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Picks of the week

It may be August, but there is no shortage of news this summer. While you have been reading about the Hong Kong riots, the US-China trade war and a new bout of market turmoil, here are some interesting stories you might have missed:

**Here is a new (and possibly benign) use for facial recognition technology: in some parts of Beijing, public rubbish bins will give you points for correctly disposing of your trash. You can then use these points to get discounts at local stores and supermarkets. This little nugget is part of a deep dive by our scoutAsia Research team into the state of waste recycling in China. The short version is that the huge amounts of household waste will bring equally huge opportunites for recycling companies both local (like Fujian Longma) and foreign (such as Veolia). But the fascinating charts are worth a longer look.

**Could Japan Airlines rescue Malaysia Airlines? The badly buffetted Malaysian flag carrier is certainly in need of help after eight years of losses and with a domestic market share that is now below 20%. Analysts all agree that its nationalisation after the two disasters in 2014 have only made things worse. And the government appears willing to sell a stake. But to whom? ScoutAsia understands that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad favours the Japanese (ahead of Singapore and Qatar, which have also both expressed interest) since JAL knows all about bankruptcy, having been through the process itself. Now that's positive thinking!

**PayPal is targeting India, according to this FT report. The population is huge, the volume of online payments exploding and the US company is developing one-click technology to help skittish consumers to actually complete their web purchases. So far, so promising. The trouble is that everyone else, from Alibaba to Walmart, Google, Amazon and Facebook is also focusing on India. And PayPal's current market share is only 1%.

**That rarest of creatures, a South Korean unicorn, has raised fresh financing. The company in question is a fintech start-up called Viva Republic and its platform, rather bravely named "Toss" is an app that allows you to manage your bank accounts, transfer money and check your credit score, all with nice-looking dashboards. Many similar services exist these days but this one has been downloaded more than 30 million times and has 13 million registered users - that's a fifth of the country's population. No wonder its parent company is now valued at $2.2 billion.

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