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Refyne raises $20.1 million to help workers in India get faster access to wages

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A young Indian startup that is betting that earned wage access solutions will take off in the South Asian nation said on Wednesday it has closed a new round from high-profile investors.

Bangalore-based Refyne said on Wednesday that it has raised $16 million in Series A from partners of DST Global and RTP Global. The one-year-old startup also disclosed that it raised a $4.1 million seed round in December from Jigsaw VC and QED Investors and XYZ Capital, all of whom also participated in the new round.

TechCrunch reported last month that Refyne was in talks with RTP Global to raise money.

Refyne works with employers to let their workers access their earned salaries in real-time. An employee can check Refyne and see how much they have earned in a week and withdraw a fraction of it anytime they wish.

The idea, explained Refyne’s co-founder and chief executive Chitresh Sharma, is that many individuals in India run out of cash before their next payday and then some end up taking loans on not so favorable terms to make ends meet.

“An employee should have the option to access their own earnings at any time,” he told TechCrunch in an interview.

“When faced with a mid-month liquidity crunch, the apparent options for employees to access quick cash include payday loans or micro-credit schemes. However, these instruments often carry predatory pricing, which further exacerbates employees’ debt obligations and mental wellness,” the startup said.

It’s a concept that has taken off in several markets — with many major employers such as Uber and McDonald’s offering this flexibility to their workforce — but is yet to be tested in India, where on paper, earned wage access idea should work as a significant portion of the working force remains on a shaky financial footing. Earlier on Monday, Indonesian startup Wagely announced a $5.6 million fundraise to test this idea in the Southeast Asian market.

Sharma, a third-time founder who returned to India to start Refyne, said the startup’s plug-and-play software is aimed at employers of all size, and the platform can prove beneficial to blue-collar as well as white-collar workers.

“The need for financial inclusion is more important today than ever before. As the first company in India to provide earned wage access, Refyne can revolutionise the way millions of workers manage their money. By providing a real, affordable alternative to payday loans, Refyne will not only improve a person’s financial health, but it will add control for the consumer and dramatically reduce the stress on those who worry about meeting their financial obligations,” said QED Investors Managing Partner and Co-Founder Nigel Morris in a statement. This is QED’s first investment in India.

Over 100 companies in India are already using Refyne’s platform, serving over 300,000 employees. Some of the clients include Rebel Foods, Cafe Coffee Day, Hira Group, and Chai Point.

Refyne plans to deploy the fresh capital to expand its technology team and accelerate its growth. By the end of the current financial year, it aims to serve 1 million workers in India.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/08/refyne-raises-20-1-million-to-help-workers-in-india-get-faster-access-to-wages/

Techcrunch

Apple to drive China revenues with search ad launch

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After launching five years ago in the United States, Apple’s search advertising service finally arrived in mainland China this week.

The feature, called Apple Search Ads, lets developers bid on an advertising slot based on users’ keyword search in the App Store, similar to how Google search ads work. JPMorgan previously estimated the giant’s annual ad revenue could top $11 billion by 2025, though the forecast didn’t have a breakdown for the search ad business.

Apple has itself been reining in on personalized advertising, letting users turn off data tracking by apps, a move that will inevitably roil the business models of Facebook and others dependent on third-party data to target ads.

China has historically been a strong market for Apple, but iPhones are increasingly losing their luster as a status symbol in the country with the rise of local offerings like Huawei. In the first quarter, however, Apple’s smartphone shipment saw a rebound thanks to Huawei’s slipping sales and the launch of the iPhone 12 family. The Chinese App Store is another important source of income for Apple.

In a five-page guideline, Apple outlines the qualifications for developers targeting ads at mainland Chinese users. There is a stack of industry-specific licenses that advertisers must obtain, which practically excludes most foreign entities from directly advertising in mainland China, as noted in a blog post by AppInChina, an agency that helps international apps launch in China. To bid for search ads in China, apps would have to find local partners with all the government approvals in place.

The requirements for apps importing goods into China, for example, include not just a general license to run value-added internet businesses but also registrations with the relevant trade and customs authorities. Apple may even start asking for these permits from apps that simply want to publish in China, wrote AppInChina, as Apple continues to enforce rules set by the Chinese government as evident from its crackdown on gaming apps.


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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/23/apple-search-ads-china/

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AdTech startup Tomi raises Seed funding to make real estate ads perform as well as ecommerce

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Industries like real estate, automotive, and financial services have long and offline sales cycles and digital advertising tends not to perform well in these areas. The conversion rates are low and because the real-world assets are offline the temptation of advertisers is to buy leads and clicks, which can inflate customer acquisition costs. People are browsing but they end up buying offline, basically.

A new startup, Tomi plans to address this issue by processing a user’s behavior on a company’s website (using a tracking pixel, combined with ad APIs and CRMs) to help companies reach customers more in the way an ecommerce business would.

It’s now raised a $1M seed round from investors including Begin Capital and Phystech Leadership Fund.

Founded by Konstantin Bayandin — a former senior director of digital marketing and technology at Compass and chief marketing officer at Ozon, ‘Russia’s Amazon’ — Tomi competes against similar AdTech companies such as Anytrack, Sociaro, Meetotis, Alytics and Postclick.

However, the difference, Bayandin says, is that Tomi “focuses on offline conversions and works with multiple ad channels, such as Facebook, Instagram and Google.”

Bayandin says: “Real-estate companies would love to leverage online ads in order to sell their inventory but it turns out to be too expensive and difficult. People like to browse but rarely convert and most of these transactions happen offline. So real-estate clients don’t know how to optimize for their real buyers. Tomi uses machine learning to analyze the way real buyers browse the website and optimize ad campaigns towards conversions.”

The background to all this is that with Apple closing down IDFA, Google planning to remove third-party cookies from its Chrome browser, and the latest iOS 14.5 update allowing users opt out of “personalized ads”, the entire ad business is in flux, so new tools are going to be required. Bayandin says Tomi is part of this new wave of AdTech.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/23/adtech-startup-tomi-raises-seed-funding-to-make-real-estate-ads-perform-as-well-as-ecommerce/

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Daily Crunch: AWS and Salesforce expand partnership to make cross-platform integrations easier

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To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 23, 2021. The value of leading cryptocurrencies has rebounded some in the last day or so. Congrats to the hodlrs out there. If you are a nocoiner, don’t worry; stocks are also up. If you want more on the topic, the TechCrunch crew held a Twitter Space recently on the current state of crypto. Now, the news. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Robotaxis are coming (slowly): Alphabet’s self-driving unit, Waymo, has been busy lately, but it’s not the only company in its market generating headlines. Chinese robotaxi player WeRide bagged $600 million in less than half a year, TechCrunch reports. The company is now worth $3.3 billion. Let’s hope that all the capital and activity in this particular market works out when the rubber hits the road.
  • Soon, even regular folks can get in on the autonomous action: Love the idea of self-driving cars, but don’t have $100 million or more to pour into one of the industry’s leading private players? Good news! You can put your $100 into Embark soon, as the self-driving truck company is going public via a SPAC. You are welcome for this PSA.
  • Tech’s cultural discussion continues: If you follow the tech industry, you’ve seen news about its evolving cultural discussion. From banning “politics” to public culture memos to private missives that became public, there’s a lot going on at both startups and public companies alike. A new document from the edtech sector takes a rather pointed stand in the larger conversation in favor of not backing down from controversial topics, Natasha wrote for the site. It won’t be the last memo we see on the matter.

Startups

  • The exit market for growth-focused startups is still hot: That’s the lesson from recent IPO filings in the tech space. If you are an investor or startup employee, it’s good news. If you are a wealthy tech company looking to buy smaller firms, the news is less good because you will probably have to pay a large premium to snag startups.
  • Snackpass scoops up $70M: You may have seen Snackpass signs at food spots in your city. The startup focuses on pickup orders inside of restaurants rather than delivery, and, per our reporting, has seen its growth explode in recent months as people have gone back outside. It’s now worth more than $400 million.
  • PairTree raises $2.25M to make adoption easier: There are lots of tech deals with business problems. Sometimes startups build businesses to solve human problems. PairTree is one such company. Per Devin, it wants to make part of the adoption process easier with an “online matching platform where expectant mothers and hopeful adopters can find each other without the facilitation of an agency or other organization.” I love it.
  • Drata raises $25M to make security compliance easier: If you run a company, you have to deal with security compliance. Drata wants to make securing SOC 2 compliance easier. That way, your startup won’t lose a deal over lack of compliance certification, a situation that might lead to you exclaiming “drata!” while smacking your own forehead.
  • Vercel raises $102M for its next.js service: You’ve probably heard of next.js, a React framework for front-end development work. Vercel built it with Facebook and Google. Now the company has $102 million more in the bank thanks to a Series C that valued the company at more than $1 billion. Per TechCrunch, traffic to apps and websites on Vercel’s network doubled since October of last year. That’s the sort of usage growth that investors love to see.

Why Amazon should pay attention to Shein

In the last year, online apparel shopping app Shein grew active daily users by 130%, reports Apptopia.

Each day, thousands of new products arrive on the app’s virtual shelves. Items are rapidly designed and prototyped before Shein’s contractors put them into production in Guangzhou factories — two weeks later, those SKUs arrive in fulfillment centers around the globe.

TechCrunch reporter Rita Liao examined how the company’s agile supply chain has become hot talk among e-commerce experts, but beyond a strong logistics game and data-driven product development, Shein’s close relationships with suppliers are integral to its success.

She also tried to answer a question many are asking: Is Shein a Chinese company?

“It’s hard to pin down where Shein is from,” answered Richard Xu from Grand View Capital, a Chinese venture capital firm.

“It’s a company with operations and supply chains in China targeting the global market, with nearly no business in China.”

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

We’re taking a break from politics today, so if you wanted even more updates about how India is taking on one American tech company or another, we are sorry. A lot of other stuff happened, however, that is pretty neat:

  • Ford is keeping scooter dreams alive: Remember when Ford bought Spin? It was a great moment for the micromobility space. Today, Spin launched its first in-house scooter. So, if you need two small wheels and a battery pack, Ford has you covered. Recall that Ford is investing heavily in electric cars and trucks as well.
  • Amazon and Salesforce buddy up even more: The growing partnership between Amazon and Salesforce took a new step today, with the two major American tech companies announcing “a new set of integration capabilities to make it easier to share data and build applications that cross the two platforms.” Amazon competes with Microsoft in the public cloud world, and Salesforce competes with Microsoft in the CRM space. So to see the pair of them hold hands is not a huge surprise.
  • TikTok has real competition: TikTok’s chief rival in China just hit the 1 billion monthly active user (MAU) mark. That’s a real accomplishment, given that the world only has 8 billion or so folks in it. Kuaishou, the app in question, has only 150 million non-Chinese MAUs, for what it’s worth, making it more of a giant domestic player in China than an international heavyweight. That may change, of course, if it keeps growing as it has been.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

We’re reaching out to startup founders to tell us who they turn to when they want the most up-to-date growth marketing practices.

Fill out the survey here.

Here’s one of the recommendations we received:

Name of marketer: Karl Hughes, draft.dev.

Name of recommender: Joshua Shulman, Bitmovin.com.

Recommendation: “Karl is incredibly knowledgeable in the field of content and growth marketing to a large (and equally niche) target audience of developers. He and his team at Draft.dev are some of the best at ‘developer marketing,’ which is a greatly underrated target audience.”

Community

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Yo dawg, we heard you liked audio … so we put audio in your audio!

Yesterday, we had a super fun Twitter Spaces chat (with a few hundred of our closest friends) about Bitcoin and crypto in general. It was led by the Equity Podcast crew, but a few of our other writers joined in on the fun. Some of it even made its way into the latest episode of Equity, so have a listen (and keep an eye out for our next live chats).

TC Eventful

It’s pretty simple — In a few short weeks, startup founders from around the world will join our bootcamp series TC Early Stage 2021: Marketing & Fundraising, happening on July 8 and 9. You’ll choose from a wide range of presentations that span the fundamentals of launching and growing your business, whether you are bootstrapping or have just secured your first investment funds. Register before this Friday and get 50% off with promo code DAILYCRUNCH50.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/23/daily-crunch-23/

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You can share tweets directly to Instagram Stories now

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It’s a little thing, but one worth savoring.

If you’re tired of your Instagram feed mostly being a chaotic mashup of screencapped tweets and reshared TikToks, well, those things probably aren’t going away but one is about to look a lot better.

Twitter just added the capability to share a tweet directly to Instagram Stories, letting you port your clever cross-platform moments over properly. You can’t tap the tweets to hop back to Twitter, but they look nice now. Unfortunately for Android users, it’s iOS-only for now.

The new cross-platform feature is just a tiny sample of Twitter’s refreshing recent flurry of product activity — a result of mounting pressure from investors who accused the company of stagnating and planned to oust its CEO, Jack Dorsey. The company also just added two more major features to empower users to monetize their tweets: paid subscriptions known as “Super Follows” and ticketed events.

Twitter users have long waited for a laundry list of small quality of life tweaks to manifest, a phenomenon that often materializes as an entire cohort of journalists complaining about how you still can’t edit tweets. But if it can keep the pace, Twitter might finally be ready to deliver.

See, doesn’t that look nice?

Example of tweet embedded on Instagram Story

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/23/add-tweets-to-instagram-story/

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