We bring to you the latest dope of Indian startup news stories of the week.
In one of the major development this week, in a letter to the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) chief Dilip Abse, Paytm has raised concerns that Google has scope to share the payments data of Indian consumers with affiliate companies and third-party users. The letter states that Google sharing and storing user data outside India presented severe security implications in case of a data breach.
In another development, Alibaba has also come forward in support of its Indian portfolio company Paytm on the data localisation move in India. Alibaba Cloud president Simon Hu said in a media statement that the company is localising data in all countries to promote data security. He further said that building trust in Chinese cloud technology to store data overseas is a challenge.
This comes at a time when Google Pay has completed its one year journey in India. Google, which recently rebranded its payment offering from Tez to Google Pay, has 25 Mn monthly active users who have collectively carried out about 860 Mn transactions over the past year. Google claimed about 1.2 Mn businesses in India have adopted the app as their preferred mode of payment. Google Pay is supported by partners Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and State Bank of India.
Important Startup News Stories Of The Week
Drone Regulations 2.0 May Permit Delivery For Food And Goods Too
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) legalised flying commercial drones, and also announced a policy called Drone Regulations 1.0. However, the Drone Regulations 1.0 banned the use of drones for delivery of goods and food. Now, MoCA might green signal the use of drones for ecommerce purposes as well.
Walmart Tax Trouble, Sellers Reach CCI Against Flipkart And More
- Walmart hasn’t paid its due taxes for another 34 stakeholders who exited Flipkart after the US retailer bought the Indian company in a $16 Bn deal.
- A group of online sellers affiliated to Flipkart has requested CCI, to restrict large sellers from participating in the 5-day Big Billion Days sale (Flipkart’s annual festive sale) scheduled to start from October 10.
- Walmart’s fashion subsidiary (earlier of Flipkart) Myntra is reportedly talking to several mall operators in top cities to open multi-brand brick-and-mortar outlets, including large department stores.
- Flipkart has announced project ‘authenticated’ ahead of Big Billion Days. Project Authenticated’ promises a revamp of Flipkart’s portfolio comprising 2000+ perfumes and a seal of authenticity on the listing image, a new feature that showcases brand-approved sellers. This will accompany the launch of 100+ luxury perfumes, debuting international brands such as Shakira and Abercrombie and Fitch.
- Flipkart has introduced a new payment option ‘Cardless Credit’ which will enable millions of Flipkart customers to get an instant credit line of upto INR 60K to make their festive shopping experience affordable while being able to buy more. This is a continuation of Flipkart’s fintech journey which started with ‘Buy Now Pay Later’.
- The current employees of Flipkart will be allowed to liquidate their employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) at $126-128 a unit, depending on the charges applicable. Walmart is obligated to purchase 6,242,271 shares from Flipkart’s ESOP pool of 11,947,026 shares. With this effect, Walmart will purchase from Flipkart employees ESOPs worth nearly $800 Mn.
Amazon India Reduces Seller Fees, Shares Worry On Data Localisation And More
- Amazon India has reduced both its storage charges as well as seller fee in five categories in order to encourage vendors to stock more products ahead of its festive season sale in October this year. The company has also reduced the rates of its Go Local programme by at least 20%, which will enable sellers to bring their inventories closer to their customers by improving their delivery speed.
- Amazon India is looking for more clarity on issues surrounding the operations of its digital payment service Amazon Pay in India in view of the data localisation notice served by the RBI in April. According to reports, its major concern is about the final view of the RBI on data mirroring and the use of the word “only” in the guidelines. The company has also set up a team within the payments vertical Amazon Pay to work on the RBI guidelines.
- Amazon.in launches its largest Fulfilment Centre in Karnataka, spread over around 350K square feet with close to 2 Mn cubic feet of storage space, thereby increased its storage capacity by more than 1.5X since last year in Karnataka. The company now has close to 3.5 Mn cubic feet of storage space in the state.
- Amazon India looks to sell life, health, and general insurance and is looking to carry out the business of soliciting, procuring and servicing insurance as a corporate agent. Amazon is yet to seek approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority in this regard.
Future Group To Launch Distribution Centres
These temperature-controlled distribution centres (DCs) will eventually help manage its entire supply through this network. Once the new model is implemented, the company’s entire food and FMCG products will be supplied from its own distribution centres that are to be located within a range of about 200 km from each of its retail outlets.
CBI Writes Letter To Facebook, Cambridge Analytica & Global Sciences Research
A PE has also been registered. This is being done to probe if Cambridge Analytica had picked data from Global Sciences Research, which relates to the personal data of Indians on Facebook. The probe will see if data was harvested and misused.
Zuckerberg further hints of availing the platform in more regional languages. He said, “There are countries where we need more local language support in general — but that goes beyond just election issues.”
In another development, the Indian government is demanding WhatsApp to come up with a technology to trace the origin of incendiary messages circulated on its platform. The development comes at a time when Singapore parliamentary committee has also suggested the Singapore government to formulate legislation that ensures technology companies rein in over online fake news and that those responsible are punished.
CAIT To Reach CCI Against Amazon-Samara-More Deal
The traders’ body plans to file a complaint with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against Samara-Amazon’s acquisition of the Aditya Birla Group’s food and grocery retail chain More. CAIT secretary Praveen Khandelwal believes international companies such as Amazon would slowly make inroads in offline retail through such deals and would eventually kill small and medium retailers. CAIT has already opposed Walmart’s recent acquisition of Flipkart and had even called for Bharat Bandh on September 28.
Central Govt & IAMAI Clash Over GST Rules For Ecommerce
Foreign ecommerce companies operating in India such as Amazon, Google, among many others will have to register themselves for Goods and Services Tax (GST) in all the states of India in the next 10 to 12 days. The central government has ruled that both Indian and foreign ecommerce companies are to collect tax at source from October 1, 2018.
However, IAMAI has raised objections calling such tax an unfair liability imposed on the sector. As per IAMAI, mandating technological platforms to collect GST for retail activities undertaken by sellers on-boarded on their platform is a contradiction of the intermediary role played by such platforms; and a forceful imposition of undertaking tax liabilities for activities beyond their remit.
Dropping Draft Ecommerce Policy A Regressive Step: CAIT
(CAIT) has written to Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu to oppose the plans of the government to drop the draft of ecommerce policy. CAIT has told Prabhu that this is a regressive step as the country’s ecommerce market has considerably grown in size and scale which needs a codified policy and a regulatory authority to regulate and monitor the market.
Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
FSSAI To Review Delisting Progress From October
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the food safety regulator of the country, will start reviewing the progress made by online food delivery platforms, including Zomato and Swiggy, in delisting non-licensed restaurants and catering establishments in the first week of October. In July this year, the FSSAI had directed 10 online food delivery platforms to debar food business operators (FBOs) that don’t have a license obtained from the regulator.
OYO Expands Operations To The UK
In the next 15 – 18 months, OYO plans to offer over 5000 rooms. OYO has already started its operations in four properties in London that offer more than 80 rooms. The UK business will be led by British entrepreneur Jeremy Sanders, who co-founded the British restaurant chain, Coco di Mama.
PayU Receives NBFC Licence From RBI
With the newly acquired NBFC license, the company is planning to bolster its effort in laying the foundation for its long-term credit business, wherein it estimates that its consumer business revenues will be 40-50% within next three to four years.
Kerala Govt Increases Cap On Store Purchases From Startups To $27,463
The government order is subject to a condition that one purchasing officer cannot purchase more than two application in one year from one entrepreneur. Further, the government has emphasised that the benefit is available only for startups who are registered with DIPP, Government of India and to extend the benefits and exemption of Earnest Money Deposit (EMD), Bid Security, Cost of Tender forms and Security Deposit etc to all startups.
PhonePe Registers 20X Growth In Payment Transactions Across Offline Stores
PhonePe also crossed the 2 Mn transaction mark last month at its offline organised outlets and is all set to scale up to 10 Million by December. PhonePe is also deploying an additional 50K POS devices across cities by the end of this month.
Freshworks Launches An Unified Marketplace
Freshworks has opened a second office in India, at Bengaluru. This will serve as the second engineering site and tap into the talent pool of the region to scale capabilities across the board. It is also launching a unified Marketplace platform. This will allow developers and companies to easily build apps that work with Freshworks’ products.
Ola Launches ‘Ola Bike’ In Agra
The service will enable affordable and convenient mobility while addressing last-mile connectivity in the city. 50 bikes to be available for service by end of the month. With this move, Agra will become the fourth city in Uttar Pradesh and seventeenth city in India to avail the Ola Bike service.
Expansion To New Cities: WeWorK, LenDenClub And More
- WeWork has launched a community-driven collaborative space at Embassy Tech Village, in Bellandur, which is the fifth WeWork location opened in Bengaluru. The new space – Embassy Tech Village – is a software IT park and is in close proximity to residential suburbs like Sarjapur and Whitefield. The five-storey building occupied by WeWork caters to a workforce of around 2500 professionals and houses major startups and enterprises.
- LenDenClub has launched its operations in Hyderabad. With this expansion, the company is targeting long-term growth vision while targeting loan disbursals worth INR 100 Cr through its platform over the next 12 months. LenDenClub chose Hyderabad for its current expansion phase as the city is also a major hub of the IT industry and houses a large number of young professionals who are among the largest users of digital lending services in the country.
- HomeLane has forayed into North India. The startup looks to invest INR 9 Cr in Delhi-NCR in the next six months, It aims to tap 10% of 1.6 bn home interiors market in the region over the next three years.
Instamojo Launches SmartLinks
SmartLinks is an offering to help MSMEs scale their businesses by exercising better control over payment processes and business operations. The move aligns with the company’s vision to digitally empower India’s MSME sector through hassle-free and affordable solutions, aiming to take the customer base from 5 lakhs to 25 lakhs by 2020.The announcement also marks the 6th year anniversary of the company.
SQUATS Unveils Mobile App FITTR
Available on iOS and Android, the app received 5.5K downloads in India within the first night of its launch through iOS and remained on the top position. SQUATS is now expecting 20K-30K downloads by the end of the first month of the FITTR launch. The app offers automated diet charts, BMR analysis, quantified food details, weekly diet chart planner along with healthy food recipes. Once the user feeds in the required data like his/her age, weight and other health details, the app automatically generates a plan based on the information shared.
ManageEngine Launches Browser Security Plus
Browser Security Plus is a browser management solution that helps organisations secure their corporate data in the cloud and protect their networks from web-based cyberattacks. Available immediately, Browser Security Plus provides organisations with a layer of management capabilities for browsers and their add-ons to maintain robust enterprise security.
UberEats Ties Up With Tata AIG, Launches Gift Card Option And More
- UberEats has partnered with general insurance provider Tata AIG to offer comprehensive insurance covers for its delivery executives in India. The programme insures the executives for up to INR 5 Lakh against accidental death and permanent disability, applicable when they are on the road delivering orders for UberEats. The policy also provides a cover of INR 2 lakh against hospitalisation expenses and an outpatient cover of INR 50K per delivery agent.
- Uber recently launched a first-of-its-kind Gift Card, redeemable across Uber and Uber Eats, and available on Paytm and other online platforms. This also makes for an innovative corporate gifting option, with companies choosing the Uber Gift Card as a unique employee gifting option, or corporate rewards and recognition program.
India’s First Underwater Drone Gets Launched
India’s first underwater robotic drone developed at Maker Village, which can send real-time video, of ships and other underwater structures to help with their repair and maintenance, was launched and handed over to the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) of DRDO earlier this month. The first commercial Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)/ underwater drone, EYEROVTUNA, was developed by EyeROV Technologies. NPOL, a laboratory of Delhi-headquartered Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), made the first order of the product.
Europe based Synerise AI & Automation Enters India
The tech company from Europe developing “AI Growth Cloud”, has signed a partnership agreement with Indian company M/s Hagen Impex Pvt. Ltd. The new Synerise Partner supports the vendor’s planned business activities in India, as well as implementations and integrations of Synerise’s AI Growth Cloud in companies that want to boost their digital presence and revenues.
Capgemini Amazon Aims To Help Enterprises Go Digital
Capgemini and Amazon’s cloud computing division Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced a strategic initiative to accelerate enterprise digital transformation via Cloud technologies. With a focus on the European market, the group initiative will help clients enhance business insights, agility, security and cost-effectiveness to drive improvements in their business performance.
PhiCommerce To Enter Credit Segment
The company currently provides an e-Cash on delivery (eCoD) payment solution, PayPhi, which offers a cashless payment option to consumers at the time of delivery. It plans to launch the new feature in the next six months.
GrabOn Targets To Win Over 40% Of The Gift Cards Space By 2020
GrabOn has recently moved into the Gift Cards space citing a massive 3X year on year growth of the gift card industry as a lucrative opportunity. This new venture is expected to bolster the profit margins of GrabOn by 20%, pushing them and the coupons & deals space towards a brighter future. With an aim to win over 40% of the Gift Cards space by 2020, GrabOn hopes to establish itself as an irreplaceable shopping companion for every Indian shopper in the next five years. GrabOn, a bootstrapped startup in the coupons and deals space also celebrated its 5th anniversary on 20th September 2018.
Andromeda Partners With Biz2Credit
Andromeda announced a strategic alliance with US-based fintech company Biz2Credit, which recently marked its foray in India. The collaboration will facilitate Andromeda to leverage Biz2Credit’s financial services technology and patented analytics platform to deliver an innovative and convenient lending experience for borrowers in India.
Google Brings Google One To India
Google is bringing the recently launched cloud storage subscription program Google One to India over the next forthcoming weeks. Google One was first launched in May this year and provides expanded cloud storage to customers along with the ability to for users to share their storage plan with upto five family members.
Yatra Further Strengthens its Position in Corporate Travel
Essel Group, Bridgestone and TATA Consulting Engineers have been added to its customer base. These recent customer wins reinforce the technological prowess and service level quality that Yatra provides. With its PaaS (Platform as a Service) offering for Large and Medium Enterprises and its Self-Booking Platform for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), Yatra is addressing the entire gamut of the corporate travel market in India.
Stay tuned for the next edition of News Roundup!