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11 Indian Startup News Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [20-25 May]

11 Indian Startup News Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [20-25 May]

SEBI has proposed a framework for accreditation of investors who want to invest in startups

Ola has suspended the company’s food delivery business Foodpanda, laying off 40 employees

TRAI hosted discussions on plans to regulate over-the-top (OTT) players

We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!

In a major development this week, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has proposed a framework for accreditation of investors who want to invest in startups that would be listed on the Innovators Growth Platform. This includes investors having a demat account with a depository needs to make an application to the exchanges or depositories in the prescribed manner for recognition as an accredited investor, accreditation shall be valid for three years from the date of issuance and more.

Also, SEBI is proposing an “Innovation Sandbox”, which would be a testing environment where fintech firms and entities not regulated by SEBI including individuals may use the environment for offline testing of their proposed solutions in isolation from the live market, subject to fulfilment of the eligibility criteria, based on market-related data made available by Stock  Exchanges, Depositories and Qualified Registrar and Share Transfer Agents (QRTAs).

There’s a lot more that happened this week from multiple data breach reports, WhatsApp telling the government it was quick to fix the issues and more. Here are more Indian startup news from the Indian startup ecosystem.

Important Indian Startup News Stories

India Fights Lonely Ecommerce War At WTO

At the World Trade Organisation’s discussions on ecommerce, the US, Europe, Japan and China have been seeking rules which will benefit the likes of Amazon, Alibaba and Uber to access the global market. In such a situation, India along with South Africa and Saudi Arabia had been fighting to keep a unilateral mechanism for global ecommerce. However, recently, Indian government had to drop a mention of the issue in a declaration issued after the mini-ministerial meeting hosted last week. Even its supporters have taken a step back, but the country is going to hold firm as very little benefit accrues to consumers and domestic players.

Is India Fighting A Lonely War On Global Rules For Ecommerce At WTO?

Financial Performances: Paytm Payments Bank And MobiKwik

  • Paytm Payments Bank said it has turned profitable for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019 recording INR 19 Cr in profits. This is in stark contrast to INR 51.42 Cr loss the company faced in FY18. The company’s income for the year was INR 1500 Cr, a 108% jump from its income of INR 721.96 Cr in the previous year.
  • Gurugram-headquartered digital financial services platform MobiKwik said that it earned revenues of INR 184.6 Cr in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019. The company claims to have 40% growth in total registered users and 90% growth in MAUs (Monthly Active Users). Also, MobiKwik’s payment gateway business clocked $ 3 Bn in total payment volume.

Zomato, Swiggy May Reduce Discounts

Reports have said that discounts by Swiggy and Zomato will be down at least 40%. These companies have been burning $30 Mn – $40 Mn every month as they offer discounts to onboard new customers and retain old ones. However, decreasing discounts are already a part of food ordering nowadays as the miniscule discounts transform into restaurant handling charges, taxes and delivery charges.

Will You Continue To Order Online If Swiggy, Zomato Cut Discounts?

Of Data Breaches And The Saves

  • After multiple security compromises last week, WhatsApp has told the Indian government that it was quick to solve the voice call vulnerability, which allowed hackers to install apps surreptitiously in the background. WhatsApp told MeitY that it had corrected the vulnerability through the deployment of strong server-side protections. It also said that it had come down heavily on unofficial versions of WhatsApp and had taken action against four million accounts abusing its rules during the Indian election season.
  • Earlier this week reports surfaced that a user database of Swedish caller ID app Truecaller is being sold on internet forums on the dark web. The alleged leaked database included names, phone numbers and email addresses of some Truecaller users, which the poster claimed to have acquired through a data breach. However, Truecaller and an independent security researcher said that there is no evidence of a data breach at Truecaller, and most of the records in the data dump seem to have been acquired through other means.
  • A security researcher Anurag Sen said that a database containing the contact information of millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brand accounts was reportedly left in the open and without a password, allowing anyone to look inside. Beyond public information, it also contained their private contact information, such as the Instagram account owner’s email address and phone number. However, Instagram and Mumbai-based firm Chtrbox, which was traced back for the leak, have said there has been no such data leak of the users.

Ola And Foodpanda’s Hitch In The Ride

  • Karnataka government has asked Bengaluru-based cab hailing giant Ola to withdraw the convenience fee levied on its Prime Play cabs. It is being said that both the Motor Vehicles Act and the Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Cab Aggregators rules do not allow the idea of convenience fees.
  • The reports surfaced that Ola has suspended the company’s food delivery business Foodpanda, laid off about 40 mid- to entry-level employees and terminated the contracts of most of its 1,500 food delivery executives. People aware of the company’s plans told Inc42 that the company has been scaling down operations to focus on cloud kitchen and in-house brands model.

Is Foodpanda Pivoting To Cloud Kitchen Model With Layoffs & Delisted Restaurants?

TRAI Looks To Avoid Regulatory Overlaps

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) hosted discussions on plans to regulate over-the-top (OTT) players such as Facebook and WhatsApp which revolved around the fact that these OTT players provide services such as calling and messaging which are similar to telecom companies. Mobile phone operators pushed for regulating such apps while the apps pushed back saying that they were already regulated under the IT Act, and further regulation would stifle innovation.

Social Media Companies Deny Sharing Information 

In response to the Election Commission of India seeking opinion on whether correspondence between EC and the social media companies can be disclosed to the Right to Information (RTI) applicants, a few social media companies have now denied sharing such correspondence.  IAMAI had written to the EC last week, stating that the companies had expressed reservations about sharing copies of their correspondence. It is being said that Facebook and Google categorically declined to share the information with RTI applicants.

Social Media Companies Deny Sharing EC-Related Information Through RTI Queries

Mastercard Begins To Delete Indian Users Data From Global Servers

Mastercard has been in compliance with the data localisation norms since October 2018, as transaction data of the Indian users are being stored in local servers only. It has already begun removing data of Indian users stored in overseas servers. This process is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

WhatsApp Users Seek Verification Of Political Messages

Whatsapp received 75K message verifications requests from Indian users on its recently launched telephonic tip line. Under this feature users can report misleading content and fake news messages to an automated account. Campaign posters and statements related to important political leaders came in for verification several times in a day. Also, duplicate or related claims were mostly about public service information messages related to voters’ rights, surveys from states where assembly and Lok Sabha polls coincided and memes evoking nationalist pride like Make in India trains.

WhatsApp Tells MeitY It Was Quick To Act On Major Security Bug, Modified App Versions

Other Indian Startup News Stories

Netflix Betting Big On Indian Original Content

Netflix has planned to launch 22 original movies and 11 series from India by 2020. This is said to be a part of the company’s effort to create diverse and appealing content from India. The reason for the company’s optimism about the Indian market is in the viewership numbers for the platform in the country. The company claimed that the number of films watched per month per subscriber in India has grown by 50% since last year.

Myntra Brings Self-Checkout At Roadster Go Store

Myntra said that the new Roadster Go store in Bengaluru is spread across 3,200 sq ft and enables shoppers to pick up their favourite products without any assistance. The users can discover real time online prices and do a self-checkout in 30 seconds. Also, the RFID enabled digital screens at the store offer shoppers detailed information about a particular product when held up against it.

BharatPe Launches Credit Line For Merchants

Delhi-based payments startup BharatPe has partnered with Apollo Finvest to enable lending on its platform and has plans to add more partners. It will be offering loans in the range of INR 10K to INR 1 Lakh at an interest rate of 1.67% per month. The company plans to use merchant’s consistent transactions record on the platform for the last three months, as a measure for the underwriting process.

Paytm First Users Get Access To Eros Now Content

Subscription programme of Paytm, Paytm First, has collaborated with Eros Now to allow its subscribers access to Eros Now Plus services, which includes over 12K movies, TV shows, music, music videos, short-format content – Eros Now Quickie – and more. This will strengthen co-development and integration of both platforms and provide high-quality online video content to consumers.

Facebook Removes 4 Mn Hate Speech Posts In Q1 2019

After removing 24% of hate speech before being reported in Q1 2017, Facebook says it has identified and removed 65% of the posts before them being reported in Q1 2019.  The company said it took down 4 Mn hate speech posts in the first quarter. Further, it continues to invest in technology to expand its ability to detect this content across different languages and regions.

Global Tech Giants Working On New Features/Services

  • Google team has created an AI model that generates the overall lung cancer malignancy prediction in 3D volume and also helps in identifying subtle infectious tissues (lung nodule). Google’s AI model can also take into account past scan results on the patient to compare and detect any suspicious growth in the lung tissues.
  • Amazon is reportedly working on a voice-activated wearable device, code-named Dylan, that will be able to detect the wearer’s emotions. The device will analyse wearer’s mood by capturing the sound of their voice, using its inbuilt microphones and connected smartphone app. Using this input, the device will be able to advise its wearer on how to effectively interact with others, documents added.
  • ByteDance is developing a paid music service, with a launch planned as early as fall in a few of its territories. The new music streaming app is expected to include on-demand songs and videos. The company has reportedly already given demonstrations to many music industry executives. Further, it is also looking to convert users of its popular video making app TikTok into paying customers.

Stay tuned for the next week edition of Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week!