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11 Indian Startup News Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [25-30 Mar]

11 Indian Startup News Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week [25-30 Mar]

Flipkart has given in-principal approval for spin off of PhonePe

Bail plea for Homigo founders denied

Ola ban lifted in Karnataka

We bring to you the latest edition of News Roundup: Indian Startup Stories Of The Week!

This week one of the biggest happenings of the startup ecosystem came when the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) exempted incorporation fee for the startups that have incorporated nominal capital of less than or equal to INR 15 Lakh. This notification has come into effect from March 18, 2019.

Also, this week the income tax department has reportedly informed around 120 startups that they are eligible to receive an exemption from paying angel tax on the funding raised from angel investors. With this, the startups can now produce the intimation from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) before the tax officers who had issued the notices. Once the assessments are completed and final tax demands are issued, the companies can produce the exemption certificates at the stage of appeal to a higher authority within the tax department.

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

Important Indian Startup News Stories

PhonePe To Spin Off Independently From Flipkart

Walmart-owned ecommerce giant Flipkart has reportedly given in-principal approval to its online payment subsidiary PhonePe to be setup as a separate entity. PhonePe will be allowed to set up an independent board and raise fresh funding from external investors. Flipkart’s existing investor Tencent, Flipkart cofounder Binny Bansal and some other private equity funds have shown their interest in investing in the payment application.

Walmart India Avails UPI Payment Option For Its Kirana Members Via PhonePe

WhatsApp Yet To Comply With Data Localisation Norms

In a case being heard by the Supreme Court, the Reserve Bank Of India reportedly said that the company is yet to comply with the data localisation ruling. The bank regulator also said that it is exploring regulatory actions in order to expedite compliance of data localisation norms.

Ola: Driver Protests, Short Ban And More

  • Over the weekend, Karnataka’s transport department banned Ola cabs, bikes and autos in the state for six months as it allegedly violated the license conditions for running bike taxis and also violating government rules. However, on Sunday (March 24), the ban was lifted with a fine of INR 15 Lakh on the company.
  • On March 25 (Monday), vexed by the heavy charges by Ola as part of their lease agreements, and other grievances related to Ola’s policies, over 150 Ola drivers are protesting outside Ola’s S R Layout, Murgeshpallya office. The grievances also include the behaviour of Ola executives with partner drivers, differential pricing and blacklisting of drivers based on user inputs.
  • Ola strengthened its UK presence with services in three new cities in UK, after local councils granted the company licenses for both taxi and private hire cars. The platform is set to go live on April 1 in Birmingham and Reading where the process of driver onboarding is already underway. The company has also launched promotions with free auto rickshaw rides in Liverpool.
  • The company is planning to invest over $500 Mn (INR 3,448 Cr) to launch its own self drive rental service. Ola is planning to launch the service in seven cities by deploying over 10,000 vehicles including luxury sedans and SUVs under its ‘Ola Self-Drive’ Category in the coming weeks.

Breaking: Cab Drivers Stage Protest Outside Ola Office In Bengaluru

Google Pay: Gold Investment Plans, Partnership With Pine Labs

  • The India office of the technology major Google has collaborated with Pine Labs, a popular retail software and hardware maker to work on enabling offline transactions on Google Pay through Pine Labs’ Unified Payments Interface (UPI)-based digital payments product. With this collaboration, Google will have access to over 330K point-of-sale terminals spread across more than 3K towns in India.
  • Google Pay is planning to introduce Gold-backed investment plans for its users. Though the feature is yet to be formally announced, an updated clause in the company’s terms and conditions page, spotted by data platform, has tipped off users about Google’s plans. The service named Google Pay Gold services will allow the users to buy, sale and invest Gold using the application.

Homigo Fraud Case: Bail Denied To Founders And More

  • The bail plea of the three cofounders of Bengaluru-based coliving startup Homigo — Nikunj Bhatija, Jatin Mitruka and Aakash Verma filed last week at the Bengaluru session court — has been rejected by Bengaluru Sessions Court. The Homigo founders are accused of running away with about INR 20 Cr, worth funds from the deposits and rents paid by tenants residing in its more than 100 leased properties across Bengaluru.
  • Beyond multiple police complaints been filed against the company’s employees, an FIR has also been filed against three employees. And they are not just facing a backlash from the police and Homigo tenants but have also been left in losses in terms of their personal investments into the company’s fund and backlog salaries.

Not Just Tenants, Homigo Founders Swindled Money From Employees Too

General Elections 2019: Preparations And Supreme Court Case

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) has faced the wrath of the Bombay High Court for failing to come up with any orders regulating political advertisements on social media 48 hours before polling day. Even though, ECI counsel Pradeep Rajagopal denied there was any apprehension on its part, the court said the ECI’s conduct through the hearings made it apparent that it was “hesitant” to bring about such regulation. The court has reserved its order and said it will pass appropriate orders.
  • In preparation for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, social media giant Facebook has launched an exclusive feature for India – ‘Candidate Connect’. This new feature will allow India’s Lok Sabha candidates to record their election manifesto in form of 20 second videos and share it with their constituents.

SEBI Bars 12 Websites, 3 Unregistered Investment Advisors For Fraudulent Market Tips

SEBI has issued an ad interim ex parte order against three illegal investment advisors –Rishabh Jain, Ubaidur Rahman and G. Kadar Hussain. The trio has been alleged for a fraud of over INR 10 Cr and SEBI has directed them to cease and desist from acting as an investment advisor.

Sebi Proposes Changing Certain Norms For Startup Listing

Amazon’s Indian Offline Plans

  • With its digital payments subsidiary Amazon Pay, the company is reportedly expanding the scan and pay feature to neighbourhood stores. The company has already enabled the scan and pay feature in department store chain Shoppers Stop and will soon set up the necessary infrastructure at grocery chain More.
  • Amazon plans to roll out more than 100 kiosks in malls across the country that will sell its devices such as the Kindle ebook reader, the Echo speaker and the Fire TV dongle by the end of the year, a report said citing sources. The company is reportedly looking for 70-80 sqft kiosk space, which will run by third-party franchisees.

Nokia Owner HMD Wants To Restart Exports From India

Finland-headquartered HMD Global, which makes Nokia mobile phones is reportedly in talks with its Taiwan-based contract manufacturer Foxconn to export handsets from India, as it plans to become the top three smartphone makers in India. After it restarted operations under HMD Global, Nokia has captured around 8.5-9% share in the feature phone market in the country and around 3-3.5% share in smartphones market.

Smartphone Users In India To Double By 2022, Says Report

Myntra-Jabong Launch A Headphone With An Inbuilt Fitness Tracker

Flipkart-owned fashion etailers Myntra and Jabong have launched a Bluetooth enabled smart hearable device named Blink Play under inhouse label. The device will offer audio functions with advanced fitness tracking features. With this device, users will now be able to enjoy a host of functionalities related to fitness in conjunction with Blink Fit App such as tracking daily activity such as steps, distance, calories while answering calls, listening to music etc.

Indians May Soon Vote Online

The central government has certified an online voting startup called Right2Vote. With this certification, Indian voters staying out of the country or have moved to other states will be able to participate in elections in the future. This facility will not be available for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as it is currently waiting for parliamentary approval.

Other Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week

Hungama Joins Hand With AI Startup CoRover To Offer Music Service On IRCTC

Mumbai-based online entertainment company Hungama has partnered with Bengaluru-based SaaS-based startup CoRover in order to offer a new video and audio streaming service to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) users. According to the company, it will offer its services through AI-enabled chatbot named ‘Ask DISHA’  which is available on the IRCTC website and mobile app. With this, users will be able to listen to songs and watch videos on Hungama Music by accessing it from the chatbot.

Flock Launches Email And Calendar For Businesses

Flock Business Email is a tool from the Flock stable that will change the way organisations communicate with each for the better. With features such as a highly engaging UX, conversation threads, native desktop app, antivirus and integrated video conferencing, Through seamless integration with business email, Flock Calendar is a must-have tool that is packed with features such as meeting reminders, shared calendars, multiple calendar support, and meeting scheduler.

 Walmart Foundation Supports IDEI For Smallholder Farmers

Providing a grant of $750,000, the Walmart Foundation will help IDEI take its Integrating Smallholder Farmers Into Market Systems program to ten districts in the state. The program aims to introduce sustainable irrigation products and practices and create a complementary support ecosystem that will boost farm yields, reduce negative environmental impacts, and increase market access and smallholder farmer income. The program is expected to generate an additional $7.4 Mn in annual farming income in the state at the end of the project period, with individual gains of $400 per smallholder farmer household per year.

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