Also in the letter:
■ Interview with Microsoft’s executive VP
■ SC revives ban on bike taxis in Delhi
■ Govt dismisses Cowin data leak claims
Credit cards overtake debit card transactions: RBI data
Recent data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) shows that credit cards have overtaken debit card transactions in April.
Tap, swipe, click: Credit cards saw 25 crore transactions, compared to 22 crore debit card payments this April. The value of credit card transactions stood at Rs 1.3 lakh crore, as against Rs 53,000 crore for debit cards. These include purchases both at ecommerce and physical outlets.
UPI is king: With 536 crore transactions in May, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions more than doubled from the 254 crore payments in the year-ago period. Though UPI is certainly eating into debit card usage, that doesn’t take away from the credit card ecosystem’s significant growth in India.
Brands smell blood: Startups are always looking to bulk up their toplines, and co-branded credit cards are a quick route to that. Brands like Myntra and Paytm have seized upon the opportunity and recently launched such cards with Kotak Mahindra Bank and SBI Cards.
“A large clothing marketplace might operate at a margin of 50% to 60%. It can easily offer a 10% discount for its credit card users, it builds loyalty,” said a top executive at a fintech firm that enables such transactions.
IT headcount may fall in Q1 as companies see dip in client additions
Amid a tough macroeconomic environment, India’s top IT companies are expected to report a dip in headcount in the June quarter as they continue to grapple with slower client addition.
What’s driving this? Experts said the hiring squeeze is driven by a greater focus on improving efficiency and margins. They expect these companies to restart hiring in the second half of the year if not in the next quarter.
The hiring slowdown has impacted employee onboarding as well, with many companies continuing to delay fresher onboarding as they await clarity on client requirements. Most of the hiring seen in the first quarter of 2023-24 has been for replacing critical roles lost to attrition.
Muted tech spends: Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro, in their recently released annual reports, have called out the volatile global environment with respect to tech spends. Wipro chairman Rishad Premji’s compensation was down almost 50% in FY22-23 due to the negative performance of the IT services business.
Most IT companies are adopting a cautious approach to hiring for critical positions.
Need flexible laws to maximise potential of cloud computing: Microsoft’s Jean-Philippe Courtois
Microsoft executive vice president and president of national transformation partnerships, Jean Philippe Courtois, said in an exclusive interview that India continued to remain one of the best technology hubs in the world. He also said that global legislations on data processing and cross-border data movement should be flexible to maximise the potential of cloud computing.
On data storage and privacy: There has been a lot of policy discussion on what is called sovereignty in terms of technology, data. As a company, we have some very advanced cloud computing services which give our customers the ability to have their own keys and basically own that data, whether it is in transit or being stored. We provide that flexibility to customers to make that choice.
On the cybersecurity landscape: With generative AI coming to the world of security, cybersecurity is not limited to using GPT and having conversational chatbots. Cyber defence needs to be a lot more agile in analysing threats, and taking the right action by defending and attacking the root cause immediately. I think it would be the next step for many companies because AI can be used by bad actors as well.
On Generative AI and regulation: We believe that we need to have policies and we are proposing a few principles. First, you need to define an AI regulatory framework that applies to the type of risk you want to manage and the levels of risk you have.
The second principle is to have checks and balances. We should have something that enables independent parties to audit those checks and balances, those brakes and certify AI algorithms. That we will have to start right away.
ET Ecommerce Index
We’ve launched three indices – ET Ecommerce, ET Ecommerce Profitable, and ET Ecommerce Non-Profitable – to track the performance of recently listed tech firms. Here’s how they’ve fared so far.
SC revives ban on Uber, Rapido bike taxis in New Delhi
Two-wheeler taxis operated by aggregators such as Ola, Uber, and Rapido faced a setback on Monday. The Supreme Court said these cannot run on the roads of the national capital till the Delhi government notifies the final policy on plying two-wheeler non-transport vehicles, reversing the High Court’s interim order.
What does this mean? The SC stayed two decisions of the Delhi High Court that had directed the Delhi government not to take any coercive action against the bike taxi aggregators till its guidelines were notified.
Stay “unwarranted”: An SC vacation bench of Aniruddha Bose and Rajesh Bindal said, “A stay of the (Delhi government) notification was unwarranted. We stay both the impugned judgments. The High Court is directed to hear the matter expeditiously’’.
The government’s stance: The AAP government said the aggregators were operating bike taxis without proper licenses or permits, required under Section 93 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The government asserted that non-transport two-wheelers should not be used as taxis without a policy in place and that the policy and the licensing regime would be in place by July 31, 2023.
Aggregators’ argument: The state government issued a public notice in February cautioning bike taxis against plying in Delhi and warned that aggregators are liable for a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh for any violation. “The direction issued by the transport department under the impugned notice is ex facie arbitrary and passed without following due process under law, without providing any reasons for such prohibition’’, read Rapido’s plea in the High Court.
Govt. dismisses ‘mischievous claims’ of CoWin data leak, orders probe
Asserting that the CoWIN portal was completely safe with adequate safeguards for data privacy, the government dismissed as “mischievous” the claims of a data breach on the platform and ordered a probe by the country’s nodal cyber security agency, CERT-In.
What happened? Reports surfaced that the personal data of vaccinated individuals was being accessed using a bot of the messaging app Telegram, which was able to pull the details by simply passing the mobile or Aadhaar number of a person.
Later, minister of state for electronics and information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar clarified that an initial probe from Cert-In had indicated that neither the CoWin app nor the database had been breached.
‘No new breach’: “A Telegram bot was throwing up Cowin details upon entering phone numbers. The data being accessed by the bot was from a threat actor database, which seems to have been populated with previously stolen data. It does not appear that the CoWin app or database has been breached’’, Chandrasekhar tweeted.
Probe underway: Cert-In is probing how the bot was able to provide a person’s Covid vaccination date, the place where he / she was vaccinated, and the date of birth, a government official told ET, adding that these details are likely from datasets filched earlier.
Citizens’ data safe: The government said due security measures are in place on the CoWIN portal, including a web application firewall, regular vulnerability assessment, and identity and access management. A statement by the health ministry stated that the backend database of the Telegram bot was not accessing the APIs of the CoWIN database.
Other Top Stories by our Reporters
Fintech lenders back on growth path in fourth quarter after Q3 slump: Data from the Fintech Association for Consumer Empowerment (FACE) shows that disbursement volumes went up 4% in the last quarter of the last fiscal year, after falling 10% in the previous quarter.
India for a league of nations to build digital public infrastructure: India has mooted the concept of a partnership between like-minded countries to work together on digital public infrastructure (DPI) that can be used by everyone.
Global Picks We Are Reading
The End of Influencers on Instagram (Wired)
Apple’s Vision Pro headset has made the metaverse feel outdated (Financial Times)
Apple’s biggest gamble isn’t the Vision Pro — it’s India (Rest of World)
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