Showing posts from February, 2017

Creating Credibility for Cryptocurrencies

Creating Credibility for Cryptocurrencies
In a bid to create transparency and build credibility, bitcoin startups Zebpay, Unocoin, Coinsecure and Searchtrade on Monday launched Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India (DABFI), a self regulatory body for the orderly and transparent growth of virtual currency market, reports Times of India.
A committee spearheaded by Saurabh Agrawal, CEO of Zebpay with representation from each of the startups has been set up.DABFI will lay down self-regulatory regimes for trading of bitcoins and other blockchain based digital assets. They will also standardise norms such as KYC for member companies. The body intends to liaise with regulators and get clarity on taxation, attract investment, build global relations and actively engage with International community and spread awareness on the cryptocurrency.
"This organization aims to drive education and create market for blockchain and bitcoin in India which is now on the path towards digitisa…

Aadhaar: India's Identity

Shivam Shankar Singh woke last month to an e-mail from an Indian government department, reports Times of India. It had a name, address, mobile phone number and bank account with a code for money transfers and investments made in a dairy farm. None of the details were his. The e-mail contained details submitted to a program that collects personal and biometric data, and was meant for someone from the eastern state of Bihar. Singh, a polling campaign manager for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party in Manipur, a state further east, rang the phone number listed on the e-mail but it didn't work. "That shook me," said Singh, who posted about the incident on Twitter. The e-mail did not request information or ask him to click a link, suggesting it was not a phishing bid, so he did not report it to the police.
"It seemed like a fake identity was made up using my e-mail to corner government benefits," he said. "Or it could've been a mistak…

Message Monetisation

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton was in the capital on the messaging app's eighth birthday on Friday, reports Times of India. Ukraine-born Jan Koum founded WhatsApp with Acton in 2009. At the time, both were former Yahoo employees. Today, the app has 1.2 billion monthly active users worldwide. Of these, 200 million are in India alone, making the country their biggest market globally. The app's acquisition by Facebook in February 2014 for a ginormous $19 billion made global waves in the tech world. Acton spoke with TOI about the how far they have come along, and where they plan to go. Excerpts:
What brings you to India? It is our eighth birthday. I am excited to be in India specifically as it has passed a big milestone for us - 200 million monthly active users making it the largest population of WhatsApp users and also one of our most important markets. We love working with the people of India and building great features. My trip here is really to play a role as an ambassador to…

Getting exclusive content online helps in digital marketing

Getting exclusive content online helps in digital marketing.

Online platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have opened up new revenue streams for Bollywood’s less active or defunct production houses that are grappling with declining sales from satellite TV rights, reports Mint. The platforms are acquiring rights to stream older classics as well as new titles, said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema. Companies such as RK Films, Venus Worldwide Entertainment, Tips Industries Ltd, Mukta Arts and the families of veteran filmmakers like Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra, who own rights to a host of titles produced over several decades, are likely to benefit the most from the growth in Internet streaming. “Old classics that one may not get to see in theatres or even on DVDS anymore have found a new lease of life on OTT (over the top) platforms,” confirmed Rajiv Vaidya, chief executive officer of Spuul, an online video streaming service that streams Hindi film blockbust…

From the Publishers' Perspective

Alphabet Inc’s Google and subsidiary Jigsaw launched on Thursday a new technology to help news organisations and online platforms identify abusive comments on their websites, reports Economic Times. The technology, called Perspective,will review comments and score them based on how similar they are to comments people said were “toxic” or likely to make them leave a conversation. It has been tested on the New York Times and the companies hope to extend it to other news organisations such as The Guardian and The Economist as well as websites. “News organisations want to encourage engagement and discussion around their content, but find that sorting through millions of comments to find those that are trolling or abusive takes a lot of money, labour, and time. As a result, many sites have shut down comments altogether,” Jared Cohen, President of Jigsaw, which is part of Alphabet, wrote in a blog post. “But they tell us that isn’t the solution they want. We think technology can help.”

Creating a Rich Ecosystem for Unicorns in India

Creating a Rich Ecosystem for Unicorns in India

Telangana government will launch an initiative this week which aims to create about 10 unicorns in the next five years to a decade, reports Economic Times. The unicorns would create social impact and wealth. Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad (RICH), headed by former Indian School of Business dean Ajit Rangnekar, is a platform designed to connect academic and research institutions in Hyderabad with entrepreneurs. 
The idea is to allow startups and established companies to collaborate with research and academic institutions in development and commercialisation of innovative products from the fields of healthcare and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and aerospace. After the platform succeeds in Telangana, the plan is to expand it across India and possibly overseas to Africa, said Rangnekar. He said that the team plans to reach out to at least 100 startups and established companies from all three sectors within the first six months.

Free Movement of Professionals

India advocates free movement of professionals at a time when globalisation is under attack.

India will make a pitch for a global agreement to make it easier to travel for work across borders at international fora like the G-20 and BRICS even as increasing protectionism in the West has unsettled the country's services industry, report Economic Times. The commerce ministry plans to reach out to other countries and get potential partners to support its proposed paper on Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) that seeks to remove unnecessary regulations on trade in services, a ministry official said. "G-20 (Group of 20 major economies) and BRICS (association of emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are the right fora to build advantage of coalitions," the official said. Services sector accounts for about 60 per cent in the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and 28 per cent of total employment. Indian IT industry which gets 62 per cent o…

Disappearing Act

WhatsApp has launched a new feature that promises to change the way you use the messenger app, reports Times of India. The company's new feature will allow users to share photos, videos and animated GIFs with friends and family, all of which will disappear in 24 hours. The feature which is similar to Snapchat Stories is being rolled out to WhatsApp's 1.2 billion users across Android, iOS and Windows Phone platform. Jan Koum, CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp, wrote on his blog, "Starting today, we are rolling out an update to status, which allows you to share photos and videos with your friends and contacts on WhatsApp in an easy and secure way. Yes, even your status updates are end-to-end encrypted."
In April 2016, WhatsApp announced that it is using end-to-end encryption in all communication between users. "This new and improved status feature will let you keep your friends who use WhatsApp easily updated in a fun and simple way. From all of us at WhatsApp, we h…

You need the hardware also to survive today

Do software companies like Snap need to become hardware companies also in order to compete with the tech giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google?

Snap Inc takes to the road in London to promote its initial public offering with a daring proposition: That it can build hot-selling hardware gadgets and ad-friendly software features fast enough to stay one step ahead of Facebook, reports Times of India. No longer just a purveyor of a smartphone app for disappearing messages, Snap has hired hundreds of hardware engineers, built a secretive product development lab and scoured the landscape for acquisitions as it pursues its newly stated ambition to be "a camera company." These efforts, which are aimed at developing hardware and so-called augmented reality technologies, are central to the strategy of a company that is seeking a valuation of up to $22 billion in its early March IPO despite heavy losses and the spectre of stiff competition for advertising dollars with a far-larger Fa…

Buying and Owning Ideas in India

Buying and Owning Ideas in India

Google has begun exploratory talks with startups and venture capital investors in the country in what could lead to its first acquisition of an Indian company, according to three people directly aware of the matter. The world's largest internet company is seeking to directly invest in or acquire companies in India that cater to whom it refers to as the next billion internet users, these people said. "Two major areas of focus for them are products for the next billion users and acqui-hires in high-tech areas," one of them said, adding that a transaction is not imminent yet. Another person, an investor, said Google is unlikely to invest in consumer-internet companies such as online retailers.
Google recently hired Seema Rao, who was a vice-president at investment bank Avendus Capital, to lead corporate development, or acquisitions and strategic investments, in India and Southeast Asia. The online search giant dominates the domestic digital…

App Monetization in India

There has never been a better time to be an app developer in India, reports Times of India in an article by Sreeraman Thiagarajan. According to reports referenced in the Economic Times, app downloads on Google Play from India grew from 3.5 billion downloads in 2015 to 6.2 billion downloads in 2016. Based on this report, India now holds the top spot in the world for apps downloaded on Google Play, even outranking the US and Brazil.
As noted in a recent article by Quartz India, nearly 90% of India's over 220 million smartphone users have Android smartphones, so the about 6 billion app download figures comes as no surprise. However, from a revenue perspective, the Times of India reported that India is far behind and does not feature as one of the top ten markets. (According to Android Authority Japan, US, and South Korea rank highest). World over, an article in MarketWire states that iOS and Android app publishers earned over 89 billion dollars in 2016 as revenue from their app, whi…

Co-Working Capitol: NCR offers Shared Workspace

Co-Working Capitol. NCR offers Shared Workspace. Cafes, pubs, bars and hotels offering co-working facilities for additional revenue.
It's still six hours before Nowhere Terrace Pub in Sushant Lok's Cross Point Mall gets its first set of regular tipplers. But there are already people seated inside - all of them working on their laptops. Strange? Well, that's because the pub turns into a shared workspace during the day. It's not the only one. There are at least five pubs in Gurgaon, and one five-star hotel, that have started renting out space - in this case, tables - to those looking for a place to work out of. You can take it for a day or get a deal for a month. Facilities like WiFi and, sometimes, snacks and coffee are part of the package. This also helps the pubs make some money in off-peak hours.
Sameer Dhar, the owner of Nowhere Terrace Pub, says, "I started out as an entrepreneur myself 18 years ago and I understand that, while starting up, every penny matter…

Warning: Disruption Ahead

Could the Uber and Ola drivers organise and become a union of sorts, whether formal or informal? How will this affect other service aggregators?

As the Uber and Ola drivers' strike threatens to spread across the country, it is turning into a windfall for car-sharing platforms and self-drive car rental service companies. Rental companies like Revv, Eco Rent A Car and Zoom have witnessed 20-40% increase in bookings while car pool companies like Orahi and Jugnoo have also seen up to 100% increase in demand in certain critical markets like New Delhi, Gurugram and Bengaluru. As conventional public transport gets more crowded, the app-cab demand is shifting to self-drive rental platforms and car pool services, say industry experts. Take car sharing platform Revv which has seen 40% increase in bookings on weekdays.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Cloud Communications

US online giant Amazon has announced the launch of a "unified communications service" which offers video and audio conferencing through its cloud computing service, reports Times of India. The new service called Amazon Chime from Amazon Web Services -- which provides the online computing power for thousands of businesses -- enables customers to have conversations and video-conferences whether they are using desktop computers, Apple iPhones or Android devices. "Most meeting applications or services are hard to use, deliver bad audio and video, require constant switching between multiple tools to do everything they want, and are way too expensive," said Amazon vice president Gene Farrell.
"Amazon Chime delivers frustration-free meetings, allowing users to be productive from anywhere. And with no ongoing maintenance or management fees, Amazon Chime is a great choice for companies that are looking for a solution to meetings that their employees will love to use.&…

Name of the Game in India

Online gaming leagues are becoming big business in India, with mobile game publisher Nazara Games committing to invest Rs 136 crore in its eSports venture and serial entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala earmarking Rs 80-100 crore for setting up a tournament, reports Times of India. Online games that were once common in neighbourhood cafes and a part of local gaming tournaments are now bringing in big money with winners eyeing cash prize pools worth lakhs of rupees. Nazara Games eSports league will enable gamers hooked on online games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends to participate in tournaments, catch live webtv programs and chat on forums. The Mumbai-based company's investment in the venture will be spread over 5 years. "The league will have two seasons per year and six teams will be selected through free online qualifier tournaments, primarily focusing on games like Dota, Counter Strike and League of Legends," said Manish Agarwal, chief executive of Nazara Games. "…

Decisions, Decisions

When you browse online for a new pair of shoes, pick a movie to stream on Netflix or apply for a car loan, an algorithm likely has its word to say on the outcome, reports Times of India. The complex mathematical formulas are playing a growing role in all walks of life: from detecting skin cancers to suggesting new Facebook friends, deciding who gets a job, how police resources are deployed, who gets insurance at what cost, or who is on a “no fly” list. Algorithms are being used — experimentally — to write news articles from raw data, while Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was helped by behavioural marke­ters who used an algorithm to locate the highest concentrations of “persuadable voters.” But while automated tools can inject a measure of objectivity into erstwhile subjective decisions, fears are rising over the lack of transparency these can entail, with pressure growing to apply standards of ethics or “accountability.” Data scientist Cathy O’Neil cautions about “blindly trusti…

It's a Kind of Magic - using AI to predict the future of a customer's needs

It's a Kind of Magic - using AI to predict the future of a customer's needs.

Kunal Sinha thought it was some kind of a black magic, reports Economic Times. Chatting on WhatsApp, the 20-year-old asked his friend to join him at Domino's in North Delhi. Suddenly, a Zomato pop-up appeared on his chat screen, giving him an option of ordering online. He ignored it. The nearest Domino's outlet was 25 minutes from his place. So booking a cab was the best option, Sinha informed his friend. Again, a popup, offering him a cab ride, jumped on his chat window. Somebody, he presumed, was reading his mind.
Fortunately, for Sinha that 'somebody' was neither a human nor a spirit. It was Xploree - the smart mobile keyboard app in Sinha's Karbonn handset-which was performing 'magic.' "It seems as if there's a personal assistant in my mobile who understands my needs," grins Sinha.
Launched in June 2015, Xploree goes beyond the realms of a conventional ke…

AI Wars

Fighting the Disruptors. Brick-and-mortar retailers and manufacturers are fighting back against the tech giants by investing in AI themselves. Tech giants themselves have and are continuing to invest heavily in AI.

Want a coffee while you shop? A glass of wine? Those are just few of the gimmicks being rolled out by retailers as they fight to boost store traffic -- and ensure their survival in the Amazon era, reports Times of India. Stores are testing artificial intelligence programs to guide shoppers through their aisles, and swipe-right, swipe-left games, that borrow from dating apps to offer them personalized pickings. Others have added coffee shops, restaurants and even alcohol in an attempt to drag consumers away from their laptops and back in the dressing room. "It has to be a better experience" and not just "a simple warehouse of goods," said Chris Donnelly, managing director at Accenture Strategy, a business consultancy. "There's got to be more of …

Remote Control Content

Remote Control Content

When Samsung Electronics remotely disabled the last of its flawed Galaxy Note 7 smartphones last month, it further blurred the lines between who ultimately controls your phone, or computer, car or appliance: You, or the companies that make it work? reports Times of India. Industry executives and analysts say companies are exerting greater remote control over their devices - changing how and whether they work, removing or adding software and content, or collecting personal data from them - not always with permission or with the user's best interests at heart. "(The Samsung case) is exactly an example of how devices...are no longer objects we own, but rather services we've subscribed to and which can be revoked at a moment's notice," said Stefano Zanero, an Italian computer security expert. Mahbubul Alam, chief technology officer at Movimento, a car tech firm now owned by Delphi Automotive, says manufacturers have moved on from just selling …