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

Developments in the digital ecosystem

  • Spotify has 1 million users in India across both free and premium within a week of its launch, reports Business Standard.
  • SnapChat is beta-testing a version of the app which supports 5 new Indian languages – Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, an Urdu, per Gadgets Now. However, it is unclear as to when this version will be released. 
  • Reliance Communications (RCom) has asked the DoT to issue a no-objection certificate (NOC) to its pending spectrum trading deal with Reliance Jio, reports the Economic Times. RCom has written to the telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan, citing an order from the Telecom Dispute Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) which noted that the seller of spectrum is responsible for past spectrum-related dues.
  • BJP and its affiliates made up over 50% of the political ad spending on Facebook, of Rs 2.37 crore, reports the Economic Times. Affiliates include party individuals, ministers, MPs, MLAs, organisational leaders, and other outfits which back the BJP, and fan pages on Facebook. BJP leaders told ET that social media will account for 20-25% of the party’s total ad spend by the time campaigning closes.
  • Google has launched a new app called ‘Bolo’ to teach primary students how to read in Hindi and English, reports the Economic Times. The app currently offers 50 Hindi and 40 English stories from Storyweaver, an open-source platform for children’s stories run by Pratham Books.
  • The Delhi government has launched a mobile app called ‘One Delhi’ for information on transportation services for metros and buses, reports Inc42. The app provides route details, real-time location tracking, schedule and fares.
  • ACT Fibernet has entered into a carrier billing deal with Netflix, reports the Quint
  • Competitive exams preparation site Gradeup has crossed 13 million registered users in India, the company said in a statement. Gradeup claims to have crossed 10 million subscribers in September 2018, with 6 million tests submitted and 155 million question attempts per month.
  • Research from price comparison site Cable.co.uk shows that mobile data in India is the cheapest in the world; 1GB of data costs $0.26 in India, $6.6 in the UK, and an average of $12.37 in the US, as reported by BBC.
  • Internet users in India have grown by 18% over a year to 566 million in December 2018, which means a 40% overall internet penetration, per the ICUBE 2018 report by Kantar IMRB (reported by Exchange4Media). The report estimates that India will have 627 million users by the end of 2019. Other findings: 
    • 87% or 493 million are defined as regular users who have accessed internet in the last 30 days
    • 293 million internet users are from urban India, and 200 million from rural areas
    • 97% of the users access internet on mobile phones
    • Internet users grew by 7% in urban India, reaching 315 million users in 2018
    • The number of rural users is expected to hit 290 million by the end of 2019
    • Internet penetration in rural India has increased to 25% in 2018 from 9% in 2015
    • Women comprise 42% of all internet users
    • At an increase of 35%, Bihar has registered the highest growth in internet users
  • Addressing claims on bias in the US, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the company may have been “too aggressive” in banning some activists, per USA Today.

Funding

  • Paytm’s wealth management division Paytm Money has raised Rs 28.8 crore from parent One97 Communications, per the Economic Times. Paytm Money has also increased its authorised capital to Rs 200 crore.

Policy

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the ‘National Common Mobility Card’ to enable payments for multiple transport services countrywide, reports the Economic Times. Called ‘One Nation One Card’, the card allows payments for bus travel, tolls, parking charges, retail shopping and cash withdrawal.  
  • Walmart CFO Brett Briggs admitted that the company was expecting regulatory changes in India, but disappointed that they came so quickly, per the Economic Times. “It is disappointing that you have a law like that changed that quickly, but we have made the adjustments and we are moving forward,” Briggs said.
  • France has unveiled new legislation to increase taxes on global tech giants such Facebook and Google, reports The Economic Times. France decided to go ahead with the tax after it failed to convince its European countries to introduce an EU-wide tax. The new tax is known as the “GAFA” tax, standing for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon Tax.