Google has removed lending apps in India to protect consumers, amid regulatory action against them. UBS fund is pursuing $400 million stake in Paytm. India’s leading edtech startups are on a hiring spree.
Here are the top-five, must-read technology news today:
Alphabet Inc.’s Google has removed from the Play Store lending apps aimed at consumers in India, in an attempt to safeguard users. «We have reviewed hundreds of personal loan apps in India, based on flags submitted by users and government agencies,» Suzanne Frey, vice president of product, android security and privacy, said in a blogpost on Thursday
Why it matters: The online lending industry has come to the attention of authorities after at least two suicides in the past month linked to alleged harassment by recovery agents of such apps.
A recent investigation by Reuters found at least 10 lending apps on the Play Store breached Google’s rules on loan repayment lengths aimed at protecting vulnerable borrowers. It also found that a number of the lending apps also flouted central bank regulations.
The post-pandemic boom in the education technology job market is continuing this year, with edtech startups on a hiring spree to launch new products and expand into newer markets.
Driving the news: Seven leading Indian edtech startups—Byju’s, Talentedge, upGrad, Udemy, Unacademy, Simplilearn, and Scaler—together plan to add 12,600-13,000 employees in 2021, increasing their overall headcount by 93-96%, according to data collated by ET.
Individual hiring increases for these companies will range between 30-200%.
Investors, too, are upbeat about the big potential of this industry. (read more)
UBS Group AG is in talks to invest $400 million in Paytm, the most valuable Indian startup, in a bet on the surging digital payments market in the world’s second-most populous country, Bloomberg has reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Driving the news: A fund run by UBS’s asset management arm is in discussions to buy a stake in Paytm alongside some of the Swiss bank’s clients, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. UBS is negotiating the purchase of Paytm stock from a group of the Indian fintech company’s employees, the people said.
UBS aims to finalise an agreement as soon as this month, though talks could still be delayed or fall apart, according to one of the people. Paytm isn’t raising any new capital as part of the deal, the people said. Representatives for UBS and Paytm declined to comment. (read more)
■ Quick Heal Technologies Ltd. has invested $2 million more in L7 Defense, an Israel-based cybersecurity startup, as part of its efforts to future-proof its cybersecurity business. The investment will result in strategic alignments between both the companies—Quick Heal will be able to expand its range of enterprise solutions under the ‘Seqrite’ umbrella and introduce L7’s flagship products in India as well as other regions in the APAC and EMEA.
■ Knocksense, a content-production platform based in Lucknow, raised $200,000 in funding from a clutch of angel investors, including LetsVenture’s Mohit Satyanand. The firm now plans to launch video stories and hindi language content to expand into Tier-II cities in India. It claims to generate more than 20 million organic impressions in a month.
■ Rapyd, a fintech solutions firm, has raised $300 million in a Series D funding round led by global investment manager Coatue Management. Several new investors, including Spark Capital and Avid Ventures have also come onboard. Rapyd will use the funds to double its engineering and product teams, as well as expand the platform’s ‘self-service’ element.
Why it matters: WhatsApp wants to share significantly more user data with parent Facebook Inc., and while it has clarified that the privacy update is limited to business interactions and doesn’t extend to personal chats, that hasn’t stopped users from jumping ship to Signal and Telegram.
‘Reasonable’ OTT Censorship in India?
A parliamentary standing committee on information technology has discussed the challenges of protecting creative freedom and imposing reasonable restrictions on content on streaming platforms, The Times of India reported.
Appearing before the panel, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Prasoon Joshi defended the role of the censor board, and said that filmmakers were happy to alter or “cut” content that runs afoul of Indian laws, or may hurt sentiments. (read more)