We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!
In one of the most important developments this week, PCI submitted its recommendations to Nilekani Committee. Some of the key recommendations include transactional parity, seamless access to payments infrastructure and KYC bureau, ‘on tap licensing’ and risk-based regulations. PCI also recommended strengthening the board of payment and settlements system with a full-time independent payment expert.
Also, Paytm recorded 221 Mn transactions while PhonePe and Google Pay clocked nearly 220 Mn transactions each in January. Interestingly this leaves barely 11 Mn transactions for other players such as Amazon Pay, Freecharge, Mobikwik etc. Reports also surfaced that UPI may receive a massive boost in digital transactions as major internet companies such as Ola, Uber, Amazon Pay and Samsung Pay look to float their own UPI handles.
Here’s a look at the other important developments for the week.
Important Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
TikTok Committed To Complying With Local Regulations
Beijing-based internet technology company, ByteDance (owns TikTok) has reportedly been lobbying Indian Government in order to save its largest foreign market. This week, the Tamil Nadu IT minister M Manigandan intended to initiate a discussion with Centre on banning ByteDance-owned TikTok due to the type of content being circulated on the platform.
Twitter Responds To BJP Allegations, WhatsApp-Govt Tussle And More
- Twitter has clarified its stance that they — “do not take any actions based upon political viewpoints.” Last month, the BJP-led social media volunteer group had written to the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology alleging that Twitter was being biased against their accounts.
- The Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology is looking at options to send a ‘strong’ message to Twitter after its top officials declined the committee’s call to be present at the hearing scheduled at 3 pm today (February 11). Twitter officials were summoned after a right-wing and pro-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) group called ‘Youth for Social Media Democracy,’ staged a protest outside Twitter India’s office in Delhi last week reportedly alleging that “they (Twitter) block our accounts and impressions of the tweets.”
- A technical glitch in the micro-blogging platform Twitter, caused a global uproar after its users experienced a fluctuation in the number of likes and retweets since yesterday (February 12). The social media company confirmed the issue and said that it was working to fix the issue.
- Irked by the rampant spread of fake news and pornography on WhatsApp, Indian Government is reportedly asking the platform to allow more insight of online discourse, even though it means violating end-to-end encryption policy of the social messaging service. WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook has reportedly refused to comply with Government’s demands. This step puts WhatsApp in risk of facing a shutdown in its biggest market.
Amid Uncertainty, Brands May List Directly On Amazon, Flipkart
- As the marketplaces look for legal loopholes, a few brands such as Bosch, Puma, Dyson, Siemens, BPL and Bagrry’s etc are looking to take the matters in their own hands. On December 26, 2018, the government notified changes in FDI rules for ecommerce which prohibits large online marketplaces from controlling inventory of its partner sellers and also from having any exclusive product launches.
- In another development, Amazon has reportedly suspended its plans to acquire stake in Kishore Biyani’s Future Group. The company is also reconsidering its deal to buy stake in Aditya Birla’s More chain of grocery supermarkets. However, in an email response to Inc42’s query, Amazon claimed the reports to be mere speculation.
- Also, in the aftermath of the FDI ecommerce rule, Amazon India has reportedly reduced its commission charges to attract more independent sellers and establish itself as a friendly marketplace. The commission has been lowered down by 35% for famous fashion sellers and by over 50% on specific FMCG categories, according to a media report.
- Amazon has found itself in a legal tussle after Delhi-headquartered health and wellness product provider Modicare took the company to court for selling its products “illegally”.
Zomato Rolls Out Delivery On Bicycles And More
- Zomato aims to convert 40% of the fleet to power-assisted bikes. At present, the company has over 5,000 cyclists operating across 12 cities in India, with the majority of the fleet pushing the pedal in Delhi NCR.
- Also, on Thursday (February 14) Zomato’s blog post titled “Food Hygiene Ratings: More than a Band-Aid” showed that rivalry was alive and well. The post came just a day after a Swiggy user from Chennai discovered blood-stained band-aid from his food. Zomato’s article, however, did not refer to the incident directly, settling for just a quick shot at Swiggy in the headline.
- In another development, Swiggy has forayed into the delivery of an on-demand hyperlocal category, from flowers and vegetables to health and supplements, with the launch of ‘Swiggy Stores’ integrated within the app.
Facebook Adds New Indian Fact Checkers
Ahead of the general elections in India, social media giant Facebook has onboarded five new partners as a part of its third-party fact-checking programme to curb the spread of misleading and fake news. The company has joined hands with the India Today Group, Vishvas.news, Factly, Newsmobile and Fact Crescendo for this initiative. As a part of this programme, the companies will check the facts of news stories shared on the social media platform and rate their accuracy.
Data Localisation: Wipro Vs NASSCOM
Indian IT major Wipro has supported the data localisation requirements proposed by Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) in the draft of Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018.
However, according to NASSCOM, “The requirement to have a physical presence in India may act as a disincentive for platforms to enter the Indian market, and deprive Indians of access to foreign platforms.” Group mentioned that such a policy change would go against the ethos of a free and open internet.”
Draft Guidelines On Social Media A Threat To Privacy
In the fresh development over the government’s draft bill to regulate internet companies, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents mobile operators such as Jio, Idea, Vodafone and Airtel termed the amendments on intermediaries guidelines under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act as ‘vague’ and can violate the privacy of users. The lobby is of the view that there’s no absolute guarantee, however, that government-draft Intermediary guideline will bring a stop to the new-age digital plague — misinformation, fake news, etc — by regulating the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
Paytm Money Integrates Paytm Bank
Users of Paytm’s wealth management vertical, Paytm Money, can now make mutual funds investments on Paytm Payments Bank as well. Following this integration Paytm bank’s 42 Mn users can make their Paytm Money account as the primary bank account for investment and redemption of the mutual fund.
Also, last month, Paytm and ICICI Bank Ltd signed an agreement according to which One97 Communications’ pledged its current assets worth a total of INR 7,085.1 Cr. (as on 31 March 2018) to the bank in order to increase the startup’s borrowing capacity to INR 1400 Cr. Until now, Paytm had the borrowing capacity upto INR 400 Cr.
Data Protection, Privacy To Form Core Of Draft Ecommerce Policy
The policy will also focus on developing India’s position in global trade negotiations. Last week, senior officials from Ministry of Commerce had said that the ecommerce policy is almost ready and will be announced soon.
Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
Gagaoolala Plans To Foray Into India
Southeast Asia’s first LGBTQ-focused online video streaming service, Gagaoolala is reportedly planning to enter India this year. The Taipei-based company is owned by Portico Media, which also runs the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival and Queermosa Awards. According to the company, Gagaoolala’s name is a combination of two slang phrases used to describe gay people in Taiwan.
Shemaroo Launches Video On Demand Service
The platform will provide diverse and exclusive content across various verticals namely Bollywood, Gujarati, Devotion, Punjabi, and Kids to target different age groups. It will allow the users to select content as per their choice. It was reported last year that the company was looking to launch its own online streaming app over the next six-nine months.
ITC Buys Into Ecommerce
ITC Limited, is reportedly planning to onboard premium products into its recently launched ecommerce website, itcstore.in, as it seeks to expand its market share in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) segment of India. It initially plans on selling these products online to consumers based in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata, and depending upon the success, it will expand on scaling it up to other cities.
CCI May Pursue Google For Abusing Android’s Market Position
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is reportedly digging into the accusation against Google for misusing its popular Android mobile operating system to block other rivals. The CCI has been reviewing the case for the past six months and is in the lines of a similar case faced by Google in the past.
OYO Denies Talks To Acquire Keys Hotels In India
OYO Hotels and Homes has said that it is not in talks with Los Angeles-based venture capital firm Berggruen Holdings to acquire their company Keys Hotels in India as was earlier reported. According to a media report, Keys Hotels has been scouting for buyers and has an estimated debt of about INR 160 Cr ($22.4 Mn).
Stay tuned for the next week edition of Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week!