Episode 4 - TikTok ban, Launch of JioMeet, Google Pay gets into SME lending and Slice funding


Super excited to share that we are now going to be coming to you every week! This will allow us to remain focussed and bring you more connected insights and continuity from episode to episode. In this episode, we cover the following stories from June 24 - July 3:

  1. Govt. of India's ban on TikTok

  2. The launch of JioMeet

  3. Google Pay gets into SME lending

  4. Reliance likely to acquire Future Retail

  5. Slice raising $6M in funding. 

Moving forward, episodes will be shorter and we’ll cover just the most important funding updates as part of the main stories. We’ll continue to do a startup in focus, but once every two weeks, not weekly.

Write to us at rahool@techbuzzindia.in for any feedback.

Full Transcript

Hello, and welcome to Tech Buzz India, a weekly dose of the most important news and updates from the startup world in India. I'm your host Rahool Gadkari. Thanks for tuning in!

Wait, did I just say weekly? That's right, you heard correctly starting next week we'll be coming to you every week instead of every two weeks.

When I started this podcast I thought that two weeks was the right cycle to cover important news and headlines. But what I'm finding is that a lot is changing on a weekly basis, and it is hard to maintain continuity from episode to episode and give you guys insights at that frequency. With this change, we are going to work extra hard to keep our episodes focused and to the point. This means that each episode will be shorter and will only cover top news stories. With this aim, I'll cover any important funding news as part of our main stories. We’ll continue to do a startup and focus, but once every two weeks instead of weekly

Do write in with suggestions on what else you'd like to hear. In today's episode, we look into the ban on Chinese apps, but viewed from the lens of TikTok, the launch of JioMeet - Reliance's Zoom competitor and copycat, another surprise move by the Reliance group and an interesting FinTech startup that might just be the answer to every student's financial woes.

So let's begin with our stories.

Our first story is about the ban of 59 Chinese apps by the government of India, citing concerns of safety, security, data, and privacy of the citizens of India. This has had a major impact, but primarily coming from the ban of TikTok. TikTok is a hugely popular video app with over 120 million active users. India is a huge market for TikTok and plays a significant role in driving up its parent company ByteDance’s valuation. With 30% of all downloads to date, India was key to ByteDance’s plans for TikTok, which is why it already employs 2000 people in the country and wanted to invest $1 billion US dollars. It's estimated that this ban will cost TikTok, $6 billion US dollars. In the meantime, Indian startups and tech companies are racing to fill the void created by the ban on these apps. Loads of desi replacement are ready and waiting. Mitron, Roposo, Chingari, and more recently Moj by popular app ShareChat.

While it's unclear how long this ban will last it is no doubt an opportunity like no other for Indian companies to build a good product for the Indian consumer. On the creator side, the band will likely prompt creators to not depend on a single platform in the future. So even when TikTok returns, it may not see the kind of traction it has so far. Concerns for India largely stem from the fact that Chinese investors might stay away from the country for a while drying up the availability of funds for startups. One must note, however that China's domestic market has historically been close to foreign players - Google, Facebook, Amazon, all hugely popular products in India aren't allowed in China. So will Indian startups be able to capitalize on the ban? We'll have to wait and watch, but there has never been a better time to launch a social app in India.

Our second story is about Reliance Jio and the launch of JioMeet - its answer to Zoom. The video conferencing space is dominated by Zoom, which recorded close to 35 million active users on Android in June, with Google and Microsoft, both offering competing products. JioMeet can currently host up to a hundred participants, offers HD video, enterprise grade security, and is free to use allowing users to set up unlimited meetings daily, which is actually a huge competitive advantage compared to Zoom, which limits the time and the number of meetings on the free plan.

While the app is very similar to Zoom, in fact it looks exactly like Zoom, this may not be a bad move as long as it's legal because it will reduce switching costs for regular users of Zoom. I know from inside sources that Jio has big plans for Meet and will put its powerful distribution channels to good use in scaling up the product.

Moving on, our next story is about Google getting into the business of business loans. Google will launch a credit feature for SMEs on its payment platform - Google Pay. This is expected to go live by the end of 2020, and will help over 30 lakh verified merchants get instant credit. Just for context that are over 6 crore SMEs in India. So this is a huge space. We covered a story around LendingKart a few episodes back, which is also into SME lending. This is a very competitive segment with the likes of PayTM, PhonePe and BharatPe all trying to provide financial products to SMEs. Google Pay already provides consumer loans in partnership with banks, such as HDFC, ICICI, and Kotak. Now it's hard to tell if this will be a successful launch at the moment but it is true that the market is currently facing a huge crisis of credit with moratorium enforced by the RBI. So any additional credit infusion, as long as it comes out in time is generally good for the market.

Our next story is a twist to a story we reported on a few episodes ago around Amazon buying a majority stake in the Future group. It is now being widely reported that the Reliance group is in the final stages to complete a deal and gain controlling share of Future group’s retail business. This is a bit of a coup and one just doesn't seem to be able to keep Reliance out of the news these days. The deal if it goes through will make the Reliance India's biggest retail company. Future retail has over 1500 retail stores across the country and controls several popular brands, such as BigBazaar, Foodhall, Fashion at BigBazaar and Nilgiris. It is speculated that Reliance wants to close this deal in advance of its annual general meeting on July 15th. So we’ll know in the next episode if this was speculation, or is actually going to go through.

Our final story is one that students listening in would be very happy to hear about. Slice - a company that helps college students buy collateral free products online through EMIs has just released $6 million. Slice offers RuPay powered cards to purchase and pay later similar to credit cards, and also helps students and youngsters build credit scores. There are 2.5 lakh current customers using Slice’s card. In the course of a month, the average slice user performs about 10 transactions to digital services like Swiggy , and spend about 10,000 rupees on average. As users spend more Slice increases their monthly limit to one lakh rupees. Slice is already a pretty popular app and counts Flipkart Amazon, BookMyShow, Myntra, Uber Eats, PayTM amongst others as its major partners. The company plans to use the new funds to explore banking, partnerships and launch co-branded prepaid and credit card.

That's all for this episode. If you enjoyed it, please do share the podcast with your friends and family and leave a review on the podcasting platform of your choice. Do write to me with your feedback. We're also looking for someone to help it promotions, social media, partnerships, and distribution for this podcast. It's a great opportunity to learn more about the Indian startup ecosystem and podcasting. Please send me a message at rahool@techbuzzindia.in if you're interested or know someone who is. Until we meet again, stay safe and thank you for tuning in.

Music credits

Opening /closing sequence: Jungle Juice by Wataboi, Creative Commons —

In-track: Twenties by Peyruis

Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0