There is no shortage of ways to earn and redeem airline miles, but up until this point, the game was mostly limited to actual frequent flyers or those with special credit cards. Now a new US startup has expanded miles collecting to people using alternative forms of transportation. The Miles app allows users to earn points for nearly anything - from walking and biking to ride-hailing services like Lyft. On top of that, the more eco-friendly your method of transport, the more points you earn. And you can redeem your miles for all sorts of stuff, including free coffee and a car wash. With the broad range of options Miles opens up for urban dwellers in particular, it is no wonder that major companies like Porsche are jumping on the funding train to get involved in this innovative approach to a booming hobby.
Google took a major commercial step this week in the realm of autonomous vehicles. The search engine giant’s driverless car affiliate Waymo announced it was partnering with Walmart to shuttle shoppers to and from the grocery store. A pilot program is already underway for 400 lucky customers in Phoenix, Arizona, and is tied into a Walmart discount program for people using its online ordering service. In addition to the obvious convenience benefits, the move will help boost consumer interest and compete with same-day delivery services from rivals like Amazon. Waymo said it plans to expand the service to all sorts of daily travel beyond shopping, including getting to dinner or the daily commute.
Restaurants may be one of the world’s oldest businesses, but that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from cutting edge technology. Israeli startup SimpleOrder created inventory management software that eating establishments all over the world use to record sales in real time, track product orders and predict future needs, helping cut back on food waste and reducing overhead. It’s proven so useful that US rival Upserve this week acquired SimpleOrder and incorporated the company’s software into its restaurant management platform, now called Upserve Inventory. “By acquiring SimpleOrder, Upserve brings the industry's best-in-class inventory solution to Upserve's comprehensive restaurant management platform, the magic ingredient that helps restaurants boost profitability," said Upserve CEO Angus Davis. "Simply put, if your restaurant doesn't have it, your profit margins are suffering."
General Motors is out to change the way car companies make a profit. The auto giant’s car-sharing service Maven has just rolled out a new feature that allows users to list their own GM vehicles on the platform for rental; much like a homeowner might advertise their property on Airbnb. The move is part of GM’s plan to expand its business model beyond simply building cars, while giving their customers a share of the cash. GM will even insure the “Peer Cars” and provide 24-hour support. “It’s time to put your car to work,” said Julia Steyn, VP at GM Urban Mobility and Maven. “Maven’s peer-to-peer offering is a smart way for owners to offset their vehicle investment.”
In many Southeast Asian countries, the infrastructure necessary for widespread credit card use can be difficult to come by. That’s why startup FinAccel launched Kredivo, which helps customers in Indonesia pay for items using a registered phone number at online checkout portals. The service allows users to pay back their purchase using a monthly plan. Extending 21st century financial opportunities to the masses helped FinAccel snag $30 million in funding this week. The company already has partnerships with leading e-commerce giants such as Alibaba and said it plans to use the fresh cash to expand across the region. As CEO Ashkay Garg put it, Kredivo hopes to become “the preferred credit card for [Southeast Asia] millennials.”