India Has the Largest Offline Population, Says World Bank Report

India Has the Largest Offline Population, Says World Bank ReportDespite rapid spread of digital technologies in India, nearly a billion people still need to connect to the Internet for pushing growth, creating jobs and accessing public services, says a World Bank report.

It also pointed out that India has most restrictive market regulation in retail finance and banking.

“At least 8 in 10 individuals in India own a mobile phone and digital technologies are spreading rapidly. With nearly a billion people still not connected to the Internet, the opportunities for increasing access to digital technology for creating higher growth, more jobs, and better public services are significant for India,” said the World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends, authored by Co-Directors, Deepak Mishra and Uwe Deichmann.

Releasing the report in India on Tuesday, Mishra said that digital development strategies in India need to be broader than Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategies.

“There is little doubt about the transformative potential of digital technologies. However, they are not a shortcut to development, though they can be an accelerator when used in the right way,” he said.

India is currently the largest exporter of ICT services and skilled manpower in the developing world. The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry today employs more than 3.1 million workers, 30 percent of them are women.

World Bank Country Director in India Onno Ruhl said the digital revolution is transforming the world, aiding information flow and creating huge opportunities for growth and poverty reduction.

“India’s Aadhaar programme is today a model for many countries and recent initiatives like Digital India has the potential to generate greater digital dividends among all sections of its society,” Ruhl said.

He added however that reaping full benefits will require affordable and wider access to the Internet and skills that enable all workers to leverage the digital economy.

Recognising India’s early success in digital technology when it became a global powerhouse for information services, the report pointed out that even while having the largest number of offline population in the world, India has the third highest number of Internet users by absolute number, only behind China and the United States.

EMC Joins Race to Develop Smart Cities in India

EMC Joins Race to Develop Smart Cities in India

The world’s largest IT storage company is in the race for developing smart cities in India, offering their services to the central and state governments, according to senior officials of the company.

“We have already completed a health project for a state government to make hospitals smart and to provide real time information to the government for taking appropriate decision,” Rajesh Janey, President, EMC India and Saarc, told visiting Indian journalists to the EMC world annual conference here.

The project was done for Telengana, the newest state in India. “We are talking to the central governments as well as state authorities to offer the hardware and software to make cities smart,” Janey said.

The Narendra Modi government had announced an initiative to develop 100 smart cities in India, with initial funds of Rs.7,000 crore being allocated for the project by the central government, though very little was actually spent. The project would be implemented by state governments or city councils.

EMC and Dell had announced a $67 billion (roughly Rs. 4,45,438 crores) merger in October, making it the largest tech marriage in history. The EMC World conference at the casino capital of the world was told by Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell, on Monday that the merged entity would be called Dell Technologies while the enterprise company would be named Dell-EMC.

The merger is awaiting some regulatory approvals and is likely to be completed between June and October, according to the team set up to work out the logistics of two tech giants coming together.

EMC has over 5,000 employees in India, largely in the engineering section, with offices in Bengaluru, Hyderbad, Delhi NCR and some tier-two towns. It provides storage hardware and software to companies and did about $350 million (Rs.2,400 crore) business last year. The $25 billion (roughly Rs. 166208 crores) EMC employs around 70,000 employees globally.

EMC has set up a division on smart cities, whereby they are offering services for collating all data from health services, traffic, police, power infrastructure, municipalities, weather division, transport and government services collating data and bringing forth significant information which needed decisions. Also, the interface with citizens and those who seek services would become much easier, officials say.

According to Rob Silverberg, Director and Chief Technology Officer, Enterprise Application Architecture for State, Local Government and Education at EMC California, the company is focussing on smart cities because it’s the world of future.

“We are talking to several cities and towns across the US to adopt what we have to offer,” said Silverberg, adding it would help city officials do their job more effectively and efficiently. He said the Indian section of EMC was following up on the smart cities in India. EMC is competing in smart cities business in the US and other countries with IBM.

Silverberg said that already a huge amount of data was being collected every day and every minute whether in crime tackling, traffic regulation or policing and other activities. “The data has to be stored and made intelligible for everyone so that right decisions are made fast.”

Silverberg said the EMC smart cities project could even help track crimes and prepare evidence for courts whether it’s through video monitoring data already been collected across the country or other methods. “Essential everything is data, and we are the experts who can help store and make sense of it,” he said.

According to Janey, the basic modules which the global company is now projecting to cities in various parts of the world, including Dubai, was made in Bengaluru by Indian software engineers. Janey said that EMC International had thrown up demand and the engineers in India came up with an effective solution which was adopted by the multinational.

India’s E-Commerce Sector to See $120 Billion Revenue by 2020: Study

India's E-Commerce Sector to See $120 Billion Revenue by 2020: Study

The country’s e-commerce sector is expected to see revenues of $120 billion by 2020 from $30 billion at the end of last fiscal, a report said.

The increase would be mainly on the back of young demographic profile, rising Internet penetration and relatively better economic performance, the Assocham-Forrester study said.

India’s e-commerce sector saw revenues of $30 billion (roughly Rs. 1,99,450 crores) at the end of the financial year 2015-16. It is expected to reach $120 billion (roughly Rs. 7,97,800 crores) by 2020, it said.

“While in terms of base, India may be lower than China and other giants like Japan, the Indian rate of growth is way ahead of others. Against India’s annual expansion of 51 percent, China’s e-commerce is growing at 18 percent, Japan 11 percent and South Korea 10 percent,” the study noted.

The report further said that India has an Internet user base of 400 million in 2016 whereas Brazil has 210 million Internet users and Russia 130 million, among the BRICS nations.

About 75 percent of the country’s online users are in the age group of 15-34 years since India is one of the youngest demographies globally and one out of every 5 (online user) visits the Indian Railways site, the report said.

In India, about 60-65 percent of the total e-commerce sales are being generated through smart phones. Branded apparel, accessories, jewellery, gifts, footwear are among the major hits on the e-commerce platforms, it added.

Zomato’s $1 Billion Valuation Halved, CEO Says HSBC ‘Doesn’t Understand the Space’

Zomato's $1 Billion Valuation Halved, CEO Says HSBC 'Doesn't Understand the Space'

Is the Indian e-commerce story coming undone? That’s the question that everyone has to ask with the latest news that HSBC analysts cut the valuation of Flipkart in half, from $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,648 crores) to $500 million (roughly Rs. 3,324 crores). One of India’s “unicorns” (companies valued at over a billion dollars), Zomato has been one of the few Indian startups that has grown significantly internationally, questions were first asked when it shut down delivery operations in four Indian citiesearlier this year.

Now, according to a report by Livemint, brokerage HSBC Securities and Capital Markets (India) has valued Zomato at a fraction of the amount it raised its last round of funding in September.

According to the report, HSBC has concerns about Zomato’s business model, competition, and the fact that international operations have lost money. Of course, this is only an analyst report, and not a markdown where investors had to reduce the value of their investments – something that happened with Flipkart earlier. However, the prominence that both companies occupy makes the combined instances look worrying for the Indian startup science.

In a blog post published on Monday morning, Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal responded, pointing out the fact that this is an analyst report, and further points out that the report is an outlier, differing in opinion from other analysts. Talking about some of the specifics about the report pertaining to food delivery, he adds: “These assumptions and statements in the HSBC report make it look like they’re coming from someone who doesn’t – and hasn’t bothered to – understand the space well.”

Goyal also claims Zomato holds large market share, and in the post writes that it drove over 50 percent of business to some of the biggest restaurants in India. It also claims an 8 percent growth in India, and added that the company crossed 33,000 online orders. He added that once the number is an average of 40,000 orders a day, it will become profitable.

Amazon’s Business Marketplace Hits $1 Billion in Sales in First Year

Amazon's Business Marketplace Hits $1 Billion in Sales in First YearAmazon.com Inc’s business marketplace, which connects businesses with suppliers, has generated $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,657 crores) in sales in its first year, making it a significant player in a fragmented industry worth more than $8.2 trillion (roughly Rs. 5,45,87,474 crores) in the United States.

Amazon Business offers US businesses exclusive pricing and discounts for buying in bulk, free two-day shipping for orders of more than $49, tax exemption and the option to get products delivered with an Amazon guarantee.

“We are continuing to grow at a rate of 20 percent month-on-month, and that highlights … how strong the need is in this segment,” Amazon Vice President Prentis Wilson told Reuters on Tuesday.

The business marketplace, which Amazon has described as one of its important areas for growth, extends its role as a middleman for third-party vendors, which account for more than 40 percent of the company’s sales.

This also helps Amazon gain an edge in the fast-growing online business-to-business sector, which is likely to account for about 12 percent of B2B sales in the United States by 2020, according to estimates by Forrester Research in 2015.

Wilson said Amazon added more than 30,000 sellers and more than 300,000 businesses to its platform in the past year and continues to add “thousands of customers” every week.

Amazon’s customers on the platform range from companies like Cardinal Financial Corp to consumer products makers like Henkel & Co and institutions like the University of California-San Diego and the University of Illinois.

Some of the most widely sold products on the platform include computer and information technology equipment, office supplies, lab equipment and food service supplies.

Amazon Business has also started beta testing an offer to extend lines of credit to businesses that register on its platform, Wilson said.

These lines of credit could range from tens of thousands of dollars up to $1 million, Wilson added.

Hopeful of Touching 500 Million Internet Users in 2016: Prasad

Hopeful of Touching 500 Million Internet Users in 2016: Prasad

The government is hopeful that India will touch 500 million Internet users mark by the end of 2016, union Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in New Delhi on Wednesday.

“India now has 400 million Internet connections. We thought we will have 500 million users by 2017. But now I am hopeful that it will happen this year,” he said.

He was speaking at the book launch of ‘Digital Desh 2.0’ by NowFloats.

Corroborating the growing penetration of internet, Sharad Sharma, co-founder of iSPIRT, said more people at present read newspapers online than the readership top 10 Indian newspapers taken together.

Saying that the country is in the cusp of digital revolution the minister added, India first observe technology, then adopt it and finally enjoy it.

Prasad said the people of the country are forcing change in the technology sector.

Talking about the present National Democratic Alliance government’s pro-technology approach, he said: “We even take complaints from people in social media. Social media is empowering and enlightening people.”