We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!
This week under UK-India Tech Partnership announced last year, the governments have now launched the Go Global programme. As part of this programme, some of India’s most innovative and cutting-edge ‘tech for good’ startups will have the chance to take part in the new programme to improve their business skills, build links with the UK’s thriving digital sector and pave the way for future economic partnerships.
The successful Indian startups will be expected to act as Go Global champions and share the skills they have learned with other firms across India.
Further this week, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is reportedly in talks to finalise the intermediaries guidelines amendments by the end of this month. The final guidelines will include the amendment on intermediary traceability by government agencies but will drop the proactive content monitoring and takedown mandate proposed in the draft of Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018. MeitY had proposed these amendments to the IT Act, with an aim to curb the misuse of social media platforms and spread of fake news.
In a digitisation move this week, the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) introduced web-based application for Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs). The system has been introduced for contribution from AIFs under Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS). With the online portal, now available on SIDBI website, the AIFs can fill up a form online and track the status of their application.
In his maiden visit to the UK as India’s minister for commerce and industry, Piyush Goyal addressed global CEOs and assured them that there will be easing of rules for single-brand retail soon. However, restrictions on multi-brand retail would continue, Goyal added. He said that India had opened up opportunities for single brand retail and will ease some “detrimental clauses’’ of the policy in the next few weeks which will help foreign investors.
The week was filled with interesting developments across policies on retail and e-cigarettes, Amazon’s edtech launch and much more. Here’s a look at the important Indian startup news stories of the week.
Important Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
Amazon Launches IIT JEE Preparation App
Amazon has introduced the JEE Ready app in beta phase, which lets students take free mock tests for their preparation of Indian engineering test i.e. IIT JEE. The app, which has been released on the Google Play Store by Amazon Mobile LLC and was launched last month. JEE Ready lets users take mock tests to prepare for real entrance exams and has over 1K installs so far.
Paytm’s Japan Entity PayPay Reaches 8 Mn Users
In October 2018, Paytm tied up with SoftBank and Yahoo Japan to launch PayPay payments service in Japan. The QR code-based mobile payment service incentivises users with “relays” i.e. cashbacks and now Sharma has claimed that PayPay has 8 Mn users in the country with “incredible traction”. It must be noted that PayPay has over 10 Mn installs on Android’s Google Play Store, plus an unknown number of users on iOS as well.
Delhi, Bengaluru Join In Crackdown Against Chinese Ecommerce
Custom officials at the courier terminals in Bengaluru and Delhi have started to stop clearing parcels shipped under the CB-12 (gift and samples) route. Such parcels were being earlier stopped in Mumbai and now even Chennai customs port is considering a similar action. Apart from these four courier ports, Kochi and Kolkata airports also receive a large number of packages under the same manner.
Cars24 Shuts Down Outlets In Delhi
Gurugram-based online used car marketplace Cars24 received nearly six legal notices from landlords in Delhi for non-payment of rent for months. They have alleged that the company then shut down the stores at various places in “violations” of the lease agreements. The report claims that Cars24 has already shuttered about a dozen outlets in Delhi. The legal notices further allege that Cars24 has breached the contract for terminating leases before the lock-in period ended.
MeitY Threatens TikTok, Helo With A Ban
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) has issued notices to TikTok and Helo seeking answers over allegations of “anti-national” activities. The notices reportedly have a set of 21 questions on the allegations by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM). They have alleged that the platforms are being used for anti-national activities. Meity has reportedly asked for assurance that the data of Indian users is not being transferred at present and will not be transferred in future also “to any other foreign government or any third party or private entity”.
Innoviti Sues Pine Labs
Bengaluru-based digital payments provider, Innoviti Payment Solutions said it had filed an infringement suit against Pine Labs Pvt Ltd over sale of payment products that infringe on Innoviti’s patent on the payments processing technology that enables UPI payments at retail POS terminals. Innoviti also said that it has been granted an ex-parte ad interim injunction from the Bengaluru High Court effective immediately that will prevent Pine Labs from manufacturing, selling, distributing, advertising, exporting, offering for sale, procuring and dealing with this technology through its ‘Plutus Smart’ or any other device in India.
Karnataka HC Asks CCB To Drop Homigo Case
After Karnataka High Court’s interim stay order on the Homigo fraud case investigation, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) Bengaluru is set to drop the case. Speaking to Inc42, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Girish S said, “The High Court has given an order that it is a civil dispute and has pulled up the police for registering the case.” The High Court has directed the complainants against Homigo in the alleged fraud case to approach the civil court in this case, the DCP added.
OYO Introduces Workspaces
OYO Workspaces is launching three coworking brands including Workflo and PowerStation in its mid to budget category, while Innov8 is part of its premium category. Led by Rohit Kapoor, CEO, New Real Estate Businesses, OYO Workspaces is a fully controlled workspaces solutions provider, designed to meet the needs of over 80% of the working population in the country. With this launch, OYO Workspaces is opening up over 21 workspaces, with more than 15K seats across 10 cities in India.
WhatsApp Payments Closer To Launch
WhatsApp Payments is reportedly reaching out to the Reserve Bank of India to submit its audit report. In April, WhatsApp told the Supreme Court of India that it will rely on a third-party company to audit its payments system and ensure that it complies with Indian data localisation rules. A WhatsApp spokesperson reportedly said, “WhatsApp looks forward to providing WhatsApp Payments based on the UPI standard to all users in India and we continue to work with our local partners towards a shared goal of supporting a more Digital India.”
Snapdeal Grows Revenue By 73% In FY18-19
The company has issued details of its performance for FY19 saying that Snapdeal grew its consolidated revenues by 73% YoY to INR 925.3 Cr in 2018-19 as compared to INR 535.9 in 2017-18. At the same time, Snapdeal also managed to reduce its loss by 71% to INR 186 Cr in FY19 from INR 611 Cr reported in FY18. Revenue from operations for Snapdeal (standalone) grew by 87% YoY from INR 436.1 Cr in FY18 to INR 813.8 Cr in FY19. Kunal Bahl in a LinkedIn post said that company’s transacting customers grew 2.2X and traffic surged 2.3X to 70 Mn unique users/month.
E-Cigarettes: CAIT Recommends Setting Up An Expert Committee
Small traders representative, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has taken their concerns to minister of health, Dr. Harsh Vardhan and asked to set up an expert committee to examine the matter. CAIT has suggested to form a committee to be set up to deliberate of appropriate regulations for Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) such as e-cigarettes and vapes.
In a hearing on July 12, Delhi HC passed an order directing the Delhi Government to file an affidavit showing steps taken by them for regulating ENDS in the state. The court noted the urgency of the matter by highlighting that many children are picking up ENDS such as e-cigarettes without knowing the harm it can cause.
Here’s What Government Was Doing This Week
- India’s Department of Telecommunications has reportedly approved plans to implement WiFi interoperability that will allow users to stay connected across all public WiFi hotspots in India when users are in range. Called Bharat WiFi, the DoT has jointly proposed it with all telecom companies, internet service providers, and virtual network operators.
- With the growth in the network of Common Service Centres (CSC), the government has asked village level entrepreneurs (VLEs) to aim for a turnover of $43.58 Bn (INR 3 Lakh Cr) in the next five years, from around $10.16 Bn (INR 70K Cr) annually. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, said the government intends to promote self-help groups, and added that CSC could act as a catalyst for such a movement.
- A report filed by a committee set up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has identified the need to establish a specialized body called National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) which is to be based on similar models as seen in the likes of UIDAI and GSTN. The report is open for public comments till August 4.
- Indian Minister of Communications and Minister of Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government is aiming to make India a major export hub of electronics manufacturing. According to the minister, India is the second biggest manufacturer of smartphones in the world. India has 282 mobile factories as compared to just two factories in 2014, he added.
- The World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network will launch a drone-delivery project called ‘Medicine from the Sky’ in Telangana. The project will be conducted in partnership with the government of Telangana and Health Net Global. It will include a comprehensive study of drone-based deliveries for blood, vaccines, medical samples and organs.
Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
Netflix To Launch Low-Cost Mobile Subscription Plans For India
Global video streaming platform Netflix has announced plans to roll-out a low price mobile-only subscription plan for Indian market. The plan is expected to be launched in the third quarter. The California-based company has been beta testing this mobile plan in India for several months now. Earlier in March, this mobile-only test plan was reported to be priced at INR 250 per month which is half the price of company’s existing basic monthly plan of INR 500.
Amazon Expands Alexa Skill Set To Include Hindi For Developers
Amazon’s Alexa will now let developers build Alexa skills for customers in India using the new Hindi voice model on the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). Alexa Skills are essentially apps that can be used to expand the functionality of Amazon’s AI assistant. Alexa Skills range across categories such as finance, productivity, news, weather and more.
Twitter Gets Localised With Seven Indian Regional Languages
The micro-blogging network Twitter redesigned its website to help users localise content in seven Indian languages — Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Urdu, Tamil, Bengali and Kannada. The move is part of a global rejig that will be rolled out over the next few weeks to all users. The aim of the new localisation features on Twitter.com on the web is to encourage more conversations on Twitter, and it is backed by an improved translation engine on the website.
Google Might Face Another Fine Of INR 136 Cr From CCI
Competition Commission of India (CCI) is reportedly mulling over a fine of INR 136 Cr ($21 Mn) on the internet search giant Google. Since May of this year, CCI has been investigating Google over company’s alleged abuse of its dominance in the Android mobile operating system to suppress its rivals. The referred investigation is likely to take another two years to complete.
Amway, Oriflame Products Not To Be Sold Online Without Authorisation: Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court has ruled that ecommerce players such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and others cannot sell direct selling companies products on their platform without the direct sellers authorisation. Direct selling companies include names such as Amway, Oriflame and Avon, who sell products directly to consumers and are not usually found at typical retail locations.
Flipkart Incentivises Sellers With Concessions On ‘Flipkart Plus’ Discounts
Indian ecommerce major Flipkart has urged online sellers to give discounts for its loyalty programme (Flipkart Plus) users, in order to avail concession on its platform fees. A Flipkart letter, reviewed by Inc42, asked sellers to opt for extra 5% discount on fashion products when selling to users who have opted to join Flipkart Plus. Another condition is that sellers have to keep the cancellation charge at 0.5% for products they sell under this offer.
Google’s Internet Saathi Reached 26 Mn Women In India
Google announced that over 70K women across 260K villages in 18 states are using the power of the internet to drive positive change in their communities and have already benefited over 26 Mn women. The Internet Saathi programme focusses on educating women to use the internet, who then impart training to other women in their community and neighbouring villages. Google has now expanded the Internet Saathi programme to Punjab and Odisha.
Droom Launches Eco Lab
Gurugram-headquartered automobile marketplace Droom has launched Eco Lab. Enabling the Eco Lab with IoT cloud and large fleet management services, Droom aims at leveraging emerging technologies to build new innovations in and evolve Eco Inspection, India’s premier doorstep auto inspection service for pre-owned vehicles.
UrbanClap Ties Up With Skill India Mission
National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and UrbanClap entered into a partnership to collaborate for the mobilisation, training and certification of service professionals across India. The MoU signed between the two organisations also recognise UrbanClap as a key strategic partner of the Skill India mission. As a part of the MOU, NSDC will support UrbanClap to become a 100 % Skill India certified organization under RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) component of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). UrbanClap will also create micro-entrepreneurship opportunities for candidates already certified under PMKVY 2.0 and additionally train 30K new partners over the next one year under short term skilling and upskilling programs.
Stay tuned for the next week’s edition of Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week!