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India eyes to become key stakeholder in Internet governance worldwide

India, representing the sizable chunk of population with highest data consumption, is aiming to become a key stakeholder internationally in the Internet governance domain, and is bringing out a whitepaper at the upcoming three-day India Internet Governance Forum (IIGF). “We are discussing the desire of India that it should be well represented at the international forum. We are planning to bring out a white paper which will be promoting the ideas and requirements of India, and why it is important for the world to look at it,” Anil Kumar Jain, chief executive of the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI)has been quoted in the report. Besides, the US, China and Russia are the prominent countries representing Internet governance at the United Nations-led forums. The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) is organizing the IIGF from November 25 – 27, in a runup to the United Nations 16th annual event in Poland from December 6 – 10, 2021. The IIGF is the outcome of the United Nations initiative in 2006 aimed to locally discuss the role and applications of the Internet in everyday life and its societal impact.

GOI may tax cryptocurrency gains in the next Union Budget

The Centre is planning new changes in the income tax laws in a bid to bring cryptocurrencies under the tax radar. These changes could form part of the Union Budget in 2022. “We will take a call. I understand that already people are paying taxes on it. Now that it has really grown a lot, we will see whether we can actually bring in some changes in law position or not. But that would be a Budget activity. We are already nearing the Budget, we have to look at that point of time,” revenue secretary Tarun Bajaj was quoted. Bajaj also pointed out that when it comes to income tax, people are already paying capital gains tax on the income from cryptocurrency. He said that with respect to Goods and Services Tax (GST) the law is very clear that the rate would be applicable as those in case of other services. The proposal to bring cryptocurrency gains under the ambit of tax comes amid reports that the government is mulling to introduce a bill on cryptocurrencies during the winter session of Parliament beginning November 29. The government expressed concern earlier that cryptocurrency is being used to lure in investors.

RBI panel pitches for strict regulation of digital loan apps

A working group set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to review working of digital lending has made a case for stronger regulation of loan apps in its report. The recommendations range from subjecting digital lending apps (DLAs) to a verification process by a nodal agency to a separate legislation to prevent illegal digital lending activities. The report said there were approximately 1,100 lending apps available for Indian Android users across over 80 application stores, of which 600 were illegal. The group was constituted amid widespread complaints of harassment and unfair recovery practices by a host of lending apps which are virtually unregulated. While acknowledging the importance and role of technological advancements in the growth of the credit ecosystem, the report of the group, headed by RBI ED Jayant Kumar Dash, highlighted the risks arising out of recent developments. One of the near-term recommendations, implementable in the next one year, is that a nodal agency be set up to primarily verify the technological credentials of DLAs of the balance sheet lenders and lending service providers (LSPs). It will also maintain a public register of the verified apps on its website. Styled as Digital India Trust Agency (DIGITA), the institution would be set up in consultation with stakeholders including regulators, industry participants, representative bodies and the government, the report said. The report recommends that a self-regulatory organization (SRO) covering DLAs and LSPs may be set up. The government could consider bringing through a legislation styled as “the Banning of Unregulated Lending Activities (BULA) Act” which would cover all entities not regulated and authorized by the RBI for undertaking lending business or entities not registered under any other law for specifically undertaking public lending business.

Beauty, food and grocery are the most purchased through social commerce

Global data and measurement-driven media agency Essence unveiled its first-ever social commerce report, which investigates the rapidly growing trend of consumers buying products and services directly on social platforms. The report illustrates the significant opportunity brands have in social commerce, with three out of four people surveyed saying they are likely or highly likely to buy through social media in the future. Social commerce is forecast to account for 13% of total ecommerce sales in China this year. According to the Essence survey, 41% of respondents worldwide made purchases or intend to make purchases involving social platforms. While social media platforms have always provided an environment for buyers and sellers to interact, the survey demonstrates a shift towards organized commerce on platforms. Increasingly, social commerce enables discovery, browsing and purchasing to take place on one platform without the need to interact with any external websites or applications. Ultimately, it creates a seamless experience with fewer clicks and higher potential revenue and conversion rates. China, unsurprisingly, is the leader in social commerce, which is forecast to account for 13% of total ecommerce sales in 2021. According to the Essence survey, almost 80% of consumers in China purchased items on social media. Singapore, India and Indonesia followed with 50%, 49% and 48%, respectively. France, Germany and Japan showed the lowest purchasing intent via social platforms at 22%, 27% and 24%, respectively. Respondents in Japan recorded the highest average transaction value. The higher value transactions look to be driven primarily by men (35%) and by millennials in the 25 to 44 age segment (72%).

Google for India 2021 highlights

Google hosted its seventh Google for India event and this time the emphasis was on making the internet safer for a billion Indians and empowering the country to become a leading digital economy. Some of the announcements are:-  With climate change being real, Google is working on a range of climate-related efforts in India to fulfil its commitment to being carbon-free by 2030, Google has partnered with India Meteorological Department to launch weather alerts, it is also working to develop the digital education and learning space in India. through its Google Classroom program, it allows users to download class work whenever they have internet access and work on it later. Google Read Aloud feature on Search-Google will also read aloud search results in the user’s language, it is also bringing new features to Google Pay like such as Groups and Bill Split.

Instagram to shut down ‘Threads’ by year end

Instagram is going to shut the Threads application just two years after its launch. The Facebook (Meta)-owned application had introduced the new application in the year 2019. The app will start redirecting users from Threads to the main application via in-app notifications. Threads users will start receiving these prompts from 23 November. In order to compensate for the shut down of the app, Instagram will be rolling out the option to add music to normal posts.

Hotmail co-founder Sabeer Bhatia launches video messaging platform ‘ShowReel’

Silicon-Valley based serial techpreneur and Hotmail co-founder Sabeer Bhatia has launched a purpose-driven social video messaging platform, ShowReel, that aims to enable employment and upskilling opportunities for job seekers globally. Bhatia, who became the poster boy for the tech industry when Hotmail – one of the world’s first email services – was sold to Microsoft for $400 million, said ShowReel is a simulation of offline human interactions into the virtual world. “This product was a direct result of the pandemic… the real idea for showreel was why can we not make professional videos with a purpose, not just for entertainment for other people to see, but for communicating something about me and what is the most important thing that you want to communicate when you want to get hired,” Bhatia has been quoted in the report.

Reserve Bank of India may launch digital currency pilot next year, says new report

The Reserve Bank of India‘s digital currency may see its pilot launch in the first quarter of the next fiscal year, a senior central bank officer said at the State Bank of India‘s Banking and Economic Conclave as reported by a local newspaper. Central bank digital currencies or CBDCs are digital or virtual currencies that are basically the digital version of fiat currencies, for India that would be its domestic currency rupee. Previously, the central bank governor had said a soft launch of the CBDC could be expected by December but there has been no official timeline committed to by the RBI.

Twitter develops cryptocurrency & NFT features

Twitter is now developing decentralized technology tools and features to unify cryptocurrency, blockchains, NFTs and the social experience on the platform. The objectives were set by Twitter to bring these technologies such as cryptocurrency on the social network. The primary pivot presently would be to figure out use case applications for features that would integrate these technologies. For instance, tipping via cryptocurrency, exhibition or purchase and sale of NFTs, and more. Twitter is the first major social network to announce the push into blockchain and cryptocurrency. While the first movers’ advantage would benefit the social network, the dismal scenario around the non-acceptance of cryptocurrency as a legal tender in several countries, debates around the negative effects of crypto mining on the climate, and its highly volatile, market value, pose as a risk to Twitter’s investment in the technology if it faces any legal issues in specific countries.


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