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IITs preparing for Web 3.0

Web 3.0, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Metaverse and NFT are future-centric technology-based courses. Such educational programmes are being developed in India by TimesPro in collaboration with leading industry partners and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Students, who would complete these new age technology-based courses, will be issued certificates by institutes like IIT-Delhi, IIT-Roorkee and IIT-Ropar. Even the IIT faculties are also being involved in designing many of these technology-based courses. As per FICCI-EY’s 2022 report, Web3.0 is christened as the game-changer for the internet and can add nearly $1.1 trillion to India’s GDP by 2032. It also mentions that the metaverse will drastically evolve, lead several disruptions, build consumer experience, and by 2025 have over 50 million avatars in its space. To offer future-centric and tech-driven programmes to learners, a Web3.0 learning initiative has been launched, through a unique interactive experience in the metaverse.

Online, Offline Credit Delivery Converging

The RBI will tighten scrutiny of digital lending by approving apps that can be hosted on app stores. This follows newly unveiled rules restricting digital credit delivery to entities regulated by RBI or those permitted by law. The crackdown on digital usury and strong-arm loan recovery by unregulated apps is also designed to curb money laundering and will include monitoring of rented accounts, review of dormant credit companies and time-bound registration of payment aggregators. Complaints over dubious instant loans from outside India have mushroomed and investigations have widened to payment gateways. On its part, Google Play has removed over half the instant lending apps it had. Releasing rules for online lending last month, RBI had suggested that GoI bring in legislation to ban unregulated entities. The rules for entities regulated by RBI require them to disburse loans into bank accounts of borrowers, pay the fees of lending service providers, inform borrowers of the all-in cost of loans, and provide other details for borrowers to be able to make informed decisions. It also specified how user data may be collected, involving prior and revocable consent. These rules ought to tilt online lending towards an assets driven model and away from the current originator-distributor format. Fintechs will have to review their business models to deliver in a more transparent regime. Banks are rapidly closing the gap with fintech firms in online distribution, and digital credit regulation will tend to converge with offline rules. Some space for innovation will have to be provided to fintech. But that will be cordoned off from the core lending business. It was only a matter of time before regulation caught up with online credit delivery.

Live commerce to virtual try on

Flipkart is introducing a host of new features through design changes on its app to serve different sets of customers that explore e-commerce this festive season. The aim is to provide shoppers with an improved and enhanced customer experience on the Flipkart app. The completely revamped experience is focused on visual design, ease of navigation, easy discoverability of deals and products, and an immersive and interactive experience with live commerce. Flipkart is also undertaking significant design changes on its mobile app, including the introduction of a grocery tab to enhance the user experience to make it more intuitive and simple to navigate. “The first 100 million online customers came from the metros and the next 500 million will come from tier-2 cities and beyond. And this is where a lot of our innovation lies in essentially making the app seamlessly work for a very diverse country,” said Bharath Ram, senior vice-president, user activation and retention at Flipkart. “People here speak various languages and have different expectations about how the app should work for them.” E-commerce retailers led by Amazon and Flipkart are expected to garner sales worth $11.8 billion this festive season, comfortably more than double the pre-pandemic figure of $5 billion in 2019.

Meta to open 10 virtual campuses as part of metaverse push

As part of its $150 million Immersive Learning Project, Meta (formerly Facebook) said that it is launching 10 virtual campuses across the US in partnership with Victoryxr, an Iowa-based firm that is designing the metaverse campuses, Meta said.  It seeks to take education to virtual reality (VR) environments, as the classes would be conducted through a VR headset.  For example, an institution without a physical campus, the University of Maryland Global Campus, VictoryXR has created a virtual campus with buildings, a grassy lawn, and a duck pond. “The students can put on the headset and enter an administration building, where they can chat with the financial aid avatar. Five metaverse courses are being offered this fall at the university, including courses in biology and astronomy,” Daniel Mintz, chairman of the department of information technology at UMGC said. Other institutions that are part of this project, include, the University of Kansas School of Nursing, New Mexico State University, South Dakota State University, Florida A&M University, West Virginia University, Southwestern Oregon Community College, California State University, Dominguez Hills, and Alabama A&M University.

Cybersecurity, data privacy top ‘people-related’ risks

Cybersecurity and data privacy are now ranked as the top ‘people-related’ risks by companies in Asia, followed by pandemics and related risks, as well as risks posed by the changing nature of work, reveals a new report by Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB), research and advisory wing of US-based professional services firm Marsh.  The research firm surveyed over 2,500 human resources and risk professionals in 25 countries globally and included data from over 600 respondents from Asia. However, the report noted, only 57% of organizations in India say they have mitigation measures in place regarding cybersecurity policies, controls and support systems (such as multi-factor authentication, training, vendor management and/or data encryption). While this figure is low, it is significantly higher than found globally (44%) or across Asia as a whole (48%).The silver lining is that respondents in India have higher awareness of risks in areas include health and safety, governance and financial, accelerated digitization, talent practices, as well as environmental and social, compare with their global and Asia counterparts said the report.

Festive sales online expected to touch $11.8 billion this year

E-commerce retailers led by Amazon and Flipkart are expected to garner sales worth $11.8 billion this festive season, that’s more than double the pre-pandemic figure of $5 billion in 2019, according to a report by consulting firm Redseer. Covid-19 has speeded up the shift to e-commerce, with an increasing number of consumers shopping online at a higher frequency than last year, said the report, with this year’s numbers projected to increase by 28% to about $9.2 billion from 2021. The first week of this festival season itself is expected to garner sales of $5.9 billion, it said. However, the report showed that the festive season’s share of online retail gross merchandise value (GMV) is dropping, due to increasing frequency of transactions fuelled by sale events throughout the year. GMV is the total value of merchandise sold over a certain time frame. The report shows that the spurt in sales will further push the overall online retail GMV, up 30% from $52 billion in 2021 to reach $68 billion this year. Category wise, this festive season, the fashion category will see robust growth driven by an increasing shopper base from Tier II cities. The mobile and electronics category is expected to remain strong during the festive sales driven by better deals and new launches.

Govt Readies Draft Norms to Counter Fake Reviews on Sites

In a war on fake reviews on e-commerce websites along with other platforms, the Centre has prepared a draft framework of standards which will be released soon. The norms detail how to counter fake reviews and unverified star ratings on e-commerce websites, and travel and hotel bookings platforms. The draft is in consultation with ecommerce platforms for a consensus on the matter, Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary, department of consumer affairs, said adding that these guidelines will be released shortly. “We are working on a generic, robust framework to handle this. The main issue is traceability and legitimacy of the reviews and ratings – whether the person who’s written the review is actually the user. Hotels and travel reviews are, to use the word, the biggest defaulters on this,” Singh said. The rampant practice of fake or unverified reviews makes it impossible for consumers to differentiate between actual and paid reviews of products and services. This is the right time to address such issues because ecommerce prevalence has been increasing and more and more people are shopping online, he added.

Global ecommerce sales to drop for the first time in history

For the first time, global e-commerce revenues are forecast to shrink this year due to supply chain issues and rising inflation, and industry is expected to generate $3.74 trillion in sales this year, $95 billion less than in 2021, a report showed. According to data presented by AugustaFreePress.com, the expected e-commerce revenue drop comes as the market faces global challenges in 2022. During the pandemic, many consumers have changed shopping behaviour and switched to new brands in search of brand value, availability and convenience. “Traditional e-commerce technology has also reached its limitations, and many brands are seeing their e-commerce tech stacks not flexible enough to meet customer expectations. On top of that, digital advertising costs are rising. However, supply chain issues and inflation remain the biggest weakening factors,” the report mentioned. In just four years, global revenues spiked 70 per cent, jumping to over $3.84 trillion in 2021, according to ‘Statista Digital Market Outlook’. As the two largest e-commerce revenue streams, electronics and fashion sales made nearly half of that value. Statistics show that between 2017 and 2021, the revenues of the global e-commerce fashion industry soared by 67 per cent to $890 billion.

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