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Tech-tonic shift: Govt looks to take on iOS, Android with Indian OS

India is working on a project to create an indigenous mobile operating system, tentatively titled IndOS, which is an initiative of the government, start-ups, and academia. The objective is to create competition for Google’s Android in the mobile operating system market (accounting for over 97 percent share) along with Apple’s iOS, which comprises a smaller share. Confirming the development, a senior government official said, “India is one of the largest mobile device markets in the globe. Our objective is to create a secure Indian mobile operating system that could also create choices and competition for Android’s dominance in the Indian market and a smaller share of iOS.” The move to build IndOS is significant as it comes at a time when Google is under scrutiny in the country and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has already slapped a fine for allegedly abusing its dominant position through the Android Play Store policy. It has also ordered Google to allow the sideloading of apps from developers to reduce its stranglehold in the business.

Mastercard onboards 1 million small holders Indian farmers to Farm Pass digitisation solution

Payment processing network company Mastercard has announced that its Farm Pass platform has helped more than a million Indian smallholder farmers. First tested in Kenya in 2015 the Farm Pass is designed to strengthen farming communities by connecting farmers with consumers.  With the help of Farm Pass, Mastercard has processed roughly ₹180 crore in transactions of agricultural products in 2022. To this end, the payments technology company has teamed up with an integrated agri-service provider, Lawrencedale Agro Processing India (LEAF), and a livelihood promotion institution, BASIX Social Enterprise Group, to establish a 10-million-farmer goal for 2025.   The strategic partnership with LEAF and BASIX was aimed at helping farmers in four states including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu get better digital access and financial inclusion. In 2023, Mastercard will expand its Farm Pass solutions to five additional states, including Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Telangana, and West Bengal, thanks to the company’s extensive background in digital and payments technology and AgriTech.  

JioGames, Gamestream partner to enable cloud gaming in India

Reliance Jio announced 10-year strategic partnership with France-based cloud gaming solutions provider ‘Gamestream’ to launch India’s home-grown cloud gaming platform – JioGames Cloud. “India is poised to become a major player in the global video game market and this partnership will see JioGames emerge as a leading cloud gaming player in India. Combining Gamestream’s technological and cloud gaming expertise with Reliance Jio’s massive digital reach and unparalleled customer experience, this partnership will lead the way gaming is defining the cloud-gaming ecosystem at a global scale. Gamestream will enrich JioGamesCloud’s comprehensive library with over 100 cult licences for families and casual gamers alike, with additional games added each month,” said the company. JioGamesCloud is Reliance Jio’s cloud gaming service available under the JioGames platform, which is part of Jio Platforms. It is currently live in its public beta. Currently, the JioGamesCloud is available free of cost for a limited period of time across Jio Set Top Box, Android smartphones and select web browsers.

Crypto crime hits record $20 billion in 2022

Illegal cryptocurrency use reached a record $20.1 billion last year, as transactions involving organizations subject to US sanctions increased sharply, according to data from Blockchain analytics company Chainalysis. In 2022, the cryptocurrency market struggled, as risk-taking decreased, and several crypto businesses went under. Regulators increased requests for more consumer protection as a result of the significant losses suffered by investors. Despite a decline in overall crypto transaction volumes, Chainalysis reported that the value of crypto transactions involving illegal activities increased for the second year in a row. The volume of stolen crypto funds rose 7% last year, but other illicit crypto transactions including those related to scams, ransomware, terrorism financing and human trafficking, saw volumes fall. “The market downturn may be one reason for this,” Chainalysis said. “We’ve found in the past that crypto scams, for instance, take in less revenue during bear markets.” Chainalysis said its $20.1 billion estimate only includes activity recorded on blockchain, and excludes “off-chain” crime such as fraudulent accounting by crypto firms. The figure also excludes when cryptocurrencies are the proceeds of non-cryptorelated crimes, such as when cryptocurrency is used as a means of payment in drug trafficking, Chainalysis said. “We have to stress that this is a lower bound estimate – our measure of illicit transaction volume is sure to grow over time,” the report said, noting that the figure for 2021 was revised to $18 billion from $14 billion as more scams were discovered.

Indians spent 4.9 hours daily on mobile phones in 2022

Indians spent 4.9 hours daily on their smartphones in 2022 making India the 8th country with the highest average hours spent on mobile per day per user, shows data.ai’s ‘State of Mobile 2023’ report. Most of the time spent by Indians on smartphones was on social media and video-sharing apps. In comparison, the global time spent per user on smartphones was 5 hours, while in certain markets such as Indonesia, it was as high as 5.8 hours. In terms of total time spent on smartphones, Indians clocked a total of 0.75 trillion hours while China recorded 1.1 trillion hours. The report also found that the total number of annual app downloads in India reached a new high of 29 billion in 2022 making it the second biggest market after China, which saw annual downloads exceed 111 billion. The US was the third biggest app downloader with a total of 12 billion downloads. Despite the slowdown, spending on social media, utility, productivity, and finance apps remained strong in most markets including India. In India, consumers spent $31 million on social media apps, $7.2 million on utility and productivity apps, and $5.1 million on entertainment and streaming apps. Further, the report shows that global ad spending on mobile will reach $362 billion in 2023 driven by video-sharing apps such as TikTok and YouTube.

India to have largest content creator base in the world in 2023

India is set to have the largest base of social media content creators in 2023, with the number reaching over 100 million this year, said a report by influencer marketing firm Zefmo. The report comes three months after another report by venture capital firm Kalaari Capital, predicted that the country had at least 80 million creators in 2022. According to Zefmo’s report, the organized influencer marketing sector is set to reach ₹3000 crore in FY23-24, while revenue share of micro-influencers will increase from 9% in FY 2022-23 to 14% in FY 2023-24. It also noted that the payouts to influencers from brand campaigns is growing, as are the length of brand campaigns themselves. The October report from Kalaari had said that only about 1.5 lakh of India’s creators were able to earn over $200 per month. Typically, a micro-influencer is someone who has between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Further, despite the rise of Indian short video platforms in the last two years, the Zefmo report found that YouTube and Instagram remained the top choices for social media influencers. While YouTube accounted for 38% of the market, Instagram accounted for 11%, followed by Twitter and Facebook at 6% and 9%, respectively. The report also found that 53% of brand campaigns on social media came from fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands, while direct-to-consumer and electronic device firms accounted for 14% and 9% of campaigns, respectively.

2023 is all about Generative AI

Be it communication, commerce, science, entertainment, sports space or art, technology has carved out its own niche position. One such marvel is ‘Generative Artificial Intelligence’.  It is one of the most successful  ML (Machine Learning) frameworks created in the deep learning space. Generative AI presents a creative bent of intelligence with its ability to create new content – images, videos, text, code and more. Users are able to generate fascinating content on the tap of a button without the need of coding knowledge. Generative AI works on the back of three prominent frameworks;

(i) Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN),

(ii) Generative Pre-Trained Trans ..

(iii) Variational auto-encoders

These frameworks help the AI to gather consensual data, process this large chunk and identify peculiar patterns by grouping them into different buckets. This data helps the AI to produce realistic and quality content. Generative AI can be leveraged in marketing as well as other industries.  From creative content for brand and performance campaigns, generating stellar product photo shoot environments from simple text commands to optimizing team bandwidth by generating variations of best performing creatives, content and more – Generative AI seconds human efforts through these processes.

Google beats Facebook to become most popular service of 2022

Cloudflare Radar, which is a free tool that lets anyone view global trends and insights across the internet, has released fresh data on what was trending on the internet in 2022. Google leads the list of trending social media platforms in 2022, followed by Instagram (number 3) and Elon Musk’s Twitter (number 4), as per the findings by Cloudflare Radar. When it comes to the top streaming services this year, Netflix came in second after falling to YouTube in the video category. In the audio area, Apple Music triumphed over Spotify to claim the top spot. Following its bankruptcy, FTX dropped from number seven to number 21 in the cryptocurrency rankings, with Binance claiming the top spot. The study also stated that TikTok came in second place to Facebook as the most popular social media platform in 2022. Black Friday in 2022 was the busiest day online due to the FIFA World Cup and holiday shoppers. The United States accounted for more phishing emails in 2022 than any other country in the world, as per the study. With 60 observed blackouts, or one-third of all Internet outages, Iran was the nation that shut down the Internet the most this year, according to Cloudflare.

Microsoft betting $10 billion on viral AI bot ChatGPT

Microsoft is in discussions to invest as much as $10 billion in OpenAI, the creator of viral artificial intelligence (AI) bot ChatGPT. OpenAI is founded by Elon Musk & investor Sam Altman. ChatGPT was made available for free public testing on 30th November 2022. The two companies have been discussing the deal for months. It was earlier reported that the potential investment would involve other venture firms and could value OpenAI at about $29 billion. Documents sent to investors had targeted end-2022 for a deal closing. ChatGPT has lit up the internet since launching at the end of November, gathering its first million users in less than a week. Its imitation of human conversation sparked speculation about its potential to supplant professional writers and even threaten Google’s core search business. Its founding firm makes money by charging developers to license its technology. The new technology is built on OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model and comes at the end of a year of headline-grabbing advances in AI. The company’s Dall-E image-generating model — which accepts written prompts to synthesize art and other images — also gave rise to a broad debate about the infusion of AI into creative industries. OpenAI is already working on a successor GPT-4 model for its natural language processing. Microsoft has previously invested about $1 billion in OpenAI. It’s also working to add ChatGPT to its Bing search engine, seeking an edge on Alphabet’s dominant search offering.

NRE/NRO accounts with international mobile numbers can now use UPI

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has instructed members of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) ecosystem to allow non-resident account types such as non-resident external (NRE)/ non-resident ordinary (NRO) accounts having international mobile numbers to get onboarded and transact through UPI. This is subject to the fact that the member banks have to ensure such types of accounts are only allowed as per extant Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations and adherence to the guidelines issued by the concerned regulatory departments of RBI from time to time. The UPI ecosystem members have to comply with NPCI’s directions by April 30, 2023. To begin with, NPCI will be enabling transactions from mobile numbers having country codes of Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, USA, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, along with the current domestic country code.

Meta partners with FADA to upskill auto dealers to build social presence

Meta announced a strategic partnership with the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) to digitally enable thousands of auto dealers across the country to reach consumers digitally. The announcement came at the Auto Expo 2023, where Meta announced the launch of ‘Move with Meta’, a skilling and enablement program in partnership with FADA to upskill more than 3000 auto dealers across the country to build a social presence and digitize using Meta Platforms. FADA currently represents 15,000 auto dealers across the country. While explaining why Meta is training auto dealers, Saugato Bhowmik, director – Auto, CPG, and D2C, Meta India said, with people increasingly relying on digital touchpoints to decide on their automobile purchases, auto dealers have felt an urgent need to become discoverable to customers online. They were not able to reach their target audience. “Over the last two years, we have enabled more than 2600 dealers to digitize their outreach and experiences through our unique solutions and tools. We’re thrilled to now be joined by FADA on this journey to further unlock growth for auto dealers and in turn for OEMs across India,” said Bhowmik. Commenting on the partnership, FADA president Manish Raj Singhania said that Meta has done path-breaking work by helping dealers create a social presence and generate online leads with minimal investment.





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