-channel platform with Ebix’s complementary Via and Mercury businesses, will create a leading online travel platform and India’s largest corporate travel platform that will capture growth opportunities and deliver enhanced value to shareholders.”

More to follow…

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MyMoneyMantra, a 30-year-old New Delhi-based firm that operates a marketplace of financial services, has raised $15 million in its maiden funding round from an external source to expand its offerings and reach in the nation.

Dutch investment firm IFSD BV and private equity firm Vaalon Capital funded the $15 million round in MyMoneyMantra, the Indian firm said on Wednesday. A person familiar with the matter said the round valued MyMoneyMantra at about $50 million.

The company’s founder Raj Khosla said MyMoneyMantra, which employs about 2,500 employees and serves over 4 million customers across 50 cities, will use the capital to explore ways to capture a larger share of the market.

Khosla said the firm would work closely with Vaalon Capital’s team to expand its offerings and deepen its ties with banks and insurance companies. In the financial year that ended in March, MyMoneyMantra generated a revenue of $19.6 million.

MyMoneyMantra works with over 90 banks, non-bank lenders, and insurance companies to help customers get deals on loans and credit cards. The firm, which competes with BankBazaar and Andromeda in India, has done business of over $5.5 billion to date.

Today’s announcement underscores investors’ growing interest in India’s fintech market that saw tens of millions of users try out digital payment services for the first time after the Indian government banned some paper bills. Cash still dominates most of the transactions in the country.

India’s fintech startups raised $285.6 million in the quarter that ended in March this year, thereby surpassing China to become Asia’s top fundraising hub for financial technology, according to CBInsights.

And that momentum continues. In recent months, a score of startups that are trying to help India’s next hundreds of millions of users access financial services have secured significant capital from major investors. While some startups such as Open and Niyo are operating “neo banks” to help blue-collar workers access financial services, many big names like Paytm and Ola have launched their own credit cards.

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Chinese startups continue to weather tough times as private investors, caught in a cash crunch, are concentrating money into fewer deals.

China’s deal-making activity for startups in the six months ended June halved from a year ago to 1910, according to data from consulting firm ChinaVenture’s research arm. The amount invested in domestic startups during the first half of 2019 plummeted 54% to $23.2 billion.

The slide in startup investment comes as the money behind the money shrinks amid a cooling economy in China that is exacerbated by a trade war with the U.S. Fundraising for investors was already showing signs of slowdown a year earlier. In the first half of this year, private equity and venture capital firms in China secured 30% less than what they had raised over the same period a year ago, amounting to a total of $54.44 billion. 271 funds managed to raise, down 52%.

That money from limited partners is also flowing to a small rank of investors. 12 institutions accounted for 57% of all the capital landed by VCs and PEs in the period. Investment coffers that have gotten a big boost include the likes of TPG Capital, Warburg Pincus, DCG Capital, Legend Capital, and Source Code Capital.

Healthcare was the most backed sector during the six months, although proptech startups scored the biggest average deal size. Some of the highest funded companies from the period were artificial intelligence chip maker Horizon Robotics, shared housing upstart Danke and China’s Starbucks challenger Luckin.

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