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Digi gender divide worsened in India in recent years, says report

A report, titled State of India’s Digital Economy 2023, presented by ICRIER Prosus Centre for Internet and the Digital Economy (IPCIDE) points out that India has the lowest gender parity in access to mobile ownership among the G20 countries and this disparity has worsened in recent years. India’s gender gap score in mobile ownership has fallen from around 75 in 2014 to over 50 in 2021. In 2014 Indonesia (was as low as 20) and South Africa were below India, but both have overtaken India and improved their scores. In the case of South Africa it has seen a dramatic improvement with the scores jumping from 20 to over 70 between 2014 and 2021. All other countries – except Japan, which has fallen – including Turkey, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, have shown substantial progress on this front. The report says that 29 percent of rural women use the internet, which is far lower than men, 40 percent of whom access the internet. And while access to mobile phones for women has improved from 46 percent in 2015 to 54 per cent in 2021 the gender gap in mobile phone use has risen. This is in sharp contrast to how many G20 countries have closed the gender gap.Looking at it from the income perspective, the share of women on the internet is lower than in lower middle income countries, but better than least developed and low income states.

Ekart to offer warehousing services to brands, manufacturers, and retailers

Flipkart Group-owned supply chain network Ekart will now make its warehouses across the country available to brands, manufacturers, retailers, and SMEs in a bid to become a fourth-party logistics (4PL) player. The end-to-end warehousing services by Ekart will include ready-to-use warehousing space, order management, integrated logistics, and inventory management. Ekart will also offer specialized facilities such as temperature-controlled storage and storage for high-value inventory for businesses in need of these requirements. The initiative, it says, will enable brands from across various industries to leverage Ekart’s fulfilment centres for flexible, affordable, and scalable inventory storage solutions.

Microsoft brings AI-powered chatbot to Bing app

Microsoft announced the preview release of its new Bing and Edge apps for iPhone and Android, which include new features like voice search and access to its AI chatbot. In the Bing mobile app, users can tap the Bing icon to start a chat session, where they can ask a variety of questions via text or with their voices, according to a release. Answers can be displayed in bullet points, in simplified responses or in a traditional text format. Users will also be able to access updates for Bing through the homepage of the Edge mobile app, Microsoft said. Microsoft also announced AI-powered Bing for Skype. Users can add Microsoft’s AI to group chats and ask it questions. 

Google rolls out third-party payments for all Indian developers

Google officially enabled all developers in India to use alternate payment methods to bill users for apps and services they sell on the company’s apps marketplace. The move comes nearly one month after the company published a list of changes to its policies, including allowing third party app store downloads on the Play Store, on January 25. “In response to recent regulatory developments in India, we are now offering all developers the ability to offer an alternative billing system alongside Google Play’s for their mobile and tablet users in India. If a user pays through an alternative billing system, the Google Play service fee will be reduced by 4%,” an update to the company’s official Play Console Help support page read. Google presently charges developers a commission of 15% or 30%, depending on their annual Play Store revenue, for using its platform and payment tools. With this update, developers using third-party payment services, such as any alternate payment gateway for paid apps, services and subscriptions, will get a 4% discount on the commission — which still leaves them liable to pay 11% or 26% in commission to Google, based on how much they earn from their apps.

Over 60% of urban consumers prefer to shop both online & offline

Majority of Indian consumers prefer to shop for goods both online and offline highlighting the shift in consumer preferences that have become more mainstream post the pandemic. Real estate consulting firm CBRE released India specific findings of a global survey. According to the India-specific insights, while covid-19 accelerated the reach of e-commerce among consumers, many shoppers went back to physical retail once cities started reopening and have since adopted hybrid commerce.  According to the survey, 60-65% of city centre consumers prefer to shop online for gifts, cosmetics, clothing and footwear along with essential items (grocery and toiletries). However, more than 55% of small-town consumers preferred online shopping for gifts, clothing and footwear and electronics; only 31% preferred shopping online for essential items. For developers the task ahead is not just about getting the right tenant-mix, but about creating an authentic environment that keeps diversification, convenience and experience in mind, he said. More than 70% Indian shoppers agreed that they have shopped more online since the pandemic and will continue to do so in the future. On the other hand, consumption via offline channels will be driven directly by product and in-store experience, the report revealed.

AI chatbots like Bard, ChatGPT stoke fears of misinformation nightmare

The outsize investments into generative pre-trained bots like Microsoft-backed ChatGPT and Google’s Bard is stoking fears of a spike in misinformation, according to industry experts. Social media intermediaries will also be hard-pressed to identify “fake” content and arrest its spread on time, they added. India, which is among the world’s largest data markets, is already battling a flood of misinformation that is worsened by the multiplicity of languages. Generative AI technologies can further accentuate the problem according to technologists tracking the rise of these applications. “The potential for misinformation is huge because these AI large language models are not designed for factual accuracy, they are designed for eloquent conversations,” said  Simon Greenman, Co-Founder, Partner and CTO of Best Practice. AI Experts, however, noted that as the AI-led models are generally built around the English language so most of the immediate impact is going to be on English language speaking countries  Noting that AI large language models cannot differentiate between “proof backed information and fiction,” Greenman said “ the fear that we have, from a societal perspective, is that it can amplify toxic content, racism, violence, misogyny, hate speech and political theories that are incorrect and biased.” As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the incidents of fake news and rumour circulation saw nearly a three-fold rise in 2020 over 2019. A total of 1,527 cases of fake news were recorded in 2020, compared to 486 cases in 2019 and 280 cases in 2018.

India, Singapore Launch Real-time Payments, Link UPI with PayNow

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong and RBI governor Shaktikanta Das launched the cross-border linkage between India and Singapore using their respective Fast Payment Systems, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and PayNow. The facility was launched through token transactions using the UPI-PayNow linkage.  The facility was launched through token transactions using the UPI-PayNow linkage. PM Modi called the venture a new milestone in relations between the two countries. “The linkage of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and PayNow is a new milestone in India-Singapore relations and its launch is a gift to the citizens of the two countries,” PM Modi said.  “In today’s era, technology connects us in several ways. Fintech is a sector that connects people with each other. Normally, it is confined within the boundaries of one country. But today’s launch has started a new chapter of cross-border Fintech connectivity,” the prime minister Modi said. He added: “This will especially benefit our diaspora, professionals, students, and their families.” The UPI-PayNow linkage will enable users of the two fast payment systems in either country to make convenient, safe, instant, and cost-effective cross border funds transfers using their respective mobile apps.

Workers with advanced digital skills contribute Rs 10.9 lakh cr to India’s GDP, says study

Workers in India equipped with advanced digital skills, including cloud architecture or software development, contributed an estimated Rs 10.9 lakh crore, or $507.9 billion, to India’s annual gross domestic product, an AWS-commissioned study done by Gallup said. Workers with advanced digital skills earn 92 percent higher salaries in India compared to those with a similar education who do not use digital skills at work. “Digital skills yield big economic benefits. We have seen dividends for India’s GDP to the tune of about USD 508 BN. People who have advanced digital skills command higher salaries,” Rohit Kar, Regional Director (Australia, New Zealand, and India) of Gallup said while sharing findings of the report. The study classifies basic digital skills as the ability to use email, word processors, other office productivity software, and social media. Intermediate digital skills include drag-and-drop website design, troubleshooting applications, and data analysis. Advanced digital skills include cloud architecture or maintenance, software or application development, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. According to the study, 91 percent of workers who use advanced digital skills express higher job satisfaction compared to 74 percent of workers with basic digital skills.

Digital infrastructure to drive 49% of business revenue in India by 2027

The report titled ‘CIO Technology Playbook 2023’, launched by tech companies Lenovo and AMD, jointly with market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) says “While businesses in India believe that they will continue to face challenges owing to high energy prices, followed by high inflation and growing geopolitical tensions in the next 12 months or so, they are expected to generate as much as half (49%) of the revenue from digitally connected products, services, and customer experiences by 2027. To accelerate their digital transformation and modernize legacy IT infrastructure, 49% of CIOs demand an improvement in cyber resiliency and 47% said automating digital infrastructure management as the top investment priorities this year, the study said.   Additionally, security concerns have urged 63% organizations to repatriate workloads back from public cloud to private cloud and traditional data centres in the last 12 months.  According to the study, multi-cloud will gain prominence in Asia over the next 2 to 3 years. Businesses in this region will continue to run more than 50% of mission-critical workloads on traditional data centre infrastructure, systems and platforms, and private cloud infrastructure, it said.

Internet and e-commerce boom in India raised $15.4 billion in capital in 2022

Indian e-commerce and consumer Internet companies raised $15.4 billion in PE/VC funding in 2022, a two-fold jump from $8.2 billion in 2020, according to EY-PeerCapital’s report ‘E-Commerce and Consumer Internet Trendbook 2023’. Further, $12.6 billion of this deployment was invested in H1 2022, slowing down to $2.8 billion in H2 2022. Early-stage companies accounted for 17 percent of the PE/VC funding raised by companies in the sector, compared to 6 percent in 2021. The report noted that the Internet and e-commerce sector in India has emerged as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country, with growth further accelerated by the shift in consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Surabhi Marwah, Partner, EY Private, said: “The year [2023] is going to see an increased focus on Tier 2 and 3 cities to drive the exponential growth of Internet businesses. Channels such as social commerce have helped brands build a trusted and loyal customer base in these important markets that will further propel the growth trajectory of the Indian e-commerce and consumer Internet sectors.”

94% Indian B2B buyers want the most ‘compressed commerce’

Indian buyers are the most frustrated while buying B2B products online (60% against global average of 46%), and are most likely to switch their suppliers compared to their global counterparts, according to Wunderman Thompson Commerce & Technology’s B2B Future Shopper report. The report says Indian B2B buyers are the most likely to buy from a supplier who has a greater purpose — something that goes beyond merely selling goods and services. Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation, Wunderman Thompson Commerce & Technology, says, “Businesses cannot forget the importance of building genuine, human relationships; particularly with the wider societal shift to work from home.” The report notes that Indian B2B buyers are more likely to buy from a supplier that “inspires” them. The most commonly used source of inspiration is the suppliers’ websites and mobile sites (39% and 40% respectively), followed by suppliers’ apps (35%). A large chunk of these buyers, 94% to be specific, often want to get through the purchase process — from inspiration to purchase — as quickly as possible. “We call this ‘compressed commerce’ and those businesses, retailers and marketplaces that can do this best, often find themselves winning against their online competition,” says the report.


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