We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!
According to the annual Global Competitiveness Index compiled by WEF, India has slipped 10 spots to rank 68 while many other economies in the world went up the ladder. The WEF report said that India was among the worst-performing BRICS nations along with Brazil, which has ranked 71 this time. Last year India was ranked 58th in the annual index. The reasons cited for the slip are improvements in economic and business activities in several countries.
In another interesting development, the income tax department launched its faceless e-assessment scheme for taxpayers. Under the scheme, there would be no physical interface between an assessing officer and an assessee. The plan was first introduced in the Union Budget 2019 by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
At the same time in the corporate world, Walmart is looking to separate PhonePe from Flipkart so that it can directly own PhonePe. With this, the company is looking to enter the increasingly competitive digital payments space in the country. With this, Walmart is looking to unlock the value of its acquisition separately. It further said that with this demerger, few of the Flipkart investors can cash in through secondary sale.
Here’s a look at the other major developments in the Indian startup ecosystem this week!
Important Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
WhatsApp Traceability And Tech Giants Tax: India Gains Global Support
France-based global policy forum Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has published a proposal for countries to tax highly profitable global tech giants companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, which mirrors the one India had floated in February this year.
India’s Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has drafted the Significant Economic Presence (SEP) concept in February this year. SEP had proposed that foreign companies will have to pay 30-40% digital tax in India for the revenue they generate from the country. Further, it added that companies with more than 200K users will have to pay taxes on the basis of the revenue generated from India.
In another development, the Indian government and RBI have expressed concerns about some clauses in WhatsApp Pay which might delay the launch. Further, a BuzzFeed report on October 4 said that a letter signed by three officials from the US, the UK and Australia has been sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckergberg. The letter, at large, talks about Facebook’s privacy-centric plans, which include end-to-end encryption across its suite of messaging apps, including WhatsApp. The Indian government has been asking the same from Facebook and its group companies for quite some time now.
SEBI Limits Participation Of Foreign Portfolio Investors
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has limited the participation of foreign portfolio investors (FPI) in India’s investment market. The notification reportedly says that only those foreign portfolio investors located in Financial Action Task Force (FATF) countries or managed by an entity based in a FATF jurisdiction will be allowed to deal in participatory notes (PNs). The new rule is expected to impact many public equity funds and hedge funds. The reports have said that a broader universe of Mauritius and Cayman Islands-based funds may tend to get covered under Category-II FPIs.
In another development, minority stakes purchased by several offshore funds through the FDI route less than 10% will now be classified as foreign portfolio investments (FPI). The classification change will leave foreign investors with no choice but to secure licence as foreign portfolio investors. The application to such a licence will increase their compliance and regulatory burden. On the other hand, there were no such compliance issues with FDI investments.
RSS In Talks With OTT Players Over Anti-Hindu Content
RSS demands that the video streaming platforms such as Zee5 and Ullu TV should “represent real Indian culture and ethics”, instead of giving in to economic and corporate interests. The organisation has also urged for the removal of certain content which is “not appropriate” for Indian viewers.
From The World Of Ecommerce
- Research company RedSeer noted that e-tailers have recorded $3 Bn (INR 19,000 Cr) of GMV in the period between September 29-October 4.The report noted that Y-o-Y growth in-season sales is 30%, with a significant share coming from Tier 2 markets.
- A delegation of the CAIT recently met union minister of commerce and industry Piyush Goyal to discuss their grievances regarding ecommerce platforms and their deep discounting methods that create an unlevel playing field for the retail traders, vendors and brick-and-mortar stores. Following the complaints, Goyal summoned Amazon and Flipkart for explanations. The companies reportedly told the government that they are not flouting any rules.
- After the first phase of online festive season sales has ended, the phone retailers are ready to bring brand offers and promotions offline. The retailer association has said that the brands have promised offers or promotions during the festive season in the offline space. The announcement comes after the All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA) raised concerns on predatory online pricing.
- Indian ecommerce unicorn Snapdeal has hit the highest number of monthly transacting customers in September 2019. Snapdeal has earlier announced plans to launch three separate online stores offering pooja essentials for Karva Chauth, Dhanteras and Diwali, later this month.
Zomato’s Hacking Issues, Swiggy Plans Drone Delivery And More
Zomato has been paying off hackers who have responsibly disclosed bugs with the company’s platform. An IANS report has cited HackerOne statistics to say that Zomato has paid more than $100K (over INR 70 Lakh) to 435 hackers till date for finding and fixing bugs on its platform. It said that $12,350 (over INR 8.7 Lakh) in bounties have been paid in the last 90 days.
In another development, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has now sought detailed plans from seven companies that had requested for permission for drone deliveries. The final shortlisted companies include Zomato, Swiggy, Dunzo, Zipline, Redwing, Throttle Aerospace Systems and Honeywell. DGCA has sought further details from seven consortia that had applied to conduct long-range, or beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), drone experiments.
CureFit Vs BookYourGame Dispute Gets Settled
According to reports, Cure.fit has settled by paying close to the deal value in cash, while both parties mutually decided to not go ahead with the deal. As a result, Book Your Game has withdrawn its case against Cure.fit. With the case sidelined, Cure.fit will eventually launch Gym.fit independently.
Government Takes Internet Censorship To News Websites
The Indian government has called for the formation of a regulatory body, an organisation like the Press Council Of India, for news portals or websites. The Indian government has been stressing upon guidelines for social media platforms and online content for a while now. The regulations are mainly meant to stop the misuse of social media and stop the spread of fake news.
In another development, both the US and Japan have signed a digital trade agreement, wherein they have renewed their stand against data localisation, and doubled down on the message of free flow of data through internet services. While the agreement is a relief for technology giants and startups, it adds pressure on the Indian government to change its stance.
Customers Can Now Select TV Channels On TRAI App
TRAI announced an amendment to the quality of service and consumer protection regulations. The sector regulator mandated distribution platform operators (DPOs) to share their application programme interfaces (APIs) with it. As a result, consumers of both cable and DTH companies can access channels or bouquets and also select or delete channels of their choice and view subscription details on the regulator’s app or portal.
Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
BYJU’S Revamps Its ESOP Plan
BYJU’S has approved a board resolution to overhaul its existing employees stock option plan 2015 to employees stock option plan 2019. The company was last valued at $ 5.7 Bn and has raised over $969.8 Mn funding from investors such as General Atlantic, Tencent, Naspers, Qatar Investment Authority, and Canada’s Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) among others.
Rental Companies To Issue User Ratings
A bunch of startups have formed a consortium to share data on user behaviour aimed at weeding out bad actors and rewarding the good. This includes bike rental startup Bounce, home rental business NestAway, insurance provider Acko among others. The companies have proposed a rating system that will use data on the offline behaviour of users to assess them on their creditworthiness or eligibility for a digital service. They expect the platform to be operational by early next year.
Twitter Uses User Data For Advertisement Purposes
Twitter has confirmed that user data like email addresses and phone numbers provided by users for security purposes may have been unintentionally used for advertising purposes. Twitter is unable to share with certainty the number of people impacted by the breach. However, the US-based company also asserted that no personal data was ever shared externally with their partners or any other third parties.
Smartphone Brands To Now Battle In IOT Market
Samsung said that its retail experience centres will showcase end-to-end IoT solutions to drive growth in its India business especially in the context of smart home automation. Xiaomi has been building its accessories and Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem business along with its handsets and smart TV products, with the launch of smart cameras, weighing scales, air purifiers and other such devices. BBK Electronics’ brands Realme and OnePlus also plans to increase their focus on accessories, while their sister company Vivo is also set to enter the segment next year.
Amazon-Dish TV Tieup, Google’s New Feature And More
- Under the partnership, the DTH company will be launching a hybrid set-top box which will have Amazon Prime Video app installed to allow users to enjoy video streaming on television, without any additional accessories.
- Google has launched ‘Crafted in India’ in partnership with India’s ministry of tourism, which aims to make digital audiences more aware about the traditions, beauty and heritage of India’s arts and crafts trade. Google Arts and Culture is an online platform and app that will let users browse through high-resolution interactive images of artworks belonging to partner museums as well as other independent projects.
- Paytm has partnered with BSNL to provide easy access to its users for connecting to the BSNL Public WiFi network across the country. Paytm believes that due to this partnership, millions of its users can access WiFi in public places in a secure and convenient manner on the Paytm app itself.
- Uber has sought permission from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government to run 5K UberMOTO bike taxis in the state. The Delhi government does not allow bike taxi services to operate within the state, nonetheless Uber has sought permission stating its intention to improve connectivity during the odd-even season. In the submission, Uber has also proposed to charge INR 5 per ride.
- South Korean automobile company Kia Motors has decided to venture into the Indian connected car sector by collaborating with telecom operator Vodafone Idea. The companies have signed a partnership for the India debut of its UVO connected car system with the Kia Seltos.
- TCS) is reportedly working on a drone software which can help solve problems in windmills or solar farms, that are located in remote regions. TCS has filed a patent for a software that will enable unmanned vehicles to provide services to customers through other drones or ground-based robotic vehicles.
Automation Is The Solution For Cybersecurity For Most Companies
More and more businesses and startups in India are relying more on automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence to serve their cybersecurity needs, according to a report by Cisco. As of today, 75% of organisations in India relied on automation, while over 60% depended on machine learning and artificial intelligence, to protect their operations and for cybersecurity.
Stay tuned for the next week edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup News Stories Of The week!