Today’s top tech news, March 13: ofo raises nearly a billion, Singapore tops smart city report

Kevin McSpadden
Today’s top tech news, March 13: ofo raises nearly a billion, Singapore tops smart city report

Also, Thailand mulls a cryptocurrency tax and Indonesia moves forward on National Payment Gateway

Bike-sharing startup ofo raises US$886 million led by Alibaba — [TechCrunch]

ofo is locked in a costly battle with Chinese rival MoBike for dominance of the bike-sharing industry. Today, Alibaba has helped fund the competition by leading a US$886 million funding round, according to TechCrunch.

MoBike is backed by Tencent, so in some respects the ofo vs. MoBike battle is a proxy war between China’s two dominant internet forces. According to the article, this has made it unlikely the bike-sharing companies will merge because of the two giants’ unwillingness to cede territory to the other.

The result has been a money dump of over US$3 billion into two companies who have yet to prove the service matches the valuation.

Singapore sweeps top spots to be name world’s “smartest city” according to Juniper Research — [Juniper Research]

Singapore has been ranked the number one smart city in the world by Juniper Research — a mobile digital research specialist.

Furthermore, the firm broke down the report into four separate sections: Mobility, Health, Safety and Productivity. Singapore ranked in the top spot in all four categories.

By comparison, the second-highest ranked city (London) ranked third in mobility and health, seventh in safety and second in productivity.

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The report gave credit to Singapore’s “Smart Nation” initiative as well as the fact that it is a city-state and thus has more control over its ability to achieve its goals.

The report also found that cities across Asia rank highly in their ability to execute on smart city initiatives.

Malaysian government meeting with tech giants to discuss fake news law — [South China Morning Post]

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is pushing for a national anti-fake news law and today representatives from the tech industry — including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter — have descended onto parliament to discuss the law’s future with the government, according to local media reports.

Azalina Othman Said a Member of Parliament for Pengerang said the meeting is proof that the law intends to be inclusive to all and flexible to the industry.

However, some have questioned the timing of the law because of the Malaysian national elections right around the corner.

Bank Indonesia kickstarts phase two of payment gateway system — [The Jakarta Post]

Bank Indonesia, the country’s central bank, is set to launch the second part of its National Payment Gateway initiative. The hope is the project will help make cross-bank transfers more efficient and affordable, according to the Jakarta Post.

The first step — kickstarted in December — required infrastructure sharing amongst the banks. The next step will involve setting a transaction standard and what fees will be administered for inter-bank transactions.

A major part of the push is to build touch-less toll booths which would hopefully ease Indonesia’s notorious traffic issue.

Thailand floats idea of crypto capital gains tax — [Bangkok Post]

The Thailand government is mulling a plan to levy a 10 per cent tax on cryptocurrency capital gains and will seek cabinet approval today, according to the Bangkok Post.

The decision is the result of a Royal Decree which calls on the government to regulate cryptocurrencies and ICOs. The Deputy Prime Minister, Somkid Jatusripitak, said he would work to build a regulation law this month.

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This new tax seems like it would only affect businesses. ICOs are fairly public and a lot of companies are fairly transparent about using cryptocurrencies as a means to make money. They would be easier to legally tax.

But for an individual speculator it is hard to imagine how this tax would be enforced because it is fairly easy to remain anonymous within the blockchain. Anonymity is a core feature of the technology.

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