Posted on

India Briefings: India smartphone usage up 25% since April this year

Last updated on December 22nd, 2020 at 05:33 am

21 Dec 2020

According to a study conducted by Chinese smartphone brand Vivo in collaboration with market research firm Cybermedia Research, Indians’ daily average use of smartphones is estimated to have increased by 25% since April this year to 6.9 hours a day. This is an acceleration from March 2020 when Indians’ average daily time spent rose 11% to 5.5 hours compared with 4.9 hours in March 2019.

The report found that Indians spent most time on work from home activities (75% increase since April), followed by voice and video calling (63% usage growth since April), a 59% increase in time spent on OTT platforms, a 55% increase in time spent on social media apps, and a 45% increase in time spent on mobile games.  

Moneyboxx Finance raises INR 100 million debt funding

21 Dec 2020

SME-focused finance company Moneyboxx Finance (BOM:538446) has raised INR 100 million in debt funding from Blacksoil Capital,  Caspian Impact Investments and Ashv Finance. The funding will be used to support the company’s its disbursement target of INR 800 – INR 850 million in the current fiscal, which equates to about 2.5 times of its lending in during FY 2019/20.

“We at Moneyboxx Finance have created a robust system to support micro-businesses and entrepreneurs and the fact that leading lenders such as BlackSoil, Caspian and Ashv Finance have reposed faith in us is a validation of our business model and we are indeed grateful to them for their support. The funds will help us to further our cause of supporting the deserving micro enterprises and create a positive impact in this segment,” said Deepak Aggarwal, Co-CEO& CFO of Moneyboxx Finance. “Our collection efficiency of 95 percent during moratorium and over 99 percent from September onwards despite CoVID-19 challenges is testimony to the fact that if underwriting and collection processes are robust, it is possible to create same or even better quality of book along with a sustainable and profitable business model in the unsecured lending segment,”he added. 

Food delivery unicorn Zomato closes USD 660 million round

20 Dec 2020

Homegrown food delivery and restaurant aggregator startup Zomato has closed a USD 600 million financing round at a post-money valuation of USD 3.9 billion. 10 new investors joined the round including Tiger Global, Kora, Luxor, Fidelity (FMR), D1 Capital, Baillie Gifford, Mirae Asset and Steadview Capital.

Flipkart sees 35% increase in merchants on its platform 

19 Dec 2020

Walmart-backed (NYSAE:WMT) homegrown e-commerce company Flipkart announced that is has seen a 35% increase in the number of sellers on its platform, most of whom were from Tie 2 and Tier 3 regions such as Tirupur, Howrah, Zirakpur, Hisar, Saharanpur, Panipat and Rajkot. 

Tata Group submits bid for Air India

16 Dec 2020

Indian conglomerate Tata Group has reportedly submitted its bid to acquire beleaguered state-run airline Air India, an acquisition that could make it one of the biggest players in India’s growing aviation sector. Tata Group currently owns two airlines – AirAsia India and Vistara -which currently command a market share of 7.1% and 6.4% respectively of India’s domestic traffic market making them the fifth and sixth biggest players in the market.  Air India with a 9.4% market share makes it the third biggest player in India’s domestic traffic market after Spicejet (NSE:SPICEJET) which owns 13.4% of India’s domestic air traffic, and market leader Indigo with 55.5%

Air India originated as Tata Air Services which was subsequently renamed to Tata Airlines in 1932 by Tata founder J.R.D. Tata.  It was subsequently converted into a public company in 1946 and renamed Air India when it was acquired by the government in 1953.

Edtech startup upGrad acquires recruitment platform Rekrut India

15 Dec 2020

Online learning and higher education startup upGrad has acquired homegrown recruitment platform Rekrut India. The acquisition offers upGrad students access to Rekrut’s hiring network. 

Jet Airways 2.0 could resume operations by summer of 2021

07 Dec 2020

Jet Airways 1.0 which had been grounded in April 2019 after struggling with a debt burden of more than INR 85 billion, is expected to resume operations as Jet Airways 2.0 by the summer of 2021 if all everything goes according to plan. The announcement was made by Murai Lal Jalan, and Kalrock Capital, which had been approved by Jet Airways creditors to revive the airline. 

G-Pay India profit soars 6.5 times in FY 2020

07 Dec 2020

G-Pay India – the Indian digital wallet owned by internet giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) saw profits soar 6.5 times to INR 330 million for the financial year 2020 from INR 61 million a year earlier according to a report by Entrackr. The company’s EBITDA margin also improved to 5.02% this year from 3.49% last year. However, while the company’s revenues grew 34.2% YoY to INR 15.05 billion in FY 2020 from INR 10.1 billion in FY 2019, 80.5% of this (about INR 11.73 billion) were actually reimbursements received from holding entity Google Asia Pacific.

G-Pay India is India’s second largest UPI payment platform with a 39.5% market share.  

Walmart eyes Flipkart IPO overseas

07 Dec 2020

Retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is preparing to sell around 25%  of its stake in Flipkart to raise USD 10 billion which if successful will double Flipkart’s valuation to USD 40 billion since Walmart’s acquisition of the homegrown e-commerce company. Goldman Sachs has been hired to assist with the listing. 

FreshToHome to receive incentives from Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO)

07 Dec 2020

Fresh produce online marketplace FreshToHome has announced that it will receive financial and non-financial incentives from the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) to develop projects to develop the emirate’s desert agriculture and aquaculture technologies. 

Flipkart to partially spin-off digital payments arm PhonePe

03 Dec 2020

Walmart-backed (NYSE:WMT) homegrown e-commerce behemoth Flipkart has announced a partial spin-off of its digital payments platform PhonePe. As part of the spin-off process, PhonePe has raised USD 700 million in new financing led by Walmart wit the participation of existing investors. The new funding round valued PhonePe at USD 5.5 billion post-money.

The partial spin-off will see Flipkart paring its stake in PhonePe from 100% to 87%.

Payment gateway BillDesk FY2020 profit up 53% YoY

28 Nov 2020

Visa-backed (NYSE:V) homegrown payment gateway BillDesk reported a 53% year-on-year (YoY) growth in consolidated profit which reached INR 2.112 billion in FY2020 from INR 1.38 billion a year earlier. Total consolidated income rose 30% YoY to INR 19.06 billion from INR 14.07 billion in FY2019. Expenses for the year amounted to INR 16.19 billion up 30.9% YoY from INR 12.36 billion the previous year. Bank fees and service charges paid on transactions remained the biggest cost which accounted for 84.6% of total expenses incurred during the period. 

Revenues from “BillDesk and other technology related services” which constitute the the company’s core payment gateway operations generated INR 11.94 billion, representing  63% of revenues. Its loyalty business offering meanwhile generated INR 4.18 billion, or 22% of revenues. Compared to FY2019, these segments saw revenue growth of 19.8% and 33% respectively.

The consolidated financials of the company include four subsidiaries – Loyalty Rewards Management Pvt LTD, Hatio Innovations Pvt Ltd, Jocata Financial Advisory and Jocata Corporation respectively.

BillDesk is reportedly in the market again for buyers, after an unsuccessful attempt two years ago.

Zetwerk revenue surges 20-fold to INR 3.2 billion in FY2020

28 Nov 2020

Accel Partners-backed B2B marketplace for custom manufacturing, Zetwerk, has reported a 20-fold jump in revenues to INR 3.2 billion in FY2020 from INR 164.5 million a year earlier.  89% of the company’s revenues were generated from the manufacturing of fabricated or machined metal products and tools while the remaining rest 11% was generated through the construction and maintenance of water canals, reservoirs including irrigation systems.

Amazon Pay, Paytm, PhonePE, and 26 others become NCPI shareholders

27 Nov 2020

India’s National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI) disclosed that is has expanded its shareholder base, through a private placement of 4.63% of its equity shares worth INR 816.4 million, which valued the entity at INR 17.63 billion.  The 19 new shareholders include mobile wallet operators Amazon Pay, Paytm  Payments Bank, PhonePe, Mobikwik, Pine Labs, and PayU. Banking entities include Standard Chartered Bank, Dhanlaxmi Bank Ltd. and IDFC Bank were also onboarded as shareholders. The latest private placement brings NCPI’s total shareholder count to 67. 

According to the shareholder list disclosed by NCPI, Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Punjab National Bank hold the highest stake with 9.15%, whereas Canara Bank holds 8.14% share. Lenders including State Bank of India, Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, HSBC and Citibank, each, hold a 7.12% stake. 

India enters technical recession for the first time since gaining independence in 1947 

27 Nov 2020

India’s GDP contracted 7.5% year-on-year (YoY) in Q3 2020, the worst performance among major advanced and technical economies. Although Q3 2020 was better than Q2 2020 when the economy shrank 23.9% YoY, the two consecutive quarters of economic contraction mean Asia’s third biggest economy has entered a technical recession for the first time since 1947.

India extends ban on international flights until December 31

27 Nov 2020

India’s civil aviation ministry has extended the suspension of international flights until December 31, 2020. 

AirAsia India Q3 2020 revenue plunges 62% YoY 

24 Nov 2020

Budget airline AirAsia India said revenues dropped 69% year on year to INR 2.21 billion during the quarter ended September 2020 from INR 7.24 billion a year earlier, as the pandemic hit the air travel industry. The budget airline is a joint venture between Malaysia budget carrier AriAsia Bhd (KLSE:AIRASIA) which owns a 49% stake and Indian conglomerate Tata Sons Ltd which holds the remaining 51%. AirAsia India said its capacity shrank 64% YoY during the July – September quarter. “Average fare also saw an increase of 12% to INR 3,143 as compared to 3Q 2019. Average load factor was 62% with AAI (AirAsia India) operating 65% of its fleet,” AirAsia Bhd said in its exchange filing. 

Bharti Airtel overtakes Jio in August 2020 subscriber growth

17 Nov 2020

According to figures by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Bharti Airtel (NSE:BHARTIARTL) added about 2.9 million users in August 2020, compared to 1.8 million for Reliance Jio – currently India’s biggest telecom operator. This represents a 0.91% monthly growth for Bharti Airtel compared with 0.47% for Reliance Jio.

Except for state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) which added 214,000 users in August, all other mobile operators saw falling subscriber numbers according to the data. VI (previously Vodafone Idea), which was the biggest telecom operator until October 2019, lost 1.2 million users in August. Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications lost 290 users, while state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) lost 6,081 wireless subscribers.

SBICap Ventures raises USD 25 million from European Investment Bank (EIB)

13 Nov 2020

The State Bank of India’s venture capital arm SBICap Ventures has raised USD 25 million from Luxembourg-based, publicly owned European Investment Bank (EIB) for its Neev II Fund. SBICap Ventures is aiming to raise USD 118 mill;ion for the fund from global and domestic investors. The fund’s current backers include SBI, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). 

SBICap Ventures is looking to invest in eight low-income and developing states, namely Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Areas of focus include infrastructure sub-sectors such as renewable energy, agricultural supply chain, healthcare, education, urban infrastructure and roads.  

POS company Mswipe’s losses grow 155% 

13 Nov 2020

Indian point of sales company Mswipe, reported losses of INR 1.481 billion for financial year (FY) 2020, a 155% increase from the previous year’s loss of INR 581 million. The company’s expanding losses comes despite a 34.6% rise in operating revenue to INR 3.48 billion from INR 2.585 billion in FY 2019. 

Whatsapp gets NCPI nod to expand payments system

06 Nov 2020

The National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI) has given approval for Whatsapp to ‘Go Live’ on UPI in the multi-bank model. The Indian payments authority’s approval allows Facebook to expand its UPI userbase in a graded manner starting with a maximum registered userbase of 20 million in UPI. 

Facebook first began testing its payment method two years ago. However, expansion efforts have been hampered by a slew of lawsuits over privacy concerns and its inability to meet the Indian government’s data localization requirements. This prevented the social media giant from launching its payment system beyond its beta version which is currently being used by around 1 million users in India. 

Amazon to invest INR 2.76 billion to build second data center region in India

06 Nov 2020

Amazon Web Services, the cloud arm of tech giant Amazon, is investing INR 2.76 billion to build a new AWS Cloud Region in the city of Hyderabad, in the southern state of Telangana, India, by 2022. In a press release, Amazon said, the new Amazon Web Services Asia Region will be Amazon’s second Infrastructure region in India and will enable even more developers, enterprises, and start-ups along with government, education, and non-profit organizations to run their applications and serve customers from data centers situated in India.

Flipkart acquires social gaming startup Mech Mocha

04 Nov 2020

Walmart-backed e-commerce giant Flipkart has acquired multiplayer social-gaming startup Mech Mocha for an undisclosed amount. With the acquisition, Flippkart aims to expand and retain its userbase by offering games to users of its mobile app. 

Hyperlocal search engine Justdial’s net profits drop 43.2% QoQ

01 Nov 2020

Homegrown hyperlocal search engine Justdial has reported net profits of INR 473 million for the quarter ended September 30, a 43.2% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) drop compared to the previous quarter when the company reported net profits of INR 833 million. The company’s profit margins followed a similar trend falling 51.3% QoQ, and 28.26% year-on-year (YoY). 

Revenues fell 30.9% YoY to INR 1.67 billion from INR 2.42 billion the same quarter a year earlier.  

UPI transaction value up 17.3% MoM in October

01 Nov 2020

India’s national payment system – United Payments Interface (UPI) – recorded 2.07 billion transactions (the highest ever since its  founding in 2016) worth INR 3.86 trillion in October according to data released by the National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI). October transactions were up 15% by volume and up 17.3% by value compared to September. 

Reliance Industries FY 2021 Q2 revenue up 27.2% QoQ

01 Nov 2020

India’s biggest company by market capitalization Reliance Industries posted revenues of INR 1.28 trillion in revenues for Q2 of financial year 2020-21, a 27.2% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) increase, driven by solid performance from its digital venture – Reliance Jio Platforms –  and its retail venture – Reliance Retail. Net profit for the quarter was up 28% QoQ, reaching INR 106 billion. 

Reliance Jio generated revenue of INR 210.7 billion, for the quarter, up 7.1% QoQ. Net profit reached INR 30 billion up 19.8% QoQ.  

Reliance Retail generated revenue of INR 410 billion for the quarter, up 30% QoQ. Net profit surged 125.8% QoQ to INR 9.73 billion. 

Reliance’s fibre-optic business bags USD 1.01 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s PIF and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA)

30 Oct 20020

India’s most valuable company by market capitalization – Reliance Industries – has announced that Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) will invest USD 1.01 billion into Reliance’s “critical asset” Digital Fibre Infrastructure Trust, which holds Reliance Industries’ fibre-optic assets.

Amazon Prime subscribers doubled during August Prime Day sales

30  Oct 2020

E-commerce giant Amazon’s video streaming platform Amazon Prime said is subscriber base doubled during August’s Prime Day sales, compared to last year.

Indian army launches Whatsapp-like encrypted messaging app

30  Oct 2020

The Indian army has launched its own messaging app – an indigenous end-to-end encrypted voice, text, and video calling app for Android smartphones. Called the Security Application for the Internet (SAI), the app was launched in an effort to prevent any sensitive information from reaching intelligence agencies. 

Proctor & Gamble sets up INR 4 billion ‘India Growth Fund’

30  Oct 2020

Global FMCG giant Proctor & Gamble has set up an INR 4 billion ‘India Growth Fund’ to identify, and collaborate with startups, businesses, and individuals offering innovative solutions to localize the manufacturing of finished goods, procurement of raw materials, and packaging.  The new fund is part of P&G’s ‘vGrow’ program.  

P&G claims that 95% of its products sold in India are manufactured locally. P&G also exports locally manufactured finished goods to more than 120 countries.  and the program aims to further localize manufacturing of finished products, procurement of raw materials and packaging materials, as well  adopt innovative solutions that enhance the company’s go-to-market technologies to better serve their customers in India. 

Online fresh fish, vegetables, and meat retailer FreshToHome raises USD 121 million, largest ever Series C funding in India

27  Oct 2020

Indian online fresh fish, vegetables, and meat retailer FreshToHome has raised a record-setting USD 121 million in Series C funding from the Investment Corporation of Dubai (the principal investment arm of the government of Dubai), Investcopr, Ascent Capital, the U.S. government’s development finance institution (DFC), and the Allana Group. This is reportedly the largest Series C funding to date for an Indian startup. 

The fresh capital will be used to accelerate expansion through India, as well as the Middle East. Banking on a rising demand for food safety, FreshToHome’s patent-pending AI-powered supply chain technology and its state-of-the-art cold chain enables sellers to source fresh fish, vegetables and meat directly from fishermen and farmers, cutting out layers of middlemen, and helping the company offer customers a safety guarantee of “100% Fresh and 0% Chemicals”.

Reliance-Future Group deal stalled, temporary relief for Amazon

25  Oct 2020

A Singapore-based arbitration panel has ruled that Reliance Retail and Future Group should not proceed with the deal, until it hears the matter. The ruling from the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SAIC) is a a win for Amazon who owns an indirect stake in Future Group and claims that Future Group violated the terms of the agreement between the two companies. In August last year, Amazon acquired a 49% stake in Future Coupons which owns a 7.3% stake in Future Retail. Amazon also had the rights to buy into Future Retail after a period between 3 and 10 years as part of the  deal. The contract signed between to the two firms contains a non-compete clause that bars Future Group from selling the business to rivals without Amazon’s approval.

Reliance Retail, the retail arm of India’s biggest company by market capitalization – Reliance Industries – has been moving aggressively  to grab market share in India’s booming e-commerce market, and is expected to emerge as a formidable force in Indian e-commerce, disrupting it similar to the manner in which Reliance Jio disrupted India’s telecom market to emerge as India’s biggest mobile operator by market share. For more insights on Indian e-commerce click here

Supply chain financing startup CredAble raises INR 181.4 million

24  Oct 2020

India supply chain financing startup CredAble has raised INR 181.4 million in funding led by V’Ocean investment. A group of other individual investors participated in the round.

CredAble aims disrupt the supply chain financing in Asia. The startup’s solution combines financing, deep learning, analytics to create innovative financial products dynamically. 

Flipkart acquires stake in Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail

23 Oct 2020

Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart has invested INR 15 billion to acquire a 7.8% stake in Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail. The acquisition looks to be a step towards solidifying Walmart-owned (NYSE:WMT) Flipkart’s position in India’s fashion e-commerce market which is seeing growing competition from Amazon Fashion (NASDAQ:AMZN) and newcomer JioMart which having disrupted the online grocery space, announced its entry into fashion in early October this year.

Flipkart’s fashion business Flipkart Fashion, together with its fashion e-commerce subsidiary Myntra lead India’s fashion e-commerce, with a market share of roughly 38.3% as of 2018 according to S&P data.  

For more insights on Indian e-commerce, click here

India Q3 2020 smartphone shipments reach all time highs

22 Oct 2020

About 50 million smartphones shipped in India during Q3 2020 according to a report by Canalys, hitting a quarterly record in the world’s second largest smartphone market. This is nearly three times the 17.3 million shipped in Q2 2020 (during which time the country was under lockdown for two months). and about 50% higher than the 33.5 million  shipped in Q1 2020. 

Chinese smartphone makers dominate India’s smartphone market accounting for three of the top four brands; Xiaomi lead the way with a 26.1% market share followed by Samsung (20.4%), Vivo (17.6%), and Realme (17.4%). 

RBI bans payment firms from issuing new proprietary QR codes

22 Oct 2020

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has banned payment system operators from issuing new proprietary QR codes and released norms that would move towards making QR codes interoperable. The RBI has said that payment firms that use more than one proprietary QR code must shift to one or more interoperable QR codes by March 31, 2021. According to the RBI there are currently two interoperable QR codes in existence –  the United Payments Interface (UPI), and Bharat QR. The RBI’s new norms will enable the use of one QR code through which all payments can be made, and thereby remove the need for users to maintain different apps.

JioMart forays into electronics

22 Oct 2020

Already the largest online grocer, a feat achieved less than half a year after launch, JioMart, the fledgling e-commerce arm owned by Reliance Retail has reportedly started selling electronics, as it works its way to becoming a full fledged e-tailer. The pilot project on starting October 21, will see electronic products such as kitchen appliances, and home appliances such as vaccum cleaners, and air purifiers, and personal care products such as electronic shavers, trimmers, and consumer electronics such as power banks, and electronic gadgets such as bluetooth headphones, and speakers from brands including Apple, Samsung, Sony, JBL, Philips, Bajaj, and SanDisk being offered to JioMart shoppers in Navi Mumbai.

Reliance Jio Platforms launches JioPages – a ‘Made in India’ web browser

22 Oct 2020

India’s youngest startup unicorn Reliance Jio Platforms has launched JioPages – a web browser based on Chromium Blink – an open-source browser engine developed by Google as part of the Chromium project. The new browser from the digital arm of India’s largest company by market capitalization – Reliance Industries – offers support for features such as encrypted connections, and support for eight Indian languages (Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, and Bengali).

Currently only available in Google Play, the browser has already racked up more than 10 million downloads as of 23 October 2020.

Edtech startup Ahaguru raises Series A funding

22 Oct 2020

Indian edtech startup Ahaguru has raised an undisclosed amount in Series A funding from an investment firm managed by Anand Mahindra’s family office. The funds will be used for teacher recruitment, technology and product development, and increase its student base across in India and the Middle East.

Popular among students for its science and math courses, Ahaguru is making investments in artificial intelligence to offer personalized learning experiences to students to better understand student learning patterns and make suggestions to enhance their knowledge and increase their chances of success.

AI-powered fintech startup Signzy raises USD 5.4 million

21 Oct 2020

Indian AI-powered fintech startup Signzy has raised USD 5.4 million in a funding round led by Arkam Ventures, and Mastercard (NYSE:MA). Existing investors Kalaari Capital and Stellaris Venture Partners participated. The fresh capital will be used for AI-related research and development, and sales, in an effort to capitalize on the heightened demand witnessed during the pandemic.

Signzy offers digital onboarding and identity verification solutions (such as customer onboarding and video KYC) for banks, NBFCs, and other financial institutions.  The startup’s solutions are used by major Indian banks and financial institutions such as ICICI Bank (NSE:ICICIBANK), Aditya Birla Financial Services (NSE:ABCAPITAL) and the State Bank of India.

Atlassian Ventures launches USD 50 million fund for Indian startups

21 Oct 2020

Australian software company Atlassian Corporation has announced the launch of its USD 50 million venture fund Atlassian Ventures which will invest in emerging startups as well as established players in the software space that are developing products within Atlassian ecosystem. The focus of Atlassian Ventures will be on early stage startups that are building apps as part of Atlassian’s cloud products; larger, established product partners looking to scale their business; and existing sales channel partners looking to expand their cloud offerings and create new products.

Indian extra-curricular startup Hobspace raises seed funding

21 Oct 2020

Indian extra curricular startup Hobspace has raised seed funding led by Artha Venture Funds. Other investors that participated in the round include crowdfunding platform AngelList India, venture capital firm Upsparks, and Icebreaker Tech LLP along with angel investors Abhinav Ashokkumar Daga and Siddharth Bhaskar Shah (Ascent Health).

Indian SaaS sales and marketing intelligence startup Slintel raises USD 4.2 million

21 Oct 2020

Indian SaaS sales and marketing intelligence startup Slintel has raised USD 4.2 million in a funding round led by American venture capital firm Accel. Sequoia Capital India and existing investor Stellaris Venture Partners participated. The startup’s intent-powered software processes billions of data points to identify high-intent prospects, thereby helping companies generate leads, and grow revenue. With more than 100 customers across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions, Slintel has reportedly grown 800% over the past year, and is growing its market share in the sales intelligence space. The fresh funds will be used for product enhancement, market expansion.

Restaurant directory startup Zomato ceases Indonesia business

20 Oct 2020

Indian restaurant directory startup Zomato has ceased all operations in Indonesia. Moving forward, users in the country can still access the restaurant directory however maintenance and development will be carried out from Zomato’s headquarters in India.
The move is likely a direct result of the Covid pandemic which negatively impacted the food service sector as consumers were compelled to stay indoors and minimize outdoor activities in an effort curb the spread of the virus. The drop in demand hurt top lines of players in the sector while squeezing bottom lines as expenses such as salaries and other overheads continued to drain cash.

Blackstone To Acquire Prestige Estates’ India Assets

18 Oct 2020

US private equity company Blackstone Inc. (NYSE:BX) has signed an agreement with Indian property developer Prestige Estate (NSE:PRESTIGE) to acquire some of the latter’s real estate assets in India. The deal will include certain commercial offices, retail, and hotel properties, mall management, and identified maintenance businesses.

Blackstone which has the biggest portfolio of office assets in India, has been aggressively investing in Indian real estate over the past decade, much of its attention focused on commercial real estate. Lately however, Blackstone has been making moves in industrial real estate which has been garnering considerable attention from global investors as the country’s e-commerce market booms triggering demand for warehouse space. In January this year Blackstone invested INR 3.8 billion to acquire a majority stake in Indian logistics behemoth Allcargo Logistics. The previous month, Blackstone formed a joint venture with Greenbase, a Hiranandani Group subsidiary to develop warehousing and logistics parks across the country.

JioMart forays into fashion

04 Oct 2020

Having disrupted the online grocery space within a few months of its launch, JioMart, the e-commerce arm of Reliance Retail is now venturing into fashion. The move will intensify competition in India’s burgeoning fashion e-commerce market which is dominated by Flipkart’s Myntra, Flipkart which is owned by US retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT), and global e-commerce behemoth Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).  

Reliance Jio, Qualcomm partner to fast track 5G network infrastructure in India

01 Oct 2020

Reliance Jio – the telecom arm of Reliance Industries – has teamed up with US semiconductor company Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) to accelerate the development and deployment of 5G network infrastructure and services in India. Qualcomm and Jio announced that they have achieved over a 1 gigabyte (GB) per second milestone during trials on the Jio 5GNR solution, leveraging Qualcomm’s 5G RAN platforms.

Indian government 118 mobile apps with Chinese links including PUBG, Alipay, and Baidu

04 Sep 2020

The Indian government has blocked 118 mobile apps with Chinese links, including popular mobile game PUBG, Alibaba-owned e-wallet Alipay, and Chinese search engine giant Baidu’s mobile app citing data privacy concerns, and a threat to national security. Other apps include Baidu Express Edition, Tencent Watchlist, FaceU, WeChat reading, Government WeChat, Tencent Weiyun, APUS Launcher Pro, APUS Security, Cut Cut, ShareSave by Xiaomi, CamCard, PUBG Mobile, and PUBG Mobile Lite.

The government ban takes the total count of Chinese-linked mobile apps banned by India to 224. 

Homegrown online travel agency Yatra partners with Amazon Business to cater to hospitality partners

19 Aug 2020

Homegrown online travel agency (OTA) Yatra (NASDAQ:YTRA) has struck a partnership with e-commerce behemoth Amazon to offer Yatra hospitality partners access to a wide range of products across a wide spectrum of hospitality-related categories such as commercial grade kitchen appliances, kitchen storage solutions, linen, etc. 

Online travel agency Yatra diversifies into edtech; partners with upGrad

14 Jul 2020

Homegrown online travel agency Yatra has announced an alliance with Mumbai-based edtech startup upGrad as part of Yatra’s efforts to diversify beyond travel.

Homegrown payment gateway BillDesk in the market for buyers

05 Jul 2020

Visa-backed (NYSE:V) Mumbai-based payment gateway BillDesk is in the market again for buyers, after an unsuccessful attempt two years ago. This time, BillDesk is open to selling off the entire business, an effort reportedly driven by increasing competition in India’s digital payments space as e-commerce firms up their digital payments game amid a thriving domestic e-commerce sector. 

BillDesk’s payment gateway is largely aimed at business clients, with BillDesk reportedly handling as much as 50%-60% of billing transactions. Despite this stronghold in India’s business digital payments space, there is a growing sense that BillDesk’s inability to offer an end-to-end, integrated payment system will see it fall behind the competition. BillDesk currently functions purely as a payment gateway company enabling banking and merchant website transactions. However, the rise in e-commerce is driving demand for digital payment platforms bundled with e-commerce capabilities, an area where BillDesk lags. Furthermore, private equity firms such as General Atlantic (BillDesk’s biggest shareholder) are showing greater preference for companies that offer more customer-facing digital payment and e-commerce services.

Yatra terminates merger agreement with Ebix

06 Jun 2020

Homegrown online travel agency Yatra (NASDAQ:YTRA) has announced that it has terminated a pending merger agreement with Atlanta-based insurance software company Ebix (NASDAQ:EBIX) and has reportedly filed a litigation against Ebix seeking damages for alleged breach of terms. In July last year, Ebix signed an agreement to acquire Yatra, India’s second largest online travel agency, at an enterprise value of USD 337.8 million.