We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!
This week one of the biggest happenings of the startup ecosystem was that Indian government supported instant real time payment system Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has clocked in 799.54 Mn transactions in March 2019. This is an 18.5% jump from February when it had recorded 674.19 Mn transactions. The value of the transaction for March stood at INR 1.33 Lakh Cr which is 25% higher than INR 1.06 Lakh Cr in February.
Also this week, reports surfaced that Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is now exploring a definition of ‘accredited investors’, who could be provided tax incentives for investments in startups. The accredited investor is being created as a new definition to include trusts, individuals, the family member of a startup and unlisted companies, and hence, enable them to get exemption from angel tax under Section 56(2)(viib) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, beyond the INR 25 Cr limit.
Here’s a look at the other important developments for the week.
Important Indian Startup News Stories
Micromax Cofounder Rahul Sharma Brings Revolt
Rahul Sharma, cofounder of Indian phone maker Micromax, has started a new enterprise called Revolt Intellicorp Pvt. Ltd, with plans to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) based motorcycle. Sharma is setting up the company with a personal investment of about INR 400-500 Cr and is looking to launch the first product in June.
Zomato Records 3x Revenue Growth, Expands To 200+ Cities In India
- Zomato has launched its services in 17 other cities, bringing the total to 213 cities in India. It currently lists over one lakh restaurants and has a last mile delivery fleet of 1.8 lakh partners.
- In its annual report for the fiscal year 2019, Gurugram-headquartered restaurant discovery and food delivery player Zomato said that it has reduced its loss per delivery by 43% in the last one year. While it lost INR 44 per delivery in March 2018, it now loses INR 25 per delivery.
OYO: Japan Plans And Coworking
- Gurugram-based hospitality unicorn OYO has gone live with its ‘OYO LIFE’ services in Tokyo with more than 1,000 residential units. Under this new service, the company will offer fully-furnished apartments on rent to Japanese users.
- OYO Hotels and Homes has partnered with SoftBank to begin its hotel operations in Japan, which will be formed through a joint venture with Tokyo-based SoftBank Corp. and SoftBank Vision Fund. The new venture will be led by Prasun Choudhary, VP Operations and Head South and East region at OYO as the operating partner.
- OYO has launched its own coworking space. Powerstation by OYO is a fully managed workspace for medium and large businesses, startups, and freelancers. The company has opened its first centre with a 500-seater space in Pioneer Square, Sector 62, Gurugram and aims to expand to Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad in 2019 itself.
- OYO said it will be scaling its executive stays offering- SilverKey across 19 cities by the end of the year. The company has further identified corporate travel segment as a key engine of growth for the year and has stepped up engagement in this segment.
Amazon: Sidelining Cloudtail, Exploring More
- One of Amazon’s largest sellers, Cloudtail India is reportedly planning to exit food retail as the ecommerce giant’s food retail arm has committed to scale selling of local food outputs. Cloudtail will no more buy locally produced food and that will be entirely done by Amazon Retail. (ARIPL) Cloudtail is now reportedly onboarding independent sellers to trade imported food products that ARIPL is prohibited from selling.
- Amazon and Samara Capital had acquired Aditya Birla’s retail chain More through Witzig Advisory Services. According to a Ministry of Corporate Affairs filing of Witzig Advisory Services, Amazon has picked up 49% stake in the company, but has only bought 17% voting rights via Class A equity shares and the rest 32% stake through Class B equity shares which don’t have voting rights.
Chinese Etailers Misuse Indian Laws: Local Circles
LocalCircles has discovered that China-based ecommerce companies are yet misusing the laws and are shipping the products in the country as gifts. In a letter addressed to DPIIT, the organisation has said that though the department’s initiatives have led to 60% of the reduction in the incidence of the commercial shipment being delivered as a gift at the Mumbai customs port, however, it is still happening.
Madras High Court Seeks Ban On TikTok, BJP On Helo
- The Madras High Court has passed an order to ban the Chinese video sharing platform TikTok. A two-judge bench noted that the app exposes children to pornography, and makes them vulnerable to sexual predators online. Also, there are reports about third party videos being uploaded on the app without the consent which is a violation of the right to privacy.
- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now looking to ban social networking platform Helo. The workers from Delhi BJP’s social media cell are considering to send a fresh set of complaints to the Elections Commission today (April 5) asking the body to ban Helo in the country alleging China’s interference in Indian elections.
PhonePe & PaySwiff To Challenge Google Pay & Pine Labs
After Google Pay collaborated with Pine Labs for its offline expansion, PhonePe has signed a partnership with the point of sale solution provider Payswiff with an aim to expand its offline merchant base. As part of the association, PhonePe will be made available as a payment option on Payswiff’s POS/mPOS terminals across their merchant base.
Ecommerce Customer’s Data Was Leaked To Orchestrate INR 200 Cr Fraud
On Sunday (March 31st), the Special Task Force (STF) of Uttar Pradesh police arrested the gang leader Nandan Rao Patel who was responsible for the illegal leak of 14 Lakh online shoppers’ data. The leak has allegedly contributed to an online fraud of INR 200 Cr. The gang was targeting customers of major ecommerce platforms such as Flipkart, Amazon, Myntra, Paytm, Snapdeal, Shopclues, and HomeShop18 among others. Scammers used to make fake calls, posing as the representatives of ecommerce companies and convinced customers to transfer money.
Amit Bhardwaj Gets Bail
The Supreme Court has granted interim relief to Amit Bhardwaj and his brother Vivek Bhardwaj — accused in a $300 Mn Bitcoin Ponzi scheme. Speaking to Inc42, Bhardwaj’s lawyer, Deepak Prakash said, “While Amit Bhardwaj has been granted interim bail based on his health ground, the Supreme Court granted bail to his brother, purely based on the merits of the case.
Ola Takes K’tka Transport Dept To Court
Ola’s parent company ANI Technologies has filed a petition against the state transport department at the Karnataka high court for not providing the company with a licence to operate bike taxis in the state. Last week the company was fined INR 15 Lakh by the transport department in exchange for lifting a state-wide ban on the company’s operations.
General Elections 2019: NaMo TV, Congress Manifesto And More
- Social media giant Facebook has removed over a 1,000 pages, groups and accounts for violating Facebook’s security policies. Some of these pages are believed to have links in Pakistan. The company said that it removed around 103 pages, groups and accounts on both Facebook and Instagram for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour as part of a network that originated in Pakistan.
- WhatsApp has introduced a telephonic tip line for its users to report misleading content and fake news. It has created a system in which users can forward offensive messages to an automated account. According to reports WhatsApp is working with a startup called Proto to classify messages sent to the service by users as true, false, misleading or disputed. They will also build a database of such content to better understand misinformation.
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) has reportedly directed its state level bodies to appoint nodal officers who will be responsible for keeping a tab on the spread of fake news, hate speech and other unlawful content across social media companies. In order to keep the social media platforms secure during the elections, the commission has also appointed three nodal officers in New Delhi.
- The opposition complained about NaMo TV, a TV channel which features PM Modi and his speeches besides strong BJP-centric content. The BJP social media handles have been tweeting asking viewers to tune in to ‘NaMo TV’ and NaMo app for the PM’s rallies and speeches.
- As India prepares for its 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister-led Telegu Desam Party (TDP) is leading in terms of political ads spending on Google. The regional party is closely followed by the Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
Framework To Encourage Digital Payments
RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said that in order to have prompt and efficient complaint redress framework for all electronic payment systems, it is necessary to have harmonisation of response time for complaint management and for other payment transactions systems such as reversal of failed transactions across various payment systems. RBI is looking to come up with a regulatory framework of customer-protection measures tailor-made for digital transactions.
RBI Gets Suggestions For Retail Payments
Global digital payment companies have asked the Reserve Bank of India to create a level playing field for the entry of retail payment networks and encourage the formation of national bulk payment networks like RTGS (real time gross settlement) as it looks to open up retail payment systems in India.
Govt Will Target Social Media Trolls: Report
A media report citing senior officials said that the government may explore ways such as mandatory verification of accounts by linking them to mobile phone numbers or Aadhaar IDs to control social media trolls. The rules will apply to existing as well as new users. Trolls and propagators of fake news operate with impunity because of their anonymity.
Now Domain Names Will Get Vernacular Touch
According to Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG), global internet servers will start accepting registration of website names as well as dot extension, in nine Indian languages by June 2019. Currently, only Devanagari script (script of Hindi language) and .bharat extension are accepted in website names. The nine Indian scripts that will be fed into the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) root servers are Bengali, Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Tamil and Telugu.
Narrowbank IoT Tech: Reliance Vs Airtel
NarrowBand-IoT is a technology built on low power wide area (LPWA) network. LPWA is a network, designed to support affordable and remote internet of things (IoT) applications which have slow data transmission speeds, and requires long battery life. Reliance Jio had reportedly launched a NB-IoT pilot in Mumbai in 2018 and is expected to launch commercial services in the next few months.
Apple Begins Manufacturing iPhone7 in India
Premium smartphone maker Apple has started manufacturing iPhone 7 model in India, in addition to iPhone SE and iPhone 6s. It is being speculated that with this, Apple may explore the possibility of exporting the devices to global markets and that the company will invest the margins made from these devices into a more aggressive sales and marketing play.
Paytm Money Is Now A Stock Broker
Paytm Money has now received a green signal from the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to offer stock broking service to its users. With this, users will be able to buy shares by using Paytm Money. According to the company, in order to offer stockbroking services, it plans to introduce new products and offerings through its app such as investing and trading in equities, derivatives, currency, commodities, ETFs and other exchange traded products.
Placio Expands to Kuwait
In a strategic move, PLACIO, a Student Housing company has announced its foray into the International market thus venturing for the first time into the co- living segment. PLACIO has partnered with Kuwait based Managed Housing Company, Arabian Link for its first overseas venture.
WittyFeed Consolidates India Biz, Launches CatchUp
WittyFeed has announced the launch of “CatchUp”, a social infotainment startup that will give users the opportunity to stay on top of trends online via an audio-visual format. An essential offering of CatchUp is that the media-rich content is served to the user in nuggets of [3 sec – 3 mins], making the platform first-of-its-kind in India.
Stay tuned for the next week edition of Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week!