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Paytm Mini App Store: A threat to Google’s dominance?

by | Oct 6, 2020 | Technology

Paytm new mini-app store need significant technology investment to become a game-changer for Indian digital ecosystem
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Digital payments firm, Paytm, has tossed a new android mini-app store or links to progressive web apps (PWAs), intending to support Indian startups and contest Google’s dominance in the play store. Paytm Mini App Store is an exciting development for the Indian digital ecosystem, where many of the startups and developers can leverage Paytm’s reach and payment arrangements.

Paytm’s new app store will enable local developers to test their mobile applications’ capabilities on an all-new local app platform, for free of cost.

For the last few months, many Indian app developers have been mulling the idea of an alternate Indian local app store. The aim is to give an alternate option to house India’s android based mobile applications and counterbalance the dependency on the Google Play store. The mini-apps platform provides an engrossing one-click experience for users without downloading the apps. This new ecosystem will also help millions of Indian smartphone users who use budget-friendly low-storage phones.

Paytm Mini App store launch resonates with the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” mission, a popular PR tactic for many companies since the ban of several China-based apps. According to Paytm, over 300 apps, such as ride-hailing major Ola, online pharmacy store Netmeds, fast-food giant Domino’s, online food startup Fresh Menu, No Broker, etc have joined the Paytm app store.

 What influenced the development of the Indian App Store?

 It seems like the Paytm Mini app store’s idea has been triggered because of the two factors. Both Paytm and Google entered into conflict last month when Paytm owned ‘First Games’ app was removed from Google’s Play Store.

Google had alleged that Paytm’s app violated play store gambling policies by introducing a real cash-based fantasy cricket tournament. Paytm, on the other hand, confronted that Google’s move was a deliberate attempt to confine Paytm’s growing dominance in the Indian market and control the growth of a potential rival.

Though Google reinstated the Paytm’s app within hours, the incident triggered an acrimonious war of words between the tech giants.

The second factor that compelled many developers and companies to support the idea of a new Indian app store was Google’s fresh mandate. According to Google, all app developers on the Play Store would need to use its in-app payment system from the near future, i.e., the US company’s billing system, where app developers will have to shell out a 30 percent fee from their payments.

Google’s 30% fee for in-app purchase decision has been slammed by many developers and startups in India who voiced their displeasure of this move. After the pushback, Google analyzed the situation in time and decided to delay the 30 percent Play Store cut in India.

An ambitious gamble

Google Play is the world’s leading android app store and houses over 3 million apps. Besides, many other players such as Amazon AppStore, GetJar, Aptoide, and Opera Mobile store have been battling to up their popularity charts with limited uptake.

It would be interesting to see if Paytm’s new app store could become a game-changer or turns out to be an extempore in response to the recent events and its squabble with Google.

The app store marketplace is no laid-back business. Paytm would need much investment, technology upgrades, and innumerable alliances to develop an alternative app distribution ecosystem for Indian android users. Others will be watching this space closely and may throw some competitive elbows.

Paytm has recently been investing significantly in marketing its UPI, and claims to hold about 50 percent market share in the segment. The company also plans to foray into the US market and plans to compete with Amazon and Flipkart’s likes in the e-commerce space.

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India’s Razorpay joins Unicorn club with fresh funding, eyes expansion

India’s Razorpay joins Unicorn club with fresh funding, eyes expansion

 

One of the few successful Indian fintech startups, Bangalore-based Razorpay, joins the Unicorn club, as it has secured $100M in a new funding round. With this cycle of financing, the payment startup has also become the first Indian payment-gateway to achieve US$ 1bn valuation.

“Razorpay secures $100 million in Series D funding led by GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, along with Sequoia & our existing investors Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global, Y-Combinator and Matrix Partners. The funding also comes with a significant milestone of Razorpay becoming the newest unicorn in India, informs Shashank Kumar, Co-founder, Razorpay, through the company’s official blog.

Set-up in 2013 by Shashank Kumar and Harshil Mathur, Razorpay had raised $75 million in Series C funding last year. 

Razorpay’s ambitions after joining Unicorn Club

Razorpay offers social media sellers and SMEs a convenient mechanism to take payments online without a website or a payment gateway integration.  The company plans to employ the fresh capital to scale up its solutions such as RazorpayX, a neo-banking platform, and Razorpay Capital, a quick business loan platform. It also plans to hire about 500 employees this fiscal year.

Razorpay also provides cash advance service to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME), through collaboration with banks. As Razorpay secures $100 million funding, this will enable it to expand its lending solution capabilities. The company says that over 50% of Indian SMEs still don’t have access to digital financial tools, and it is determined to help these businesses in the best possible manner.

“We strongly believe that RazorpayX will charter our next growth chapter – driving the mobile-first, technology-first transformation of business banking, suited to the digital needs of businesses today and helping them make better decisions,” adds Kumar.

Market onlookers view this development as spectacular since it demonstrates investors’ growing confidence in the Indian startup ecosystem despite the uncertain economic environment. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital technology’s acceptance, forcing people to alter their behavioral buying patterns and move to online channels.

Razorpay’s list of clients includes Facebook, Google, Jio, Hotstar, Wikipedia, Meesho, among many other independent contractors and SME’s.

Digital transactions gain steam during the pandemic

Led by the Indian government’s increased impetus and growing digitization, the country’s digital payments ecosystem is ready to see a monumental rise. According to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), India saw digital transaction uptake of about 55% in 2018 compared to 11.4% in Brazil, 35% in Russia, and 23% in Indonesia.

With a mushrooming work-from-home and cautious approach due to COVID-19, the country is expected to see rapid growth in the digital transformation across all sectors and industries. Additionally, from a demographic perspective, more than 60% of India’s population is under 35 years, mostly extremely tech-savvy. This young population is equipped with high disposable income, inexpensive smartphones, and 24*7 data connectivity. It makes them prime potential customers of non-bank digital players.

Additionally, events such as demonetization and COVID-19 have also fast-tracked the digital payment ecosystem’s overall growth.

Companies like Razorpay seems to be cashing in on these exceptional attributes and expanding their solution capabilities. There is also a tremendous interest among many fintech companies and investors to set their shop locally and be a part of India’s growth story.

Besides Razorpay, other prominent digital payment gateway players battling for India’s market share include PayMate, Paytm, CC Avenue, PayU, Paytm, and Mobikwik.

IBM to split into two companies for better cloud opportunity

IBM to split into two companies for better cloud opportunity

Global tech major International Business Machines Corporation has surprised everyone by splitting itself into two companies by the end of 2021. The decision has been taken by IBM to focus on the high-margin cloud computing business and enterprise digital transformation efforts.

IBM mentioned that it would split into two companies by untying the managed infrastructure services unit of its Global Technology Services division. The new company would exclusively focus on legacy infrastructure business and gets its leadership structure in place soon. According to IBM, the unit presently serves around 4600 clients with an order backlog of $60 billion.

“We are focused on accelerating our growth strategy and seizing the $1 trillion hybrid-cloud opportunities. Today, hybrid cloud and AI are swiftly becoming the locus of commerce, transactions, and over time, of computing itself. This shift is driven by the changing needs of our clients, who find that choosing an open hybrid cloud approach is 2.5 times more valuable than relying on public cloud alone,” stated Arvind Krishna, IBM Chief Executive Officer, in a blog post.

The foundation stone of this spin-off was laid by IBM’s $34 bn acquisition of Red Hat. The Red Hat buy helped IBM to gain capabilities to build an exceptional-quality hybrid cloud. IBM believes that Red Hat’s open-source, hybrid cloud platform will form the basis for developing and market higher-end AI-enabled software applications and solutions in the future.

“With Red Hat in our portfolio, we have since launched our Cloud Paks and strengthened our systems portfolio. We built an industry-specific cloud designed to tackle the most stringent needs of the financial services industry. And we beefed up our hybrid cloud and AI capabilities by acquiring two companies, Spanugo and WDG Automation,” Krishna elucidates.

An intelligent move

This announcement of IBM to split into companies is an exciting development as it will enable the corporation to fortify its focus on a profitable business line, i.e., cloud. In the post-COVID-19 world, enterprises are expected to inspire their business models and infrastructure modernization with robust digital transformation initiatives (See: Technology trends for businesses in 2020).

The rising adoption of remote-work is accelerating the adoption of cloud solutions. Shortly, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, automation, and augmented reality will be implemented hugely by organizations. As such, IBM would want to capture a bigger pie of the high-value cloud software and solutions. The move will also help IBM become more agile by simplifying and optimizing its operating model.

Due to the low demand for its software and mainframe servers, the company has been aggressively expanding its cloud portfolio in recent times. IBM has been making several rounds of reshuffle and readjustments in its business strategy over the last couple of years.

IBM has been facing significant challenges to improve its top line due to the strained services business. It has also announced massive job-cuts recently in a bid to restructure its business operations. It looks like this new spin-off may be a turning point in the company’s 109 years history and help it deliver more remarkable results in the times to come.

IBM currently has over 350,000 employees and expects to spend about $5 billion in expenses related to the division’s operational and other aspects. Immediately after the announcement, the company’s shares saw a jump of 6% on NYSE.

 

 

India’s 2020 4G Spectrum auction set for further delay

India’s 2020 4G Spectrum auction set for further delay

The next phase of the 4G spectrum auction in India seems to be heading for another delay due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The auction, which was scheduled for this month, yet to see any government’s cabinet note. The cabinet note is mandatory for the commendation of the spectrum base price and quantity that requires to be put below the mallet.

One needs to note that before any spectrum auction in India, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) issues a formal Notice Inviting Applications (NIA), inviting interested service providers to bid for the mobile services spectrum. The total procedure typically needs around 45 days to fill out before the actual auction starts.

This would be the second consecutive deferment of India’s 4G spectrum auctions, which includes seven bands in 22 circles. The radio waves for grabs include 700Mhz, 800Mhz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, and 2500 MHz bands. Earlier, the government intended to schedule the auction in March this year, but due to COVID-19 related restrictions, it had to postpone it to October.

The government has already pushed the auction of 5G spectrum in the 3300-3600 MHz band to 2021 due to telecom operators’ tight budgets and inability to meet the high reserve prices earmarked by India’s telecom sector regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

India is expecting to earn over INR 4 lakh crores from the auction.

Reliance Jio pushes for early 4G spectrum auction

India’s largest telecom operator, Reliance Jio, seems to be the only telecom operator who wants to speed up the 4G spectrum auction sale. Other telcos, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi), are in no rush and have indicated that they would be happy if the auction is delayed.

“We are unable to find any reasonable rationale behind this sudden pause in a successful and fruitful policy of auctioning all available spectrum every year, since the Supreme Court decision in 2012,” stated Reliance Jio in a letter addressed to DoT Secretary, last month.

The Mukesh Ambani led Jio to expand its infrastructure in India and has a big concern over the 4G spectrum auction delay in India because its airwaves license in the 800 MHz bands is expiring next year. The company, which uses the 800 MHz band of Anil Ambani’s insolvent company Reliance Communications, has recently raised over 1.50 lakh crores funding from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Silver Lake. (See: Jio driving digital shifts in the economy)

Jio is also adding a significant number of subscribers every month, and need more spectrum to provide quality 4G services throughout the nation. Its mobile-first approach has helped it gain a substantial footing in the market, and improved data adoption in India enormously. (See: The Jio ecosystem has begun to unfold)

In contrast, Airtel and VI are financially stressed and witnessing a big challenge in improving their market share. Though their spectrum license in the 1800 MHz band is also due for renewal in 2021, it is less expensive. Both the operators also have backup airwaves to support their subscribers, hence keen to streamline their financial budgets before participating in the 4G spectrum auction in India.

 

Growth of Indian IT sector set for revival in 2021

Growth of Indian IT sector set for revival in 2021

After facing multiple headwinds due to the COVID-19 pandemic and sluggish economic recovery, the growth of Indian IT sector seems to be on the path of retrieval.

A recent study by Fitch, a global credit rating agency, says that due to the enormous demand for digital transformation solutions, the IT Services industry revenue will start upward by a high single-digit percentage in 2021-22.  The sector, however, will continue to see minimal revenue growth in FY20, says the report titled Spotlight: Indian IT Services Sector.

The IT industry has grown at a CAGR of 8% during 2014-2019, based on Fitch’s estimate.

The report comes as no surprise as most technology leaders have been extremely cautious about IT spending and exploring several ways to transform their businesses digitally in the wake of the current crisis.

New normal leading the growth of Indian IT sector

The new normal, where most of the employees work from home, has been a compelling force for businesses to transform every aspect of their operations and move from legacy systems.

The focus has been growing steadily on automation, artificial intelligence, and data science to swiftly increase employee efficiency and productivity. The industry expects that technologies like Analytics and AI would continue to play a more significant role in the growth of the Indian IT sector along with driving enriching experience for employees and customers. Moreover, the next twelve months will see faster adoption of transformative technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), Blockchain, and robotic process automation (RPA). These technologies will be used to build contactless solutions and strengthen process efficiencies. Customer Organizations will be seen ramping-up their research and development initiatives to kick-start the economy. (See: How is digital transformation shaping the new future?)

Most enterprises across sectors have realized the benefits of these technologies for the growth of their IT industry and putting a strong emphasis on improving their internal IT budget scope. (See: Anshuman Tiwari, Global Head of Delivery Excellence, DXC Technology; and CIOs to focus on network transformation for business continuity).

Digital transformation tailwinds favor India’s IT sector

To meet the growing demand, IT Services companies are rapidly increasing their competencies and will continue to enter into incredible collaborations and acquisitions that will further beef up their digital transformation capabilities and revenue prospects in 2021, despite the current decline. (See: Tech Cos take M&A route for digital transformation supremacy).

In addition, there is also a cost advantage, i.e., the salaries in India are much lower as compared to the countries like the U.S. This is expected to create a massive growth opportunity for the U.S. and European firms to expand their base in India.

Top recent partnerships

Company

Partner

Initiative

TCS

IBM

Develop a new unit to help clients achieve a greater level of digital and cognitive enterprise transformation using IBM’s cloud service

Infosys

Genesys

AI solution to augment query management and scale helpdesk operations to enhance productivity and customer satisfaction.

 

Wipro

Intel

Provide remote work solutions with enhanced cybersecurity measures to customers

 

Tech Mahindra

Microsoft

Develop enterprise cloud solutions leveraging Microsoft platforms and technologies to meet customer needs and pursue growth

 

Mphasis

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Provide an end-to-end cloud and cognitive portfolio of services leveraging its partnership with AWS, with its new status of premier consulting partner

 

Hexaware

Freshworks

Offer customer and employee-engagement software for digitally native business

 

Source: Fitch.

Quote:

“We expect the Indian IT services industry to continue to take advantage of its low-cost operations and maintain its strong foothold in the global IT sector”

-Keith Poon, Fitch Ratings

Airtel beefs up cybersecurity portfolio, eyes new business

Airtel beefs up cybersecurity portfolio, eyes new business

Global telecommunication company Bharti Airtel launches several new offerings to fortify its enterprise business. The company has announced two strategic alliances to bring new-age cybersecurity solutions and has unveiled a Security Intelligence Center (SIC) to enhance enterprise network monitoring capabilities.

All the new offerings are introduced under the umbrella of Airtel Secure.

The Telco has reportedly spent about Rs. 100 crores for the launch of the new SIC. Situated in the National Capital Region, the center will provide remote network monitoring and tracking services through artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to mitigate potential threats.

Airtel has also signed strategic pacts with Cisco and Radware to develop enterprise customers’ security solutions and capabilities. With its collaboration with Cisco, a networking giant, Airtel will offer innovative monitoring, analysis, and investigation of malicious code services to its customers. It will also develop new cybersecurity solutions for businesses to secure networks, endpoints, applications, and the cloud.

Another strategic deal involves Radware, a leading provider of cybersecurity, and application delivery solutions. Through this partnership, the company has been able to set-up India’s first global scrubbing center. This will ensure that all cyber threats to data and information are attacked and eliminated at the country’s source. Airtel’s Nxtra Data will host this advanced facility in Chennai.

The company informed that it has already signed Flipkart, Havell’s, Fidelity India, R-Systems, among others as its customers for the service.

“At Airtel, we constantly ask our customers what more can we do to help them in their digital transformation journeys. Through these conversations, we have heard that cybersecurity is a critical requirement. Airtel Secure has been built to serve this need. It combines Airtel’s robust network security with cutting-edge solutions delivered through global partnerships to deliver end-to-end managed security services,” said Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel.

Need for proactive cybersecurity solutions gain currency

The cybersecurity market is developing at a fast rate. According to a recent report by Nasscom-DSCI, the Indian cybersecurity services industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 21 percent to touch USD 13.6 billion by 2025.

The opportunity has been further grown because of the pandemic induced remote work scenario. There has been a massive upsurge in bandwidth consumption from various home networks, which may not be as secure as office networks. This new normal creates an enormous scope for threat actors to hack systems and negatively impacts job performance and employee productivity.

Enterprises face mounting pressure to address the rising security threats and need proactive solutions and support to track their network. In a bid to increase their security solutions canvas, most Indian telcos are collaborating with IT majors to establish digital trust and provide a robust connectivity experience to their customers.

Early this year, Vodafone Idea’s enterprise arm, Vodafone Idea Business Services (VIBS), also entered into a partnership with IBM to establish a data security device management solution for enterprises.

Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio is also concentrating on catering to small and medium businesses’ information security needs and has big plans lined up for the next year.

Among all telcos, Airtel is leading the B2B connectivity space and serves over 2500 large and one million-plus SMEs and startups with its integrated product portfolio that includes data centers, cloud, security, and collaboration.

 

Twitter hires Rinki Sethi as CISO to keep hackers at bay

Twitter hires Rinki Sethi as CISO to keep hackers at bay

Micro-blogging giant, Twitter, hires Rinki Sethi, an ex-IBM executive, as its new Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).  The San Francisco-based executive has last worked with Rubrik, a cloud data management company in the capacity of VP and CISO.

Sethi has extensive experience in leading and developing online infrastructure for tech majors such as IBM and Palo Alto Networks. Sethi will manage enterprise risk, security risk, application security, and detection & response efforts in her new office.

Sethi has also served on the advisory council for SecureWorld, one of North America’s major cybersecurity conferences, for over six years.

What makes this announcement significant?

The announcement of Twitter’s new CISO has come at a time when most of the social media platforms are facing substantial scrutiny because of the amplified security breaches and user abuse.

In July this year, the micro-blogging major received severe criticism from many countries because of its inability to preclude a major cyber hack. The company reported a breach when cyber criminals gained unauthorized access to its systems to hack the high-profile Twitter accounts of many famous people, leaders, and influential personalities.

The hacked accounts were used to trap many naïve followers who were tricked into transferring Bitcoins to specific wallets by offering massive returns.

The list of compromised accounts included former US President Barack Obama, media personality Kim Kardashian, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Early this month, a similar incident repeated when cybercriminals hacked the twitter account of Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India.

Skills shortage a big concern

The IT industry has unanimous concerns about the scarcity of trained cybersecurity professionals in the marketplace.

A recent report commissioned by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), and the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) professionals, reveals that over 70% of governing bodies are putting their operations at risk due to lack of robust cybersecurity talent at the administration. 

The severe shortage in cybersecurity talent is a global problem. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have taken Twitter over nine months to fill the position of CISO leadership role, which had been lying vacant after Mike Convertino, who left the high-profile job in December 2019 to begin his venture.

In the growing work-from-home environment scenario, enterprises need to take speedy steps to beef-up their security policies and infrastructure to fit the growing work-from-home environment. However, if the shortage of trained information security professionals continues to persist for a longer time, it can derail enterprises’ digital transformation efforts, eventually blocking agility and business resiliency. 

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