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11 Indian Startup News Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [18-23 Feb]

11 Indian Startup News Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [18-23 Feb]

DPIIT announced relief for startups from angel tax

OYO expanded to Saudi Arabia and Japan

Sachin Bansal looks to start a new Banking business

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 for the Indian startup ecosystem, the Department of Promotion for Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) issued a notification tweaked the formal definition of startups, increasing the age from 7 to 10 years.

Also, al the startups are liable to receive angel tax exemption regardless of their share premium values given that the aggregate amount of paid-up share capital and share premium of the startup after issue or proposed issue of share, if any, does not exceed, INR 25 Cr.

The news brought festive cheer for the startup community however, a few issues were left untouched. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is expected to issue a notification to issue the details to its assessing officers explaining the mechanism for providing the exemption to startups from angel tax, under Section 56 of the Income Tax Act. It has also sought details of the startups who have received the demand orders.

Here’s a look at the other important developments for the week.

Important Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week

One Week, Two International Expansions: OYO

  • Under its franchise model, OYO has listed 50 hotels with over 3,000 rooms across seven cities in Saudi Arabia on the platform. The company plans to employ over 300 local citizens by the end of 2019, and generate employment for over 5,000 Saudi citizens by 2020.
  • In Japan, OYO has partnered with Yahoo Japan to bring its Living service dubbed as OYO Life. Set to be launched in early March, OYO Life, will enable users to find, rent and leave apartment rooms using a smartphone app. The monthly rental prices will range from $180 (¥20K)- $7,218 (¥800K) as it targets 1,000 listings in Tokyo’s prime areas by March-end.

Data Breach Alert From ixigo And Indane

  • Ixigo is investigating the allegations of a user data breach and maintains that, as of now, “there’s nothing conclusive to show that it has actually happened”. The reports showed that  that 18 Mn records from travel booking site Ixigo have been stolen by a hacker as part of 127 million records it stole from eight websites.
  • Aadhaar details of over 6.7 Mn users containing details such as names, addresses and the Aadhaar numbers were leaked on Indane’s website. The leak happened through the section of the website meant for Indane dealers and distributors, which can be accessed through a username and password.

The Battle Of States To Be The Best Startup Enabler For 2019 Begins

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) announced the second edition of the States’ Startup Ranking for 2019 framework. The ranking framework for 2019 will judge the states’ on their startup initiatives from May 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. The department has also proposed to recognise states and union territories for their “exemplary performance” in seven pillars of the ranking framework, which also includes recognising innovative startup programmes and initiatives taken by the respective state governments.

Policies And Promotion Of New Age Tech

  • Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu has recently said that corrective action will be taken to protect citizens’ privacy and ownership of data. The government is planning to use artificial intelligence (AI) for good governance and proper regulations.
  •  Union Cabinet approved the National Policy on Electronics 2019 (NPE 2019) which aims to achieve a turnover of $400 Bn by 2025 in Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM). This will include targeted production of 1 Bn (100 Cr.) mobile handsets by 2025, valued at $190 Bn, including 600 Mn (60 Cr.) mobile handsets valued at $110 Bn (approximately INR 7,00,000 Cr.) for export.
  • The union minister of commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu launched a startup runway called SWAYATT (Startups, Women and Youth Advantage Through eTransactions) on government e-marketplace. The programme intends to provide an opportunity for startups to reach out to the government buyers by offering their products and services through startup runway corner. However, only the Department of Promotion for Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT)-certified startups will be eligible for the listing.

Here’s How Social Media Cos Are Preparing For May 2019 Elections

  • Twitter has now expanded its political ads policy and transparency approach to India, Australia and all European Union member states in an attempt to enforce stricter policies for political advertisers and providing clear and transparent disclosures of all ads on the platform.
  • Google has announced its plans to support journalists covering the elections by training them in partnership with DataLeads and Internews under its Google News Initiative. To be hosted across 30 cities in the next two months, the training will be given in multiple languages such as English, Hindi, Malayalam, Bangla, Kannada, Gujarati, Odia, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi.
  • Twitter has formed an internal, cross-functional group to lead its “electoral integrity work” through polling day. The team will be using proprietary-built internal tools to protect trends, support partner escalations and identify potential threats from malicious parties.

Social Media Companies To Have Fortnightly Meetings With Govt

A Call From Indian Parliament For Social Media Cos

  • Twitter global public policy vice-president Colin Crowell is likely to attend the February 25 hearing called by the Indian Parliamentary Committee to discuss the issue of safeguarding citizens’ rights on the social media platform. It’s not confirmed, however, if the social media company’s CEO Jack Dorsey will attend.
  • After the recent witch hunt of Twitter, the Lok Sabha’s standing committee on Information Technology (IT) is reportedly planning to summon Facebook and WhatsApp to further the hearing on safeguarding citizens’ rights on social and online news media platforms.

Ecommerce And The FDI Rules Buzz

  • All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA) have reached out to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), asking for stricter ecommerce regulations to prevent companies from arbitrarily changing business terms and taking down seller accounts. Sellers have also demanded more clarity on how Amazon and Flipkart rate sellers along with a exhaustive disclosure on the ranking parameters used by these ecommerce platforms
  • Small vendors on the Flipkart and Amazon selling smartphones and electronics are offering the products at lower prices similar to the preferred sellers such as Cloudtail, Appario and OmniTech Retail. The marketplaces have been looking to onboard new sellers to reduce their dependency on the dominant sellers on their platform in order to comply with the new FDI guidelines.

Some VCs Opine Ecommerce Policy Favouring Large Corporates, Report

Flipkart And Amazon: Traversing New FDI Rules

  • Amazon’s home cleaning private label brand Presto has been selling products in categories such as Harpic, Lizol and Pril at deep discounts. Amazon had made no official announcement about the launch of the private label brand in India. However, the products such as floor disinfectants, paper napkins to dishwashing gel have been up for sale since October 2018. The brand is also present in the US and some other international markets.
  • Walmart-owned Flipkart is building a layer of B2B entities code-named as Alpha which will act as intermediaries between its wholesale arm, Flipkart India and its prominent online sellers. Flipkart has appointed eight to nine such entities as alpha sellers who will be responsible for purchasing goods from Flipkart India and supply them to consumer facing beta sellers who will offer the product on the marketplace.
  • Walmart has expressed disappointment over the Indian government’s revised norms for foreign direct investment (FDI) in ecommerce and hoped for a “more collaborative regulatory process” going forward. Walmart chief executive officer Doug McMillon said the new regulations have not shaken Walmart’s “confidence and excitement” about Flipkart’s long-term prospects.

A Small Stint Of Ola Bike Taxi In Bengaluru

The Karnataka transport department has written to Bengaluru-based ride hailing platform Ola and bike taxi startup Rapido to stop its bike taxi services immediately. Ola had begun pilot testing of the bike taxi services in Bengaluru since the past week. Citing transport commissioner VP Ikkeri, the report added that bike taxi sharing services are not legal in Bengaluru as of yet as the department is yet to finalise the policy.

MX Player Joins Original Content OTT Club

Supported by advertisements, MX player will be available for free to its users. This could be a good initial strategy for price-sensitive Indian consumers. For now, the other popular players in the OTT segment like Hotstar, Netflix, Jio Prime and Amazon Prime are offering paid content with monthly subscriptions ranging from INR 199 to INR 800.

Is Banking The New Plan Of Sachin Bansal?

A media report citing sources said that Sachin Bansal has been in discussions with financial experts on the potential to launch a new venture in the fintech sector. He has reportedly met a few executives at the Reserve Bank of India to figure out the regulatory needs to be eligible to start a bank.

Image Credit: Livemint

Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week

Another Bail Plea By Sonia Dhawan

After the District and Sessions Court, Surajpur-Noida rejected the bail plea of the former Paytm vice president, communications, Sonia Dhawan, over  the ongoing  extortion case, in which she is accused of hatching a plan to extort money from Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Dhawan has now moved to the Allahabad High Court seeking bail.

Noida Police Files FIR Against Uber

An FIR has been registered against global ride hailing giant Uber by the Noida police due to negligence on the company’s part for not having a real time monitoring system and proper police verification of its drivers. The action comes days after an Uber driver was accused for allegedly raping a 21-year-old-woman. After an initial investigation, it was found that the man who arrived as her Uber driver was not the designated driver who was shown on her app.

Zomato Launches Powerpacks To Gold Programme

Under the Gurugram-based company’s Gold programme, with the Gold Powerpacks, users can purchase the subscription-based membership based on their needs as the programmes will not expire. The scheme offers three different packs with the starter pack priced at INR 300 ($4.1) which will allow the consumers to use Gold three times at the partner restaurant any time they want. One can also become a member after purchasing the starter pack and avail special services.

PUBG Mobile Is Developing New Features To Tackle Gaming Addiction

PUBG Mobile India issued a statement, “While we strive to deliver the best possible gaming experience to our fans, we also believe that it is extremely important for us to be a responsible member of the gaming ecosystem. To this end, we constantly work and shall continue to work with different stakeholders, including parents, educators and government bodies, and listening to their feedback on what we can do to enhance the overall PUBG MOBILE experience.”

MobiKwik Offers Instant Life Insurance For INR 20

MobiKwik in association with ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company has rolled out first-of-its-kind group micro insurance product. The offering begins with a life cover of INR 1 lakh available for a monthly premium as low as INR 20. The users have an option to choose from three sum assured policies: INR 1 lakh, INR 1.5 lakhs and INR 2 lakhs, available against monthly premiums of INR 20, INR 30 and INR 40 respectively.

Freshworks Introduces Omniroute

Freshworks has introduced Omniroute™, a new, load balancing engine for multi-channel customer inquiries. With Omniroute™, businesses with multi-skilled support agents can now automatically assign customer queries to agents with available bandwidth. The intelligent routing algorithm by Freshworks auto- assigns customer queries from different channels to agents who can offer immediate support.

Vokal Launches in 10 Vernacular Languages

Bengaluru-based vernacular app Vokal has added 10 additional Indian languages. It is now available in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Oriya and Assamese. Vokal now has over 2 Mn monthly users and is growing 30-50% every month. It plans to cater to 100 Mn monthly users within 2 years.

Truecaller Crosses 100 Mn Daily Active Users in India

Truecaller announced that the company has reached the 100 Mn daily active users (DAUs) milestone in India. Moving beyond just a ‘Caller ID and Spam blocking app’, Truecaller has emerged as one of the most preferred applications and a one-stop communication app for its users offering a variety of services including messaging and payments. Truecaller now has 130 Mn daily active users globally, and over 500K premium subscribers.

MakeMyTrip Launches Zero Down Payment EMI facility for Travel Purchases

MakeMyTrip launched travel finance for customers to avail credit facilities of up to two lakhs to book flights, hotels, holidays or international travel. The customers will be able to pay back in easy monthly instalments of up to nine months at zero interest and with zero down payment.  Currently, this is an ‘invite only’ programme with selected customers having to complete a two-step registration process to be assigned a credit limit to make travel purchases.

Visa Launches Tap To Pay Campaign

The campaign focuses on how the universal behaviour of tapping can become a common payment method, and showcases the simplicity of using the Visa contactless card. This new campaign emphasises the ease of use of contactless payments for low-ticket transactions.

Stay tuned for the next week edition of Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week!