DTC’s Daily Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer and challenger brands. In today’s edition: Ofo launches e-commerce offering; Grab buys Bento for financial services offering; and Azimo secures funding from EIB.
Ofo launches e-commerce offering
Chinese bicycle-sharing firm Ofo released a new update for its app, adding e-commerce features with cash-back offerings and discounts.
Along with the added functionalities, the beleaguered startup also redesigned its homepage to resemble a dedicated online shopping app or a lifestyle platform.
In Apple’s App Store, the startup renamed its app to Ofo Bike-sharing – Platform-wide Cash-back Offering, Save Money While Shopping. The update was met with scorn from Ofo’s Chinese users, accusing the startup of false advertising.
Those who choose to participate in the cash-back program have to buy products from ecommerce sites such as JD.com, Tmall, and Taobao and order food from Ele.me to get a specific amount of money back for each purchase.
In December 2018, Ofo saw 8 million people in a virtual queue hoping to get their deposits back, which ranged from USD$15 to USD$30, amid rumors of the startup’s imminent demise.
Grab buys Bento for financial services offering
The Singapore-based firm said Bento will be rebranded as Grab Invest, and its products will be rolled out in its home market and across southeast Asia in the first half of the year.
Grab, which did not disclose the value of the deal, said the tie-up will enable it to offer wealth management and investment solutions to its users, driver partners and merchant partners.
The company was originally founded as a ride-hailing app, but has expanded its scope to cover services such as food delivery as it looks to become an “app for everything”.
Grab Invest will beef up the app’s financial offering following the launch of its payment, rewards, lending and insurance services.
The company said it aimed to democratise access to retail wealth management products, stating that saving and investment products were “traditionally limited to affluent individuals and institutional investors”.
Azimo secures funding from EIB
Azimo, the money transfer service that is HQ’d in London but has the majority of its staff based in based in Poland, has secured €20m in debt from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the lending arm of the European Union.
The financing is supported by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the financial pillar of the EU’s “Investment Plan for Europe.” Azimo says the capital provided by EIB will be used to accelerate the company’s R&D and to “scale up” its proprietary payments platform. This will include further job creation at the fintech’s Kraków offices, where 130 out of 160 total staff are currently located.
Azimo has raised USD$50m of equity funding to date — investors include Rakuten, eVentures, Greycroft and Frog Capital — and in August the company said it was profitable. It offers low-cost international payments to 200+ countries and territories around the world and claims 2 million registered customers.
Want this in your Inbox? Sign up to our newsletter here!