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 Dish TV shareholders cite corporate governance issues for EGM call

Minority shareholders at Dish TV have flagged questionable investments made by the direct-to-home operator and said that its board has lost credibility and the trust of public shareholders. The shareholders, who Dish TV said on Monday have called for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM), have said the board is not acting in line with good corporate governance standards.

The minority shareholders hold a 10.15% stake in the company and include individual as well as institutional investors such as IndusInd Bank, Aditya Birla Capital and Phoenix ARC. While IndusInd Bank holds a 2.34% stake, Phoenix ARC holds 1.24%, according to Dish TV’s shareholding pattern as on March 31, 2023.

The shareholders have also sought the removal of two directors from the board.

The promoter family, led by Jawahar Lal Goel, has a 4.04% stake in the firm. Yes Bank, which is also seeking a reconstitution of the board, has transferred its 24.19% stake to JC Flowers Asset Reconstruction, as per the firm’s shareholding pattern for the March quarter.

Speaking to FE, Rahul Hingmire, partner at Vis Legis Law Practice, a Mumbai-based law firm representing the 77 minority shareholders who have asked for the EGM, said one of questionable investments was `1,218 crore Dish TV put into its over-the-top platform Watcho in FY20.

“This was 20% of the total net block of the fixed assets, intangibles, investments and capital WIP (work in progress) of `6,012 crore in FY20. This investment was qualified in FY20 and in FY21. Upon lenders and investors questioning the investment, the company has made an impairment of `203 crore in FY22,” Hingmire said.

The two directors whose removal has been sought have a long association with Dish TV and Essel group, he said. Rashmi Aggarwal held directorship in other Essel group entities — Dish Infra, Zee Media, and Essel Forex — till Feb 2019, while Shankar Aggarwal was a director in Essel Infra projects till November 2018.

The minority shareholders have also asked for the induction of three new directors: K Badri Narayanan, Satish Kumar Yanmandra and Jeet Sen Gupta.

“We have received the notice yesterday (Monday) and informed all the stock exchanges accordingly. As stated in the disclosure filed by the company, the same is being evaluated and shall be place before the board of the company. The company shall take all such actions and steps as may be required in terms of the applicable laws and procedure,” Dish TV said in response to an email from FE.

The promoter family of Dish TV has been embroiled in a legal tussle with Yes Bank over board representation for the last two years. The company has been unable to pass its annual statements for FY21 and FY22 and the feud led to the departure of former promoter-backed chairman Jawahar Goel in September last year.
- by: (Financial Express)Top  



 Airtel Q4 consolidated net beats street estimates, up 50% at Rs 3,006-cr

Bharti Airtel (Airtel) on Tuesday reported a consolidated net profit of ?3,006 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31, a jump of 50 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) as compared with ?2,008 crore in the corresponding period last year.

Total revenues were also up 14.3 per cent y-o-y to ?36,009 crore during the January-March quarter as against ?31,500 in the same period in FY22 , the company said.

The company said 4G data customers were up by 23.3 million y-o-y and mobile average revenue per user (ARPU) increased to ?193 in the fourth quarter of FY23 as compared with ?178 in the same period in FY22.

Its rival, Reliance Jio reported an APRU of ?178.8 during the March 2023 quarter.

Airtel also said the Board recommended a final dividend of ?4 per fully paid-up equity share of face value ?5 each and ?1 per partly paid-up equity share of face value ?5 each (paid-up ?1.25 per share) for the FY23.

The dividend is in proportion to the amount paid-up on each equity share of face value ?5 each.

“This has been another strong quarter as we end the fiscal year having further strengthened our portfolio. Our consolidated revenue grew sequentially by 0.6 per cent, while EBITDA margin expanded to 52.2 per cent despite there being two fewer days in the quarter,” Gopal Vittal, Managing Director, Airtel, said.

Acquiring quality customers
He said the company’s focus on acquiring quality customers has resulted in 7.4 million new 4G customers, as exits the quarter with an industry leading ARPU of ?193.

“A simple strategy and our relentless focus on execution has ensured that we close the year with market share gains across all businesses. We are also pleased to see the increased velocity of our digital deliveries across all parts of our business. This has been due to our sustained focus on digital platforms and talent. We continue to ramp up our 5G roll out and expect to connect all major towns and key villages by the end of this year,” Vittal added.

Airtel India Mobile services revenue during the reported quarter grew 12 per cent y-o-y to ?19,549.3 crore from ?17,526.2 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

The annual revenue of the mobile services business in India also grew by 21 per cent y-o-y to ?5,924.6 crore in FY23 from ?62,915.1 crore in FY22.

For the year ended on March 31, Airtel’s net profit almost doubled to ?8,346 crore from ?4,255 crore a year ago.

The consolidated revenue from operations of Airtel for 2022-23 increased by 19.3 per cent to ?1,39,144.8 crore from ?1,16,546.9 crore at the end of 2021-22.

Capital expenditure
The company’s capital expenditure in India more than doubled to ?8,989.4 crore in the January-March quarter in FY23 from ?4,276.7 crore a year ago, it said.

The majority of the capex of ?6,647.1 crore was deployed in the mobile business as the company continues to build up a pan-India 5G network, it added.

Airtels’ total customer base increased to 51.84 crore in March 2023 quarter from 48.97 crore a year ago. Its customer base in India grew 4.7 per cent to 37.53 crore during the reported quarter from 35.83 crore in the same quarter last year. The company reported 11.6 per cent increase in 4G customer base to 22.41 crore from 20.84 crore in March 2022 quarter.

Shares of Airtel closed at ?787.85 apiece on the BSE on Tuesday, down 1.27 per cent from the previous close.
- by: (Business Line)Top  

 Bharti Airtel Q4 results: Key takeaways for investors

Airtel reported Q4 results that can be viewed as broadly inline to positive. While revenue missed consensus (Bloomberg) by 1.8 per cent, EBITDA margins were better and EBIDTA was inline versus consensus.

EBITDA margin was strong at 52.2 per cent, up by 20 basis points Q-o-Q and by 140 basis points Y-o-Y. EPS beat expectations by four per cent. Overall, the beat on EBITDA margin outweighs the revenue miss.

Segment performance
Airtel’s India and its small South Asia business accounted for 70 per cent of revenue/EBITDA, while Africa business makes up the balance 30 per cent.

Within this, Airtel’s India mobile business is the key fulcrum accounting for 54 per cent of revenues and nearly 56 per cent of EBITDA.

Airtel’s India mobile business has continued to match up to close competitor Reliance Jio (RJio) in terms of growth. In Q4, Airtel reported Y-o-Y revenue and EBITDA growth at 12 and 19 per cent, respectively, matching RJio revenue growth of 12 per cent and exceeding RJio EBITDA growth of 16.7 per cent.

ARPU was flattish Q-o-Q at ?193. While some may view this as slightly disappointing, this too was not different from trend witnessed at RJio which reported flattish ARPU at ?178.8.

The other key segment within India operations – Airtel Business (13 per cent of consolidated revenue), which mainly consists of B2B connectivity, cloud and allied services, too delivered good performance with Y-o-Y revenue growth at 14 per cent.

Africa business with presence in 14 countries in the continent, grew revenues and EBITDA (in $terms) by 19 and 17 per cent Y-o-Y, respectively. It continues to present a good growth opportunity with mobile data customer base (3G/4G) at 39 per cent of Airtel’s mobile customer base. The same in India is at 70 per cent now.

What should investors do
Airtel continues to be on a path of steady progress — consolidating its position in India mobile business, tapping incremental opportunities in the B2B and other segments, and tapping growth opportunities in Africa. Trading at one year forward EV/EBITDA of 8.3 times (five year average at 8.7), the risk-reward remains favourable for the stock. A strong position in Indian mobile market at the cusp of 5G revolution, and well levered to digital connectivity trends that are likely to grow at an exponential pace in the current decade driven by themes like IoT, autonomous driving/connected cars, drones, etc are in its favour although these themes will take a long time to gain scale.

Overall, current and long-term fundamentals make the stock an interesting bet. We maintain our earlier accumulate rating on the stock.
- by: (Business Line)Top  

 BSNL launches OTT pack to improve subscriber stickiness

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- by: (Economic Times)Top  

 DoT Launches AI-based Portal for Tracking and Blocking Stolen Mobiles

Mobile phone users can now track and block their lost or stolen devices through the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) artificial intelligence (AI) based portal that was launched on Tuesday.

With the help of the portal, the device can be deactivated even if the new SIM card has been inserted as the device is tracked through its unique identification number (IMEI), telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said at a briefing.

Through the portal, a mobile user can know if more connections are taken on his or her name fraudulently and the same can be blocked. Thirdly, the system can check how many mobile connections a user has taken.

“We are launching three consumer-centric reforms today and two more will be announced in the coming months,” Vaishnaw said. He said with the Central Equipment Identity register (CEIR), users can track, and block lost or stolen mobile phones and also check how many connections are taken on their behalf. The minister said the Sanchar Saathi portal uses an AI algorithm to determine the number of connections taken by a user. “With the portal, any phone connection that is taken in your name across the country will be found out. For example, if somebody has taken a connection in your name in Jamtara, you can get it blocked,” Vaishnaw said.

Further, the government will deactivate fraudulent accounts with the help of the portal. Since much of the fraud calls have shifted to WhatsApp, if any account has been notified as fraud, its corresponding WhatsApp account will also be deactivated.
- by: (Economic Times)Top  

 Jio on track to cross 500 million subscriber mark by FY26: ?Bernstein

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- by: (Economic Times)Top  

 Some PE investors in Reliance Jio may look for an exit: report

Some of the investors in Reliance Jio may look for an exit, said research and brokerage firm Bernstein. In 2020, global investors pumped in $20 billion for a 33 per cent stake. This includes strategic investors (Meta and Google) receiving 18 per cent stake, while private equity investors like Vista, KKR, Silverlake, PIF, etc. investing for a cumulative 15 per cent stake.

“As typical PE holding period being nearly 4 years, we expect some investors to look for an exit (more details likely in AGM in June/July),” Berstein said in a research report.

Source: Company reports, Bernstein analysis

While the exact timing of the exit is not known, Reliance has been looking to list its telecom and digital business on the stock exchange. The investors could time their exit accordingly.

Meanwhile, Jio’s subscriber share had increased to 43.6 per cent in Q3 FY23, while Bharti Airtel’s share increased to 33.4 per cent last quarter. On the other hand, Vodafone-Idea’s subscriber share came down to 23 per cent.
- by: (Business Line)Top  

 VIL still needs additional liquidity to survive, says Vodafone Group

While pegging the value of its stake in Vodafone Idea (VIL) at zero, London-based Vodafone Group said the Indian company still needs additional liquidity to survive.

In its results for March quarter, Vodafone PLC said in February, VIL issued shares to the Government of India equivalent to Rs 16,100 crore (€1.8 billion), representing the net present value of interest accrued on both deferred spectrum auction instalments and AGR dues, per the relief package announced in September 2021 by the government.

"VIL remains in need of additional liquidity support from its lenders and intends to raise additional funding. There are significant uncertainties in relation to VIL’s ability to make payments in relation to any remaining liabilities covered by the mechanism and no further cash payments are considered probable from the Vodafone Group as at 31 March 31, 2023," it said in a statement.

Vodafone Group owns 32.29 per cent stake in VIL while Aditya Birla group owns 18.07 per cent stake in VIL after the government picked up 33 per cent stake in the loss-making company. On Indus Towers, Vodafone group said VIL’s ability to satisfy certain payment obligations under its Master Services Agreements with Indus Towers is uncertain and depends on a number of factors including its ability to raise additional funding. Under the terms of the Indus and Bharti Infratel merger in November 2020, a security package was agreed for the benefit of the newly created merged entity, Indus Towers, which could be invoked in the event that VIL was unable to make MSA payments.

The security package included a cash prepayment of Rs 2,400 crore (€279 million) by VIL to Indus Towers in respect of its undisputed payment obligations, due under the MSAs after the merger closing. The prepayment was fully utilised during the year to 31 March 2022.

The UK company said a primary pledge over 190.7 million shares owned by Vodafone Group in Indus Towers having a value of Rs 4,700 crore (€544 million) as at March 2021. These pledged shares were sold by the Group in the year ended 31 March 2022 and the Group invested Rs 3,370 crore (€393 million) of the proceeds by subscribing to newly issued VIL equity, which VIL immediately used to partially settle outstanding MSA obligations to Indus Towers resulting in an equivalent partial release of the primary pledge.

On February 14 2023, a similar transaction was undertaken with Ra 440 crore (€49 million) remaining from the sale of the primary pledge shares, fully releasing the pledge.
- by: (Business Standard)Top  

 Voda Idea may Lose More Users as Rivals Expand their 5G Networks

A near 80 basis points (bps) fall in Vodafone Idea’s mobile broadband, or primarily 4G, subscriber market share between February 2022 and 2023 has set off alarm bells with analysts saying this could be a precursor to heavier customer churn in coming months amid Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio’s fastpaced countrywide 5G rollouts.

Latest data collated by the telecom regulator shows loss-making Vi’s mobile broadband users market share fell 77 bps to 15. 4 % in February 2023 from 16. 1% a year ago. By contrast, Airtel’s has grown 141 bps to 29%, while market leader Jio’s has virtually remained unchanged at 53%. One basis point is 0. 01% of a percentage point. Mobile broadband users are mostly 4G users with 3G almost phased out and 5G services having just started in the country.

“Vi’s 4G subscribers decline — down 1. 3 million — in February 2023 was its highest 4G user decline in 21 months, suggesting that 5G rollouts by Bharti and Jio are putting pressure on its 4G subscriber base,” Jefferies said in a note. The global brokerage added that the higher levels of MNP (mobile number of portability) requests could also be due to Vi users porting out to experience 5G on Bharti or Jio’s next-gen networks.

Vi has not yet announced its 5G rollout timelines while Jio and Airtel have been swiftly expanding their 5G networks from October. Jio and Airtel have already rolled out5G services in more than 3,972 and 3,500 cities/towns, respectively. Both companies are targeting panIndia 5G rollouts by December.

Ever since India’s top two telcos started deploying 5G, Airtel and Jio have added 14 million and 7 million mobile broadband users till February 2023, respectively. In the same period, Vi added just 1 million such users. Airtel, Jio and Vi`s mobile broadband user bases stood at 234 million, 427 million and 124 million, respectively in end-February.
- by: (Economic Times)Top  

 Vodafone Idea adds highest number of subscribers in Mumbai in February: TRAI data

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- by: (Economic Times)Top  



 70% of MSMEs believe more than 50% of customers will pay using UPI

Seven in 10 medium, small, and micro enterprises (MSME) believe that more than half of their retail customers will make payments using UPI, a new report revealed.

In its report titled "Decoding Digital Payments: A Retailer Perspective", Neo Growth, a digital lender, registered with RBI that focuses on MSMEs studied data from around 3,000 retail customers and 1,000 retail sellers across the country. The study covered more than 25 Indian cities.

Highlighting the shift in payment behaviour among Indian customers, the findings of the study claimed that around 80 per cent of retailers use digital payment methods due to convenience. Additionally, 40 per cent of retailers use digital methods to pay back loans. Card usage payments are preferred by only 25 per cent of retailers.

Thanks to its convenience, as UPI is gaining popularity, card transactions have registered a dip of around 12 per cent across industry segments. The decline is more pronounced in bigger cities.

Managing Director and CEO of NeoGrowth, Arun Nayyar said “There has been a remarkable adoption of digital payments among retailers in India. MSME Retailers are increasingly recognizing the benefit of using digital payments in their business driven by ease of use and customer convenience. UPI is spearheading the adoption of digital payments among Retailers by ticking all the right boxes.

Retail sellers have said that digital payments have helped them attract new consumers, the NeoGrowth report said.

The widespread usage of UPI has resulted in a situation where new-age lenders are using the digital transaction histories of retailers for the purpose of granting them credit. The report said that almost 40 per cent of retailers now prefer digital payment to repay their loans.
- by: (Business Standard)Top  

 Payments Council Pings FM to Bring Back RuPay MDR

The Payments Council of India (PCI), an industry body representing payment fintechs in the country, has written to the finance minister on restoration of merchant discount rate (MDR) for RuPay debit cards, as payment aggregator fintechs continue to lose on revenue lines for processing payments through the card infrastructure.

In the letter, PCI has sought a “level playing field” for RuPay “to compete with its peers to attain its full potential”, especially when its “international counterparts”, such as Visa and Mastercard, are allowed to charge MDR.

PCI has said that restoration of MDR is critical as it will drive investment in acceptance infrastructure by banks and fintech to cater to unserved and untapped segments, foster innovation in merchant payment solutions, and bring long-term sustainability to the domestic card infrastructure.

ET has reviewed a copy of the letter that was sent to the minister on May 12.

“There has been significant growth in the acquiring infrastructure across the nation, however, the required investment and growth in acceptance infrastructure are possible through the restoration of MDR for the RuPay debit card,” said the PCI letter signed by its chairman, Vishwas Patel. “RuPay must be provided with a level playing field to compete with its peers to attain its full potential. Its international counterparts are allowed to charge MDR butthere is zero MDR for the RuPay debit card. ” Queries sent to PCI, NPCI and the finance ministry remained unanswered as of press time.

According to sources, the payments body, which has also been asking the government to bring MDR back on unified payments interface (UPI), is pushing to meet the finance ministry representatives in June on the issue. MDR is a rate charged to a merchant.
- by: (Economic Times)Top  

 Paytm appoints Bhavesh Gupta as COO, President amid profitability push

One97 Communications Limited (OCL), the parent company of fintech giant Paytm, on Tuesday announced that it has appointed Bhavesh Gupta as the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) and President, the company disclosed in a regulatory filing.

In his role as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Company, Gupta – who has been a financial services professional for the past 25 years – will be responsible to lead verticals of lending, insurance, payments – online and offline, consumer payments and drive key initiatives including user growth, operations risk, fraud risk and compliance.

Prior to joining Paytm in 2020, Gupta held multiple leadership roles including CEO of Clix Capital (formerly known as GE Capital), and Head of SME and Business Banking at IDFC Bank. He was also associated with ICICI bank in various roles.

This comes at a time when the company is pushing for profitability. After having narrowed its losses in the fourth quarter of FY23, Paytm’s chief executive officer (CEO) Vijay Shekhar Sharma recently said the company’s next objective is to achieve cashflow profitability.

The fintech giant, in its Q4 results for FY23, managed to narrow its losses to Rs 168 crore. This compares to losses of Rs 392 crore a quarter ago and Rs 761 crore in the year-ago period.

Revenues of the firm also surged almost 52 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to Rs 2,335 crore in Q4, up from Rs 1,541 crore. On a yearly basis, Paytm’s revenues grew by 61 per cent YoY to Rs 7,990 crore in FY23.

This was largely driven by growth in the company’s payments and loan distribution business, coupled with a rise in gross merchandise value (GMV). Also, higher revenue from merchant subscriptions contributed to the growth.

Paytm continued to witness sustained growth in GMV during Q4 — its GMV stood at Rs 3.62 trillion, an increase of 40 per cent YoY. Its loan distribution business continued to scale as well, in partnership with the firm’s lending partners.

Average monthly transacting users (MTU) for Q4 grew 27 per cent YoY to 90 million. This comes as adoption of mobile payments by consumers and merchants continues.
- by: (Business Standard)Top  

 UPI a big hit with retailers: Neogrowth’s Digital Payments Study

UPI has emerged as the most preferred mode for consumers to make payments at retail outlets, finds a study by digital lender NeoGrowth. Nearly 70 per cent of the retailers anticipate over 50 per cent of the purchases made at their stores to be conducted through UPI.

The report ‘Decoding Digital Payments: A Retailer Perspective’ is based on customer data of 3,000-plus retailers along with a survey of 1,000 retailers across India.

While usage of UPI is seeing an upward swing, there is a decline in card transactions, by around 12 per cent across all industry segments. The downward trajectory can primarily be attributed to the rise in the adoption of contactless payment methods, a trend that gained momentum during the pandemic. The drop is most pronounced in bigger cities like Chennai, which were among the top card users.

MSME Retailers are increasingly recognizing the benefit of using digital payments in their business driven by ease of use and customer convenience. UPI is spearheading the adoption of digital payments among Retailers by ticking all the right boxes,” said Arun Nayyar, Managing Director and CEO, NeoGrowth.

Interestingly, the uptake of UPI is higher in metros than in smaller cities. Retailers in Bengaluru saw a 14 per cent increase in the share of UPI among their digital transactions, followed by Chennai and Hyderabad at 13 per cent each compared to pre-COVID levels. Smaller cities experienced only a four per cent increase.

The FMCG and retail segment witnessed a 14 per cent increase in UPI transactions, followed by Food & Beverage at 12 per cent and Fashion & Lifestyle at 9 per cent which can be attributed to the retailers’ ability to accept digital payments easily and the increased comfort level of their customers in transacting digitally.

The major impediments in the adoption of digital payments by retailers are failed transactions, followed by the high cost of machinery, and concerns regarding cyber fraud.

The National Payments Corporation of India shows that India crossed 8.8 billion UPI transactions in April 2023. India holds the record for the highest number of online transactions, majorly comprising UPI-based payments.
- by: (Financial Express)Top  

 UPI-related scams account for 55% of total digital payments frauds in India

Out of all the reported digital payment frauds in India, over half (55 per cent) were United Payments Interface (UPI)-related, a new report released on Tuesday revealed. Another 18 per cent are card related, 12 per cent are related to internet banking and nine per cent are from phishing calls.

Most of the UPI-related frauds, however, have a low ticket size. According to "The Anatomy of Fraud 2023" report by digital solutions platform Bureau and consultancy firm Praxis, 50 per cent of these have an average ticket size of less than Rs 10,000. Another 48 per cent have a ticket size between 10,000 and 1,00,000. Only two per cent of these frauds have a ticket size of Rs 1,00,000.

The findings of the report are crucial given the fact that UPI has gained unprecedented popularity and adoption in the past few years. In 2019-20 (FY20), UPI accounted for 36 per cent of all the non-cash retail transactions in India, based on volumes. In FY21, it rose to 44 per cent. In FY22, 57 per cent of all non-cash retail transactions were made via UPI.

Moreover, internet penetration in India is expected to jump from 879 million users in 2022 to 1.14 billion in 2027. The number of digital payments is expected to grow 74 per cent from 2022 to 2027, the report added.

Fraudsters go where the money and opportunity are. The rising digitisation, digital inclusion expansion, and the growing number of digital-first businesses suggest India is going to continue to be a hotbed of digital fraud," said Ranjan Reddy, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Bureau.

Among all the frauds, identity-related frauds held the highest share in most industries. 65 per cent of all frauds in financial services were account-related in 2021. These include account takeover and account creation. 54 per cent of frauds in the e-commerce industry were account-related.

The report added that the Centre is being proactive in preventing these frauds. Its initiatives like stringent know-your-customer (KYC) norms and regulations for real-money gaming sectors, among others, are providing protection to the customers.

Moreover, 60 per cent of the organizations surveyed stated that they will increase their spending on fraud detection and prevention in the next two years.
- by: (Business Standard)Top  

 ZestMoney announces new management, funding plans

BNPL company ZestMoney has appointed a new leadership team consisting of Abhishek Sharma (SVP & Head - Growth), Mandar Satpute (Chief Banking Officer), Mohit Chhajer (VP of Finance & FinOps) and also finalising a new investment round from existing shareholders.

The newly-appointed management team is made up of long-term, senior-level leaders who have helped the company scale since its inception. This announcement follows the decision of company’s co-founders Lizzie Chapman, Priya Sharma, and Ashish Anantharaman to step down from day-to-day operations. They will ensure a smooth management transition over the next 3 to 4 months and continue to support the business thereafter as key shareholders.

ZestMoney was in talks with PhonePe for an acquisition deal, but it was later called off after months of business due diligence. According to a source close to the matter, “PhonePe did not going ahead with the deal because the business due diligence of ZestMoney did not meet the required standards.” ZestMoney has also laid off 20 per cent of its workforce after the acquisition deal with fintech major PhonePe was called off. The lending company has a 150-member team currently.

PhonePe was in talks to acquire ZestMoney for $200-300 million, which was lower than ZestMoney’s last valuation of $450 million. ZestMoney has raised $134 million in funding since its inception in 2015.

Fund-raising plan
The company is now finalising a new funding round from existing shareholders, including Quona Capital, Zip, Omidyar Network India, Flourish VC and Scarlet Digital, that is expected to close in the next few weeks. ZestMoney did not comment on its valuation in the fresh funding round.

In a statement to employees, Chapman said, “As founders we are proud of what we have built and achieved so far. But we believe that this is the right time to bring in new management to take the company to the next level. We are confident that the new team will drive the company in the right direction and achieve even greater success. As founders, we will provide full support to the incoming management team and do everything we can to assist them for the next four months to ensure a smooth transition.”

The new management team stated, “We thank the founders for their immense contribution to the company over the last eight years and look forward to building on their success to make ZestMoney a major player in the Indian financial landscape for years to come.”

Since 2015, ZestMoney has provided credit options to millions of Indians who would otherwise be excluded from traditional banking services. While India’s recently introduced Digital Lending Guidelines (DLG) have presented challenges for some providers in the space, ZestMoney said it has continued offering its DLG-compliant lending product through more than 10 platform lenders.

“ZestMoney has continued to scale effectively since the DLGs were announced in India, and we have been impressed with the company’s progress. ZestMoney’s credit quality remains high and the company is close to breakeven. We are happy to support this next chapter for ZestMoney, which promises to be an exciting one on their path to profitability,” said Ganesh Rengaswamy, Managing Partner at Quona Capital.

“The opportunity for ZestMoney remains massive. Less than 4 per cent of Indians have credit cards or access to formal credit. India’s exploding population only points to more opportunity ahead, and we are excited about ZestMoney’s long-term potential,” said Peter Gray, Global COO at ZIP.

ZestMoney was started in 2015 with an automated digital customer onboarding system that integrates mobile tech, digital banking and AI, enabling people to apply for and receive digital credit in mere seconds. Its EMI Network is integrated with Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, MakeMyTrip and Nykaa, Samsung, Apple, Vivo, Croma, and Reliance Digital. ZestMoney today has more than 10,000 online partners and 85,000 retail touchpoints across India. ZestMoney has more than 17 million registered users.

- by: (Business Line)Top  

 Zomato Goes Live with Own UPI Offering, Flipkart to Follow Suit

Online food and grocery delivery platform Zomato has gone live as a third-party payments application provider for the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for some of its users. The company has partnered with ICICI Bank for the service, and will allow users to make merchant payments as well as peer-to-peer payments. Ecommerce major Flipkart has also started working on its own UPI offering according to people aware of the matter. Flipkart`s entry into UPI comes months after its separation from PhonePe, which now operates as a separate entity and is owned by Walmart.

“Flipkart has been working on the UPI offering and is part of the new bunch of companies like Zomato and others who would offer their own third party payments service,” a person aware of the matter said. For both Zomato and Flipkart, the move is aimed at servicing consumers better through their own UPI offerings, sources added.

Further, this is a part of the broader attempt by the National Payments Corporation of India, which manages the UPI network, to bring large consumer internet companies to the network to reduce dependency on Walmart-owned PhonePe and Google’s Gpay, which are currently the leaders in terms of UPI transaction market share.

- by: (Economic Times)Top  



 Future of Indian telecom industry: Creating new revenue streams, services with 5G, edge computing & AI

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- by: (Economic Times)Top  

 Heavier customer churn for Vodafone Idea likely as Airtel, Jio expand 5G: Analysts

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- by: (Economic Times)Top  

 Lost your phone? A portal to help track your device

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Tuesday launched the Sanchar Saathi portal, which enables people across India to track and block their lost or stolen mobile phones. Through this portal, people can also verify the authenticity of used devices before making a purchase, and track how many numbers are associated with their identity without their knowledge.

Key sections of the portal include the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) regarding blocking and tracking of phones, ‘Know Your Mobile’ feature that allows users to verify the authenticity of second-hand mobile phones, and the TAFCOP (Telecom Analytics for Fraud Management and Consumer Protection) facility to check numbers associated with an identity.

Various frauds such as identity theft, forged KYC and banking frauds can take place by misusing mobile phones. This portal has been developed to prevent such fraud. User safety is also an important part of the draft Telecom bill,” communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said.

The reforms announced today will help control the increasing trend of cyber frauds,” he said, adding that two more citizen-centric reforms will be announced by the government going forward.

If a mobile phone is lost, users can visit the portal, submit their device’s IMEI number, complete an identity verification process, and the portal will then coordinate with law enforcement agencies and telecom service providers to block the lost mobile phone. The Sanchar Saathi portal and related facilities have been developed by C-DoT, the technology development arm of DoT.

Vaishnaw also said that the government is currently using AI and facial recognition for telecom SIM subscriber verification (ASTR) technology to identify fraudulent SIM cards and block them.

Using ASTR, DoT has so far detected around 4.1 million suspected mobile connections. After due verification, 3.7 million connections have already been disconnected, and the remaining is under process, the government said.

On the increase in fraudulent activities on WhatsApp, the government is in touch with Whatsapp’s parent company, Meta, which has agreed to deactivate services linked to any mobile phone number involved in fraudulent activities. “OTT platforms are also cooperating by deregistering users identified as fraudsters,” Vaishnaw said.

“We have been actively engaging with the government to consistently ensure a safe and secure user experience, including weeding out bad actors from the platform. WhatsApp is a leader among end-to-end encrypted services in protecting user safety and we continue to provide several in-built safety tools like Block & Report, Two-step verification, among others, along with regularly driving user safety education and awareness,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

In April, FE reported that DoT will soon come up with KYC reforms for SIM cards as per which it will reduce the number of SIM cards issued on a single ID to four from the current nine. Similarly, the government is also working towards strengthening the point of sales from which fake SIM cards get sold through penalties.
- by: (Financial Express)Top  

 RuPay CVV-less payments for tokenised cards: How it works

RuPay has introduced a new payment method without having to enter the three-digit CVV (Card Verification Value) at the back of the debit, credit, and prepaid cards. The facility is only available to those who have tokenised their cards on the merchant application or webpage. The added layer of security is expected to safeguard cardholders from cyber fraud and enhance the digital payment experience.

This comes after Paytm Payments Bank enabled customers to link their RuPay Credit Card to a UPI ID.

What is tokenised and how it works
Tokenisation secures card transactions protecting the cardholder’s data without disclosing them to merchants.

When cardholders store their card data on a domestic e-commerce platform, they authenticate the transaction through the CVV number and Card expiry date. Now, cardholders have to perform an OTP verification (two-step verification). Then their data is tokenised and stored with the merchant.

The feature launched by NPCI in association with RazorPay is available for merchants, such as Rapido. RuPay is collaborating with major aggregators/gateways, such as PayU, CyberSource, Firstdata, and Paytm.
- by: (Business Line)Top  



 Lava Agni 2 5G with MediaTek Dimensity 7050, 4700mAh battery launched

Smartphone maker Lava Mobiles, on Tuesday, launched a mid-range smartphone, the Agni 2 5G. Priced at Rs 21,999, the smartphone will be available from May 24 on Amazon India. The company is offering a flat discount of Rs 2,000 on all major credit and debit cards.

The company says that it is providing an Indian alternative to mid-range smartphone buyers. According to Lava, the Agni 2 5G is India`s first smartphone to be powered by MediaTek`s latest Dimensity 7050 processor.

"It is developed keeping in mind all the aspirations of Indian customers in the Rs 20K price segment. Its truly world-class attributes will change what you think about Indian smartphones," said Sunil Raina, President & Business Head of Lava International.


The Agni 2 5G has a Curved AMOLED display with a 6.78-inch FHD + screen with a 120 Hz refresh rate. Fitted with double-reinforced glass protection, it has a 2.3 m bottom bezel and a screen-to-body ratio of 93.65 per cent.


Agni 2 5G is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 7050, equipped with 4K HDR video processing for streamers and high-resolution displays.

MediaTek claims that the HyperEngine makes the gaming experience more fluid and responsive.


Agni 2 is powered by a 4700mAh battery with a 66W charger, which the manufacturers claim gives a 50% charge in less than 16 minutes.


It is equipped with a 50MP quad camera and a 1.0-micron pixel sensor, capturing more light and richer details.

The Agni 2 comes with 256 GB storage and 8GB RAM, which is extendable up to 16GB RAM virtually.

Additional features

The Agni 2 has a 2900mm² vapour chamber cooling technology to prevent heating. According to the manufacturers, the X-axis haptic motor makes the gaming and typing experience richer.
- by: (Business Standard)Top  

 Samsung may launch Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 in July: Report

Samsung may launch its next-generation foldable phones in July. According to a report by Korean publication Chosun via tipster Abhishek Yadav, the South Korean company may unveil Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5 on July 26, 2023.

The company is reportedly planning to host its Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event two weeks before the usual launch in August.

The report, originally published in Korean, quotes a person aware of the matter who said that the smartphones will be officially available from August 11 after a public event on July 26. “In order to boost the company’s performance due to the sluggish memory semiconductor industry, it is more necessary than ever for the smartphone division to perform well," the source told the Korean publication.

The report says that the pre-ponement of the launch of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is aimed at promoting the device`s sales ahead of Apple iPhone launch. For those unaware, Apple launches its new iPhone series during the Fall event that is usually held in September.

Meanwhile, a previous report by Display Supply Chain Consultants CEO Ross Young said that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 may come with a larger cover display. The current Galaxy Z Flip 4 has a 1.9-inch cover display. According to Ross, the upcoming device may be equipped with a display having a cover screen size of more than 3.0-inch.

Young also stated that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 may feature a different hinge design than the existing model. The new hinge is said to reduce the visibility of the seam on the upcoming device. It is also rumoured that the Galaxy Z Flip 5 may feature an improved camera as well.
- by: (Live Mint)Top  



 Payments banks approach RBI to rehaul regulations

With the payments bank model not having evolved in the expected manner, industry participants have approached the Reserve Bank of India to relook at the regulations.

Industry participants point out that unlike the other categories of banking channels such as small finance banks and universal banks which have seen significant changes to their respective licensing guidelines from the time that they were brought into force, the payments banks space has not had much progress in terms of their operational framework.

“Since the time these banks were conceptualised, licensed and became operational, much has changed in the payments industry. But the laws governing payments banks have almost remained the same,” said a senior executive of a payments bank who didn’t want to be named.

‘Not a revenue stream’
Stating that it is no longer a question of existence but opportunities for scalability, sources said payments banks have approached the banking regulator to allow them to operate in the small-ticket retail loans space.

Ultimately, if we have to build a balance sheet, we need to focus on building assets and that cannot be done in the current framework,” said a CEO of a payments bank.

“This is becoming a limitation to build a deposit book because unless there are deployment avenues, raising them (deposits) is only an additional cost for us, not a revenue stream,” he added.

Why lending?
Players in the payments banks space believe that allowing them to tap in on small retail loans market may help them differentiate from banking correspondents, payment aggregators and other players in the payments ecosystem.

Further, only to depend on treasury gains from government securities may not be a viable option from the deposit deployment perspective.

However, it is believed that the RBI is to hesitant to allow these players in the lending arena. “Some of them are promoted by large conglomerates and with payments banks having the option to convert into small finance banks, it may mean backdoor entry into the prime banking business,” said a person aware of the matter.

To put things in perspective, payments banks can now raise up to ?2 lakh of deposits from customers; limited to ?1 lakh until 2021. However, now with the interest rate cycle turning positive, it has helped banks realise float income from these deposits, which has in turn helped most players barring the state-owned India Post Payments Bank to close FY23 with net profits.

In August 2015, the RBI awarded 11 payments bank licenses, of which five entities surrendered their licenses without even commencing the business, leaving only six active players in the segment at present.
- by: (Business Line)Top  



 Global chip giants eye India presence

Major global semiconductor companies have evinced interest in India’s ambitious semiconductor programme and are likely to formally express interest in the near future, people familiar with the developments said. Announcements in this regard could come as soon as next week, they added.

This will likely widen the field in terms of contenders for more than $10 billion in federal and state subsidies, apart from other benefits, that India has announced to attract semiconductor manufacturing. While three contenders are part of an ongoing evaluation process, the window that was deemed to have closed to be eligible will likely be opened again.

The government’s efforts to attract global semiconductor companies have yielded results, with the minister of communications and information technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw, who returned after spending three days in Silicon Valley and met with more than 60 companies in the semiconductor space, saying he saw huge interest.

“There’s huge confidence about India’s semiconductor programme. We have received interest from a number of large players. The entire ecosystem wants to come to India," Vaishnaw, who is also the railways minister, said.

The government believes it has the right combination of facilitating factors, including financial incentives, high-quality talent, investments in infrastructure and favourable policies for attracting large investments not only in core chip manufacturers but also in ancillary units that make up the industry supporting chip manufacturing, which will attract players from all segments.

The government has also decided to keep open the $10-billion financial incentive scheme with a 50% subsidy on investments for making semiconductors in India for potential applicants, according to a Bloomberg report, even as it continues to evaluate three proposals submitted under the previous window by Vedanta-Foxconn JV, International Semiconductor Consortium (ISMC) and Singapore’s IGSS Ventures. The scheme was announced in December 2021.

This comes at a time global chip majors such as Intel, TSMC, and Global Foundries are being wooed by several countries.

Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Resources, in a joint venture with the world’s leading contract manufacturer Foxconn, plans to set up a display fabrication unit, integrated semiconductor fabrication unit and outsourced semiconductor assembly and test facility with an investment of $20 billion, in Dholera, Gujarat.

ISMC is a joint venture between Abu Dhabi-based Next Orbit Ventures and Israel’s Tower Semiconductor, which Intel Inc acquired in February last year. The ISMC consortium signed an MoU with the Karnataka government for a $3 billion fabrication plant in Mysuru, where it has sought 150 acres at Kochanahalli industrial area.

Singapore-based IGSS Ventures Pvt. Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tamil Nadu government in July last year for building a semiconductor high-tech park which includes a fab unit with an investment of $3.5 billion or ?25,600 crore over six years.

The government is yet to clear any of the proposals.

The government’s efforts to invite large global players to India come at a time India is attempting to become a significant player in the chip ecosystem on the back of its large, open market and skilled workforce amid geopolitical shifts pushing countries to look at alternative supply chains to China.

“Semiconductor industry will double from the current $600 billion to $1 trillion-plus. India is the most cost-effective country. It is the only place with talent. So the next big destination has to be India. India’s approach of developing a comprehensive ecosystem is absolutely the right thing," Vaishnaw said last week, during his visit to the US, where he visited the Applied Materials semiconductor plant, met with top bosses of HP, Intel, Western Digital, Micron, and AMD, among others, inviting companies to invest and set up manufacturing in India.

India also signed an MoU on a semiconductor supply chain and innovation partnership, which aims to increase private-sector cooperation in the area of semiconductors.
- by: (Live Mint)Top  

 India, the only country with potential to become a semiconductor hub: Ashwini Vaishnaw

The Centre on Tuesday asserted that there is an anticipation build-up globally around India’s semiconductor plans and its capacity to become the next hub — an endeavour that would require the talent and specialised skills of over 10-lakh strong workforce.

“The whole world is looking at India — it is possibly the only country in which the next big semiconductor hub can be established in the coming 4-5 years. That is what the world’s impression is. Everybody is highly appreciative of our very comprehensive approach. We are not rushing through, we are not saying that we have made one fab unit and done it all... we are focusing on creating an ecosystem,” Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Telecommunications and IT, told reporters at the sidelines of the launch of Sanchar Saathi portal.

The portal aims to facilitate and help people block, track and check the genuineness of a used device before buying them.

Building ecosystem

The Minister said the government was earmarking 20,000 GW of green energy for manufacturing semiconductors and developing the whole ecosystem in India.

Vaishnaw, who visited the Silicon Valley in the US last week, said: “Everybody appreciated that in the last one year — since this programme (Semicon India) was initiated — there are 106 universities running semiconductor programmes.” After meeting the brass of tech giants like HP, Intel, Western Digital, Micron, Applied Materials and AMD, among others last week, he said the semiconductor industry will double from the current $650 billion to $1 trillion plus by 2030.

In his presence, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed between the India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) and Purdue University, US, for cooperation in capacity building, R&D and industry participation.

Regulating AI
On policy/regulations on artificial intelligence (AI), Vaishnaw said: “The world is looking at what the framework/ regulatory set up should be. Recently in the G7 meet also, all the digital ministers of G7 countries... they are seriously concerned about what the regulatory framework would be. So, this is a global thing, this is not one country’s... this has to be looked at purely from the international perspective.”

The Minister had recently told Parliament that the Centre is not considering bringing a law or regulating the growth of AI in the country. He, however, acknowledged that there are ethical concerns and risks around AI and the government has already started making efforts to standardise responsible AI and even promote the adoption of the best practices.
- by: (Business Line)Top  

 NXP Semiconductors, TSMC partner to deliver automotive 16nm embedded MRAM

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- by: (Economic Times)Top  



 At Tatas iPhone plant in Hosur, Make in India is still a long distance dream

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- by: (Economic Times)Top  

 Bots now make up nearly half of all internet traffic, study reveals

Nearly half of all internet traffic in 2022 came from bots, a report in The Independent said.

According to the cyber security firm Imperva, nearly half (47.4 per cent) of all internet traffic in 2022, or a 5.1 per cent increase Year-on-Year (YoY), was generated by bots.

Meanwhile, the proportion of human traffic decreased to 52.6 per cent, which is its lowest level in eight years, it said.
What is a bot?

A bot is a software application that performs automated tasks and is typically used to grow followers and engagement. Meanwhile, maliciously motivated automated task-running software programmes known as "bad bots" are also capable of high-speed abuse and misuse.

"Bad bots engage with applications in the same way that real users would, which makes it more difficult to identify and block them. As opposed to taking advantage of technical flaws, they abuse business logic by taking advantage of the way a company runs," the company said in its report.

They enable high-speed abuse, misuse, and attacks on websites, mobile apps, and APIs. They enable a variety of malicious activities to be carried out by attackers, fraudsters, unsavoury competitors, and bot operators,`` it added.
Bad bots peaked in 2022

The company began monitoring the trend in 2013 and found that the prevalence of so-called "bad bots" peaked in 2022.
According to Imperva, bad bot traffic rose by 2.5 per cent in 2022 and now makes up 30.2 per cent of all traffic. The report also notes that the growth in bad bot traffic has continued for the past four years.

Advanced bad bots use cutting-edge evasion techniques, closely mimic human behaviour, enter through anonymous proxies, and change identities to evade detection, the researchers said.

With the introduction of Google`s Bard and OpenAI`s ChatGPT, the researchers fear bot activity will rise even more this year.

"Cyber criminals will put more effort into attacking application business logic and API endpoints using sophisticated automation. Therefore, the financial impact and business disruption caused by bad bots will increase in the upcoming years," the researchers noted.
Who gets affected the most?

The company noted that the legal, government, travel, and retail industries are the most frequently targeted by more advanced bots and that the majority of bad bot activity occurs in Germany, Ireland, Singapore, Australia, and the United States.

Imperva has also advised users to keep their web browsers updated at all times to prevent malicious bots.
- by: (Business Standard)Top  

 Existing rules enough to address digital competition concerns: IAMAI

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in its official submission to the Committee on Digital Competition Law (CDCL) flagged concerns over proposed ex-ante regulations for India’s digital market saying that the move may affect the growth potential of domestic startups.

According to IAMAI, size or scale-based applicability of regulations under an ex-ante digital competition policy will impact larger players in the market in their growth trajectory, while also limiting the growth potential of start-ups.

Ex-ante regulations aim to prescribe what businesses should do beforehand, based on anticipated changes or activity, whereas the norm is ex-post regulations where regulators lay out what is not to be done. IAMAI has submitted that ex-ante regulations in the digital competition bill will “burden India’s most promising sector and inhibit its ability to scale, innovate and attract investments.

Several Indian startup founders have recently criticized IAMAI for allegedly promoting “pro-foreign” big tech views on government regulations and other contentious matters. The industry body aims to represent the digital services industry with over 500 Indian and multinational corporations as its members.

Currently, Sanjay Gupta, Country Head & Vice President and Shivnath Thukral, Public Policy Director, India, WhatsApp Inc, Vice-Chairman lead the industry body as its chairperson and vice chairperson respectively.

The CDCL was formed by the Ministry of corporate affairs in February 2023, after the parliamentary standing committee on Finance suggested tighter regulations for Systemically Important Digital Intermediaries (SIDIs). The move was aimed at preventing anti-competitive practices by dominant platforms – especially big techs – in the digital market with revenues, market capitalization and number of active users above a certain threshold.

Regulations that kick in as soon as certain financial/size-based thresholds are met, will dis incentivise Indian tech companies from scaling so as to avoid additional regulations. It is pertinent to note that ex-ante regulations may affect Indian companies even before they can achieve scale to compete globally or achieve profitability,” IAMAI said. It added that the provision may in turn reduce value creation and valuations.

The industry body also highlights issues with the previously enacted ex-ante regulations under the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Act, 1969. “MRTP Act limited the growth and scaling up of Indian companies. Notably, as part of various economic reform measures, India consciously moved away from an ex-ante regime under the MRTP Act,” IAMAI said.

IAMAI further said that its members appreciate that antitrust enforcement has a vital role to play in keeping markets competitive, but they believe the extant rules and regulations sufficiently address competition concerns arising from the digital sector while keeping the digital industry on a level playing field with other industries.

“The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been promptly looking into various digital competition issues and has passed orders imposing penalties and requiring changes in the conduct of digital markets. Furthermore, the recent Competition (Amendment) Act, 2023 bolsters the existing regulatory framework for addressing competition issues in India,” the industry body said.
- by: (Business Standard)Top  

 Get ready for Tim Cook`s riskiest move at Apple

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- by: (Economic Times)Top  

 India hosts SG9 meeting to advance standards for Television technology

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, and the Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), Department of Telecommunications (DoT) are organising the meeting of ITU-T Study Group 9 (SG-9) on “Broadband Cable and Television/Audiovisual content transmission and integrated broadband cable networks” at the IISc campus, the institute said in a statement.

The meeting is being held from May 9- May 18, 2023, and this is the first physical meeting of SG9, which is being held after the Covid-19 pandemic. It is worth noting that this is the first time that India is hosting the SG9 meeting.

The SG9 looks at various aspects of transmission, distribution, and rendering of cable and broadband TV.
The event was attended by delegates and representatives from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Congo, Egypt, France, Gambia, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Myanmar, Nepal, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Syria, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Ukraine, and other nations. In addition, representatives of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN Organisation, and many other experts attended the meeting.

Established in 1865, ITU facilitates international connectivity in communications networks. It allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, while also developing the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect.

It tries to improve access to Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in underserved communities worldwide. SG 9 at ITU is responsible for telecommunication systems for the primary and secondary distribution of audiovisual content, including accessibility services and emerging interactive media, a release said.

Commenting on the same, Seizo Oneo, TSB Director said, “I thank India’s Ministry of Communications and the Indian Institute of Science for their hard work in arranging the workshop, as well as your hospitality to ITU-T Study Group 9 as the hosts. At the workshop, while the future technologies of digital broadcasting were discussed, it was also highlighted that many countries are still facing challenges in transitioning from analog to digital broadcasting. I hope that the ITU workshop will serve as a platform for sharing best practices and help bridge the gap.
- by: (Business Standard)Top  

 Mobile Premier League launched in Africa

Mobile Premier League (MPL), a mobile e-sports and digital gaming platform, has launched its app in Nigeria, marking its foray into the African gaming market. With this move, MPL is now present in four continents, including Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa.

The MPL app offers gamers the opportunity to monetise their skills as they engage in Paid Competitive Gaming. This form of gaming allows users to participate in low- to high-stake skill-based gaming contests, going beyond traditional games. To ensure a more localised and engaging gaming experience for Nigerian users, MPL has partnered with Carry1st, Africa’s prominent mobile gaming publisher. This partnership allows MPL to tap into Carry1st’s extensive knowledge of over 270 million strong African gaming market.

“We’re thrilled to bring the MPL gaming experience to Nigeria, a country with a vibrant gaming community. As the first Indian gaming company to launch in Africa, it is a testament to our success in the PCG space and our commitment to expanding our global reach. We look forward to building a strong presence in the Nigerian gaming market and offering a world-class gaming experience to our users,” said Sai Srinivas, CEO and Co-Founder of MPL.

In early 2022, MPL joined hands with GameDuell, a Berlin-headquartered leader in community card and board games. MPL has also established a presence in the US, where it has been operating for two years. In May 2022, MPL exited its Indonesia business and streaming product on the MPL app. The co-founders cited the low return profile of Indonesian operations as the reason for that exit. The company also laid off 100 employees at that time.
- by: (Business Line)Top  

 Not dependent only on Apple for growth, says Redington CEO

Chennai-based technology solutions provider Redington, which started as a product distribution firm 30 years ago, said it now provides diversified technology solutions and its growth is not dependent only on distribution of Apple products.

“Apple is the one that catches the eye of the market faster. That’s because it’s the topmost brand that we handle. We have got a fairly equally divided portfolio between enterprise and obviously cloud, digital and solar put together. We’ve got a very diversified portfolio,” Ramesh Natarajan, chief executive officer of Redington, told FE in an interaction.

We have become a technology aggregator in the last many years but the journey moving forward is being the technology solutions provider,” Natarajan said, adding that the firm is creating a factory of proof of concept and centre of excellence so that partners can test, pilot their applications and technologies before they go ahead and start selling them out.

Redington, whose core business is distribution of gamut of IT products, smartphones, and solar and technology solutions, currently works with over 290 brands globally and over 42,000 channel partners.

The company counts Apple, Cisco, HP, Dell, Microsoft, Lenovo, Samsung, among its key vendors, whose products and technologies it distributes. Currently, Apple contributes 30% to the company’s annual revenue. Other vendors like HP, Dell, Lenovo, contribute 12%, 8%, and 7%, respectively, to Redington’s revenue.

“We have been growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 24%. So, while the Apple stack has grown, all our other stacks have also grown correspondingly appropriately, and hence the Apple stack continues to be in its strength of what it is but all other stacks have also grown in the same pace, if not better than that,” Natarajan said. “We have a very robust portfolio of smartphones (contribution to revenue at) 25-27%, endpoint devices is another 30%, enterprise portfolio is another 30-31%, and the balance off which is our renewable energy and solar, 3D printing, and cloud, etc,” Natarajan added.

In FY23, Redington’s revenue from operations grew 27% year-on-year to `79,377 crore. Net profit grew 9% y-o-y to `1,393 crore. In the January-March quarter, revenue from operations grew 26% y-o-y to `21,849 crore, whereas its net profit fell 11% to `310 crore.

The company said its pivot from distributor and aggregator to becoming a technology solutions provider has been helping it drive growth. The company is bullish on the smartphones, hybrid work and learn environments, SMB (small and medium businesses) and enterprise technology solutions including cloud, infrastructure for servers, storage, networking, and security. It is also engaging with enterprises to understand the requirements on the emerging technology front amid growing adoption of 5G, Internet of Things, edge computing, and generative AI.

When asked if the company will be able to maintain its growth trajectory going forward, Natarajan said, “Other than the consumer devices, consumer notebooks that would probably take a little bit of a beating and be flattish. We tend to see growth coming from the enterprises, cloud, as well as smartphones priced greater than $300 (over `25,000).”

Natarajan expects Redington to grow at 15-17% in FY24, less than 27% revenue growth in FY23. The reasons which Natarajan attributed to slow growth are consumers going cautious in terms of buying devices, weak global economic scenario, and limited funding with the startups.

“In all my understanding, the growth can be compromised. You might probably see a growth that would probably come down but it is imminent, this year as well as the next. And by the time we expect the global economy to get far better, that will put us back on track,” Natarajan said.

With regard to working capital days, Redington is trying to control it between 35 and 30 days. For Redington, the working capital day cycle is a key metric as it shows the number of days it takes for the company to convert its working capital into revenue. For FY23, the company’s working capital days stood at 36 days, whereas for January-March it was at 32 days.

“There are challenges on collections, on inventories getting extended just because we are coming out of a period where you had demand chasing the supply and suddenly in about four or five months time we’ve got supply chasing the demand,” Natarajan said.
- by: (Financial Express)Top  

 WhatsApp to Axe Nos Flagged Fraud on DoT’s Portal

Instant messaging platform WhatsApp will remove mobile phone numbers which have been reported for being fraudulent on the Sanchar Saathi portal of the Department of Telecommunications, the minister of communications, electronics and information technology Ashwini Vaishnaw said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

Vaishnaw said these mobile numbers had been registered either using forged documents or had been used for cybercrime in some form.

“All the OTT platforms have also co-operated, and they are absolutely onboard to deregister the users detected as fraud numbers. This means that any WhatsApp account related to these numbers will be taken offline by the platform,” Vaishnaw said.

The government is also in talks with other messaging and OTT calling apps to implement the same measures and de-register users who have been reported for fraud, Vaishnaw said.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said that the platform was “actively engaging with the government to consistently ensure a safe and secure user experience, including weeding out bad actors from the platform.

WhatsApp is a leader among end-to-end encrypted services in protecting user safety and we continue to provide several in-built safety tools like block & report, two-step verification, among others, along with regularly driving user safety education and awareness,” a spokesperson for the company said.
- by: (Economic Times)Top  

 WhatsApp to remove mobile nos used for fraud: Vaishnaw

Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp has agreed to deregister mobile numbers from its messaging service that have been detected as acting to commit fraud, and whose mobile services had already been disconnected, telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Tuesday.

“We have actively engaged with WhatsApp and they have agreed that yes, customer safety is most important, and they are absolutely on board to deregister the users which have been detected as fraud users," the minister, responding to a query on steps taken by the government to stop scammers calling from so-called international numbers on WhatsApp aiming to defraud unsuspecting consumers.

He said the government was also in conversations with other messaging platforms such as Telegram to remove fraudulent users.

In response to the comment from the minister, Whatsapp said in a statement on Tuesday that the platform was engaging with the government to resolve the issue.

“We have been actively engaging with the government to consistently ensure a safe and secure user experience, including weeding out bad-actors from the platform. WhatsApp is a leader among end-to-end encrypted services in protecting user safety and we continue to provide several in-built safety tools like Block & Report, Two-step verification, among others, along with regularly driving user safety education and awareness," it said.

The minister was speaking at the launch of a three-pronged customer-facing sectoral reform, one of which includes enabling consumers to know the number of connections a customer has linked to his or her identity.

Consumers will also be able to block the use of their mobile phones in case they get lost or are stolen, through a web portal called Sanchar Saathi. The service is backed by the Central Equipment Identity Register.

The government also introduced ASTR or Artificial Intelligence and Facial Recognition-powered solution for telecom SIM subscriber verification, to identify fraudulent subscribers.

Vaishnaw said various frauds such as identity theft, forged know your customer (KYC) and banking frauds can take place by misusing mobile phones, and that the portal has been developed to prevent such frauds. He said the solutions were in accordance with the privacy guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court judgements and will be in accordance with the provisions that are laid down in subsequent privacy laws. India is also working on a digital personal data protection law.

“In these three reforms, we have created a proper legal regulatory procedure by which the mobile phones which are either lost or stolen can actually be disabled," the minister said, adding that the new telecom bill, which is currently in the draft stage, will be finalized by July after taking into consideration views of all stakeholders, and it will have enabling provisions to protect consumers. He said user safety is also an important part of the draft telecom bill. By using Sanchar Saathi portal, more than 4 million fraudulent connections have been identified and more than 3.6 million such connections have been disconnected so far. Vaishnaw said the reforms will be reviewed after six months or a year.
- by: (Live Mint)Top  

 Xiaomi India ropes in Pankaj Tripathi as brand ambassador for Redmi lineup

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- by: (Economic Times)Top  



 WhatsApp brings Chat Lock to protect your intimate conversations from prying eyes, here’s how to use it

WhatsApp is taking privacy of your intimate chats a level up. In a bid to enhance the privacy and security of private chats, WhatsApp has announced the rollout of a new feature called “Chat Lock.” It is aimed at protecting intimate conversations from prying eyes.

With Chat Lock, WhatsApp users can now add an extra layer of security their private conversations, shielding them from unauthorised access. This feature allows users to lock individual chats with a passcode or biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, depending on their device capabilities.

WhatsApp explains that Chat Lock feature takes that “thread out of the inbox and puts it behind its own folder that can only be accessed with your device password or biometric, like a fingerprint. It also automatically hides the contents of that chat in notifications, too.”

To use Chat Lock, you can follow a simple set of instructions. First, you need to update your WhatsApp application to the latest version available. Tap on the profile picture of the specific contact or group you want to lock. Underneath the disappearing message menu, you will find a new option labeled “Chat Lock.” Select this option. Activate the Chat Lock function and verify your identity by entering your phone password or using metric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, if supported by your device.

Notably, Chat Lock offers users flexibility in choosing which chats to secure, allowing user to prioritise and protect their most confidential conversations.

We think this feature will be great for people who have reason to share their phones from time to time with a family member or those moments where someone else is holding your phone at the exact moment an extra special chat arrives. You can lock a chat by tapping the name of a one-to-one or group and selecting the lock option. To reveal these chats, slowly pull down on your inbox and enter your phone password or biometric,” WhatsApp states in it blog post. The feature has started rolling out.
- by: (Financial Express)Top  



 Microsoft gets EU antitrust approval to buy Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard after UK setback

The European Union on Monday approved Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of video game maker Activision Blizzard, deciding the deal won’t stifle competition for popular console titles like Call of Duty and accepting the U.S. tech company’s remedies to boost competition in cloud gaming.

But the blockbuster deal is still in jeopardy because British regulators have rejected it and U.S. authorities are trying to thwart it.

The acquisition, sweetened by Microsoft’s promises to automatically license Activision games to cloud gaming platforms, “would no longer raise competition concerns and would ultimately unlock significant benefits for competition and consumers,” said the European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm and top antitrust watchdog.

The commission’s approval “has removed one potential major roadblock for this deal” but “it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in a stronger position” to overturn the U.K.’s rejection, Omdia game industry analyst Liam Deane said.

Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority issued a statement saying it “stands by its decision,” an unusual move that highlights the more muscular approach London has taken.

“Microsoft’s proposals, accepted by the European Commission today, would allow Microsoft to set the terms and conditions for this market for the next ten years,” chief executive Sarah Cardell said. “They would replace a free, open and competitive market with one subject to ongoing regulation of the games Microsoft sells, the platforms to which it sells them, and the conditions of sale.”

The all-cash deal announced more than a year ago has been scrutinized by regulators around the world over fears that it would give Microsoft and its Xbox console control of Activision’s hit franchises like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.

Fierce opposition has been driven by rival Sony, which makes the PlayStation gaming system.

Microsoft sought to counter the resistance by striking a deal with Nintendo to license Activision titles like Call of Duty for 10 years and offering the same to Sony if the deal went ahead.

Following its review, the European Commission dismissed the possibility that Microsoft would cut off its games from PlayStation, saying that excluding the most popular gaming console would put a big dent in its profits.

The emerging cloud gaming market received closer scrutiny from Brussels. Cloud gaming frees players from buying expensive consoles and gaming computers by allowing them to stream games they own to tablets, phones and other devices, typically through a cloud platform that may charge a fee.

The commission approved the deal after accepting Microsoft’s offer to modify its licensing agreements to allow users and any cloud gaming platforms to stream its titles without paying any royalties for 10 years.

The licenses “will apply globally and will empower millions of consumers worldwide to play these games on any device they choose,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a prepared statement. Microsoft has already announced deals to bring Xbox PC games to cloud gaming platforms operated by chipmaker Nvidia and independent player Boosteroid. Activision games aren’t available on cloud services, but the commission noted that the licensing commitments could expand the cloud gaming market “by bringing Activision’s games to new platforms, including smaller EU players, and to more devices than before.

The EU decision might help Microsoft’s chances as it faces down regulators in the U.S., where the Federal Trade Commission is taking the company to court to block the deal. A trial before the FTC’s in-house judge set to begin Aug. 2.

But Brussels’ approval is at odds with the stance taken by British antitrust regulators, who last month upended the biggest tech deal in history over concerns it would stifle competition in the small but rapidly growing cloud gaming market.

The companies are appealing the U.K. decision to a tribunal, but history doesn’t bode well.

The watchdog previously denied Facebook parent Meta’s purchase of Giphy over concerns it would limit innovation and competition. The social media giant was ultimately forced to sell off the GIF-sharing platform after it lost an appeal.

If Microsoft’s appeal fails, Omdia’s Deane said the company would be forced to either scrap the deal or carve out the U.K. as a separate market, which appeared to be an unfeasible option.
- by: (Financial Express)Top  

 Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs, sees big drop in cash flow

Vodafone`s new boss Margherita Della Valle said she would cut 11,000 jobs over three years to simplify the telecoms group, which she said "must change", as it forecast a €1.5 billion decline in free cash flow this year.

"Our performance has not been good enough," said Della Valle, who was appointed permanently last month.

"My priorities are customers, simplicity and growth. We will simplify our organisation, cutting out complexity to regain our competitiveness."

The job cuts are the biggest in the history of the group, which employs around 100,000 people.

Vodafone said it would generate about €3.3 billion of cash this financial year, compared with €4.8 billion in the year to end-March it reported on Tuesday, and around €3.6 billion expected by analysts.

Germany, its biggest market, was underperforming, it said, which combined with higher energy costs resulted in a 1.3 per cent decline in group core earnings to €14.7 billion for the year to end-March, missing its own guidance.

Growth in Africa and higher handset sales, however, enabled it to eek out a 0.3 per cent rise in revenue to 45.7 billion euros.

Vodafone has recently cut jobs in several of its big markets, shedding 1,000 in Italy earlier this year and a media report said it was looking to cut around 1,300 in Germany.

On the proposed tie-up of its British business with Hutchison`s Three UK, Vodafone said there could be no certainty that any transaction would ultimately be agreed. It did not comment any further on the talks.
- by: (Business Line)Top  

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