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Startup Digest: Amazon advances festive sale to match rival Flipkart, Vahdam launches its first NFT

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Here are the top headlines from the startup universe on Monday

Startup Digest: Amazon advances festive sale to match rival Flipkart, Vahdam launches its first NFT
Here are the top headlines from the startup universe:
PM Modi launches Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, under which a digital health ID will be provided to people that will contain their health records, and asserted that it has the potential to bring revolutionary changes in healthcare. In his address after the launch, PM Modi said the mission marks a new phase in efforts of the last seven years to strengthen health facilities. Currently, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission is being implemented in a pilot phase in six union territories. Modi said that the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission has the potential to bring revolutionary changes to our health facilities.
Based on the foundations laid down in the form of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) trinity and other digital initiatives of the government, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will create a seamless online platform through the provision of a wide range of data, information and infrastructure services, duly leveraging open, interoperable, standards-based digital systems while ensuring the security, confidentiality and privacy of health-related personal information, according to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). It will enable access and exchange of longitudinal health records of citizens with their consent, the PMO said.
The key components of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission include a health ID for every citizen that will also work as their health account, to which personal health records can be linked and viewed with the help of a mobile application, a Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR) and Healthcare Facilities Registries (HFR) that will act as a repository of all healthcare providers across both modern and traditional systems of medicine. This will ensure ease of doing business for doctors and hospitals and healthcare service providers.
Amazon advances festive sale date, Great Indian Festival to now start on October 3 
A day after Flipkart advanced its festive day sale, rival Amazon India has also made a similar move by announcing the start of its sale event Great Indian Festival (GIF) from October 3. The competition between the two giants is expected to be intense, similar to previous years, as both will see their festive sale now starting on October 3.
While Flipkart's The Big Billion Days (TBBD) sale is an eight-day event, Amazon India's GIF will be a month-long affair.Amazon spokesperson added that the Amazon GIF will now start from October 3, 2021, and Prime members will have early access. The company will share further details on the specifics of Prime Early Access soon.
On Tuesday, Flipkart had announced that the eighth edition of TBBD will be held from October 7-12 this year. However, on Saturday, the Walmart-owned company advanced the opening date to October 3. The TBBD will now end on October 10. Flipkart group company Myntra is also holding its 'Big Fashion Festival' from October 3-10. E-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart line up new launches and offers to woo shoppers during the festive season, holding multiple sale events that are timed around Dussehra and Diwali.
According to consulting firm RedSeer, e-commerce platforms are expected to potentially clock over $9 billion gross GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) during the festive season this year as against $7.4 billion last year - a growth of 23 percent.
During the first week of the festive season, these platforms are expected to register 30 per cent year-on-year growth in gross GMV to $4.8 billion. Gross GMV refers to the total value of goods sold on the platform prior to subtracting cancellation or return.
Zomato to take on board EY dealmaker Nitin Savara, may get senior finance role: Report
Food-tech giant Zomato is now looking to beef up its finance function by tapping top talent from the Big Four, sources told Moneycontrol.
“Zomato is in talks to take on board Nitin Savara, a senior partner at EY,” one of the sources said. Ernst & Young, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and KPMG are four of the biggest accounting firms in the United States.
Savara is slated to join the current CFO Akshant Goyal’s team. The plan as of now is to groom him for a few months’ post joining and he may later take up a senior finance role, the report added.
Byju’s appoints Puneet Bhirani as senior VP of operations
Edtech decacorn Byju’s has appointed Puneet Bhirani as senior vice president of operations. In his new role, Bhirani will oversee the edtech’s overall operations strategy and build strong and innovative technological support to scale the business. Given the company’s growth across new products and platforms, he will also look at strengthening internal capacity as per the strategic objectives, the company said in a statement.
Before joining Byju’s, Bhirani served as the chief executive officer of Ola Fleet and group chief operating officer at Ola across the cab aggregator’s mobility, foods, and Ola Electric business. Byju’s had reported ₹2,380 crore as income in FY20 as compared to ₹1,305 crore in the previous year.
Edtech Startup DataTrained join hands with GoDaddy
Edtech startup DataTrained has announced joining hands with GoDaddy Academy, GoDaddy’s first online training and certification program in India, to offer job-ready courses in Software Development. DataTrained and GoDaddy Academy have come together to boost the skills of the youth by offering a flagship program in Full Stack Development. This 12-month course will take in absolute beginners and provide training covering core fundamentals of software development, programming from basics to advance, frontend development, backend development, the company said in a statement.
The program curriculum also contains 10+ industry-grade projects apart from short projects and assignments to provide hands-on experience.
CBSE introduces Blockchain to go paperless, make results tamper-proof
In a bid to go completely paperless and keep board results secure and tamper-proof, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has introduced 'Blockchain' technology.
CBSE Director of Information and Technology Antriksh Johri said, "Blockchain implementation has been done by CBSE. Earlier we introduced Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine learning (ML) for affiliation systems. Here, the data is linked and stored with cryptographic security so that it is immutable and traceable." Johri further stated, "This will serve as a single source truthful data for verification for students going for higher education or employment." To create the 'Academic (BlockChain) Documents' software, CBSE collaborated with the Centre of Excellence for Blockchain Technology of National Informatics Centre under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
Blockchain technology records the data in a distributed ledger with the ownership of all participating stakeholders. The data is recorded in the chain based on the consensus among the stakeholders and simultaneously replicated at all the locations in the distributed network of BlockChain nodes. This eliminates the dependency on a third party for verification.
The data of the last three years starting from 2019 has been recorded in this and the other data of previous years will be uploaded gradually. In 2016, CBSE was the first to develop its own academic repository named 'Parinam Manjusha.'
Tata is getting ready to roll-out its Super App by 2022: Report
Tata Digital Super App which will offer hotel bookings, electronics and grocery shopping and e-pharmacy, among others on one portal, is set to launch in early 2022, according to the Economic Times. Previously, the super app had been test-launched within a closed user group in Bengaluru and now, ahead of the launch, 700K Tata employees will be testing the app. According to the report, it will be accessed by all employees in phases over the next few months.
The report added that users will be able to earn loyalty points through the use of Tata Digital’s super app, where one point would equal one rupee, redeemable on purchases from any of Tata’s brands. Among Tata Brands, Tata Cliq is yet to onboard itself on the app, as its business model may need to be altered for compatibility.
Further, Tata is also reportedly venturing into the beauty and cosmetics marketplace, being hosted on the super application, which will include business verticals such as grocery, pharmaceuticals, education, finance, and hotel bookings. Tata Digital claims that its 400 million user base across its digital verticals will be able to use the one-stop portal in early 2022. Tata has acquired companies — Grameen eStore, Urja, AccessBell, 1mg, BigBasket, CureFit to achieve its super app goal.
Vahdam launches its first NFT
D2C tea startup Vahdam has launched its first NFT. They are auctioning off 10 limited-edition pieces of animated artwork as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the company said.
The NFT is an exclusive virtual token that will allow users to take an intergalactic expedition. The NFT also features Tesla boss Elon Musk sipping Vahdam Teas, the company said. As per the startup, a purchase earns the buyer rights to a 1080×1080-pixel 35-second video file on the trading NFT marketplace platform, OpenSea starting at 0.015 ETH (approx. $48.03) and can only be purchased using cryptocurrency. The buyer of these NFTs will also get access to exclusive unlockable content which is a $100 e-gift voucher.
This comes after the tea brand raised ₹174 crore as a part of a Series D round led by IIFL AMC’s private equity fund.
goSTOPS expands its presence in Uttarakhand
Backpacker hostel brand goSTOPS has expanded its footprint in the state of Uttarakhand with the addition of new stays at Rishikesh Lakshman Jhula, Mussoorie, Kasar Devi, and Mukteshwar. This is in addition to the one they are operating currently at Rishikesh Tapovan, the company said in a statement.
“The locations have been hand-picked to curate a range of local sights, sounds, and flavours for our travelers, and we are confident that we are now well-poised to curate a holistic Uttarakhand sojourn for our patrons,” said Pankaj Parwanda, Co-Founder, goSTOPS.
Currently, goSTOPS has 24 properties across India, housing 1600 beds, and is set to launch a new hostel in Nainital in the first week of October.
Encubay Angel Network launches; aims to empower more women to get into Angel Investing
Encubay Angel Network, a network of angel investors, aspiring investors, entrepreneurs, and people in business with an inclination to drive diversity in the investment ecosystem and officially opened its door for members.
Encubay Angel Network encourages women to embrace the journey of angel investing and has already brought 10+ women angels to invest in two global companies, the company said in a statement.
It will create a network that enables more women to invest and more funds to be channeled towards women-led businesses. It will be achieved by providing members access to regular awareness sessions, virtual and in-person networking, mentorship, investment resources, and opportunities to invest through deal flow, the company said.
GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS
China vows further curbs on 'disorderly expansion' by tech firms: Report
China will take further steps to rein in internet companies, a senior cyberspace official told Bloomberg News.
Vice Minister Sheng Ronghua said that curbing monopolistic behavior and the “disorderly expansion of capital” were top priorities for the Cyberspace Administration of China. Sheng also listed self-driving vehicles and platform economies as areas that required stronger regulation.
Sheng’s comments suggest that the effort could extend to new firms. Regulation of shared economy or smart delivery applications could impact Meituan, for instance, while Baidu has worked on autonomous driving and Alibaba Health Information Technology and JD Health International do business in the online health sector.
Sheng’s latest remarks could temper optimism that President Xi is looking to ease his market-roiling crackdowns after declaring “initial results” last month in the efforts to bring order to such capital.
China has ramped up the campaign with a series of monopoly probes into internet companies, a record fine for Alibaba Group and new demands on leading digital firms like Tencent. The country is pushing its tech titans to share their data troves, open up their platforms to greater competition and support opportunities for smaller businesses.
Google to slash amount it keeps from sales on its cloud marketplace
Google will take a smaller cut when customers buy software from other vendors on its cloud marketplace, CNBC reported. The Google Cloud Platform is cutting its percentage revenue share to 3% from 20%.
“Our goal is to provide partners with the best platform and most competitive incentives in the industry. We can confirm that a change to our Marketplace fee structure is in the works and we'll have more to share on this soon,” a Google Cloud spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.
Earlier this year, Google cut the service fee it charges developers on its app store by half on the first $1 million they earn in revenue in a year.
Google in court to appeal EU's 2018 Android antitrust case
Google headed to a top European Union court Monday to appeal a record EU antitrust penalty imposed for stifling competition through the dominance of its Android operating system. The company is fighting a 2018 decision from the EU''s executive Commission, the bloc''s top antitrust enforcer, that resulted in the 4.34 billion-euro ($5 billion) fine — still the biggest ever fine Brussels has imposed for anti-competitive behaviour.
It's one of three antitrust penalties totalling more than $8 billion that the commission hit Google with between 2017 and 2019. The others focused on shopping and search, and the California company is appealing all three. While the penalties involved huge sums, critics point out that Google can easily afford them and that the fines haven''t done much to widen competition.
In its original decision, the commission said Google''s practices restrict competition and reduce choices for consumers. Google, however, plans to argue that free and open source Android has led to lower-priced phones and spurred competition with its chief rival, Apple. The court's decision is not expected until next year.
Cryptocurrency exchanges scramble to drop Chinese users after Beijing's ban
Beijing's new blanket ban on all cryptocurrency trading and mining - the broadest yet by a major economy - has sent crypto exchanges and service providers scrambling to sever business ties with mainland Chinese clients.
Shares in a range of Chinese crypto-related firms plunged on the ban which closes off loopholes left in previous regulatory crackdowns on the sector. Industry executives noted, however, that many companies had already shifted key portions of their business outside China, according to Reuters.
Ten powerful Chinese government bodies said in a joint statement that overseas exchanges were barred from providing services to mainland investors via the internet - a previously grey area - and vowed to jointly root out "illegal" cryptocurrency activities
In response, Huobi Global and Binance, two of the largest exchanges globally and popular with Chinese users, stopped new registrations of accounts by mainland customers. Huobi also said it would clean up existing ones by the end of the year. The ban, which comes amid a swath of regulatory actions that have hit a range of sectors from gaming to tech to for profit-tutoring, makes it very hard for Chinese mainland investors to buy or sell the assets unless they leave the country. It does not, however, go so far as to declare ownership of cryptocurrencies as illegal.
Elon Musk praises China, says Tesla will continue to expand investments there
Elon Musk reassured Tesla’s commitment to China, saying the automaker will continue to expand its investments in the country, reported CNBC. Musk’s comments came in a pre-recorded question-and-answer style stream at the World Internet Conference, hosted by the Cyberspace Administration of China.
It’s the second time this month Musk was highly complimentary of the nation that’s imperative to his electric vehicle company, saying it’s a “global leader in digitalization.” Less than two weeks ago, Musk, during another pre-recorded stream at the World New Energy Vehicle Congress, said Chinese automakers were the “most competitive in the world.”
“My frank observation is that China spends a lot of resources and efforts applying the latest digital technologies in different industries, including the automobile industry, making China a global leader in digitalization,” Musk said in the latest video. “Tesla will continue to expand our investment and R&D efforts in China.”
Tesla has been trying to improve its reputation in China after a slew of negative press. The company has faced regulatory scrutiny around its privacy and a handful of recalls in China. Beijing had reportedly restricted or banned the use of Tesla’s electric vehicles by some state and military personnel.
Amazon to start offering insurance to UK businesses
Amazon will start offering insurance to small and medium-sized UK business customers, the technology giant's first foray into business insurance in the country, broker Superscript said on Monday.
Members of Amazon's Business Prime programme will be able to buy cover from Superscript such as contents insurance, cyber insurance and professional indemnity insurance, which a Superscript spokesperson said would be underwritten by "major UK insurers". They will be offered a discount of 20% to current rates as a way of enticing businesses over to them.
More than 50% of customers are prepared to buy insurance from non-traditional players such as big tech or insurance technology (insurtech) firms, according to a recent survey of 12,000 people globally by consultants Capgemini.
"The (insurance) industry needs to bridge the divide between insurers and customers by providing a quick, smooth buying process that is customer-centric," Cameron Shearer, co-founder and CEO of Superscript, said in a statement.
Amazon's move into UK business insurance comes after US insurtech Next Insurance said in March it was offering cover to US small businesses via Amazon Business Prime.
AI navigation startup Phiar lands ex-Google manager, funding from Telenav
Phiar, a startup aiming to enhance in-car navigation systems by overlaying directions on real-time video, announced on Monday that Google’s head of Android automotive platforms joined as chief executive and State Farm Ventures led a $12 million funding round.
Incoming CEO Gene Karshenboym told Reuters other new investors include mapping company Telenav, which was taken private by its co-founder in February, and SoftBank Vision Fund-backed driving analytics app developer Cambridge Mobile Telematics.
Phiar wants to supply automakers with artificial intelligence software that analyzes live feeds from exterior cameras on cars. Its software would then put virtual directional markers onto the video, which drivers would watch through a console or windshield screen to navigate.
Co-founder and previous CEO Chen-Ping Yu became board chair and chief technology officer. At Alphabet Inc’s Google, Karshenboym oversaw a testing system for the company’s infotainment operating system.
UK's Wise to join the New Payments Platform in Australia
Digital money transfer group Wise will join an Australian payments network which should allow transfers to be settled in the country faster and at lower cost, Chief Executive Officer Kristo Kaarmann told Reuters.
The company will become a direct participant and shareholder in Australia's New Payments Platform (NPP), Kaarmann said.
Wise said that joining the NPP will allow it to lower its average price of money transfers in or out of Australia by bypassing middlemen to clear and settle real-time payments instantly.
The firm, whose market debut in July became the London stock exchange's largest-ever tech listing, estimates it handles about 1% to 2% of transfers by consumers and small and medium-sized businesses globally.
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