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News Roundup: 9 Indian Startup News Stories That You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [12-17 Mar 2018]

News Roundup: 9 Indian Startup News Stories That You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [12-17 Mar 2018]

Important Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week [12-17 March 2018]

We bring to you the latest dope of Indian startup news stories of the week from the Indian startup ecosystem.

One of the biggest news impacting the Indian startup ecosystem was edtech platform BYJU joining the unicorn club. According to filings with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the latest capital infusion, including the one by China’s Tencent and BCCL, valued BYJU’S at $1 Bn (INR 6,505 Cr). It became the 13th Indian startup to join the coveted unicorn club. In a VAIZLE report, BYJU’s was voted the most efficient startup from the edtech category in 2017.

Important Developments Of The Week

Paytm Launches Gold Gifting, Gold Savings Plan

Paytm’s Gold Gifting and Gold Savings Plan have been launched as a part of its wealth management offering, Paytm Gold. Through these services, customers can now send 24K 999.9 Purity Gold to each other instantly. The customer’s gold will be stored in MMTC PAMP’s secure and 100% insured lockers for free and they can get delivery of this gold at any time.

Also, last week, the Android app Of Paytm was asking users who have modified or rooted their devices for administrative access called root access. The tweet which brought this to light garnered a lot of attention, after which Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma responded that the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) had asked the app maker to check for rooted devices before enabling access to UPI payments. However, after a few days, the company fixed the sensitive issue in its app on Android phones.

Zomato Gold Records 150K+ Customers

In a blog post, the company claimed that more than 2K restaurants have joined the Zomato Gold services. The company claimed that 83% of its users discovered and visited a Gold partner restaurant for the first time, after becoming a member. However, considering this a too-good-to-be-true service, the company is now planning to alter the prices of its services.

zomato gold-subscription-india-startup news

Flipkart Will Bring Relatable Products For India

Flipkart is set to unveil a new brand called ‘Naye India Ke Saath’ to focus on its ‘Progressive India’ initiatives. The relatable Indian brand currently contributes 15% of the overall gross merchandise volume (GMV). The Progressive India initiative focuses on bringing more monthly active users from Tier II and Tier III markets.

PolicyBazaar Gears Up To Explore Healthcare Tech And Services

PolicyBazaar has reserved $100 Mn for its new venture in healthtech, which is presently being called PaisaWiki and has put together a team of 20 people, being led by Richit Unmat and Dhruv Sareen. The service will provide online access to top-rated medical professionals, who will form part of its in-house team of doctors. Others associated with the service will include clinics, diagnostic centres, hospitals etc. The company has also targeted to launch its first insurance product to cater to the out-patient department (OPD) market within the coming six months.

Lenskart To Invest $5 Mn In The Next Three Years

At present, the company’s manufacturing facility in Gurugram has the capacity to produce 100K frames per month and CEO Peyush Bansal is aiming to increase it up to 300K frames in the next three years. Over the period, the company expects the cost of its high-quality frames to come down by 30%.

Mobile Wallet Companies Appeal RBI For Interoperability

The country’s mobile wallet companies have urged the central banking institution to allow them to access merchant payments on an interoperable framework. They have asked the RBI for a settlement account that mobile wallets could have with banks so that both the credit and debit transactions can be resolved directly by the National Payments Corporation of India.

rbi-kyc-mobile wallets

Government Not Interested In Solving Ecommerce Vendors’ Issues: AIOVA

Alleging favouritism towards marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart,  the All India Online Vendors’ Association (AIOVA), a group of online ecommerce sellers/vendors, has now abandoned plans to raise their concerns pertaining to payments, pricing and other issues bothering ecommerce sellers. As per AIOVA, various ministries seem ‘not interested in solving things,’ as they have taken no action on AIOVA letters highlighting a number of issues, including predatory pricing and deep discounting by units of ecommerce companies that sell their private label products to the need for a sector regulator.

Uber’s Xchange Leasing India Posts Revenue Of $10.7 Mn For FY17

According to the filings with Registrar of Companies (RoC) accessed by Inc42, the company posted a net worth of $37.7 Mn (INR 244.7 Cr) in the last fiscal. Compared to that, in FY16, the company posted revenue of $39K (INR 25.4 Lakh). The development comes less than two months after the global cab aggregator sold the active portfolio of its US-based cab leasing arm to online car marketplace Fair.

Spotify Will Focus On India: CEO Daniel Ek

Sweden-headquartered music streaming giant Spotify is in the process of launching operations in India, co-founder and CEO Daniel Ek announced recently during the company’s investor day presentation. Although Daniel didn’t reveal any specific timeline for the India launch, the company reportedly leased an office space in Mumbai last year. As per its public offering filings, Spotify had a total of 308 employees in India and 20 other countries towards the end of 2017.

SC Extends Deadline To Link Aadhaar, UIDAI Clarifies States Have No Biometric Data

In its decision, the five-judge constitution bench of SC said, “Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, we accept the submission made by the learned Attorney General. Subject to that, we direct that the interim order passed on 15.12.2017 shall stand extended till the matter is finally heard and the judgment is pronounced.” Following this, UIDAI has clarified that requirement of Aadhaar for opening new bank accounts as well as applying for tatkal passports will continue.It further added, “for those who do not have Aadhaar, they are required to apply for Aadhaar and provide the Aadhaar application number while applying for availing the aforesaid services.”

However, soon enough, to highlight a flaw in Aadhaar security, an anonymous hacker rebuked the Aadhaar security of UIDAI by publishing website links containing thousands of Aadhaar data.

Another major setback came for mobile wallet companies, for whom the RBI had refused to extend the deadline for KYC (Know Your Customer) beyond February 28, 2018, stating that enough time has already been granted to adhere the prescribed guidelines. With the extension of the deadline by the SC, it is believed that a majority of the mobile wallet users will not take the initiative to fulfill KYC in order to avail services. These companies are still urging the Centre to rollback stringent KYC guidelines or give some relaxations for the same so that they don’t lose their customer base.

However, challenging doubts of security, after the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 came into effect, UIDAI had asked each and every state to destroy their copy of biometric data of Aadhaar. Confirming the same, the UIDAI CEO averred that the UIDAI has already received certificates from state governments pertaining to the eradication of their own copies of Aadhaar’s biometric data.

aadhaar-uidai-public services

Other Developments

Amazon Prime Video Goes Multilingual

Amazon Prime Video is looking to expand its film catalogue to include southern Indian languages like Tamil and Telugu. Amazon Prime Video has, so far, inked deals with Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, Mukesh Bhatt’s Vishesh Films, and Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series for their entire existing and upcoming films. Others include Green Gold and Japan-based TV Asahi Corporation for kids’ content, and Tamil Nadu’s V Creations for its superhit films, including Kabali and Theri.

Mobycy Launches E-bikes

Gurugram-based Mobycy, dockless bicycle sharing startup, launched its e-bikes called ‘e-Bycy’. These bikes are powered by Lithium-ion battery and can travel up to 40 kms on full charge, with a speed of 20 km/hr. The company has priced the service at INR 15 for half an hour. The e-Bycy will be available in beta app version in Gurgaon and some parts of NCR.

Ola, Uber Drivers To Go On Strike On Monday; Meru Cabs Introduces Marketplace Model

Protesting against a sharp fall in income, strict regulation for compromising user experience and long working hours, taxi drivers of Ola and Uber will be switching their devices off in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Gurugram and others. The protest, being organised by  Taxi Union unit of Raj Thakre-led political outfit, will also see the participation of drivers’ families.

While homegrown cab service provider Meru Cabs has announced that it is now adopting a marketplace model in the ride-hailing market. For this, the company has enabled its enrolled drivers to set dynamic fares in a bid to attract more customers.

Google Maps Introduces Six New Languages For Voice Navigation

In addition to English and Hindi, Google has brought voice navigation in six additional Indian languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. It has also introduced Zippr like Plus Codes, which are six character Plus city codes for locations. The codes can be generated, shared and searched by anyone by entering into the search field on Google or Google Maps. To facilitate the process of accurate and easy searching on Maps, Google has also introduced ‘Add an Address’ – a feature that enables users, to contribute to the Maps experience from the Google Maps app.

H&M Launches Online Store In India

The company is bringing all its products to Indian customers with H&M’s Shop Online, which will showcase the complete range of its collections and also several ‘online-only’ products. The H&M online store will feature clothing in ladies’, men’s, teens’, kids’, plus-size and maternity wear categories. Additionally, it will offer a complete collection of lingerie and accessories. The move is expected to strengthen its presence in metro cities and also extend its reach to tier 2 and tier 3 cities across India.

Government To Bring Mechanism To Control Counterfeit Products

The initial talks are happening between ecommerce companies, the Consumer Affairs Ministry and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). With the aim of restricting the sale of counterfeit products in the market, the government is looking for more stakeholder discussions. The mechanism is said to be voluntary as the ministry continues the discussions about its aspects including the mechanism to file a complaint about a counterfeit product and to establish whether the product is counterfeit.

Flipkart Launches Technology Centre In Bengaluru

The state-of-the-art technology centre will be operational in next few weeks. It aims to strengthen the technology infrastructure, product capabilities and end-user experience for the company. The company informed that the technology centre will work as a hub to extensively work on re-imagining the product, integrate functions and introduce specialised domains of Machine Learning and Data Sciences. Also, it would be used for aggressive research and development functions in the future while leveraging best practices from around the world.

Ola Starts Its Operations In Sydney

The Indian cab aggregator has hired a local team to build partnerships and support driver-partners. The company is now focusing on investing in driver-partners and supporting them with new technology, training, and ways to increase earnings.The company is also planning to roll out a number of new initiatives for both customers and driver-partners.

Innov8 Launches Center In Cyber Hub Gurugram

The fully-managed office space has the capacity to house over 500 individuals.The new centre is not just a rigorous working zone but offers various activities to rejuvenate, destress and refresh the working entrepreneurs during work hours. The lounge area comprises of recreational elements like guitars, keyboards, slanting net, Xbox, Fussball, etc. Apart from the plush office, the new centre will host occasional investor-startups meetups, ideation workshops, fireside chats, stand-ups, movie nights, family days, networking sessions amongst other events to promote a culture of networking.

Myntra Offers EMI Options

The EMI facility is now available on the platform for some products that are worth $20 (INR 1300) or less. For this, the company has tied up with HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Citibank, State Bank of India, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Amex, HSBC and others and will charge 13% to 15% interest on credit card purchases of selected items that can be paid over three to 24 months. This has been done to “encourage consumers who can buy first and pay later and it will help Myntra compete with brick-and-mortar retailers.”

iCubesWire Launches Digital Marketing Suite, Delta

Delta, launched by iCubesWire, aims to address the problem of marketers i.e. providing one platform for entire digital marketing spectrum. Delta, a SaaS-based engine, will provide access to the dashboard which chronicles all digital marketing reports and data under respective modules with a single login. It also offers a built-in CRM with access to social media ad management, ORM and listening to audit analysis, competition study, influencer marketing, SEO search, creative library, etc. under one portal.

Paytm Payments Bank Powers Food Wallets For 550+ Corporates

A year after introducing food wallet solution, Paytm claimed that the solution has witnessed 50% month-on-month growth since the launch and now caters to more than 550 corporates in the country. This includes companies like  L’Oreal, Hero Motocorp,Shoppers Stop, GAP and Big Basket among others. Aimed to benefit employer, employee and merchants, the solution enables employers to instantly transfer money to food wallets of employees to be used on the go. The company claims that over 68% of the wallet balance has been used at offline food outlets including office cafeteria and restaurants.

ICICI Bank Launches InstaOD For MSMEs

With InstaOD, MSMEs can access the overdraft facility up to INR 15 Lakhs instantly for a year using bank’s mobile banking app. To ensure robust application process, the bank has added an additional level of authentication. The facility is renewable on annual basis, depending on the repayment track records of the overdraft facility. Bank also plans to introduce the online sanction of overdraft facility for MSME customers of other banks soon.

Foodpanda Launches Technology Centre In Bengaluru

The state-of-the-art technology centre will be operational in next few weeks. Ite aims to strengthen the technology infrastructure, product capabilities and end user experience for the company. The company will hire around 100 team members for the centre. Nitin Gupta, Head of Engineering at Foodpanda, will head the Bengaluru-based technology centre.

Bird Group Launches Launderette

With the launch of Bird Apps, the company also launched Launderette, an on-demand, premium-quality laundry service. Launderette’s end-to-end services include free collection and delivery as well as a selection of garment care ranging from ‘wash and fold’, ‘wash and iron’, ‘dry cleaning’ and ‘steam ironing’. After this, the company plans to launch Guide – an organised platform that will connect global travellers visiting India to travel guides and driving their revenues and SIT – a disruptive app allowing gourmands an enhanced experience by pre-ordering at their favourite restaurants.

RBL, CreditVidya Partner For Instant Employment Verification

With the partnership, RBL Bank will instantly verify the employment details of salaried individuals, consequently reducing the turnaround time for credit assessments. The bank’s retail asset (Advances) segment has been growing at a CAGR of more than 60% and it is focused on developing more in-trend products and services.

Verifone Partners With Ezetap For Digital Payment Solution For Merchants

Under the partnership, Verifone’s payment solutions and services, and Ezetap’s software and payment processing will help the companies to deliver simple and secure checkout experiences for merchants and their customers in any sector. Together, the companies will work to develop turn-key, end-to-end solutions that incorporate a variety of applications such as accounting, payroll, real-time inventory management, and loyalty.

Urban Ladder Launches Store In JP Nagar, Bengaluru

The company has opened its third store in the city and comes after recent funding of Urban Ladder aimed to build a strong omnichannel presence. The company plans to expand to 15-20 stores in India by March 2019.  Urban Ladder is offering a ‘consult a designer’ service for this upcoming weekend, wherein customers can book an appointment with one of Urban Ladder’s designers for a free design consultation.

LetsVenture Ties Up With Pioneer Fund To Make Capital Accessible To Y Combinator Startups

Bengaluru-based LetsVenture aims to enable Indian investors to invest in top 10% of the Y Combinator (YC) startups. It is a technology startup accelerator, known for launching 60+ companies valued greater than $100M and at least 10 unicorns with valuations exceeding $1Bn each. Some of the most well-known YC companies include Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe, Instacart, Cruise Automation, Coinbase, Reddit, and Quora.

PayU, Kreditech Launch PayU Monedo In India

PayU Monedo aims to provide cardless EMIs for Indian customers. It enables merchants to expand their business to completely new market segments with the chance of significantly higher sales and lower cart abandonment rates. PayU Monedo offers instant short and medium-term shopping credits for their cart amount at the checkout of popular ecommerce websites.

Govt Of Andhra Pradesh Signs MoU With Belfrics Global To Develop Blockchain-Based Solutions

Under the MoU, Belfrics Global will develop blockchain-based solutions, which will help the government to run its day-to-day affairs in a smooth and systematic manner. The startup will be working closely with the government for identity management, supply chain management, education, payment solutions and business automation.

Sagoon, HT Singapore sign $5 Mn Investment Agreement

The deal with HT Singapore will enable Sagoon to reach nearly 460 Mn Indian internet users, a large chunk of Sagoon’s initial south Asian target market, through different media properties owned by HT Media including Hindustan Times and Mint etc. Sagoon will continue the development of its innovative Social Smart Card, planned for release by the end of 2018, and allowing Sagoon users to earn money while shopping, redeeming coupons, and gifting their loved ones.

Stay tuned for the next edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup News Of The Week!