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Uber’s 5MB Lite app for emerging market users pilots in India

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An Uber signage is displayed outside the company's headquarters building in San Francisco, California, on June 21, 2017.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

An Uber signage is displayed outside the company’s headquarters building in San Francisco, California, on June 21, 2017.

Uber unveiled a smaller version of its ride-hailing app on Tuesday, in a bid to appeal to emerging market customers.

The revamped app, called Uber Lite, takes up just 5 megabytes of storage, and has a 300-millisecond response time, according to the company, speeding up the process of booking rides.

Uber Lite is currently only available in India but the start-up said it plans to roll the app out to more countries later this year.

It’s aimed at areas with slower internet speeds and users with limited mobile data plans. Uber said that the app would show users a selection of popular pickup locations if their network connection or GPS location tracker is slow. Users will also be able to tap popular destinations rather than manually type them out.



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Bitcoin jumps after New York approves Square’s Cash app for crypto trading

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Bitcoin spiked suddenly Monday afternoon following news users of the “Cash” mobile payments app could trade the cryptocurrency in New York.

The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization gained more than 4.5 percent to $6,793, its highest since Tuesday, according to CoinDesk’s bitcoin price index. Bitcoin was trading near $6,694 as of 3:56 p.m. ET.

Cash is owned by Square and has 7 million monthly active users, the company said in its first quarter earnings call. On Monday, New York’s Department of Financial Services granted Square a virtual currency license, allowing users of the Cash app in the state to trade bitcoin. Bitcoin trading launched for most Cash users in late January.

Bitcoin 12-hour performance

Source: CoinDesk

Bitcoin remains about 10 percent lower for the month, and down 51 percent for the year so far.



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China, Middle East are spending on Sudan, but US policy is ‘confused’

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) and Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir (R) visit in Port Sudan on December 25, 2017.

Kayhan Ozer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) and Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir (R) visit in Port Sudan on December 25, 2017.

Since the U.S. lifted long-standing sanctions on Sudan last October, foreign investors’ interest has started to trickle in, an expert on the region has told CNBC.

But it’s Chinese and Middle Eastern actors who already have first-mover’s advantage, Matthew Kindinger, sub-Saharan African analyst at emerging markets advisory firm Frontier Strategy Group, added.

“Any firm that was prevented from entering Sudan because of the U.S. sanctions now has much larger scope to expand in the market,” he said. “(But) the current administration’s Sudan policy appears to have become confused at the least, or at best a very low priority.”

Given the U.S.’ sanctions, some of which date back to 1997 over human rights concerns and terrorism links, China and countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have instead been Sudan’s most prominent foreign investors.

“These countries want to maintain access to resource exports, such as petroleum to south Asian markets, and livestock to meet growing food demand in the Gulf states,” Chris Suckling, senior analyst at IHS Markit, told CNBC.

Sudan, located on the Horn of Africa and one of the continent’s largest countries by area, has suffered from brutal conflict for much of its history and saw its economy hit hard by the 2011 succession of its oil-rich southern region. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued President Omar al-Bashir with arrest warrants for war crimes twice in the past decade.

Given its troubled past — and present — the country is yet to fully capitalize on its strategic potential.



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United Arab Emirates gives Ethiopia $1 billion lifeline to ease foreign exchange crisis

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Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L) meets Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (R) at National Palace in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on June 15, 2018.

Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L) meets Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (R) at National Palace in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on June 15, 2018.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to deposit $1 billion in Ethiopia’s central bank to ease the latter’s foreign exchange shortage.

The sum is part of a total of a $3 billion aid and investment pledge from the UAE to Ethiopia announced Friday. The news came as Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia’s foreign exchange shortage is due in part to its spending big on infrastructure projects. The current total left in the East African country’s coffers is equivalent to less than one month’s worth of imports, Reuters has reported.

Over the weekend, Ethiopia and neighboring Somalia announced that they were investing in four seaports on the Red Sea to draw in foreign investment. Abiy and Somalian President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, speaking in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, issued a joint statement of pledges to cooperate on areas including infrastructure and visa services, according to Reuters.

In April, Abiy said that Ethiopia’s foreign exchange shortage could last up to 15 to 20 years, and that more cooperation with the private sector was needed to secure the country’s finances.

The Red Sea coastline is strategic because it leads to the Suez Canal, which serves as a gateway for shipping, moving between Eastern and Western markets.

Landlocked Ethiopia is keen to shore up its international trade infrastructure; for example, taking a stake in the Port of Djibouti in May.

The weekend’s news is the latest in a slew of reforms coming out of the Ethiopian government.

In early June, lawmakers voted to lift Ethiopia’s state of emergency two months early. This was imposed following the sudden resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in February following anti-government protests fueled by ethnic tension.



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