Convergence Plus
Monday, December 18, 2017
Retailers plan to go all out in war against revised MDR on social media

Retailers plan to go all out in war against revised MDR on social mediaOver the next few weeks, social media users should be prepared for a barrage of posts on the very commercial-sounding topic of merchant discount rate, which are likely to be accompanied by hash-tags such as #MDR and #debitcards. Retailers are planning a coordinated campaign on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to highlight how the latest revision in the charges they pay to enable debit card transactions is an anticonsumer move and one that would benefit banks and card issuers. They are trying to broad-base their campaign by bringing on board ecommerce companies, airlines and telecom operators, among others, to oppose the changes in the cost of debit card transactions.

"There are repercussions for all merchants," said Kumar Rajagopalan, chief executive officer of the Retailers Association of India. The association is trying to rope in "everybody in online space, travel and tourism, hotels, telecom," he said.

One CEO set the ball rolling on Friday with a tweet on how the decision could discourage cashless transactions. "This move contradicts #DigitalIndia that we are all driving. I hope, @NITIAayog will notice the avoidable contradiction. We would like to be encouraged to drive digital payments, not punished! Please, @amitabhk87," Damodar Mall, chief executive officer for grocery at Reliance Retail, said on Twitter on Friday.

One retail veteran suggested in a message to a WhatsApp group of retail CEOs that companies must use their social media teams to run a "whole hog" campaign and a team of "media savvy" CEOs should clear the posts so that the necessary impact is created, according to a retail CEO who asked not to be identified.

The retailers plan to bombard social media with posts tagging the Prime Minister's Office and the finance, commerce and textile ministers. "We will do a major tamasha on social media," Rajagopalan said.

The group will also petition the finance minister, the Reserve Bank of India and Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog, the government's think tank.
The RBI revised the merchant discount rate for debit card transactions on Wednesday. Starting January 1, for shops with a turnover of up to Rs 20 lakh in the previous financial year, the MDR will be 0.4% of the purchase value or Rs 200 per transaction, whichever is lower. At bigger stores, the MDR will be 0.9% of the purchase value or Rs 1,000, whichever is lower. The RBI set a different rate for QR-code based transactions, with similar caps in the two categories.

Currently, the MDR is 0.25% for purchases up to Rs 1,000 and 0.5% for transactions between Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000. For higher amounts, the rate is 1%. There is no categorisation based on annual revenue. The RBI said it decided to rationalise the MDR for debit cards based on consultations with stakeholders and with the objective of promoting wider debit card acceptance, especially by small merchants, and ensuring the sustainability of their businesses.

Kirana Stores at a loss
The Confederation of All India Traders, which also represents small shopkeepers, said the RBI move will not help kirana stores, estimating their average annual turnover at above Rs 20 lakh. Metro Cash and Carry said most of its kirana clients clock annual revenue of Rs 24 lakh to Rs 60 lakh and accepting debit cards will erode their profit by 20% due to MDR payments.

"We are still studying the RBI direction to understand it better. We will engage with regulatory bodies to present our views on the same," an Amazon spokesperson said. In their social media campaign, the retailers plan to emphasise that the MDR revision will only help banks and card issuers. "There is no logic on who uses QR codes in this country," said a top CEO of a retail group, asking not to be identified.

"The real story is that banks are trying to make a profit out of this... In China, the MDR charge is 0.2% on all cards put together and in India it is about 2%. How can business succeed if MDR charges are so high?"

The campaign will highlight how consumers may be affected because prices of essentials will increase, with retailers and restaurants planning to pass on the increased costs.

"Retailers are feeling the pinch and that must be communicated loud and clear," said Riyaaz Amlani, a managing committee member of the National Restaurant Association of India. "The general public also needs to know why the costs are going up. At the end of the day, the customers will get impacted as my input costs have gone up."

Retailers said the cost of doing business will go up by 0.5-0.6 percentage points. The RBI has said MDR charges are not to be borne by customers. Banks are advised to ensure that merchants on-boarded by them do not pass on MDR charges to customers while accepting payments through debit cards, the RBI said in its notification on December 6. (Source: Times of India)

Local content hogs the limelight on YouTube

Local content hogs the limelight on YouTubeFuelled by cheap data rates, entry of multimedia players and variety of new content offered, local content is proving to be a big hit on YouTube, as 200 channels from India have hit the 1-million subscribers mark in 2017. Just this year, 145 channels have crossed the milestone, marking a five- times jump year-on-year. The launch of Reliance Jio and subsequent drop in data prices has seen an average connected mobile internet user in India consume 4 GB of data every month. With the consumption expected to increase to 11 GB per month by 2020, the online video streaming services have reached a tipping point. “Out of 400 million Indians with access to internet, more than half are consuming YouTube. In September, as per App Annie data, YouTube had 225 million monthly active users,” said Satya Raghavan, head of entertainment, YouTube India.

And YouTube has seen a massive jump in not just the watch-time and number of users, but also in terms of the Indian content creator ecosystem.

For the first time not just the media companies’ owned channels but individual or creator-led channels are also getting high traction. A total of 80 such Indian creator-led and original YouTubefirst channels have crossed the million-subscriber mark.

“Every week we are witnessing three new channels crossing the 1-million threshold. This is a huge jump, compared to 2-3 creator-driven channels that boasted of such a subscriber base a couple of years back,” Raghavan said.

For instance, this year, a 106-year-old grandmother took YouTube by storm, when she shared her village food recipes with the world. The granny now has over 750K subscribers and on an average gets 10 million views for recipes. “You-Tube is fast becoming the pop-culture for India. There is a massive growth of sub-genres within genres of food, comedy and beauty,” Raghavan added.

Amongst YouTube’s top 10 countries India is one of the fastest growing — both in terms of total watch time and mobile watch time. While total watch-time grew over 400% year-on-year on mobile devices (mobile+tablets), India is one of the few countries where over 80% of total watch-time is spent on mobile devices. (Source: Economic Times)

Aadhaar may add security layer with dummy numbers

Aadhaar may add security layer with dummy numbers Amid the privacy and protection concerns voiced by various groups, the top team of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is exploring the possibility of introducing dummy numbers that would add an extra layer of security to every Aadhaar cardholder. Such a framework would require an individual to share dummy or pseudo numbers — and not the real Aadhaar number — to government agencies, private utilities, banks and while withdrawing money from ATMs or moving funds from one bank account to another under the Aadhaar-enabled payment system. Besides the cardholder, the original Aadhaar number would be known only to UIDAI. Two senior persons in the industry told ET that the concept has been discussed at senior levels in UIDAI but is yet to be finalised.

No details yet
The creation of dummy numbers and the frequency at which it can be generated and used would depend on the design architecture of the system. “It may not help if a permanent dummy number is given against every Aadhaar number. The primary job of Aadhaar is authentication — to ensure whether the right person is using the services. So, if there can be a dynamic system where an individual authenticates with the electricity company using one dummy number, with the telephone company using another dummy number, and generates new dummy numbers for monetary transactions like one time passwords (OTPs), then there is no one Aadhaar number that can be traced back to the person. And, in the absence of a single number, it is very difficult to misuse Aadhaar to track someone’s personal data,” said a person familiar with the concept.

However, there are no details available on UIDAI’s final stand on such a proposal — whether and in what form it could be brought in. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, chief executive of UIDAI, did not respond to texts, WhatsApp messages, and phone calls. (Source: Economic Times)

Nasscom Product Council opens a DeepTech Club

Nasscom Product Council opens a DeepTech Club Nasscom Product Council (NPC), the IT lobby’s platform for software product companies to showcase products and connect with peers, will focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in the upcoming conclave to be held in Bengaluru. It also launched a DeepTech Club to nurture startups with mentors and investors. “We are going to talk extensively on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Increasingly, machine learning and artificial intelligence are cropping up as solutions for handling data. While, the two are often used interchangeably, and though there are some parallels, they’re not the same thing,” said Somdutta Singh, co-chair, NPC.

Singh said the organisations associated with the conclave will get practical grounding in artificial intelligence and its business applications to help transform an organisation into a sustainable company. “Machine learning will help businesses automate processes and analyse vast amounts of data and help replicate a human task and reach a new conclusion, instead of just making that task more efficient,” said Singh.

NPC has also launched the Deep-Tech Club, which has around 20 companies that research deep learning, has one patent filed and has built an application. Deep-Tech Club will be co-led by Milind Hanchinmani, director, Intel, along with serial entrepreneur Subinder Khurana and Singh.

“We will help core deep learning startups in India collaborate with educational institutions worldwide like MIT and Tel Aviv University, along with helping them in their go-to-market, scaling-up, technology development, fundraising and international expansion,” said Singh. (Source: Economic Times)

Twitter to issue new safety rules post McGowan-sparked protest

Twitter to issue new safety rules post McGowan-sparked protestIn the backdrop of protest, #WomenBoycottTwitter, sparked by actor Rose McGowan, Twitter has decided to roll out new safety rules in the “next few weeks”. Large number of women participated in the campaign to protest the silencing of their voices on the microblogging site. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has announced that the social media platform will be issuing new safety rules around “unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence.”

“Today we saw voices silencing themselves and voices speaking out because we’re still not doing enough. We’ve been working intensely over the past few months and focused today on making some critical decisions. We decided to take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them,” Dorsey tweeted.

The co-founder said that more information regarding the rules will be shared next week. #WomenBoycottTwitter gained momentum after Twitter locked McGowan’s account for violating the rules when she posted a personal phone number in one of her tweets.

The “Charmed” actor had spoken out about being raped by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. McGowan shared posts from other users who said her account was locked for speaking out against powerful male actors, such as Ben Affleck, in the wake of sexual harassment allegations surrounding Weinstein.

Alyssa Milano, Gina Rodriquez, Ava DuVernay, Kathy Griffin, Chrissy Teigen and Amber Tamblyn were among the stars who joined McGowan in the protest. Following Dorsey’s announcement, McGowan asked Twitter to set an example by revoking white supremacist leader, Richard Spencer’s verification. “Start by immediately removing Richard Spencer’s verification,” she tweeted. (Source:The Hindubusiness Line)

Estonia open to assist India on cyber security

Estonia open to assist India on cyber securityEstonia is keen to help India combat cyber-attacks by engaging with the South Asian country in joint drills. Tallinn (Estonia): Estonia is keen to help India combat cyber-attacks by engaging with the South Asian country in joint drills and offering its cutting edge technical resources in the field at a time when cyber strikes across the globe are seen as dangerous to the stability of democracies and growth economies.

Estonia is keen to help India combat cyber-attacks by engaging with the South Asian country in joint drills. Tallinn (Estonia): Estonia is keen to help India combat cyber-attacks by engaging with the South Asian country in joint drills and offering its cutting edge technical resources in the field at a time when cyber strikes across the globe are seen as dangerous to the stability of democracies and growth economies.

Tallinn, the capital of this tiny Baltic nation, may be famous for its medieval churches and quaint, cobble-stoned streets, but it is also home to the NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, a leading international military organisation dealing with cyber conflicts. "Estonia is the cyber security training ground for NATO and the European Union, and we would be happy to exchange our knowhow and help set up similar training exercises in India," Siim Sikkut, Deputy Secretary General (IT & Telecom) in Estonia's economic affairs and communications ministry, told ET.

Estonia's cybersecurity experts, he said, are willing to suggest ways to help India operationally defend its core systems and on forge strong collaborations with critical service providers in the private sector. The Northern European Baltic nation has taken big strides in embracing digital technology and views cyber security as an integral part of broader security to protect its digital lifestyle. Talks of a potential Indo-Estonian engagement on cyber-security come ahead of the upcoming EU-India summit next month and also just days after European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, suggested the creation of a stronger European cyber security agency to defend against such attacks amid growing incidence of ransomware attacks across the globe.

According to Sikkut, Estonia's former ambassador to India, Viljar Lubi was very active on the cyber security front, and more recently other Estonian experts in the field have spoken at cyber security related conclaves in India. A deeper engagement on cyber security appears on the cards between Estonia and India at a time when the next month's wide-ranging EU-India summit in Delhi is slated to also pave the way for active cooperation between India and the Europol's European Cybercrime centre on counter-terrorism operations and battling cyber crime.

The Estonian government is also keen to work closely with India to help the latter leverage its biometric Aadhaar database for delivering a host of digital services to citizens.

"India has taken big strides in setting up digital identity of citizens with Aadhaar, but we believe the digital identity (mechanism) must not be limited to just authentication or identification, but must be extended all the way to digital signatures" said Sikkut. (Source: ETTelecom)

Ditching WhatsApp encryption will help terrorists: Facebook COO

Ditching WhatsApp encryption will help terrorists: Facebook COOFacebook has 4,500 people who work to stop any attempt from extremists to hijack the website.
Responding to a call that Facebook should do away with the encryption that prevents police from accessing WhatsApp data, the company's top executive has said such a move would make it difficult to track terrorists if government gets such access. The call for ditching the WhatsApp encryption emerged after five people were killed in an attack on March 22 when Khalid Masood ploughed his car into crowds on the bridge and tried to storm the Parliament. Masood is said to have used WhatsApp minutes before carrying out the attack.

"The goal for governments is to get as much information as possible, and so when there are message services like WhatsApp that are encrypted the message itself is encrypted but the metadata is not. Meaning that when you send me a message we don't know what that message says but we know that you contacted me," quoted Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer Facebook, as saying on Saturday.

"If people move off those encrypted services and go to encrypted services in countries that won't share the metadata the government actually has less information, not more. And so as technology evolves these are complicated conversations. We are in close conversations working through the issues all around the world," she added.

With the growing terror attacks in London and Europe, social media has come under severe criticism for not doing enough to curb online terrorism. Facebook hired an online army of more than 7,000 people which is assigned to crack down on terrorists using the site.

Facebook also has 4,500 people who work to stop any attempt from extremists to hijack the site and the company plans to hire 3,000 more later this year.

"Our Facebook policies are very clear. There is absolutely no place for terrorism, hate or calls for violence of any kind. Our goal is to not just pull it off Facebook but to use artificial intelligence technology to get it before it is even uploaded," Sandberg said.

"We are working in collaboration with other tech companies now so if a video is uploaded to any of our platforms we are able to fingerprint it for all the others so they can't move from platform to platform," she added.(Source: ETtelecom)

TRAI to begin consultation on mobile apps seeking user data

TRAI to begin consultation on mobile apps seeking user dataMobile apps seeking blanket access to phone users’ information — even if irrelevant to their functions — have come under the lens of TRAI, which will start consultation on data privacy and security in the telecom sector, according to a top official. “There should be a link between what an application does and information the application is asking for... You will see a consultation paper... we are working on the issue,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Chairman, R S Sharma, told PTI. On Friday, the Centre told the Supreme Court that data of users are “integral” to the right of life and personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution and it would come out with regulations to protect the same.

The submission by the Centre was made before a five—judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra which was examining the contentious issue of 2016 privacy policy of WhatsApp. Without referring to the case, Sharma in a recent interview emphasised that information a mobile app asks for should be relevant to its purpose and that “minimal information principle” needs to be followed in normal course. “If an app has nothing to do with your, say, gender, then it should not ask for such information. That is the broad principle,” Sharma said, citing an example.

The TRAI chief declined to specify whether the consultation would result in norms or regulations around data privacy and security, saying it is “premature“. “I will raise various issues during consultation... the form (it takes) will depend on what stakeholders say, and also how much right we have as a regulator...,” he added. At present, discussions have started internally within Trai to look at these issues of data security and privacy in the telecom sector, he noted.

Sharma said he had flagged the matter at a recent ITU global symposium of regulators and stressed on the need for regulators to come together to fix “international norms” in this regard. ”...In case I am downloading an app and it asks for 20 information, completely irrelevant... and if I don’t provide that information, it does not download... then there should some basis for information that an application can ask for,” he said.

When contacted, Pavan Duggal, advocate, Supreme Court and a cyber law expert, said there are no adequate laws to govern mobile apps.

“The current dispensation is not enough. The IT Act is India’s only legislation governing the mobile ecosystem. But it has not gone in the direction of stipulating parameters of due diligence to be done by mobile app service providers,” he said.
Consequently, people’s data are continuously being used by “rogue apps” with consumers having no effective legal remedy, Duggal claimed, adding that Indian laws must therefore stipulate cyber security parameters for mobile apps (Source : The Hindu BusinessLine)

Intel chips in with Xeon to take on competitors

Intel chips in with Xeon to take on competitorsThe data centre processor promises speed, agility, security, networking features that are multiple times ahead of previous generation hardware.
With an eye on new markets including 5G telecom networks, Artificial Intelligence (AI), drones, driverless cars and even hi-tech farming and analytics-driven retail, world’s largest chip maker Intel has launched its new Xeon scalable processors. The data centre processor promises speed, agility, security, networking features that are multiple times ahead of previous generation hardware and offer ultra-low latency to meet demands of the fast accelerating digital life.The Xeon platform was in development over the last five years.

The $59-billion Intel Corporation is pinning its hopes on the re-architected chip to ward off fierce competition from Nvidia, AMD, Freescale, ST Microelectronics and others gearing up for next gen hardware needs of modern data centres, the engine rooms of the digital economy.

Navin Shenoy, executive vice-president, Intel said, “Less than 1% of data that’s generated is used, analysed or acted upon. Therein lies the opportunity to unlock that data.”

Shenoy in his keynote address elaborated on how traditional and new industries are fast adopting technologies that put huge demands on current data centre infrastructure. For example, farmers are using drones, satellite tech to increase food production without increasing land.

Offline retailers like Wal-Mart, Tesco, are using sensors and analytics to improve inventory management and customer experience. More companies want to use AI to power their businesses and next generation services. (Source: ETtelcom)

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