Payments

Amazon may soon be able to issue its own UPI handles in partnership with Axis Bank, as the company is reportedly testing the product with a closed user group, according to the Economic Times. It currently accepts UPI payments but cannot issue its own handles. Amazon’s plans to launch its own UPI service was stalled over a lack of clarity on the RBI’s mandate to store payments data locally.

Drones

Karnataka will soon conduct drone-based differential GPS surveys to get data on minor mineral deposits, reports the Economic Times. The data will give the authorities the exact location of deposits and will be mapped further to issue quarrying licenses, according to the State’s Mines Secretary R S Kataria.

Caller ID

On December 28, OnePlus announced a caller identification feature for OnePlus 6 and 6T users in India, which is in the open beta stage. Further, calls will be branded spam, suspected fraud, or ads/promos without identifying the owner of the numbers, said the company. The company said that users in India had been demanding the feature for a while. In a forum post, OnePlus said that while the feature requires a “huge amount of data”, it prioritized user privacy through safeguards which require that providers do not collect sensitive data, and collect data for reasonable purposes. The company said that the feature is also compliant with the EU’s data regulation law GDPR. Read the full announcement here.

FASTags

Oil marketing companies IOC, HPCL, and BPCL have signed MoUs for sale of FASTags through petrol pumps, reports Mint. FASTags are prepaid RFID tags which can be used to pay tolls on highways without stopping at the plaza. They were originally introduced in 2014 with the intention to speed up toll payments by discarding the need to pay by cash. For petrol pumps, FASTags will be linked to bank accounts instead of prepaid cards. The ‘My FASTag Customer’ app recharges FASTags via UPI and links Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) with bank accounts. As of September 2017, FASTags were operational on all national highways with an 18% penetration.

WhatsApp ad spends

WhatsApp has spent Rs 120 crore on print, television, and radio advertising in the past 5 months to combat fake news, reports the Economic Times. The company is spending more than 80% of this amount on print ads, 15% on TV ads, and the rest on radio. It had a total of 32,475 ad insertions on TV between December 3-28, according to BARC data reported by ET.

The expense is expected to increase as the second phase of the ad campaign is likely to launch in March this year, before the Lok Sabha Elections in April-May 2019.

Content

Eros Now has entered a content partnership with BSNL. The Eros Now app will now be available to BSNL’s prepaid and postpaid customers on all packs and tariffs by the end of January. Eros Now’s library has 11,000 items across movies, originals, Eros Now Quickie, music videos etc.

Travel and hotels

Oyo Homes has now launched in Dubai starting with 40 properties, with plans to expand to 200 properties in the next 6 months. It also plans to expand this category to other Emirates in the UAE. Oyo Homes is a home management service for maintenance and housekeeping of locked and vacant homes, which are then offered for rentals.

Since its October 2018 launch, Oyo Hotels & Homes has seen 1 lakh guests from 75 countries across 16 properties in the UAE. It manages 1300 rooms within these properties in Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah and Fujairah and is expecting to operate 12,000 rooms by 2020.

Oyo operates 300 Homes in 25 cities in India, including in Goa, Shimla, Pondicherry, Coorg, Manali, Dehradun, Wayanad, Coorg, Udaipur and Jaipur.

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NASDAQ-listed Yatra has acquired the corporate travel arm of PL Worldways Ltd — a Chennai-based corporate travel services provider — to pad its presence in South India. Yatra now adds PL Worldways’ 100 corporate clients to its existing 700 clients. Yatra claims to provide bookings for over 100,000 hotels in India and over 1 million hotels worldwide.

Property

The international property business of real estate aggregator Square Yards has seen a 75% growth in FY18, crossing Rs 1,100 crore in gross transactional value (GTV). The segment contributed 22% of the company’s FY18 GTV, where Dubai, Toronto, and Melbourne contributed significantly.

Square Yards is present in 20 Indian cities, 10 cities outside India, and employs 2000 people.

Other developments

MapMyIndia has launched a tracking device for use in commercial and public transport vehicles. The device is compliant with AIS 140 (Automotive Industry Standard 140), certified by ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) and is in line with Ministry of Road, Transport & Highways (MoRTH) directives. The device consists of a GPS tracking device, an SOS button, and an embedded SIM card.

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Mumbai-based Servify, which provides after-sale services for smartphones, has acquired iService in a cash-and-stock deal. Founded in 2013, iService is a Bangalore-based service and repair startup for smartphones and other devices. Its founders Ankit Chowdhary and Pratheek Kumar, and core tech and product teams will join Servify. However, iService’s branded service centers are not part of the acquisition and will continue to run independently.

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Xiaomi has sold 100 million Mi power banks worldwide, reports BGR. Its best-selling power bank is said to be the 20,000mAh Mi Power Bank 2C.

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The Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) will set up a new mobility research center at near Talegaon (Pune), reports the Economic Times. The center will have vehicle test tracks for automotive testing and certification for equipment related to construction and mining.

Photo credit: PlusLexia