Today’s top tech news, September 5: Theranos is officially closing down for alleged fraud, and the first maritime accelerator PortXL opens its door for Singapore startups

Prisca Akhaya
Today’s top tech news, September 5: Theranos is officially closing down for alleged fraud, and the first maritime accelerator PortXL opens its door for Singapore startups

Also, insurer FWD now has an app for travel insurance, and mobile Point of Sale payment Mobey is launched in Indonesia

Scandalous blood-testing firm Theranos sees an end to its operation [Wall Street Journal]

According to an email sent to shareholders, Theranos has issued that it will start to pay its creditors for remaining cash, indicating that it will end its operation. Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is under scrutiny for the alleged fraud to investors, doctors, and patients worthy of hundreds of millions dollars, as reported by Wall Street Journal.

The accusation is said to be Silicon Valley’s biggest case of fraud to date. The company has been charged with a criminal suit by the federal prosecutors.

Company executives have denied the charges, despite the fact that Theranos breached a contract governing a US$65 million loan it received from Fortress Investment Group last year. In the email sent on Tuesday, Theranos General Counsel and Chief Executive Officer David Taylor stated that the company is trying to negotiate a settlement with Fortress for ownership of the company’s patents but leave its estimated remaining cash at about US$5 million for distribution to other unsecured creditors.

Most of Theranos’s two-dozen remaining employees worked their last day on Friday, August 31. The action followed a failed bid to sell the company and the loss investors suffered for nearly US$1 billion.

Theranos’s founder and chairman, Ms. Holmes, and her ex-boyfriend, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani were indicted on nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in June. If convicted, each will face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution to those found to have been defrauded, on each count.

Theranos was founded by Holmes on the claim that she had invented groundbreaking new technology that could run the full range of laboratory tests on just a drop or two of blood pricked from a finger.

It was quickly followed by the rollout of its vaunted finger-stick blood tests in Walgreens stores in California and Arizona. The company was then skyrocketed to a valuation of more than US$9 billion.

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Wall Street Journal then revealed in a series of articles beginning in October 2015 that the New York-based company’s device was unreliable and the company used it for just a fraction of more than 240 tests.

Before the scandal, a biochemist who worked at Theranos for eight years committed suicide in 2013 due to the company’s culture of fear and secrecy and its lack of progress with its technology, according to the employee’s widow.

Tyler Shultz, was the first employee reported to blow the whistle to a state regulator about what he saw as troubling practices.

PortXL, the first maritime accelerator from Rotterdam is opening its door to Singapore startups [Press Release]

Rotterdam-based PortXL has introduced itself as the first and only maritime accelerator in the world. With the vision of helping startups to scale-up growth and providing them with access to global maritime networks, PortXL offers a three-month maritime-industry focused accelerator program to foster synergies between maritime startups and corporates in the world and eventually pilot contracts.

With the portfolio of 80 pilot contracts released between startups and corporates and a total of 1,000 startups scouted, not PortXL is extending their network to startups in Singapore. The scouting phase has been running since last month and will continue until October this year, with selection phase starting in December before the program kickstarts for the first three months in 2019.

PortXL’s main focuses are including ports, logistics, energy, and chemicals and refinery sectors. Another mission by the three-year-old company is to change the society’s perception towards maritime industry. Their startup alumni have been matched with partners like Shell, Van Oord, Vopak and Port of Rotterdam.

Insurer FWD just launched its travel insurance services app via its FWD Flyer App [Press Release]

Digital insurer FWD now made it available for travellers to have their medical expenses paid without filing a claim. Using eCard, travellers who get sick during or after their trip can have treatments across panel-clinics without paying.

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In addition to that, the app, which is available on both iOS and Android, can also point travellers to the nearest clinics and doctors supporting the FWD insurance. Users are able to submit claim digitally and get cashless treatments.

Starting on Tuesday, September 4, FWD customers can enjoy the FWD Flyer App and make use of other services such as claims for baggage delay, flight delay, and buy travel insurance for the next trip.

Visionet and SmartPesa officially introduce mobile Point of Sale payment service Mobey in Indonesia [Press Release]

Indonesian IT-managed financial services provider PT Visionet Data Internasional and Singaporean mobile Point of Sale (mPos) solutions SmartPesa has announced the launch of Mobey, an mPOS payment service, across Indonesia.

Using Mobey, financial institutions and merchants in Indonesia can now extend networks in over 160 Visionet’s service point in the country, offer card payment services to their customers, facilitate retails to have mPos payment, and integrating payment, loyalty, and agency banking options.

“Coupled with SmartPesa’s technology and knowledge of emerging markets, we are in position to provide banks and merchants in Indonesia with payment and agency banking solutions,”said Miko Yanuar, Sales Director, Visionet. Barry Levett, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of SmartPesa, also said in statement that the partnership is targeting the grassroots society to have the needed payment solution in the country.

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Image Credit: 123RF

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