We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!
This week, addressing the gathering at the foundation stone for a new building to house the Registrar General of India (RGI) in New Delhi, union home minister Amit Shah said the next census of India in 2021 will be a “digital census” with a mobile app used to collect data. Shah also talked about a multipurpose identity card. Shah’s plan was seconded by Registrar General of India Vivek Joshi who said the result of 2021 would be available almost immediately. In the pilot project “30 lakh people” were successfully enumerated using the mobile application, he added.
Further, speaking at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum on September 25, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government will further ease the tax regime for businesses by introducing a tax on equity investments in compliance with the global tax regime. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with US President Donald Trump, also addressed the “Howdy, Modi” rally on Sunday in Texas, which was attended by more than 50K people from the Indian-American community.
Important Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
HC Issues Notices To The Central Govt And OTT Players
Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court issued notices to the central government and ten OTT platforms i.e AltBalaji, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Ullu, Voot, Vuclip, Hoichoi, Yashraj Films, Arre and Zee5. The notice came in response to the plea calling for regulations against alleged streaming of obscene and sexually explicit content. The division bench of Justice S. C. Sharma and Justice Shailendra Shukla has asked for responses in this context from the Centre and the OTT platforms within six weeks.
From The Government Corridors
- The minister for electronics and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad clarified the Indian government’s stand on the data localisation issue, saying it will not allow “sensitive and super-sensitive data” to go out of the country. Prasad assured that the government will not let the country’s data sovereignty to be compromised. He also pointed out that there should be a balance between data availability, utility, innovation and data privacy.
- Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government-sponsored incubators are now eligible for donations under corporates’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending. Sitharaman said that research funding in science, technology, engineering and medicine will be counted as part of mandatory CSR expenditure.
- The ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) has decided to set up a model for the certification of online video streaming content after Diwali amid discontent among religious groups regarding the same.
Ease Of Trading And Improved Tax Grievance Process For Startups
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), on September 23, announced a framework to allow startups to easily switch from Innovators Growth Platform (IGP) to main board trading. Under the SEBI’s new framework, startups should have profitability of three years or at least 75% of its shareholding with “qualified institutional investors”(QIB) for the option to trade under the regular category.
In another development, the CBDT order has given fresh directions for handling grievances of startups. In case of any grievance, the preliminary action taken report is to be submitted to the office (CBDT) by the next day, that is within one working day of calling of the report by CBDT. The final ATR (action taken report) in this regard is to be submitted within three working days of calling of the report by CBDT.
India From The Lens Of Analysts
- A report by Nielsen and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has noted that India had 451 Mn monthly active users as on March 31, 2019. The report titled, “Internet in India 2019”, said that of the 451 Mn monthly active users, 385 Mn are over 12 years of age and 66 Mn are in the age bracket of 5 to 11 years, who access the Internet on the devices of family members.
- Data, collected by ComplyKaro services, shows that the 100 BSE registered companies have witnessed a 14% rise in the reports of sexual harassment complaints at the workplace. This year, these companies have registered 823 cases of sexual harassment, compared to 722 last year.
- Proving the Indian audience’s love for music, a study reveals that an average Indian spends 19.1 hours a week listening to music, which is higher than the global average of 18 hours. This announcement was a part of the Digital Music Study 2019 conducted by Indian Music Industry (IMI).
- Manipulation of the internet of things (IoT) devices makes for a major part of the dark web discussions, according to a Trends Micro report which has analysed dark web forums in five languages including Russian, Portuguese, English, Arabic, and Spanish. The report noted that cybercriminals have a definite and diverse interest in IoT-related opportunities. Amidst these multiple requests, most requested hacking methods were for routers, webcams, and printers.
- A Forrester analysis of customer experience in India by brands has noted that 33 brands delivered good CX, up from 19, and only two brands continued to provide mediocre CX. The survey was of more than 10,000 customers in India in 2019. Forrester’s CX Index methodology was used to benchmark the CX quality of 39 brands in six industries.
- According to August analysis of global internet speed by Ookla, internet testing, data and analysis company, the global average of mobile internet downloads is 28.02 Mbps and for fixed broadband it is 66.53 Mbps for downloads. India has been ranked 131st and 70th, with 10.65 Mbps speed of downloads for mobile internet and 31.59 Mbps for fixed broadband internet downloads respectively.
From The World Of Ecommerce
According to a consulting firm RedSeer, the industry GMV for the festive days in 2018 had jumped 77% year-on-year, in comparison to the overall annual growth at around 35%. In other words, festive sales growth was more than double the annual average sales growth for ecommerce sites. Also, players like Amazon and Flipkart are expected to create 1.5 Lakh jobs this festive season.
With Flipkart and Amazon being major competitors, Paytm Mall will be expanding its catalogue to include over 1 Mn products ranging from toys, collectables, fashion, automobile accessories, gifts, and decor festive items. The retail branch of Paytm will be investing INR 30 Cr to promote the catalogue.
Social Media Woes: Facebook, WhatsApp And More
- After the Supreme Court of India, asked the government to update it regarding the intermediary guidelines for social media, a government official reportedly said that the Indian government is still trying to figure out the right balance between user privacy and security. The government does not want to go “excessive”. The department wants to protect users’ privacy, while not being unjust to the intermediaries.
- Ajit Mohan, vice president and managing director of Facebook India, said that both technology and citizen will be better served with an element of regulation involved in social media. Also, amid rising privacy concerns and associated data breaches, Facebook announced this week that it has removed “hundreds of thousands” of accounts
- In another development, the UIDAI has clearly stated that the government will have to enact a new law to link Aadhaar to social media accounts of individuals. The reason, according to UIDAI, is that the current legislation only enables the use of Aadhaar for schemes and subsidies funded under the Consolidated Fund of India. For anything outside the purview of this fund, a new law has to be put in place.
- Madras High Court has reportedly asked WhatsApp to confirm that it is complying with India’s Information Technology Act, according to a media report which cited the court order. This order is said to have come after Tamil Nadu government accused the social media platform of not cooperating with the police investigation. To this, the instant messaging platform said that many requests made by the state were invalid or lacked critical information.
- Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari said that the company has addressed the concerns of fintech giants such as Paytm, PhonePe, Cred, Google Pay regarding online financial scams. The company has come out with financial scam policy as “the majority of Indians move to transact digitally”. The policy says that using scam tactics on Twitter to obtain money or private financial information is prohibited.
- In a Supreme Court of India (SC) hearing, the court asked the central government to submit a timeframe for formulating the guidelines to curb social media misuse within three weeks. The bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose reportedly observed that technology has taken a “dangerous turn”.
OYO Scales Up
- Gurugram-based hospitality decacorn OYO Hotels and Homes has forayed into student accommodation, through its rental solutions arm OYO LIFE. The company said that OYO LIFE is tying up with marquee institutes like IIT Delhi and Plaksha University’s Fellowship programme in Gurugram and will be managing over 500 beds for the student community.
- OYO parent entity, Oravel Stays has set up multiple entities. According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs filings accessed by Inc42, Oravel Stays has set up two new joint ventures with its largest investor, SoftBank controlled SB Topaz,— Mountainia Developers and Hospitality Pvt Ltd and MyPreferred Transformation and Hospitality Pvt Ltd.
- OYO has also set up a new OYO Financial and Technology Services along with five other limited liability partnerships. One of the common strings across these eight corporate/LLPs is Abhishek Gupta, group CFO of OYO Hotels and Homes.
IPO Uptick: IRCTC And Ola
- IRCTC has announced that it will be launching its initial public offer (IPO). IRCTC is looking to raise up to INR 645 Cr as it opens bids on September 30.
- Bengaluru-headquartered cab-hailing unicorn Ola is now getting closer to its ambitions of listing publicly. The ARK Ola Pre IPO Fund appears to be a special purpose vehicle, set up to support Ola’s IPO plans. The fund is registered in Yeongdeungpo-gu district in Seoul, Korea. However, there are no other details available for the same.
From The World Of Fintech
- Two unified payments interface (UPI) platforms — PhonePe and BharatPe — have taken the fight over the suffix ‘Pe’ in their brand names to Delhi High Court as the issue remains unresolved. However, the court did not grant the request in its last hearing and has fixed October 9 as the date for the next hearing.
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), on September 13, had written to the association of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) seeking details of instances where the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms had to deny loans to potential customers due to regulatory restrictions. RBI’s move comes after 16 licensed P2P lending startups wrote to the central bank, in August 2019, regarding the NBFC guidelines issued in 2018. The guidelines limited the amount of credit such lenders could offer customers to INR 10 Lakh.
- The Indian government has simplified the client verification requirement for such deals. Under the new rules, overseas investors would not need to complete Know Your Client (KYC) process as per Indian law but instead can buy depository receipts (DR) of Indian companies based on identity proof established with authorities in countries of their residence.
Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
Zerodha Introduces ESOPs Worth $28Mn
Stock trading platform Zerodha has set up an over INR 200 Cr (around $28 Mn) employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) for 850 employees. The company does not have any immediate plans for an IPO but might eye a public listing in the next four to five years. Zerodha’s public listing will give the ESOP holders the option to exit or vest their shares.
Amazon Food Delivery, Alexa And More
Amazon is finally looking to launch its food delivery platform in India by the end of 2019. The ecommerce behemoth is trying to lure restaurants away from reigning players Swiggy and Zomato by proposing to take the lowest cut (also known as take rate) from the restaurant.
Not all is rosy in Amazon’s plans, however. Multiple restaurateurs complained that despite the lower take rate Amazon’s platform does not have very clear terms and conditions right now. “Amazon’s sales persons have asked me to contribute to the cost of delivery separately, and this charge is not being disclosed,” said one restaurateur who preferred to remain anonymous.
Further, Amazon Alexa will soon be getting a multilingual mode that will allow users in India to talk to the voice assistant in both Hindi and English simultaneously. The new update, which will be rolled out early next month, will enable Alexa-powered devices to switch between both languages, without the need to change the device language setting.
Paytm Eyes 1.5 Bn Merchant Payments
Paytm said it has partnered with over 14 Mn merchants across the country and with this new offering, it will expand its reach to another set of 2 Mn retail outlets in the market. The company had recorded a gross transaction value (GTV) of over $50 Bn while clocking 5.5 Bn transactions in FY19. Paytm has earlier claimed to own around 70% market share in overall digital payments across online and offline merchants.
Huawei Asks Govt Why It Should Invest In India
Ahead of the government’s plans to begin trials for 5G technology, Chinese electronics giant Huawei has raised concerns on investing in the country’s telecom infrastructure. Jay Chen, CEO of Huawei in India, said his company was looking to invest more in export manufacturing in India. “We are open to manufacturing 5G equipment, and even look at exports… but if I am not allowed to participate in 5G here, then why would I have manufacturing here?
Lingerie Startup Buttercups Shuts Shop
Buttercups’ founder Arpita Ganesh took to LinkedIn to say that she is closing the Bengaluru-based online lingerie startup, a couple of months after the website was shuttered. Buttercups claimed to have up to 43% repeat customers. The company has raised $1 Mn from investors such as Anand Chandrasekaran, Rajan Anandan, Kanwaljit Singh, Manoj Varghese, Angie Mahtaney and others.
BigBasket Targets Delivery Under 4-Hours
As the hyperlocal delivery battle intensifies, BigBasket has rejigged its operational model to make all deliveries under four hours, according to a media report. In the earlier model, it used to offer two delivery options including 90-minute delivery and next day scheduled delivery.
Epharmacies Nothing More Than Errand Boys
Gurugram-headquartered startup 1mg, on Tuesday, told the Delhi High Court (HC) that epharmacies are like “Ramu”, the errands guy, who just follows orders and delivers the goods. The company also compared epharmacies with Ola, Uber and Swiggy, which do not need a license to operate.
Vodafone-Idea And Reliance Jio Battle Continues
Reliance Jio and state-owned BSNL were the only telecom providers to have a net gain in subscribers at the end of July 2019, according to the latest data released by TRAI. While Vodafone-Idea and Airtel lost subscribers overall, Vodafone-Idea leads the telecom industry in terms of market share, with Jio in second place.
Also, as per a report by a market research Kantar Millward Brown, Reliance Jio could end up being the world’s top 100 most valuable brands in the next three years. This would mean the Jio brand would be seen in the global area along with the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google.
How Uber Riders Can Claim Insurance
Global ride-hailing major Uber has now rolled out a new feature for its India customers with passenger insurance at no extra cost over and above the ride fare. Uber India has partnered with insurance companies Bharti AXA and TATA AIG.
Google Launches Assistant-Like Helpline
During the Google for India event on Thursday (September 19), Caesar Sengupta, vice-president, Next Billion Users Initiative and Payments said that the company is launching a phone line for the non-internet users. The company said that it is launching Vodafone-Idea Phone Line—supported by the Google Assistant— which enables Vodafone-Idea users to call a single number free of charge (000 800 9191000), at any time, and ask for nearly everything. The questions can range from sports scores, traffic conditions and weather forecasts or get help with homework.
Delhi Customs Confiscates Club Factory’s Latest Import
Club Factory India parent Globemax Commerce Pvt Ltd has been asked to submit documents in a case by the Delhi commissioner of customs over non-compliance with Customs Act 2962. A Techcircle report said that the Club Factory had imported goods from its parent entity but the goods were confiscated. The customs office has claimed that imported goods were found to be wrongly declared as business-to-business (B2B) shipment as the department found them to be business-to-consumer (B2C) shipment during preliminary investigations.
Airtel Considers India A Good Place To Build IoT Ecosystem
The company is reportedly adopting applications and partner-based approach to growing its IoT business in India. It is also continuously investing in developing the narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) ecosystem in the country.
Zomato Launches Gold For Delivery
Zomato, though, was embroiled in a major conflict with restaurants and associations over the last month, refuses to let it hamper its growth. To keep the business up and running, the company has expanded its Gold offering to its food delivery options.
Stay tuned for the next week edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup News Stories Of The week!