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New rules in the works to curb seller bias in etail search results

The union government is working on a new set of policies to bring about “algorithmic fairness” for customers of ecommerce firms. The proposed rules will make it compulsory for these companies to show search results from several sellers instead of focussing on a few preferred sellers, a top official said. The rules will also restrict ecommerce companies from sharing consumers’ buying behaviour with anyone, said Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary at the Department of Consumer Affairs.ONDC framework: These and other rules will be a part of the framework for the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).They will apply to all companies engaged in digital commerce, including Amazon, Flipkart, Google’s Play Store, Apple’s App Store, cab aggregators and hotel aggregators. Independent sellers on ecommerce marketplaces have alleged that the platforms give preferential treatment to some sellers, which show up more in product searches than others. They have also alleged that platforms share consumer data such as shopping behaviour with their preferred sellers, which are partly or fully owned by the marketplaces, giving them an advantage over others.

Union Bank launches super app Union nxt, aims to shift 50% biz to digital by 2025

Union Bank of India launched its super-app named UnionNXT and digital transformation project SMBHAV, with an investment outlay of around Rs 1,000 crore for the current financial year 2022-23 (FY23). The public sector lender expects recovery from the spending in two years and aims to have 50 per cent business originating on the digital platform by 2025. With this it joins the league of super-apps by large lenders such as State Bank of India’s Yono, Bank of Baroda’s Bob world and HDFC Bank’s PayZapp and ICICI Bank’s iMobile. A banking super-app essentially combines a number of services, such as payments, online shopping, bill payments, recharges, investment, loans, and fund transfer, on a single platform.

Tatas replenish ecommerce war chest with Rs 5,882 crore

Tata Sons has infused Rs 5,882 crore into its flagship ecommerce entity Tata Digital, the highest ever fund allocation in a single tranche and the most that the Tatas have invested into ecommerce in any single fiscal year. Tata Digital, which owns the newly launched ecommerce super app Tata Neu, has over the last year been undertaking acquisitions in the consumer internet space, snapping up buzzy startups such as e-grocer BigBasket and e-pharmacy 1mg. The latest funding takes the total investment into Tata Digital to Rs 11,872 crore in 2021-22, helping it achieve a war chest to take on established ecommerce rivals Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart in the country.

70% developers believe Crypto & Blockchain will shape the future of metaverse: Survey

‘Metaverse’ is a virtual world that people can enter using virtual, augmented or mixed reality technologies. This kind of virtual world enables people to interact with each other, play games, buy property, do many more activities, and even hold weddings. A survey conducted by Agora wherein 70% of the respondents (9% disagreed and 21% felt neutral) agreed that cryptocurrency and blockchain technology advancements will be instrumental to shaping the future of the metaverse. Further, 57% of respondents think that the metaverse will become the most popular place to buy, store and trade cryptocurrency, while 18% disagree and 25% feel neutral. When asked which industry will benefit the most or experience the greatest positive impact from the metaverse, the developers put gaming and entertainment at the top, with 26% each. More than half of the developers (55%) say that it is likely the metaverse will replace real-life, in-person social interactions and experiences within the next five years, the survey claimed. 72% believe interactive, two-way digital video and audio will be critical for a more engaging metaverse experience.

Meta plans virtual currency, creator coins for its apps

Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O) is readying plans to introduce virtual tokens and cryptocurrencies to its family of apps with an aim to use such virtual tokens for rewarding creators and lending and other financial services. The move, which is reported to be in its early stages, comes as Meta grows its focus on services centered around the metaverse, a virtual environment where people interact, work and play. If implemented, it could also give Meta a new revenue channel and control over transactions in its suite of apps and services, which include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and the Meta Quest virtual reality platform. Meta’s cryptocurrencies, internally dubbed “Zuck Bucks”, are intended for the metaverse and may not be based on blockchain citing people familiar with the matter.

Rural India witnessing the onset of an e-commerce revolution

Rural India is on the periphery of an e-commerce revolution and there has been a massive increase in the number of users of e-commerce apps in the last 6-8 months, as per Kantar and  GroupM’s Rural Barometer Report. The report states that digital financial inclusion continues to see a growing footprint and payment apps especially have created a fertile ground for the advancement of e-commerce to rural hinterlands. It explores concerns about the post pandemic impact on consumer behaviour and purchase patterns across rural India. The findings show that the nutrition and health of 1 in 5 children is of concern. Job security continues to be a concern today. Digital consumption has shifted beyond basic services such as entertainment and social media to more economically valuable information and services.

A super app from Tatas is ready to take on Mukesh Ambani’s consumer digital empire

The kind of super app that has succeeded in China (WeChat) and Southeast Asia requires a reason for customers to visit it regularly. Commerce is incidental. It is a war that’s been in the making for two years – and may finally happen now that Tatas are in enough businesses to launch a super app. The super app may see an all-out Tata-Ambani retail war whose war clouds have been building up. Tata is launching a super app to take on Reliance. Its app launched on 7th April, will have not only shopping but will soon link its airlines – Vistara and Air India – its hotel chain – the Taj group of hotels – it’s grocery chains – Big Basket and 1mg – its apparel stores – Westside – to consumers. Tanishq and Tata Motors are not on board yet. In a crowded landscape of apps, becoming a super app is mainly about becoming more integrated into people’s lives and maintaining a grip on their attention.

AR is changing Indian GenZ’s shopping behaviour: Snapchat report

In its first edition, the report by Snapchat highlights the unique as well as distinctive characteristics of Gen Z in four big areas: identity, communication, commerce, and connection. Conducted across 16 countries including India to primarily understand what’s at the heart of the Snapchat Generation and their attitude towards culture, technology, and community.Around the world, this generation is championing transparency, reimagining online life as something that feels real, fulfilling, and genuinely fun. In particular, Gen Z is leading a shift towards realness, determined to embrace their true self and explore their identities, despite pressures of expectation. Gen Z is redefining the normal and expressing themselves in more creative and immersive ways to deepen connections with others. Gen Z is also actively seeking meaning and guidance from their friendships, brands, and the broader world as connections matter more than ever to them. The research in this report by Snapchat also throws light on the top five values for Gen Z. While having fun tops the chart with 77%, this is followed by caring for health and wellbeing with 71%. Accomplishing goals, making money and being creative share the rest of the values pie.

Tata Digital starts testing UPI payments in closed user group

Tata is reportedly seeking clearance from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to start operating as a third-party payments service provider on UPI. Tata Digital is in talks to partner with private lender ICICI Bank for powering its UPI infrastructure. It was earlier reported that Tata Group might soon step into the UPI ecosystem, currently dominated by the digital payment apps Google Pay, PhonePe, Amazon Pay, Paytm, and WhatsApp Pay.

Flipkart launches separate app for healthcare biz to take on 1mg, PharmEasy

Flipkart has launched a separate app for its healthcare business, Flipkart Health+. It will operate with the marketplace model, in which third-party sellers will offer medicines and healthcare products on the platform. To start with, the platform will have over 500 independent sellers who have a network of registered pharmacists for validation of medical prescriptions and accurate dispensation of medicines, the company said in a statement. According to Flipkart Health+, it has put in place various quality checks and verification protocols to offer genuine medicines. Going forward, the company plans to onboard third-party healthcare service providers who will offer other value-added healthcare services such as teleconsultation and e-diagnostics to customers. This is one of the reasons why Flipkart has chosen to create a separate app for its healthcare business.

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