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Apple: We’ll give you $20 extra credit if you load $200 on your Apple ID account

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Is Apple doomed? Here are some answers
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Read more: https://zd.net/2CXsWDK

Apple is serious about getting more iPhone owners used to buying content through its $11bn service business. 

The iPhone-maker over the weekend put a new spin on its recent email marketing efforts. Instead of massaging the price of an iPhone XS or iPhone XR with trade-in values, Apple now wants more of its billion-plus users to start topping up their Apple ID balance.     

As spotted by MacRumors, Apple will give users a 10 percent bonus when they add funds to an Apple ID account. 

“Add funds right on your iPhone. From anywhere,” Apple says. “Get a 10 percent bonus when you try it today.” 

The company wants its customers to know that they can load money on to an Apple ID account “more conveniently than ever right from the App Store”.

The stored value can then only be spent through Apple’s services on games, apps, books, movies, TV shows, Apple Music, and iCloud storage. 

“Try it today and get an extra 10 percent added to your account.”

The fine print of Apple’s offer is that it will only add 10 percent on funds added up to $200. However, that still means users can expect an extra $20 to spend on stuff through Apple if they add $200 to an Apple ID account. 

SEE: Apple iOS 12: An insider’s guide (free PDF)    

As per Apple’s support page, on an iOS device users can add funds by opening the Setting app and navigating to iTunes & App Store. Users need to tap their Apple ID and then tap View Apple ID. 

After signing in, if required, users can tap ‘Add funds to Apple ID’. The user will need to have set up an approved payment method, which includes credit and debit cards, PayPal, mobile carrier billing, and gift cards.

On the page where users can add funds, Apple presents the promotional bonuses. 

The other restriction is that Apple will only give each user a 10 percent bonus on one top-up, meaning there’s an incentive to go high and commit $200 to the account. 

The promotion is available in the US between March 10 and March 14, but it’s also being offered to users in other countries, including Germany, where it’s offering a 15 percent bonus. 

Unfortunately for users in Australia, Canada, and the UK, there is no bonus available when topping up an account. 

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Apple’s Q1 revenue miss: Here are the 5 takeaways you need to know

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Slow iPhone sales? iPhone XR is our best-selling model, says Apple

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Apple to iPhone owners: Up to $100 more for your old phone if you buy XS, XR

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Apple restarting iPhone X production, cutting XS price over slow sales?

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Trump: iPhone buyers could ‘very easily’ stand paying 10% more with China tariff

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Demand for new iPhones weaker than Apple expected, claims report TechRepublic

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Apple’s rare sales warning sparks iPhone fatigue fears CNET

The company blames a deceleration in demand in China, but investors imagine the worst.

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Tiger Global leads new funding in savings and investments app Jar – TechCrunch

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Tiger Global has led a new funding round in Jar, the Indian fintech that is helping millions of Indians save small amounts to invest in digital gold as the startup gears up to launch a host of new offerings including insurance, mutual funds and lending.

Jar said Thursday it has raised $22.6 million in its Series B financing round. The funding values the one-year-old startup at over $300 million, it said, and saw participation from Folius Ventures, Panthera Capital, Prophetic Ventures, Yes VC, WealthFront founder Adam Nash and Founders Fund principal Zachary Hargreaves as well as early-backers Arkam Ventures, Rocketship.vc and WEH.

TechCrunch previously reported the early deliberations of the round. The Bengaluru-headquartered startup has raised over $58 million to date.

Even as banks in India have opened a billion accounts for citizens in the South Asian market, a significant number of individuals don’t maintain any savings. In the event of an unplanned expense or emergency, many are forced to rely on friends and family or shark lenders for capital injection.

Part of the reason why so many Indians never save or invest is confusion, explained Nishchay AG, co-founder and chief executive of Jar, in an interview. “Should they invest in mutual funds, stock market, crypto, various schemes from banks? The choices are aplenty as the world around them is littered with ads,” he said.

Jar is removing the pressure by giving people an asset class that Indians can relate to: gold.

(To say Indians, who have a private stash worth $1.5 trillion of the precious metal, have a fascination with gold would be an understatement. For generations, Indians across the socio-economic spectrum have preferred to stash their savings — or at least a part of it — in the form of gold. In fact, such is the demand for gold in India — Indians stockpile more gold than citizens in any other country — that the South Asian nation is also one of the world’s largest importers of this precious metal.)

A familiar asset class is part of the solution. Jar’s other value proposition is just how easy it has made it for its users to save and invest. On its eponymous app, the startup allows users to choose from different savings options such as roundups – where the nearest round number after a transaction gets saved automatically, as well as setting recurring savings amounts and performing one-time execution, explained Misbah Ashraf, co-founder of Jar.

Jar has rapidly gained traction since launching the product a year ago. Its app has amassed over 9 million registered users and each day it is clocking over 220,000 transactions, it said. The startup, which is seeing an average monthly growth of 20%, is also spending far less on attracting new users: less than $1.5 per user, it said.

Jar’s eponymous app. The startup also lets users keep a track of who all they have lent money to, and send them reminders.

“By starting with digital gold, a well-understood and well-loved asset class in India, Jar’s savings app has quickly gained trust and traction with young earners interested in developing a saving and investment strategy,” said Alex Cook, Partner at Tiger Global, in a statement. “We are impressed with the company’s rapid growth and are excited to double down as they expand into new asset classes.”

The startup, which employs about 90 people, is now gearing up to broaden its offerings. “We are working on building the most ubiquitous and contextual platform to help people navigate the financial options without getting intimidated,” said Nishchay.

Jar, which is also looking to hire another 50 people, is developing and testing secured and unsecured lending, mutual funds, fixed deposits, peer-to-peer loans, and insurance, he said. The startup plans to roll out these new offerings in the coming quarters, he said.

Misbah, whose inspiration to starting Jar was his family’s personal struggle with finances, believes that Jar has been able to help people build a habit of financing savings. These customers, most of whom he said live in small cities and towns of the country, “are now ready to explore evaluating other instrument options,” he said.

India has become a key fintech hub in the past decade as scores of banks, startups, and other institutions have raced to tap what many believe is the last great growth market.

For years, local legacy banks and mutual funds have been trying to tap India masses with their products. But their non-personalized offerings and over-reliance on local credit bureau’s books have cut their customer base to just 30 million individuals.

“Manufacturing a product is one thing and being able to sell it is another. All these institutions are good at manufacturing. For selling, you have to be aligned with the individual’s persona, idiosyncrasies, insecurities, cognitive load and the cultural significance. That’s an art and science by itself,” said Nishchay in an earlier interview.

“Jar’s growth story would be incomplete without the mention of the guard rails that have preemptively been put in place to make growth a controllable output versus it an incomprehensible vector. The company has an equal measure of thoughtful execution as well as a high standard of transparency where stakeholders ranging from employees, partners, and investors are fully aware of key initiatives and priorities. We are sure this approach is helping create a sustainable company with a predictable growth trajectory,” said Rahul Chandra, Managing Director of Arkam Ventures, in a statement.

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Kenyan agtech iProcure raises $10.2M to grow its input supply network – TechCrunch

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The shortage of agricultural inputs like fertilizer, unpredictable prices, and the proliferation of substandard products into markets are some of the biggest challenges for Kenya’s agricultural sector. This impact is especially felt in the country because agriculture accounts for 23% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), making it the single largest contributor to its economy, and its biggest employer – agriculture employs nearly 40% of the country’s population and 70% of its rural people.

It, therefore, is certain that difficulties in accessing the required resources for sustained production, not only threatens food security, but also family earnings and livelihoods. To bridge the input-access gap, iProcure, a B2B agtech, has since 2014 been connecting agricultural manufacturers and distributors to local retailers (agro-dealers), through its unique distribution infrastructure that interlinks agricultural supply chains.

Iprocure told TechCrunch it is now on a path to grow its presence in Kenya and Uganda, which are its current markets, and to enter Tanzania after securing $10.2 million in series B funding. The latest round includes $1.2 million debt, and was led by Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P), and it brings the total funding raised by iProcure, so far, to $17.2 million. Novastar Ventures, Ceniarth, and British International Investment (BII), which recently took part in Apollo Agriculture’s $40 million Series B fundraising, also participated in the round.

“We have built out a Pan-African distribution infrastructure, and we are using these funds to scale our operations in our two markets and to enter Tanzania. We’re also going to be allocating some of the resources towards introducing higher quality cheaper products that we are sourcing from international players,” said iProcure co-founder and chief data and growth officer, Stefano Carcoforo – also the former CEO who since been replaced by ex-Novastar partner Niraj Varia.

Carcoforo co-founded iProcure with Nicole Galletta (head of innovation), Patrick Wanjohi (chief technical officer) and Bernard Maingi (chief commercial officer).

Iprocure currently connects 5,000 agro-dealers to different manufacturers but this number is set to grow as it onboards more partners and retailers across the three markets, and as it doubles its distribution hubs to 20, boosting its last-mile delivery.

Agro-dealers are the focal point for suppliers hoping to introduce new products into Kenya’s input markets, as they are trusted by millions of farmers to be sources of sound agricultural advice. They are also well-spread across the country, giving them a broad coverage of farmer communities. Through agro-dealers, iProcure targets to double the reach of farmers to 2 million in the next one year.

The agtech provides the agro-dealers with an end-to-end Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that operates from mobile devices, helping them manage their sourcing and distribution.

This technology has introduced new efficiencies that control the penetration of sub-standard supplies as retailers are able to source directly from certified manufacturers and distributors. By helping manage stock-outs, the agtech ultimately helps stabilize product prices for the benefit of both the sellers and end-users.

“The agro-dealers use our technology to keep track of their sales, process sales, to manage inventory, to place orders, and build CRMs that can help deploy loyalty programs to the farmers. It does everything they need. We provide a completely transparent system from the factory all the way down to the point when the farmer purchases the product,” said Carcoforo.

For added reach, iProcure plans to extend zero-interest credit to agro-dealers, increasing their ability to purchase the hardware required to use its ERP system. By plugging in more retailers to its system, iProcure will additionally, get access to data required to inform its growth strategy, including a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) service currently in the pipeline.

“Work capital is an issue facing these retailers, and we’ve demonstrated that if we provide supplies on a BNPL model, retailers buy 30% more. This shows that retailers themselves are cash constrained and can’t buy all the inventory they can sell; meaning that farmers aren’t able to access all the inputs they need. The BNPL service we are introducing will sort this problem,” said Varia.

According to Varia, iProcure has grown 16 times over the last four years, doubling its revenue every year, except for 2020 due to Covid. In the short term, he expects further expansion through the onboarding of more retailers and the introduction of the BNPL offering.

 

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Tesla doesn’t need to hit the panic button over China heat wave disruptions just yet – TechCrunch

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Some parts of China are suffering from record high temperatures in the past few weeks, prompting local governments to halt industrial power use, including those of battery plants.

When news reaches the West, it generates fear-mongering headlines like “China heat wave shuts Tesla suppliers” which have likely rattled investors (because Tesla is all we care about, right?). But is the EV giant really suffering from China’s scorching heat?

First off, we need to look at which factories are affected. Lithium battery giant CATL is among the companies that have been ordered to shut down production in the landlocked province of Sichuan, according to a local media report. The pause, which lasts from August 15 to 20, is part of the province’s effort to ration electricity as it suffers from a devastating drought and heat wave.

While CATL, a major battery supplier to Tesla, might have trouble fulfilling some orders for customers, there’s no indication that Tesla is the one to bear the cost. For one, CATL has production plants all over China, from Guangdong, Jiangsu to Shanghai, so it’s unlikely that a temporary, regional rest — even though six days may seem long in the auto industry — will collapse the multi-billion business’ well-oiled supply chain.

Suppliers are also more likely to prioritize demand coming from Tesla because of its reputation and sheer volume. The American firm was the third-best-selling electric carmaker in China in the first half of 2021, according to an auto industry association.

“In China, Tesla enjoys a privilege just like Apple with all the manufacturers clamoring to be its suppliers. Even if production is restricted, it’s very likely that suppliers will prioritize Tesla’s orders while putting others’ on hold,” a Tesla parts supplier told TechCrunch.

The supply chains for Tesla and its local EV rivals like Xpeng and Nio are concentrated in manufacturing hubs around the Pearl River Delta, which include megacities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as the Yangtze Delta, which is home to Tesla’s Gigafactory in Shanghai and scores of chip makers around Suzhou, an employee at a Chinese EV startup pointed out to us.

Shanghai has been a victim of China’s recent heat wave, though there are no signs that the weather is stopping production at Gigafactory yet.

Shanghai already had its tough times in spring when a two-month-long COVID-19 outbreak forced Gigafactory to halt production twice.

Precisely due to these sporadic COVID-induced shutdowns over the past two years, “suppliers have become a lot more flexible,” the Tesla supplier said. “Many large manufacturers are stocking up on supplies to create a buffer for absorbing COVID shocks.”

Lastly, it’s worth noting that China is gathering steam to recover its sluggish economy at all costs. And it’s likely that industries that have been designated as the state planner’s top priorities, such as the EV sector, will receive more support when resources are limited.

As the heat wave tests the country’s ability to keep its manufacturing running, vice premier Hang Zheng highlighted “the importance of the energy and power supply for social and economic stability.”

“The country will also beef up policy support and take multi-pronged measures to help related enterprises address difficulties,” Han added.

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