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Top 10 stories of the week: March 14th to March 19th 2017


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In no particular order, here are MediaNama’s top 10 stories of the week ended 19th March 2017

MediaNama would like to thank its sponsors: Indian Express and E2E for their support.

Uber shuts down autorickshaw services in Coimbatore and Indore

Uber has shut down its autorickshaw service UberAUTO in Coimbatore and Indore. In a blog post, Uber said that it had discontinued the service from March 6 and encouraged users to book an UberGo cab instead in Coimbatore. Meanwhile, the company has not issued an official statement about shutting down UberAUTO in Indore but the option is not available on the app currently. Read it here

Paytm wallet starts offering recurring billing services for companies

Digital payments company Paytm has launched recurring billing services for companies through its wallet. The company is targeting video streaming apps, websites, newsletters and media companies for the new service. Developers will be able to use APIs, SDKs and Plugins to accept recurring payments from customers.

After a one-time authorization by the customer, the subscription amount would be auto-debited from the customer’s Paytm wallet at a given interval. Developers can log on to paywithpaytm.com/developers and download the relevant API to enable the service. Read it here

Bitcoins and virtual currencies potential is being overstated: RBI deputy governor

In a speech earlier this month, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor R Gandhi said that the potential of virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, is being overstated. “We can see that in these types of solutions for Virtual Currency, there is no central bank or monetary authority. They pose potential financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks,” he said. Read it here

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ShopClues board backs Radhika Aggarwal and Sanjay Sethi against allegations

ShopClues’ board has hit back against co-founder Sandeep Aggarwal and said that he is engaged in a personal vendetta against Radhika Aggarwal and Sanjay Sethi. “It is very disappointing to see an ex-founder, who disassociated from the company for his criminal wrong doings, is now engaged in a personal vendetta on a public forum,” a statement from the board added. Read it here

Now, a Delhi cab union wants to launch their own app sans Ola and Uber

Chaalak Shakti, a cab union in Delhi, will be launching its own taxi-hailing app called SEWA to counter Ola and Uber. The union added that this was a reaction to reduced earnings from Ola and Uber. Drivers have been protesting in multiple cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

The app will be launched on April 7 and will have more than 5,000 drivers on the platform. Sahdev Panchal, a leader of Chaalak Shakti, said that the union has contracted several service providers for technology, customer care, operations, marketing and other business related needs. Read it here

Zomato launches a subscription service in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Zomato has launched a subscription membership plan called Zomato Gold in Dubai and Abu Dhabi where users can buy a 3-month, a 6-month, or a 12-month plan. Zomato Gold will allow users to buy two drinks for the price of one at any day or time. Membership plans start at 99 dirhams (around ~ Rs 18) and covers over 200 restaurants, bars and lounges. Read it here

WiFi Dabba’s PCO model allows it to sell data at ₹20 for 1GB

Last week, the Indian telecom regulator TRAI issued recommendations to Department of Telecom (DoT), asking it to allow small shop owners, cafes, eateries, malls etc to provide last-mile Internet connectivity, via “Public Data Offices” (PDOs), which provide WiFi hotspots. The idea is to set up Public Data Offices (PDOs)—PCOs that work as WiFi hotspots—across the country, providing “last-mile” or cheaper connectivity in areas where connectivity is low, enabling these providers to partner with telecom operators, and re-selling Internet bandwidth. Read it here

Committee suggests BSNL-MTNL merger. It won’t help

The Parliamentary committee on petitions yesterday tabled its report in the Lok Sabha, recommending a merger of BSNL and MTNL, while also adding that mere financial support from the government won’t work, saying that the “aspect of providing financial support to these entities by the Government has proved to be an apparatus for ‘survival’ and not ‘revival’.”

One reasoning from the committee which we couldn’t quite understand: “with the two entities competing against each other as well as the private sector players – their value attrition would only accelerate.” This doesn’t make sense because MTNL operates only in Delhi and Mumbai, while BSNL operates in all other circles. Thus the two do not compete with other. Still, that doesn’t mean that the merger isn’t a bad idea: it should lead to a reduction in management overheads. Read it here

Paytm Canada: a route to a money transfer business?

Paytm has launched a bill payment app in Canada, allowing Canadians to pay for utility bills using its app, including phone, cable, electricity, water and Internet bills, as well as property taxes and insurance. The company has taken a different approach in Canada, as compared to India: This has been launched as an app-only business, and if you go to Paytm.ca, you’re asked to download an iOS or Android app. In comparison, Paytm in India was largely a mobile recharge business (and we wouldn’t be surprised if it still is). The company claims that it aggregates thousands of service providers in Canada for bill payments; I couldn’t check because the app is incompatible with Xiaomi devices (Paytm in India works fine). Read it here

Myntra launches offline store Roadster in Bangalore

Flipkart owned fashion e-tailer Myntra is expanding its offline presence by launching its first offline store in Bangalore under one of its private label brand called Roadster, reports ET. A spokesperson for Myntra confirmed the development with MediaNama. The ecommerce company had been planning for its offline push since October last year and added at least 10 private label brands including Roadster, Dressberry, HRX among others to its portfolio. Read it here

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