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Showing posts from August, 2016

Justice Digitised

Justice Digitised
Times of India reports that a New Zealand judge gave permission on Tuesday for the hearing of German tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom's appeal against his extradition to be streamed on YouTube, making it the country's first court case to be broadcast on the internet. The six-week hearing opened in Auckland this week, nine months after a lower court ruled Kim Dotcom could be sent to the United States to face copyright infringement and money-laundering charges over the file-sharing website Megaupload.
The case has been closely watched by the media industry and developers in the file-sharing business for signs of how far the United States is willing to go to protect US copyright holders. "It's very important that the entire world gets to see the courtroom," said Dotcom's lawyer, Ira Rothken. "The internet isn't run by any one nation, so we thought the solution itself would come from the internet."
SJP @DigitalAsian

Your digital footprint can influence your credit rating

Your digital footprint can influence your credit rating. Corporations are tracking customers' digital footprints to fine tune the services they offer to individuals.
Economic Times reports that with a large proportion of people in India not having any credit history, banks are exploring alternatives to found out more about them and take an informed lending decision. Banks are now tracking digital footprints, to give a boost to their retail loan book.
SJP @DigitalAsian

How to Tax Digital Disruption

The EU continues to think of ways to make money from Silicon Valley tech firms.
The EU is planning major changes to copyright laws to allow European news publishers to charge fees on search engines that show snippets of their news articles under the fair use provisions.
The EU is trying to tilt the balance more in favour of the news publishers. This will increase the animosity between the EU and US tech firms over tax, privacy and competition.
US lobbyists in Brussels and EU lobbyists in Washington DC - at least the lobbying industry is making money.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Creating global tech companies in India

Creating global tech companies in India
Aiming to incubate 50 early stage startups and create at least five global companies over a period of five years, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), has set-up Electropreneur Park at University of Delhi, South Campus, an official statement said here on Saturday, reports the Times of India.
The park was inaugurated by information technology and electronics minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. This incubation centre has been set up through a consortium of the government, academia and industry represented by Software Technology Parks of India, Delhi University and Indian Electronics and Semiconductor Association.
The incubation centre has already on-board six early stage startups, with a few more in the process of on-boarding. The startups under incubation were awarded the admission certificate also, the statement said. Electropreneur Park has received over 200 proposals for incubation so far.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Transitioning from Startup to Scaleup

Startup needs both vision and execution to scaleup.
Economic Times article on Can India make the transition from a startup nation to a scaleup nation? by Sanjeev Aggarwal, senior MD at Helion Venture Partners: I have been fortunate enough to participate in two new industries in the last 15 years — the outsourcing sector which today comprises about 9% of Indian GDP, and the consumer internet industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy. If we execute right, the consumer internet sector could add 5% to our GDP over the next decade. Both industries are primed to be the pillars of modern India.   However, the big question that is still unanswered in the Indian consumer internet sector is this: Can India make the transition from a startup nation to a scaleup nation? As a venture capitalist who gets to meet young tech entrepreneurs for a living, I have been dazzled by the quality of teams that are coming out to build companies in the tech sector.   This young breed has no …

Channelling Startup Energy and Ideas in India

Reality TV stars about to get some new competition. Startup entrepreneurs compete with Bollywood stars  for media attention. Indian government wants to channel attention onto startup energy and ideas and boost the startup ecosystem. 
Economic Times reports that a reality show for Indian startups along the lines of Shark Tank is in the offing. The unlikely planner of the show is the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), which is in the process of conceptualising the programme it wants to air on India's national broadcast channel Doordarshan. "We will hire an agency to scout for startups and investors to feature on the show. Actual funding will be provided to the winners," a senior DIPP official told ET.   
But the department doesn't want to stop there. Despite fears that India's startup bubble may be losing a tiny bit of air, it feels there's a vast appetite for more adventures in entrepreneur-land. DIPP has written to the ministry of informat…

Banking on Social Media and Education to Get More Clients

Messaging apps now used in banking.
Ever thought of tweeting for a mobile recharge? Or Facebook-ing for a fund transfer? Banks are making advents in social media banking with an end to easing transactions for customers reports Times of India. 'iMobile SmartKeys,' launched by ICICI Bank last week enables customers to pay bills, transfer funds via chat, messenger, email or games without having to exit their current application in their smartphone.Customers need not switch tabs or applications to access 'iMobile' making for faster transactions.
And the fact that social media banking has its adherents is proved by the user base of "Pockets by ICICI Bank," which lets you transfer money to a friend, buy movie tickets, recharge your mobile via Facebook Messenger , SMS or Gmail. "We have had more than 4 million downloads at ICICI Pockets since our launch last year. One doesn't need to know the account number, bank branch or IFSC code to send money to any co…

Search Rankings according to website functionality

After Facebook, google now take up the battle against ad-blockers. Google will now use website functionality as another factor to set its search engine rankings with a change to its algorithm.
Google is set to give lower search rankings to websites that have intrusive pop-up adverts. Google is changing its algorithms which are used to rank search results so that such websites are more likely to get lower placings. This change is due to come into effect on 10 January 2017. Google gets a lot of its revenue from ads on the mobile web and Google may want to give users one less reason to use ad-blockers or search within apps instead.
SJP @ DigitalAsian

On the Blockchain Bandwagon: Digital Settlement Systems

Major banks are developing their own digital equivalents to Bitcoin for their settlement systems.
Santander, BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, ICAP and UBS are together developing a digital-only cash system to work on the Utility Settlement Coin (USC) which will be for their institutional clients. It will use blockchain technology used in Bitcoin. Its success will depend on the system being widely adopted by other financial institutions. Other top banks, like Goldman Sachs and Citi, are developing their own digital-only payment systems.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Devanagari gets a Digital Boost

The Hindi Devanagari script gets a digital boost.
Startup Data Xgen Technologies has started a paid email address service in Hindi characters or Devanagari script, and plans to roll out free registration of such IDs on the lines of Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo soon reports Times of India. "A few hundred IDs have been created till now on .bharat domain, which is available in Devanagari script. Anyone interested in Hindi script ID can visit our website and buy email package as per their need," Data Xgen Technologies Founder Ajay Data told PTI.
An email sent from these addresses is supported by leading service providers like Gmail and Microsoft. "Besides communicating in Hindi, people can send emails from addresses created in Hindi script to Gmail, Outlook and some of the other addresses. We wish to start a free email id on .bharat domain soon just like Gmail of India for Hindi domains and soon we will work with government to do that," Data said.
To bring more people on …

Providing Digital Identities to Promote Digital India

Giving digital identities to villagers in remote areas is one to promote involvement in India's digital economy.
In an attempt to promote digital literacy among villagers under the Digital India campaign, Hirachuni, a small village, about 23 kms from here in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand has been identified for the purpose, reports Times of India.
According to the 2011 census, the literacy rate among the male members is high. The village has a population 300 persons in 60 houses and majority of them have access to Internet. Initially, we have identified a small village Hirachuni, near National Highway 33, under Jamshedpur block as majority of the population were literate and have the facility to access Internet, District Public Relation Officer of East Singhbhum Sanjay Kumar said.
Kumar visited the village on Sunday and held meeting with the villagers including present and former gram pradhan, ward members, representative of Pragya Kendra and youths in this regard. He agre…

Support services in the startup ecosystem get wacky

Startups that support other startup entrepreneurs. Support services in the startup ecosystem get wacky.
Times of India reports that people made and lost money in the 1848 California Gold Rush, but only one man made a fortune that survives to this day. The man was Levi Strauss, and his business was not mining gold, but making hardy clothes for miners – the denim overalls which launched a $60 billion industry and a brand name that still has value. Something similar is happening in Silicon Valley, contends David V Johnson at The Baffler. “Sure, most coders are frenetically chasing down the next Pok√©mon Go – but the real innovation is taking root at the companies exploiting the desperation of tech’s gold hunters,” he writes. And one group that’s poised to make a killing off Silicon Valley insecurities are the nootropicists, the makers of ‘creativity and brain-boosting supplements’ called nootropics. The idea is packaged in a way that would appeal to the tech-savvy coders of the valley. T…

Time for Entrepreneurs to Prioritize their Time

Should entrepreneurs, who have investors in their startups, also themselves be investors in other firms, thereby not giving enough time to their own startup?
Economic Times reports that after the heady flow of capital and the aggressive growth of the last two years, for founders and investors in Indian technology companies 2016 is a year of calibration and introspection. With capital flow slowing and job cuts becoming prevalent across startups, the environment for emerging businesses is undergoing a change. To gauge the pulse of startups in this period of churn and the challenges they face, The Economic Times conducted an exhaustive survey of the most influential entrepreneurs and investors in the country. The first part of the survey's findings, published last week, focused on the Big Picture—will domestic startups be able to triumph over the US giants; when will investor sentiment improve; and despite the doom-and-gloom, is it still a good time to startup.   
In the second inst…

Foreign HNIs looking for Startup Opportunities that Disrupt in India

Foreign HNIs looking for Startup Opportunities that Disrupt in India.

Funding may be hard to come by from big-name investors for established startups looking for growth capital, but early-stage ventures are finding support from wealthy individuals based overseas — both foreigners and those of Indian origin, reports the Economic Times.   The view of Indian startups from abroad is rosy for these early-stage investors who see a mix of homegrown innovation that addresses local problems, and a big market to boot. Which is why, when Mumbai-based startup Repaireasy was looking for funding, it found support from angel investors not just at home but also as far away as Australia.   "We are very bullish on the Indian startup market and certainly there will be many more deals to come," said Ben James, an Australian who joined forces with compatriot Chris Dorrough to participate in a funding round for Repaireasy, which specialises in fixing electronic gadgets. "The sky is the limi…

Digital India opening up new sources of income for the innovative

Digital India is opening up new sources of income for the innovative: India's Bounty Hunters.
3 years ago, faced with the challenge of repaying an education loan, then 20-year-old Manish Bhattacharya was desperate to make money, reports Times of India. So, Bhattacharya, a student of computer science, focused all his energies on one thing: bug bounties. Bug bounties are monetary rewards offered by tech firms to geeks who spot bugs, errors and security flaws before malicious hackers spot them. Bhattacharya got his first bounty of $100 in 2013 from Asana, a firm that lets teams track their work, for reporting a minor security glitch. In 2 years, this Bhagalpur lad earned enough to square off his loan and become financially independent.
"My highest reward is $5,000 (about Rs 3.5 lakh) paid by Google," said Bhattacharya, who was rewarded by the technology giant for reporting a remote login vulnerability. Bhattacharya isn't the only desi bug bounty hunter saddling up and …

India's Got Talent ... that startups need to try harder to attract

India's got talent but the startups are having a tougher time attracting and retaining this talent.
ESOPs, an all-time favourite retention instrument among startups and e-commerce firms, are losing their magic to draw top talent according to the Times of India. This is obvious with the chips going down for e-commerce and startups, and valuations hitting a new bottom. According to leading headhunting firms, Heidrick & Struggles, Longhouse Consulting, BTI Consultants India, Hunt Partners India, RGF Executive Search, the supply for talent at the top is drying up by almost 50%. In just a year, it is getting tougher for search firms to attract top talent despite heavier toppings of ESOPs as part of compensation, these firms said.
"It was already a scramble for talent at the top. Unlike a year ago, it is getting even more difficult to attract top talent in the e-commerce and startup space," said Vikram Chhachhi, a principal at Heidrick & Struggles' Mumbai office. …

Food For Thought in Online Food Delivery

Aggregators need o ensure good, consistent service to the sellers and service providers on their platforms.
Several restaurants are now backing out from food tech and hyper-local delivery platforms such as Swiggy and Shadowfax due to high commissions and patchy delivery services reports Times of India. While some restaurateurs said high commission fee of up to 25% on the price of an order charged by delivery platforms has made it unsustainable, restaurants also blame delayed pickups, shabbily dressed delivery boys and deteriorating standards of food delivery for their exit. "The basic problem with the industry is that they fail to deliver an experience similar to what we give our customers in the restaurant," said Ashutosh Jha, associate vice-president for R&D at TGI Friday's, which closed ties with food delivery players Shadowfax and FastOx.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Online marketplaces getting ideas from offline retail

Online marketplaces getting ideas from offline retail. Online marketplaces are trying out new ideas around commission and credits for sellers to entice consumers online.
E-commerce marketplaces in India are trying out innovative ways to work around curbs on offering discounts as they prepare for the biggest shopping opportunity of the year in the upcoming festive season reports Times of India. Amazon has decided to cut the commission it gets from some large and preferred sellers by 30-50% on the condition that the saving is passed on to consumers, according to executives from four large online sellers. Non-preferred sellers may have to bear the discount entirely, although the online marketplaces will help liquidate their old stock through promotions and prominent displays.
Flipkart and Snapdeal are coming up with a similar strategy, sellers on the two platforms said. They plan to offer credit to sellers, equivalent to the discount offered, a practice that's common in offline trad…

India in the mood for startups

India in the mood for startups. 
Economic Times reports that you may think it's not such a great time to be a startup founder. Valuations are sliding, fund-raising is not all that easy, and not too many startups can boast about profits.   But if you listen to what the majority of the most influential people in India's startup sector have to say in a first-of-its-kind survey, there is no better time than now to begin a career in entrepreneurship. 55 per cent of those polled in an ET survey of startup founders and investors believe that now is the ideal time to launch a business, demonstrating widespread underlying optimism about the future of new-economy ventures. "If you're able to deliver margins and traction, there is money available. In fact it reduces the fight for dollars with poor businesses run by savvy founders," said a Gurgaon-based founder.   
The somewhat surprising mood of optimism, and other not so-surprising findings, were gleaned from a survey of …

Biyani Betting his Future with Alibaba rather than Amazon

Biyani Betting his Future with Alibaba rather than Amazon.
Kishore Biyani's recent partnership with Paytm for selling Big Bazaar products on the latter's site is part of his broader strategy to build an alliance with Alibaba, Paytm's largest shareholder, reports Times of India. Alibaba plans to debut its business-to-consumer (B2C) site Tmall in India in 6 months and one of the options being considered is morphing the Paytm marketplace into Tmall, said two people aware of the matter. Biyani's Future Group will be a key seller on Alibaba's B2C platform, they said. They added that Biyani has ended Future Group's exclusive selling arrangement with Amazon that was forged in October 2014.
Future Group is India's biggest retailer and home to chains such as Big Bazaar, Easyday and Central. "India is an important emerging market with great potential and we are absolutely committed to developing this market for the long term. But we do not in principle discuss …

HR AI in the Digital Economy: How to keep your boss happy

Recent news that India's Infosys has developed a predictive algorithmic tools that can help it control attrition, even while it prepares to roll out several HR initiatives such as its iCount app which will have a feedback feature. These tools will help Infosys look at which staff are most likely to leave the company and who are likely to rise to higher management. Will AI in HR help in fostering the team spirit?
SJP @DigitalAsian

Controlling Content on Social Media Platforms

Facebook needs ad revenue and ad blockers are a headache for the bottom line. It's a cat and mouse game between social media companies and ad blockers. The tech giants want more control over what is displayed on their platforms and not leave it to third parties.
FB is blocking ad blockers on the desktop version of its service, saying well-made, relevant ads can be "useful." reports the Time of India. At the same time, the world's biggest social media company says it is giving users easier ways to decide what types of ads they want to see -- unless, of course, the answer is "none."
Ad blockers filter out ads by refusing to display page images and other elements that originated with a known ad server. But Facebook has found a way around this. Beginning Tuesday, the desktop version of Facebook will show users ads even if they have ad blockers installed. The changes don't affect the mobile Facebook app, which brings in the bulk of the company's adverti…

AI Ideation

News in the media is that another AI system is being set up as a hedge fund. Machine learning at financial markets is a fast growing sport. Finance computing is increasingly taking into account more complex factors that affect markets. AI systems will soon be able to develop investment strategies going beyond simple algorithms. A number of startups are applying AI to financial trading.
Soon AI systems will be able to develop ideas of their own.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Screening Back to the Future

The first home TVs that came out in the 50s and 60s had curved screens. Then came the age of flat screen TVs. Then smartphones came on the scene with flat screens. Now curved screen smartphones are in vogue. Screens for consumer viewing are turning full circle.
Times of India reports that South Korean giant Samsung may embrace curved screens in a big way. The company has hinted that it may completely ditch flat-screen models in the future Galaxy S devices. In an interview, Samsung Mobile chief Dong-jin Koh told Korea Herald website, "Samsung has considered that it would make the edge display as the identity of the Galaxy S smartphone lineup if the company can provide consumers differentiated user experience through software and user-friendly functions (for the curved screen)." If Koh's statement is any indication, we might see next year's edition of Galaxy S (likely to be called Galaxy S8) sport dual-curved screen.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Asia's P2P Marketplaces Gaining Ground

Carousell, a Singapore startup, has raised $35 million in funding. The popularity for peer-to-peer mobile marketplaces in Asia is growing. Carousell, founded in 2012, allows users to buy and sell items on an online marketplace. Just as OXL in India has gained popularity. Sellers upload photos of the items they'd like to sell while buyers use the chat function to buy.

This form of mobile trading is gaining ground in Asia. The latest funding is to be used by Caousell to enter new markets and it has hired Chai Jia Jih, former MD for Southeast Asia at Airbnb, to progress the expansion internationally.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Licence to Print Money, Cryptically Speaking

Bitcoin, the crypto-currency, is not yet real money. 
Times of India reports that according to a Florida Judge, Bitcoin is not real money. Ironically, that could provide a boost to use of the crypto-currency which has remained in the shadows of the financial system. The July 22 ruling by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Pooler means that no specific license is needed to buy and sell bitcoins. The judge dismissed a case against Michel Espinoza, who had faced money laundering and other criminal charges for attempting to sell $1,500 worth of bitcoins to an undercover agent who told the defendant he was going to use the virtual money to buy stolen credit card numbers.
Espinoza's lawyer Rene Palomino said the judge acknowledged that it was not illegal to sell one's property and ruled that this did not constitute running an unauthorized financial service. "He was selling his own personal bitcoins," Palomino said. "This decision clears the way for you to do that in the…

Protecting Brand Reputation with Private Conversations Online

Twitter is helping brands maintain their reputations with new features. Twitter is looking at new feature for brands that puts its messaging button in a central location and encouraging customers to start their conversations with the business via direct message, DM, instead of publicly. Many businesses use Twitter to respond to their customers but often that involves getting angry tweets which are in public view.
Twitter is now making a change to the way profiles are displayed on mobile to encourage users to use direct messages rather than public tweets. The new button appears on mobile and takes over the full space where the "Tweet to" and "Message" buttons were. With this feature customers can start a private conversation with the company concerned and thereby, hopefully, prevent public tweets which may be critical of the brand.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Rules of Social Media Marketing Change Again

Facebook is changing the rules of social media marketing again. Its news feed algorithm is set to change again. The social networking platform has declared war on clickbait headlines that enter its News Feed. According to the social media giant, media reports with clickbait headlines will be lowered down on users News Feed. FB says that they're making an update to News Feed ranking to further reduce clickbait headlines. 
FB says that it spent time looking at clickbait headlines and also noted from which websites these type of articles are usually posted. The process was later automated. FB says News Feed will continue to learn over time — if a Page stops posting clickbait headlines, their posts will stop being impacted by this change. FB says it will continue to update how they identify clickbait. In a statement, Facebook said that most pages won't witness any significant changes, 
SJP @DigitalAsian

Social Venues Technology

Using technology called geo-fencing, companies can see every public posting on a social-media platform done from within their properties. This technology is used by hotels or restaurants or concert venues, for example, to engage with their customers. Companies can see, e.g., Twitter feeds, Instagram photos and Facebook posts to see what customers are saying and monitor any trends that could be used for marketing.
SJP @DigitalAsian

Facebook Begins to Compete with Amazon and Flipkart

Facebook throws down the gauntlet to Amazon and Flipkart
Times of India reports that Facebook is to let small businesses in emerging markets sell to customers for free directly through their Facebook pages, the social media company said on Wednesday, marking a new effort to build up potential advertisers in its fastest-growing regions. The move is Facebook's first foray onto online commerce in emerging markets. The company launched a service last year allowing some merchants to sell items through paid ads on Facebook's app. The latest service will instead be free, and purchases can be made through merchants' own Facebook pages. By making sellers more reliant on Facebook, the company hopes that more businesses in emerging markets will eventually decide to become paying advertisers.
"If a business is seeing value from their page, there is a higher opportunity that they could be an advertiser," said Benji Shomair, product marketing director of Facebook Pages, in an…

How long can investors tolerate a startups' cash burn rate?

What does Uber's recent deal with China's Didi Chuxing mean for the Indian market? 
Economic Times comments "A few were conspicuously speechless — Ola, the India market leader and rival to Uber, and Ola's main investor SoftBank. Two sources that ET spoke to also believe that Didi Chuxing and Uber may have signed a non-compete agreement for international markets. "It is likely that a clause for Didi to not compete with Uber in markets outside China or not finance any competition further is a part of the deal," said one of them. Another said that under the terms of the pact, Didi cannot directly operate in markets Uber is present in, which means that in India it can invest a little more in Ola (its stake is in the single digit percentage) but cannot be the single-largest owner."
Is Uber Feeling the Cash Burn in India? How long can investors tolerate a startups' cash burn rate?
SJP @DigitalAsian

Getting the GST Rate Right

The GST rate will impact e-commerce and telecoms in India. If Modi wants Digital India to succeed, he will have to get the rate right.
Times of India reports that India's top telcos have urged the government to resolve a bunch of sticky issues before implementing the goods & services tax (GST) regime, calling for uniform rate across states/union territories (UTs), with a cap of 15%. A higher GST rate, they said, would drive up cost of provisioning services, and in turn, hurt both prepaid and postpaid consumers by way of higher phone bills.
The call for a uniform tax rate for telecom services under the proposed GST regime stems from the fact that circle boundaries are not in sync with geographical borders of states/UTs in several cases. Failure to do so, they said, could lead to tax complications in some big markets with the prospect of differential levies within the same circle, resulting in pricing discrepancies, non-compliance, customer complaints and business disruption.
SJ…

NaMo's Idea App and Digital Cabinet: APPolitical

NaMo has his Idea App to communicate with Ministers. NaMo gets APPolitical

Economic Times reports that when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently wanted to pick the brains of his ministers on which 70 pro-poor government initiatives could be explained in simple terms to people in the run-up to the 70th Independence Day celebrations, he did not wait for the weekly Cabinet meeting. Modi sent a message on July 21 to a private group of ministers he administers on the Narendra Modi mobile application. Many responded soon enough, including Smriti Irani, Jitendra Singh, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Rajiv Pratap Rudy. A detailed plan is now being drawn up.   
This is Modi's Digital Cabinet, not visible to the public on the My Network section of the Na-Mo app. Started almost two months ago, it allows ministers to chat freely with the PM on ideas and programmes. Modi has a second private group on the app that comprises Bharatiya Janata Party's members of Parliament. Modi is planning…

Finance and HR: 2 big headaches for startups

Finance and HR: 2 big headaches for startups
Times of India reports that a clutch of B2B e-commerce players are seeking to attract more business by helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) address the issue of recruitment. Ahmedabad-based startup Tradeohub, an end-to-end supplier for SMEs, is one such company. It has tied up with local human resource or hiring firms as it found that recruitment is the second biggest challenge faced by SMEs after finance. "Manpower retention and recruitment is a major issue among SMEs but unfortunately it's the least talked about," said Akash Domadiya, co-founder of Tradohub.
Tradohub started supporting SMEs by providing manpower recruitment facility via its tie-ups with local HR firms, bridging the gap left by reliance on spread of information through direct references and word-of-mouth popularity. This has helped it attract more SMEs on its platforms as they get access to HR consultancy firms for their recruitment, training and othe…