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Didi pockets $4b to boost AI

Didi Chuxing, China’s top – and pretty much only – ride-hailing app, today announced yet another big injection of funds.

Didi has pocketed an extra US$4 billion from investors “to support AI capacity-building, international expansion, and new business initiatives, including the development of new energy vehicle service networks,” said the gigantic startup in an announcement this morning.

With 450 million users and 25 million daily rides, Didi last month revealed its plan to build a China-wide network of charging stations for electric cars, which will be accessible to the public as well as its own 21 million signed-up drivers.

The company already has an AI research and development center devoted to autonomous cars in Mountain View, California, which opened earlier in the year. A Didi representative tells Tech in Asia that the funding will include but not be limited to hiring AI talent around self-driving vehicles.

The firm this month acquired a startup in order to nab a much-coveted online payments license, meaning it’s now able to launch a mobile wallet service, perhaps challenging China’s ubiquitous Alipay or WeChat. However, an all-out war over phone payments seems unlikely since the creators of China’s top two wallet apps – Alibaba and Tencent – are investors in Didi.

Didi did not disclose who invested in this round. It brings the firm’s total disclosed funding to US$23.3 billion.

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