Asian Ambitions

Earlier this month I met three new exciting payment startups at the flying fintech circus Money 20/20 Europe in Copenhagen: Android Pay, Samsung Pay and Alipay who all announced their expansion into Europe and their expected launch in the UK later this year. 

Android Pay is actually an updated version of a Google Wallet, which was not very successful. The director of Google’s Emerging Platforms, Spencer Spinnell, disguised the value that his new payment system will bring to Europe with a lot of technical shoptalk and corporate blabla.

Next in line was Elle Kim, Vice President of Samsung Pay, obviously proud of the new payment service from her company: “6 months ago we were a hardware company and now we have 5 million users and have processed 500 million dollars”. To be honest: I’m not exactly blown away by the mobile giant yet, but I may eventually be because Samsung that controls the hardware and builds security into the phone, is planning to conquer the World and Europe – and they have been quite successful so far.

After the two presentations, I still didn’t fully appreciate the burning need for yet two more gigantic players in the payment industry, and it was as if Sabrina Peng, president of Alipay International, had read my thoughts: ”Europe’s merchants don’t need more payment solutions, she said. They need more customers and Alipay will bring these customers to Europe! Last year 117 m Chinese travelled the world and they spent 165 billion dollars; most of these people prefer to pay with Alipay,” said Ms. Peng, whose company processes 175 million payments per day and has more than 450 million active users on the mainland. “If the European merchants will accept Alipay we will provide them with new affluent customers”.

I don’t think many hotels restaurants and luxury shops would object Sabrina Peng. She speaks no fintech jargon and her message gets across. In February, Uber announced that its one million drivers soon will accept Alipay despite the fact that Alipay has its own competing car-hailing service and has invested in Uber’s toughest competitor Lyft. With a view to almost half a billion customers who bothers to put on airs?

Forecasts indicate that the Chinese wanderlust will inflict 234 million people by 2020 and as the leading payment solution Alipay is key to future revenues from Chinese travellers around the world. Alipay is not just another payment solution it’s a lifestyle app, and as we know if your shop is not on the mobile screen Chinese customers will ignore you.

Taking 117 million Chinese on tour is like moving an entire country, which is what inspired Alipay to their new global dream. They wanted to bring their platform to the world, not just China, and according to Shanghai Daily Alipay has even higher aspirations with a “vision of targeting 2 billion people within the next five to ten years, not only in China but other countries too.”

That has to involve me and […]

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Guy builds enormous computer, uses it to play Tetris


If you need a computer, you could go to a store and buy one from anywhere between $500 and $3,000. Or you could spend around $53,000 in parts and invest a couple of years into building a gigantic, 1,100 pound, monster-computer that can only perform relatively simple tasks. 

Your call, totally.

A fellow named James Newman from Cambridge, UK, started building the “Megaprocessor,” in 2012, the BBC reported Wednesday. The process is documented on Newman’s website; in a nutshell, the idea was not to build any sort of powerful supercomputer, but to fully grasp how a computer works by building it with normal-sized transistors, instead of the extremely tiny ones seen in today’s modern microprocessors. Read more…

More about Tetris, Computer, Megaprocessor, Tech, and Dev Design


Tesla says it informed government of crash involving Autopilot before its huge stock sale

Tesla Model S Tesla says it told regulators about the May 7th crash involving one of its electric cars in self-driving Autopilot mode nine days after the incident, adding that there was nothing unusual in either that delay or its decision to keep quiet about the incident before a federal investigation was publicly announced last Thursday.
Tesla says the company itself was informed of the accident… Read More


FBI recommends no charges for Hillary Clinton over use of personal email servers

hillary-clinton-shutterstock While noting that Hillary Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless” in using a series of personal e-mail servers during her time as Secretary of State, the FBI recommended the Department of Justice bring no formal charges against the presumptive Democratic nominee, FBI Director James Comey said today in a press conference. During its investigation, the FBI wasn’t able… Read More


Popular YouTubers Revealed As Owners Of Counter-Strike Betting Site They Promote 

Over the holiday weekend, a whole load of dirt got thrown into the already murky waters of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gambling scene. Popular YouTubers Trevor ‘TmarTn’ Martin and Tom ‘ProSyndicate’ Cassell were revealed to be key staff of a skin gambling site they’ve promoted (sans overt disclosure of that fact) on multiple occasions.

Read more…


Trump tweets at “dishonest media” in Star of David kerfuffle

the donald trump Happy American Independence Day, TechCrunchers. Today those of us in the U.S. celebrate the original Brexit with hot dogs, potato salad, and fireworks. Americans are also in the middle of a very weird presidential election, as you may know, and Republican presumptive nominee Donald J. Trump has taken to Twitter once again today to explain why he’s not a racist – or anti-Semite,… Read More


VCs respond to Brexit, talking advice, appetite and talent

The referendum decision for the UK to leave the EU has sent shockwaves through Silicon Roundabout. Whilst the message from UK investors is one of pragmatic optimism – “Don’t Panic, but…” – the UK startup ecosystem faces an uncertain future. Questions are being asked, risks assessed and due diligence toughening up.

Friday 1st July saw a concerned cross-section of the London startup scene gather at Wayra UK, an accelerator funded by Spanish multi-national Telefónica. Panels of entrepreneurs insisted that their innate resilience and canny resourcefulness would see them through the challenges that lie ahead, but it was when the investors took to the stage to give their assessments that the room really tuned in.

Four questions dominated discussions: what advice were they giving to their existing portfolio, what challenges did they foresee for early stage companies looking to raise in the near future, how will investor appetite be affected as a whole and what are the implications for attracting and retaining talent to UK based companies?

“With challenge comes opportunity.”

Lavinia Puglisi (Mustard Seed) stressed the importance of maintaining cash reserves and revisiting relationships with distributors and suppliers. “There’s a lot of uncertainty in the market and it’s crucial to safeguard your relationships and to establish agreements. It may also be worth thinking about switching to local suppliers if your existing partnerships are European.”

Elena Mustatea (Atomico) echoed the importance of staying liquid, and encouraged companies to think about raising funding earlier than perhaps they’d anticipated. “Cash preservation is very important, as is fundraising. If a company is saying that they can wait another year of runway before raising, we would suggest that they consider fundraising earlier to maintain cash coffers of at least 18-24 months. There is also likely to be more debt funding if companies want to build stronger coffers of capital on top of equity.”

Elena also underscored the importance of an international sales strategy that takes currency fluctuations into account. “Try as far as possible to get US denominated sales. Expanding into Asia and the United States, rather than into Europe or elsewhere in the UK where the currency will continue to fluctuate, is a good strategy.”

So what of investor appetite? Are we likely to see less foreign investment into UK startups, or more?

Itxaso del Palacio (Lepe Partners) noted the double-edged sword of a weakened pound. “International investments coming to the UK are definitely going to slow down. On the other hand, there is a lot of talk amongst large tech companies in the US, who are looking to acquire smaller companies internationally, about coming to the UK to negotiate better prices for acquisitions. This is welcome news to many businesses who are looking to exit, and despite the lower prices this activity will certainly bring liquidity to the market and confidence for other investors.”

Elena Mustatea noted the advantage held by US denominated funds, and suggested that the weakened pound and existing UK exposure of such funds […]

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Law firm Penningtons Manches helps RoketSpace UK landing

RocketSpace, the San Francisco technology campus that has been the home to tech startups including Uber, Blippar, and Spotify, is expanding to the UK.

A Penningtons Manches multidisciplinary team led by the firm’s San Francisco partners, James Klein and Hamish Corner, advised RocketSpace on its deal with the campus’ development partner, the Royal Bank of Scotland, to open and operate a large tech campus in the Regents House in Angel, London.

London is San Francisco-based RocketSpace’s first location outside the US and the UK campus will initially house up to 1,500 people at its opening in early 2017. Since its founding five years ago, RocketSpace has supported more than 750 high-growth tech startups.

Commenting on the deal, James Klein said: “RocketSpace is a great example of the type of inward investment into the UK that will genuinely help London to sustain its attractiveness as a global tech hub for fast- growth tech and innovative businesses. As a firm with of offices in San Francisco and the Golden Triangle of London, Cambridge and Oxford, we had the multidisciplinary corporate, commercial, real estate and tax expertise needed to complete the deal for RocketSpace.”

In the company’s announcement, Duncan Logan, Founder and CEO of RocketSpace said, “London’s tech community continues to rapidly expand and drive innovation. Creating a physical presence here is critical to our expansion strategy and mission to build an ecosystem for innovation to thrive, across a global network of campuses. We are very excited about working with London’s tech entrepreneurs, who are creating some of the most disruptive technologies of the future.”

In regards to RocketSpace’s engagement with Penningtons Manches, Logan added: “We are delighted to have worked closely with the inward investment team at Penningtons Manches who provided us with vital legal support for this major business transaction.”

About Penningtons Manches

Penningtons Manches LLP is a leading UK law firm with offices in the City of London, Basingstoke, Cambridge, Guildford, Oxford, Reading and San Francisco. It is the founder member of the European Law Group, an association of European law firms, and a member of Multilaw, an association of 73 firms in 60 countries worldwide.

Penningtons Manches’ legal services cover a range of specialist areas including corporate and commercial, corporate tax, banking and finance, dispute resolution, professional regulation, real estate, residential property, wills, trusts and probate, UK and offshore tax planning, family, intellectual property, technology, employment, immigration, life sciences, travel law, clinical negligence and personal injury matters.

This article was first published on The Fintech Times.

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