A quick roundup of the developments in the Indian and international digital, tech and business ecosystem.

Funding & investments

  • Softbank has invested $350 million in logistics company Delhivery via its Cayman Islands entity SVF Doorbell (Cayman), reports the Economic Times. Delhivery has issued 1.23 million Series F compulsorily convertible cumulative preference shares (CCCPS) each to SoftBank.
  • Gurgaon-based blockchain startup Insino Ventures has raised an undisclosed amount from a group of High Net-worth Individuals, reports the Economic Times.
  • Lending platform for farming Jai Kisan has raised $1.5 million in a seed funding round led by Blume Ventures, reports TechCircle. Other participants were Astarc Ventures, Prophetic Ventures, Better Capital, and individual investors Harshbeena Zaveri and Sanjay Mariwala.
  • Reliance Industries has acquired majority stakes in Grab A Grub Services and C-Square Info Solutions, per stock exchanges filings. Reliance has acquired 83% stake in Grab A Grub services for a cash consideration not exceeding Rs 106 crore, and will further invest Rs 40 crore. The company also acquired 82% of the equity capital of C-Square for a cash consideration of Rs 22.04 crore, and will later invest another Rs 60 crore in the company. 

Developments in the digital ecosystem

  • The Future Group is looking to offer micro-insurance to customers as part of its “digital commerce” strategy, reports the Economic Times. Micro-insurance is a general or life insurance policy with a sum of Rs 50,000 or lower, as defined by the IRDAI. 
  • Zomato has sold its UAE delivery business to Berlin-based Delivery Hero for $172 million, reports the Economic Times.
  • Paytm is launching a subscription-based rewards and loyalty programme ‘Paytm First’, the company said in a statement. The service will cost Rs 750 a year; it bundles offers from Zomato Gold, Gaana, Sony LIV, Viu Premium, Eros Now and Uber, and others. Subscribers will also get offers on Paytm Mall, priority shipping and customer care. 
  • Hotstar has announced its first set of originals under ‘Hotstar Specials’ in partnership with Aditya Birla Group’s Applause Entertainment, reports Mint. The originals will start launching this month. 
  • Mumbai-based B2B payments company PayMate will soon launch operations in Middle East, Africa, and central and eastern Europe in collaboration with Visa, reports the Economic Times.
  • Niki.ai has integrated UPI payments service via a partnership with Google Pay, per a company statement. Niki.ai claims to have made Rs 200 crore in gross merchandise value (GMV) in 2018.
  • Uber has appointed Manisha Lath Gupta as its head of marketing for India, per a company statement. Gupta will oversee marketing for rides and food business for India and South Asia. She will take over from Sanjay Gupta who is moving to Uber US and Canada for a new role.
  • Eros Now has partnered with UK’s TV service netgem.tv to expand to France, Ireland, Australia, Switzerland, Gibraltar among other countries, per a company statement. Eros Now has also announced a partnership with Virgin Media to provide UK’s Virgin TV customers access to Eros Now’s content library, including content from Eros Now Quickie.
  • The Government of Maharashtra has partnered with Haptik to develop a chatbot to distribute information under the Right to Services Act, 2015. The bot is available on the ‘Aaple Sarkar RTS’; the company claims to offer access to information on 1,400 state government services.
  • ZEE5 has entered into a partnership with Malaysian telecom operator Celcom for carrier billing, per a company statement. 
  • Vodafone Idea and Shemaroo have entered into a content partnership to offer Shemaroo’s content on Vodafone Play and Idea Movies & TV apps, per a company statement.
  • Content recommendation engine Taboola has acquired news service Start Magazine from Israeli company Celltick Technologies, per a company statement. Start Division’s team and technology will be integrated into Taboola News. Taboola will use the Start lock-screen to place news articles on smartphone lock-screens.
  • Facebook is using phone numbers collected via two-factor authentication to serve advertisements, a feature which users cannot opt-out of after opting in, reports TechSpot. Further, Facebook is using the phone number as a “unique identifier” allowing people to look up users with their phone numbers, raising privacy and transparency concerns.

Policy

  • Flipkart has increased its commissions for vendors in the apparels category effective from March 1, reports the Economic Times. Sellers said Flipkart alerted them of the increased commission just a day before it came into effect. 
  • American technology companies and Indian startups are working overtime in order to respond to the draft National E-commerce Policy, the current deadline for which is March 9, reports the Economic Times.
  • Dubai-based firm Plus Holdings has moved the Bombay High Court to block Netflix from releasing the film Hotel Mumbai on its platform, reports the Economic Times. Plus Holdings has petitioned that it has the rights to release the film in India, claiming that it had bought the rights to the film from Australia-based Xeitgeist Entertainment Group, which terminated the agreement unlawfully and transferred the film’s rights to Netflix via a third-party. Plus Holdings has sought that the film not be screened in India until its dispute with Xeitgeist is settled in a Singapore court.
  • Facebook has sued four Chinese companies for selling fake Facebook and Instagram accounts for trademark infringement, breach of contract and other offenses, reports the Verge. According to Facebook’s complaint, these companies offer hardware and software services including bundles of fake accounts for Facebook and Instagram, via misleading URLs like “myfacebook.cc”, “fakebook88.net”, and others.