ByteDance to back local content firms; Facebook may be able to launch WhatsApp Pay soon

ByteDance to back local content firms; Facebook may be able to launch WhatsApp Pay soon
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TikTok owner ByteDance is scouting investment in local content platforms to capture newer audiences, while Amazon has made a soft entry into the edtech sector. Zero MDR continues to be a sore point with payments companies who are now seeking compensation for losses. Facebook may be a step closer to finally launching WhatsApp Pay in India.

ByteDance to invest in local content firms

Beijing-based ByteDance Technology Co, developer of popular short video sharing app Tiktok, is looking to invest in Indian content platforms, Mint reported today.

The investment is part of a strategy to create a suite of apps to expand and bring in newer audiences to the platform, the report said citing unnamed sources. The company has also created a team to hunt for companies in content, social commerce and education technology, the report added.

Email queries sent to Bytedance seeking more information in this regard did not elicit responses at the time of publishing this report.

Tiktok’s India push and focus comes to light even as it roped in GroupM’s South Asia chief executive Sameer Singh as vice-president of monetisation for India in May this year.

Amazon pilots test preparation app 

Seattle based ecommerce giant Amazon has launched a mobile test preparation app for JEE (Joint Entrance Examination), marking its foray into the edtech sector.

The app, which is currently available on the Google Play store page in beta version has been named JEE Ready. The store page shows that it has been developed by Amazon Mobile LLC, the entity behind all the company’s  other mobile apps, including its ecommerce platform.

E-mail queries sent to Amazon seeking more information on the company’s edtech foray did not elicit a response at the time of publishing this report

According to information on the app’s Play store page, it is currently a free mobile app that lets students test their readiness for the JEE Mains examination by taking a mock test created by experienced faculty members. Students  can compare their  performance against other students and get a detailed breakdown of their test performance. 

Facebook may be closer to launching WhatsApp Pay in India

Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp may be a step closer to the formal launch of its much delayed payments service, Bloomberg reported. The formal launch of the payments service is expected after a wrap-up of an audit for data related practices, the report said.

An email query to Facebook India did not elicit responses at the time of publishing this report.

In April, after building out a system to store payment related data in India last year, WhatsApp identified a third-party auditor to inspect it.

The submission came as a response to the Reserve Bank of India’s affidavit after the RBI was made party in January in a plea by Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change that said WhatsApp had not fully complied with the central bank’s data-localisation norms.

To refresh,  WhatsApp Pay, which was launched in February 2018 has been operating in beta mode, restricting itself to one million users. 

Uber to roll out ride hailing services in native languages

Ride hailing major Uber is piloting a service where users can book a ride through SMS (short messaging service) and call services in local languages.

According to a report by Hindu Business Line, Uber has set up a call centre where consumers can book a cab by calling its helpdesk. 

An email query sent to Uber seeking more information on this pilot did not elicit responses at the time of publishing this report

Payment companies seek compensation for losses from zero MDR 

The Payments Council of India (PCI), an umbrella body that represents non-banking payment service providers, has reached out to the government for seeking compensation for losses incurred due to Zero MDR (merchant discount rate).

The Economic Times, which cited unnamed sources, said that PCI has reached out to the Ministry of Finance , Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and RBI in this regard.

The report added that PCI has appealed, through a letter, for the establishment of a fund that will compensate the losses incurred out of the waiver of MDR, proposed in Budget 2019.  MDR is a charge borne by merchants on digital payments for using the digital and payments infrastructure offered by banks.