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News Roundup: Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week [July 13-18]

News Roundup: Indian Startup News Stories Of The Week [July 13-18]

Reliance’s 43rd AGM saw the company announce Google as a strategic investor in Jio Platforms

UK-based fintech company Rapyd launched a comprehensive payments option in India

Chinese ecommerce store Club Factory issued notice for suspending payments to sellers

We bring you the next edition of the news roundup: Indian startup news stories of the week!

Major announcements this week came from the Reliance Industries Limited’s (RIL) 43rd Annual General Meeting (AGM). From announcing a strategic investor for Jio Platforms in tech giant Google to demoing a futuristic gadget called JioGlass, India’s most valued company proved why it needs to be regarded as a serious player in the tech landscape. Important announcements were also made in the domain of telecommunications during the AGM, with Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani saying that Reliance Jio has developed a ‘Made in India’ 5G technology, which would be ready for trial once the spectrum is made available in the country. 

Further, Reliance subsidiary Jio Platforms launched an integrated digital healthcare platform, JioHealthHub, which would enable users to have online consultations with doctors, send and store confidential health records safely, and book lab tests, among other services. During his address, Ambani also proclaimed Jio to be the best possible partner for Indian startups, claiming that the company has partnered with more than 20 Indian startups to build world-class capabilities in 4G and 5G technologies, cloud computing, devices and operating systems, Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, among others. 

How Mukesh Ambani Has Built Reliance Jio As A Scale-Up Bridge For Indian Startups

Unicorn Roundup

Ola Turns Fumigation Centres Into Covid-19 Safety Zones

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, ride-hailing company Ola has turned its fumigation centres into safety zones where drivers can check on prerequisites for their rides such as masks, hand gloves and sanitizers. With the country ‘unlocking’ after a nearly three-month coronavirus induced lockdown, Ola has said that it would set up 500 such fumigation centres across the country, as part of its ‘Ride Safe India’ initiative. 

The Ola safety zones would follow various procedures such as cab audits for essential equipment, as well as regular temperature monitoring for drivers and Covid-19 self-assessment tests to be taken on the Aarogya Setu app. 

Paytm raises concerns over phishing with telcos, TRAI

Mobile payments company Paytm has criticised the Telecom Regulatory Authority for India (TRAI), and telecom service providers for failing to clamp down on spam SMSes meant to dupe customers for money. Paytm named telcos Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL), saying they have failed to meet the verification obligation under the TCCCPR (Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations). 

Telecom firms had claimed that no unregistered communications were happening through their platform. However, Paytm annexed a roster of 560 instances of phishing, with its customers losing a total amount of INR 1.1 Cr. Paytm said that more than 50% of phishing instances have happened on BSNL connections. 

OYO Terminates Lease Contracts For Gurugram Offices

Hospitality chain OYO has terminated leases at two of its corporate offices in Gurugram, in Space Palazo and Udyog Vihar, seemingly due to the company facing a cash crunch as revenue remains low because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Reportedly, the company is also negotiating to end the lease on its third office property, Capital Cyberscape, in which it occupied 150,000 square feet (sq ft). The company has invoked the ‘force majeure’ clause to negotiate the early termination of leases. In April, OYO sent thousands of its employees on furlough citing falling revenues during the lockdown. 

OYO Accused Of Trying To List Treebo’s Properties As Its Own On Booking

Fintech Roundup

Rapyd Launches Payments Platform In India

UK-based fintech company Rapyd has announced its entry in India by launching a comprehensive payments solution, to allow international merchants expand their business in India by offering them access to the various local payment methods, including mobile payments solutions, NEFT, credit and debit cards, among others. The platform would also allow Indian users to expand their sales internationally by offering access to 900 locally accepted payments solutions. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a financial disruption for most businesses. Rapyd, keeping the exigencies of the time in mind, also launched an ‘India Solidarity Programme’, through which, it would help businesses go digital with their operations. 

NPCI Raises Scope Of Debit Transactions

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has increased the limit for giving e-mandate on debit card and net banking transactions to INR 10 lakhs per day, up from INR 1 lakh previously. The development comes at a time when digital payments adoption in India has seen a massive surge due to the Covid-19 pandemic. An e-mandate allows customers to make recurring payments by giving standing instructions to banks. People would be able to avail this facility for all categories of service providers who generate periodic bills, except for prepaid recharge.  

UK-Based Fintech Company Rapyd Launches Payments Solution In India

Ecommerce Roundup

Club Factory Suspends Payment To Sellers

Chinese ecommerce store Club Factory has suspended payment of outstanding dues to the sellers on its platform after the application was banned in India due to perceived data privacy threats. In a letter sent to sellers, Club Factory has cited the ‘force majeure’ clause as the reason for suspending payments to sellers. The company said that since the government’s ban was unforeseen, it constituted a ‘force majeure’ event, thereby temporarily freeing both parties to the contract, the sellers and Club Factory in this case, from their obligations as per the contract. 

Later, the All India Online Vendor Association (AIOVA), a body representing the interests of more than 2000 online sellers in the country, sent a legal notice to Club Factory, accusing it violating various provisions of Indian law and threatening to take legal action against the company, if sellers’ dues weren’t cleared in 48 hours. 

Flipkart Begins Partial Prepaid Payments For Products

Ecommerce company Flipkart has begun its practice of getting customers to partially pay for products at the time of order and the rest once the product is delivered. According to Flipkart, this move would help reduce the rate of returns and cancellation for products which are delivered using the cash on delivery (CoD) model. which is currently the most preferred way of ecommerce transactions. It’s both simple and convenient for users who have problems with digital payments. However, for sellers and companies, returning or cancelling an already dispatched order ends up costing more than processing the actual order.

Amazon Sets August 10 Deadline For Sellers To Mention ‘Country Of Origin’ For Products

Amazon has asked its sellers to mention the ‘country of origin’ for products being retailed on the website by August 10, failing which, they could face enforcement action. The move comes after the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), earlier this month, suggested August 1 as the deadline for etailers to display ‘country of origin’ information. However, the ecommerce companies sought more time, saying that a hastened deadline for implementation could harm the smaller sellers and MSMEs who may be unsure about the rules or ways of complying with them. 

Amazon Sets August 10 Deadline For Sellers To Display ‘Country Of Origin’

International Roundup

India, Brazil Lead The Race In App Usage During Pandemic

A recent report by app analytics firm App Annie revealed that monthly app usage witnessed a 40% year-on-year increase in Q2 2020. The report added that monthly time spent on apps in India grew 35% in the second quarter (Q2) of 2020, as compared to Q4 2019. In terms of downloads, India and Brazil were the biggest markets for Google Play Store. India and Brazil also topped the charts for downloads of gaming apps during Q2 2020. 

Aarogya Setu Tops Contact Tracing Apps Worldwide

According to data collated by mobile app analytics firm Sensor Tower, India’s government-built contact tracing app Aarogya Setu has been downloaded by an estimated 12.5% of India’s population. In terms of highest adoption rates of contact tracing apps among the 13 countries surveyed, Australia ranks at No 1, with its government-endorsed contact tracing app COVIDSafe having been downloaded by 21.5% of the country’s population. While India ranks at No 4 in terms of highest adoption rates of contact tracing apps, it ranks at No 1 in terms of absolute downloads, with Aarogya Setu having 127.6 Mn downloads in the country till date. With its 100 Mn+ downloads, India’s Aarogya Setu is far ahead of No 2 ranked Turkey, where a government-endorsed contact tracing app has seen 11 Mn downloads. 

Google For India: Key Takeaways

In a bid to firm up its position as a leading technology provider in the world’s second-largest online market, with more than 500 Mn smartphone users, Google announced a $10 Bn ‘India Digitisation Fund’ to help the country accelerate its digital revolution. Google, during its ‘Google For India’ event, announced that the fund would be used for enabling affordable internet access for Indian users, building India-centric products and technologies, leveraging technology for social good in the domains of education and healthcare, and empowering the small and medium businesses by helping them go digital with their operations. In an analysis of all that happened and was announced during the event, Inc42 listed the four key takeaways from ‘Google For India’. 

From Funds To Edtech Commitment: Four Key Takeaways From Google For India 2020

Stay tuned for the next edition of Roundup!