We bring you the latest edition of Indian startup news stories of the week.
This week, entrepreneurs and investors asked the government to impose strict lockdowns and Section 144 across major cities. Later, the same group of 70 founders also started to work on a quarantine app to track people who have been tested positive and quarantined.
This came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged startups to come up with technology solutions by launching “Covid-19 Solution Challenge.” The government has also planned a crowdsourcing campaign to solve the situation of coronavirus pandemic in the country. PM Modi has also set up an economic task force to deal with coronavirus.
Coronavirus And Startups: Who is Doing What?
Lightspeed India recently hosted a closed-door founders-only online session to facilitate interaction between Indian startups founders and venture capitalists in China so that each group can learn from their experiences during the time of coronavirus. The team advised founders to prepare runaway by cutting costs, raise funding and also plan for contingencies. In an attempt to help small businesses during the times of the coronavirus crisis, social media giant Facebook recently announced that it will be offering $100 Mn in cash grants and ad credits.
The pandemic has hampered the revenue of OTAs such as MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip, Yatra, EaseMyTrip among others due to cancellations and empty hotels. For Razorpay and CCAvenue the transactions processed in the travel segment, accounting for more than 25% of all transactions, have reduced by nearly 35% to 40%.
Online grocery services such as BigBasket, Grofers and Dunzo have also witnessed a rise in their daily orders as a result of the self-imposed quarantine in the urban regions. At the same time, these companies are finding it difficult to meet the surge in the demand.
The ministry of consumer affairs has directed ecommerce companies to maintain best hygiene practices across all last-mile delivery operations as a measure to curb coronavirus from spreading.
Paytm Chief Gives Up Salary Over Covid-19
Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma recently announced that he will be giving up his salary for next two months over Covid-19. He further said that he will be committing that money to help his office-help-staff in these testing times. Sharma said he was inspired by Marriott International president and CEO Arne Sorenson, who said that Marriott Executive Chairman Bill Marriott Jr. and he will receive no salary for the rest of 2020, and the Marriott International executive team will take 50% pay cuts.
OYO Wants To Turn Its Hotels Into Quarantine Centres
Ritesh Agarwal-led hospitality unicorn OYO has asked permission from the government to convert its existing network of hotels into quarantine centres for suspected Covid-19 cases and self-quarantined individuals. OYO spokesperson told Inc42 that the company has already reached out to health departments in all state governments to leverage its hotel chains as makeshift quarantine facilities for travellers, as mandated by any state or central government authorities, at affordable price.
Zomato, Swiggy Consumer Complaints Spike
Between April 2019 to January 2020, a total of 1955 consumer grievances were filed with the National Consumer Helpline about online food ordering and delivery services by Zomato, Swiggy and others. Danve Raosaheb Dadarao, minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution told the Rajya Sabha that with the rise in popularity of online food ordering and delivery services in the last three years, the number of consumer grievances has skyrocketed.
10% Hike In Digital Payments Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Razorpay announced that unified payment interface (UPI), internet banking and payments wallets were the top three modes of payments in February and March 19, 2020. The UPI payments have seen a 19.6% hike, followed by internet banking and wallet payments with 11.5% and 10.3%, respectively.
RBI Limits Use Of Credit & Debit Cards For New Users
Reserve Bank of India released new guidelines which limit the use-cases of all debit and credit cards. It has asked all the banks to mandatorily disable all the cards for online or international transactions, especially for those cards that have not been used previously.
In another update, the RBI is bringing in stringent norms to regulate payment aggregators such as Instamojo, PayU, Paytm and others. The new guidelines which are expected to be launched in April 2020, will include companies to have a minimum net worth of INR 15 Cr by June 2020.
Will UPI Witness Slowdown?
Banks enabling UPI payments will now charge users after 20 peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions. After these, users will have to pay INR 2.5 for transactions under or equal to INR 1000, and INR 5 for transactions above INR 1000. Additionally, 18% of goods and services tax (GST) will also be charged on these transactions. The P2P UPI charges will come into play from April 1, 2020.
Dunzo To Start Testing Drone Delivery In India
The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) allowed Google-based hyperlocal delivery provider, Dunzo, and Bengaluru-based drone maker Throttle Aerospace System to test their long-range drone delivery solutions. However, they still need the approval of the ministry of civil aviation, which may take up to 10 days. Further, it is being reported that Dunzo was looking at the experiment as a way to get a headstart in building a drone delivery solution. The company is looking at drone capability as a competitive advantage.
Ecommerce Giants Focus On Coronavirus Essentials
Because of the fear of lockdown, consumers in India are stocking up on essentials. As a result, ecommerce companies are seeing a surge in demand, which has led to inventory running out for ecommerce marketplaces Amazon and Flipkart, as well as a surge in prices. To counter this, Amazon India has blocked several products that were selling at a price higher than the MRP and Walmart-owned Flipkart is removing products with fake claims and inflated prices on an ongoing basis.
Indian Railways In Talks With Flipkart To Lease Warehouses
The Indian Railways is in talks with ecommerce giant Flipkart to lease out land parcels in smaller towns and cities. With this move, the railway authority is looking to generate some revenue out of the barren land, which otherwise does not have much commercial viability.
Facebook Fixes Bug That Blocked Credible Coronavirus Information
To tackle misinformation amid coronavirus, social media giant Facebook had devised a system to prevent coronavirus related fake-news circulating on the social media platform. But this system was recently revealed to have a major flaw which filtered out many links posted by legitimate sources such as Buzzfeed and USA Today from the newsfeed section of Facebook.
WhatsApp Joins Forces With WHO
Facebook-owned WhatsApp launched two initiatives — ‘WhatApp Coronavirus Information Hub’ and released a $1 Mn fund to Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The company launched the hub in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP).
It will also be providing simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, NGOs, governments authorities and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate. The fund will be used to support fact-checking for the coronavirus facts alliance, which has a presence in 100 locations across 45 countries.
Discovery Launches New OTT Platform
Discovery Channel has recently launched its own online premium video streaming platform called ‘Discovery Plus in the country. The brand new platform will provide content in over 40 genres including science, food, adventure and others, including channels like Animal Planet, BBC, TLC, Discovery Turbo etc. The new OTT platform comes in both paid and freemium pricing models. The paid subscription plan of the Discovery Plus starts at INR 299.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Roundup!