Commerce

by Barney Jopson

Frustrated by not being able to dictate your shopping list to Amazon? Well, even if you weren’t, Jeff Bezos’s company has come up with a solution to the problem you never had.

The Seattle-based online retailer on Friday unveiled a new stapler-sized device called Dash that let’s you speak a list of groceries to your Amazon account, to which it is linked via Wi-Fi. Read more

The prospect of a US-based IPO by Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba has triggered a recent wave of short-term conjecture over the eye-watering figures involved.

A listing could garner as much as $25bn for example – making it the largest float in history. Wall Street banks could reap up to $400m in fees. Alibaba’s $170bn annual revenue now accounts for 2 per cent of China’s gross domestic product, and is bigger than those of eBay and Amazon combined.

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Square, the payments processing start-up, is looking for new users for its credit card device among the US’s growing Latino community.

The company, co-founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, is today unveiling Spanish language support and software in hopes of tapping into the purchasing power of America’s more than 50m Latinos. Read more

A man looks at the screen of his mobile phone at Pudong financial district in ShanghaiA new war is brewing between China’s three internet giants, known collectively as BAT – short for Baidu, the dominant search engine, Alibaba, which controls 80 per cent of China’s ecommerce, and Tencent, the gaming and social media juggernaut with a market capitalisation of $132bn. For Wang Ran, a blogger and founder of China eCapital, an investment bank, the competition between Didi Dache [“Honk Honk Taxi”], a Tencent taxi-hailing app, and Alibaba’s Kuadi Dache [“Fast taxi”] is “the first battle in the first world war of the internet”.

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Payments start-up Stripe is betting that retailers will leap at the chance to sell to an international audience, if only a company like Stripe were there to make it easier.

The company, run by Irish brothers John and Patrick Collison, is launching a feature allowing sellers who use its platform to price their goods in more than 130 currencies. Stripe takes a fee for the conversion, but handles the paperwork and bank transfers that can make cross-currency a hassle. Read more

A British tech entrepreneur has had his vision backed by a further $20.7m of US money, writes Andrew Bounds. Dan Wagner’s Powa group is developing a “revolutionary” ecommerce system that will allow customers to buy and order a product by photographing it with a smartphone.

PowaTag has attracted $96.5m in total, mainly from Boston-based fund Wellington Management, for around a quarter of the business. Read more

Richard Waters

Like any widely hyped online phenomenon, Moocs – massive open online courses – are facing a reality-test.

Hardly anyone who starts one of the online courses actually finishes it. But even if the formula is being rethought, the potential impact on education hasn’t diminished. Read more

China’s mountainous Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has little of the wealth and fast development of the places in China foreigners have already heard of, but on one key measure of economic development, Guangxi is winning — the growth rate of spending online.

Online shopping throughout China is expanding fast – far faster than the US and Europe – but it’s growing particularly fast in China’s poorer regions like Guangxi, where malls are sparser and the number of people getting online for the first time is greater. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The taxi industry’s war on app-enabled chauffeur services such as Uber has broken out into physical combat on the streets of Paris. During a strike by French cab drivers who are protesting against the rise of what are locally called “voitures de tourisme avec chauffeurs”, several drivers and limos who crossed the picket line were attacked, with windows smashed and tires slashed. Read more

A bitcoin start-up has bagged fresh investment from one of Silicon Valley’s best-known venture capital firms.

Coinbase, which provides online bitcoin accounts, said on Thursday that it secured $25m in a round of fundraising that was led by Andressen Horowitz, writes FastFT. Read more