We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!
This week one of the biggest shake up of the startup ecosystem came when Karnataka government’s transport department suspended Ola’s license and said that the company will not be able to run its aggregator service for any vehicles including cars, autos and bikes for the next six months.
The cab aggregator got into trouble for allegedly violating the license conditions for running bike taxis and also violating government rules. The current suspension order has been issued to Rapido as well.
Also, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has started sending acknowledgement emails to the startups who have filed Form 2 of the Section 56 Exemption Declaration certificate. Startup stakeholders welcomed it as a ‘cursory step’, however, criticised as that “would not suffice anything closer to availing exemption from the angel tax.”
Here’s a look at the other important developments for the week.
Important Indian Startup News Stories
Google Gets Into Travel Biz
Google has quietly launched a hotels booking website with listings from around the world. The destination site which is currently part of its flights finder, was not introduced with much fanfare. The new update of Google’s hotel finder has new filters such as looking for hotel deals instead of only searching by the nightly rate. You can also search by amenity types, star ratings and a maximum or minimum price window.
E-Cigarettes And Vapes Are Not Drugs To Be Regulated: Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court on Monday (March 18) stayed an order issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on the ban of sale, manufacture, distribution, trade, import and advertisement of e-cigarettes and vapes. The order was issued last month. The hearing is now scheduled for May 17.
Flipkart Deploys 100 Automated Robots In Its Bengaluru Delivery Hub
According to the company, the robots which are automated guided vehicles (AGVs), will be working in a tight grid and use collision avoidance technology to ensure free movement. It will be responsible for picking products from a conveyor belt, scan them and drop them down a chute which is assigned to a particular pin code. As of now, Flipkart’s robots are able to sort nearly 4,500 packages in an hour which is reportedly ten times more than a single human would achieve at the same time.
General Elections 2019: Code Of Ethics For Social Media Cos
The social media platforms and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) submitted the “Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Election 2019” to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra on Wednesday evening (March 20). The companies have agreed to create a high priority dedicated reporting mechanism for the Election Commission of India and appoint dedicated teams during the period of General Elections for taking expeditious action on any reported violations.
Movie Ticket Booking Sites Not Allowed To Charge Internet Handling Fees, Says RBI
The RBI stated that online platforms through which movie tickets are booked, do not hold the authority to levy handling fees from customers. The reply further explains that this is in violation of the RBI’s Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) regulations. However, today’s platforms such as BookMyShow, Paytm and PVR cinemas continue to charge exorbitant ‘internet handling fee’ from customers, which is in violation of the MDR regulations and therefore illegal.
Delhi HC Dismisses Plea To Investigate Amazon and Flipkart’s Supply Chains
A two judge bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao passed the order after Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed the court about its already pending investigation on this issue. As per the court affidavit, the ED has registered a complaint and initiated a probe into the violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 or any other legislation by Amazon and Flipkart.
Congress Will Deal With Angel Tax, Ecommerce Policy Issues: Rahul Gandhi
Gandhi’s statement came as a response to an angel investor who said that the entrepreneur’s community is being treated like tax evaders while notices are being sent to the companies they are investing in, during the Indiaprenuer event held on March 18. Gandhi also added that his party will also make necessary changes in the ecommerce policy to ensure that it is fair to all stakeholders.
Facebook Compromised User Passwords For Years: Report
The development comes after cybersecurity reporter Brian Krebs reported the breach, saying that the bug dated back to 2012. Even though the company has not officially given any number of users affected, Krebs report said the investigation so far indicates between 200 Mn and 600 Mn Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by more than 20K Facebook employees.
Govt Encourages Wider Acceptance Of National Common Mobility Card
In a letter, MeitY’s (Ministry of electronics and IT) joint secretary S Gopalakrishnan has directed banks oil marketing companies, top executives of the transport department, metro rail systems and others to accept the use of NCMC cards. Under this, the ministry has suggested the banks to install contactless payment enabled point of sales (PoS) terminals across toll plazas. The banks will have to ensure that all the PoS devices should be able to process NCMC payments.
MakeMyTrip Sues Easemytrip Over Google Ad-Word
The case was filed by the OTA MakeMyTrip last year, which accused EaseMyTrip of “infringement of trademark” using the former’s brand name to come on top of search results on Google. The next hearing has been scheduled on May 8, 2019. According to the court’s order, until further notice, EaseMyTrip has been “restrained from bidding for, adopting and using plaintiff’s ‘MakeMyTrip’ wordmark, whether with the inclusion of space or other special characters in the trademark MakeMyTrip, as an ad-word through the Ad Word program of Google.”
Homigo Case May Go To Central Crime Branch
The case against the Bengaluru-based coliving startup Homigo’s founders — for an alleged fraud of INR 30 Cr may now be transferred to the Central Crime Branch, according to the police sources. The development comes a few days after multiple complaints were filed at Bellandur, Mico Layout, HSR Layout and Jeevan Bhima Naga police stations — against the Homigo’s founders — Nikunj Bhatija, Jatin Mitruka and Aakash Verma. Currently, the Police three teams have been set up to track the founders.
Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week
Google Pay Looks To Rope In Kirana Stores With Offline Payments
Google is now pilot testing a service which will allow users to transfer money using unified payments interface (UPI) even while purchasing offline. This move will bring the convenience of a card in a smartphone. The sources also added that currently small scale pilots are being run across retail stores in India. The rollout of the product is likely to happen over the next few months.
WhatsApp Joins Hands With NASSCOM Foundation To Curb Fake News
According to the company, the partnership is aimed at training approximately 1 Lakh Indians to help them to spot false information and provide tips to stay safe on the platform. The co-created curriculum will help people to be aware of forwarding rumours. The training will include real-world anecdotes and tools which can be used to verify the forwarded messages. Users will also be able to report problematic content to the fact checkers.
Hotstar Launches VIP Subscription Service
Hotstar has launched a new service named Hotstar VIP, a new subscription plan which will allow the users exclusive content under the Hotstar Specials label. With this new plan, users will get to watch Star network serials before the scheduled television timing and the best of live sporting action, including VIVO IPL, ICC Cricket World Cup, Premier League and much more. The subscription charge of this plan is INR 365 ($5.2) per year.
Netflix Tests Cheaper Mobile-Only Subscription Plans In India
The company is testing this plan at INR 250 per month which is half the price of existing basic plan of INR 500. A Netflix spokesperson told Inc42, “We are always looking for ways to make Netflix more enjoyable and accessible. We will be testing different options in select countries where members can, for example, watch Netflix on their mobile device for a lower price and subscribe in shorter increments of time. Not everyone will see these options and we may never roll out these specific plans beyond the tests.”
Freshworks Expands To Singapore
Freshworks announced its expansion into the ASEAN market with support from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). By opening its first regional hub for the ASEAN market, Freshworks aims to expand adoption of its customer engagement suite and increase its network of partner resources to meet accelerating customer demand in the region.
Zomato Introduces 100% Tamper-proof Packaging
Zomato introduced Zomato Safely Sealed; 100% tamper-proof packaging to add an extra layer of safety to food deliveries. Zomato Safely Sealed comes in two variations to fit different sized boxes. The versatility of the packaging design allows for efficient utilization of the space, and the transparent body allows users to check the packaging of the food. The safety seals are made from a single material polymer with 50 microns thickness, and are completely reusable/recyclable.
Stay tuned for the next week edition of Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week!