Low-key IPL for crypto firms; Indian ecommerce in a gold rush, says Tesco CEO

Last year, India’s crypto exchanges spent an estimated Rs 90 crore on TV ads during the Indian Premier League and T20 World Cup. But a lot has changed since then, including the amount of scrutiny these companies are under, so they’ve collectively decided against another IPL blitzkrieg this year.

Also this letter:
■ Indian ecommerce in a gold rush, says Tesco CEO
■ Digital transactions up 33% by value in FY22, says MeitY
■ Founders of Ati Motors step down over ‘differences’

India’s crypto firms to keep it low-key this IPL


Top crypto exchanges in India have collectively decided to not advertise during the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year, three sources told us.

The decision was taken by the Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BACC), which has more than two dozen crypto exchanges and crypto-related companies as members, said Nischal Shetty, chief executive of crypto exchange WazirX. BACC is part of the Internet and Mobile Association of India.

In their words: “All the crypto exchanges have decided not to advertise in IPL,” Shetty told us in a DM on Twitter. “As an industry, we are working to ensure we have strict guidelines for responsible advertisement before we get into IPL ads again,” he added.

“Yes, we are not doing it (advertising in IPL this year),” said a top executive of another crypto exchange, asking not to be named. “The reason is we are at a point when regulations are coming; the government is working on a Bill, and we don’t want to go out and make a huge noise there.”

One and done: Last year, CoinDCX, WazirX and CoinSwitch Kuber and other crypto exchanges had spent around Rs 90 crore combined on TV ads during the IPL and T-20 World Cup.

These advertising blitzkriegs caused trading volumes on these digital exchanges to increase by up to four times and made cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum household names among retail investors.

But afterwards, crypto companies came under the scanner of regulators and government agencies.

Ad guidelines kick in on April 1: Last month, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), issued guidelines for advertising and promotion of virtual digital assets (VDA) and services, including crypto and non-fungible token (NFT) products.

ASCI said this would be applicable to all virtual digital asset-related ads released on or after April 1. The industry body also noted that various ads released by category players do not adequately disclose risks associated with such products.

‘Indian ecommerce in a gold rush, where only a few will strike gold’


Ken Murphy, Group CEO Tesco

British retail major Tesco PLC is now interested in looking “more closely” at the joint venture it inked with the Tata Group in 2014, said Group chief executive Ken Murphy, terming the partnership, so far, with the Indian business giant as a “slow burn.” In an exclusive conversation with ET, Murphy said that while Tesco’s own turnaround from 2015 to 2020 “slowed down” its rate of investment in the Tata JV, it is now keen on a model that makes money and scales over time.

Has Tesco been slow at making investments in what’s possibly the largest retail market in the world?

We will definitely put our hands up and say that we have not been the quickest, but I think it has its positives too. We are not necessarily a technology-led retailer but more of an omni channel one. We like to do both brick-and-mortar and online work, which requires you to really understand the market, play with store sizes and propositions until you get it right. It takes time. And there are a lot of examples of people putting an awful lot of money into the Indian market that may never come back again. And so, I’m not sure that our slowness is going to be a bad thing in the long run.

Has Tesco missed the ecommerce bus in India where rivals like Walmart have backed online retailer Flipkart?

We watch all of the activities in India and it feels like a bit of a gold rush at the moment. I’m always a little bit sceptical about gold rushes because only (some) will strike gold and an awful lot of people won’t. So, you can destroy a lot of value if you’re a little bit too quick. We firmly believe, and in some ways, it has been borne out by the pandemic, that a multi-channel model typically does well because it can cope with any change in market or customer dynamics. Whereas, if you lock yourself into a single channel and a single model too tightly, you can get caught off-guard by quick changes in the marketplace. There is an argument for land grab but that’s not our business model. We are a much more methodical business and we work for a different investor base with different expectations than the likes of Amazon or Flipkart.

Click here to read the full interview

Digital transactions up 33% to Rs 7,422 crore in fiscal 2022, says MeitY


The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said on Wednesday that 7,422 crore digital transactions were conducted in the current fiscal (FY22), as of February 28. That’s a 33% jump from 5,554 crore digital transactions which were clocked for the whole of FY21. In FY19 that number stood at 3,134 crore.

“Digital payment transactions have been steadily increasing over the past few years, as a part of Government of India’s strategy to digitise the financial sector and economy… Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has taken various steps to enhance security of digital transactions and reduce fraud,” the ministry said.

MeitY also touched upon the growth of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), calling it the “preferred payment mode of citizens”. It said UPI has clocked 452.75 crore transactions worth Rs 8.27 lakh crore in FY22 (as of February 28).

“Covid-19 pandemic has established that digital payments enable access to healthcare as well through contactless payment modes like BHIM-UPI QR codes in consonance with the ‘new normal’ of social distancing,” added MeitY.

MeitY also said it has undertaken several initiatives to create awareness of digital payments in remote parts of the country to boost India’s digital economy.


Founders of autonomous vehicle startup Ati Motors step down over ‘differences’


Vinay V and Saad Nasser, two of the three co-founders of Ati Motors, a startup that developed the country’s first autonomous cargo vehicle, have stepped down from their positions as chief scientific officer and chief technology officer, respectively.

Nasser, a child prodigy, is a winner of the Intel IRIS award. He co-founded Ati when he was 14.

Vinay said his exit was due to “differences with the management over the evolution of technology in the company”. A CV Raman Award winner who taught computer science at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore for a decade, he is an adjunct faculty at the Chennai Mathematical Institute.

“I can confirm that myself and Saad have quit the company…We’ve had a great period of five years developing cutting-edge tech. But we had fundamental differences over what is required, going forward I’m sure Ati has a bright future,” he said.

He refused to answer questions about their stakes in the company.

YouTube looks to bust misinformation around health


Garth Graham, director and global head of healthcare and public health at YouTube

YouTube is rolling out two new features in India — health source information panels and health content shelves – to combat misinformation on health issues.

The features will be available in both English and Hindi and will provide context cues aimed at helping people more easily access videos from verified health sources.

YouTube is investing “to provide equitable access to highly authoritative health information that is evidence-based, culturally relevant and engaging”, Garth Graham, director and global head of healthcare and public health at YouTube told us in an interview.

Health source information panels will show up under videos from accredited health organisations and government entities. This will help viewers better evaluate the source of the information and distinguish credible health content on YouTube.

Health content shelves meanwhile will highlight videos from authoritative sources when viewers search for specific health topics.

For example, when users search for specific health conditions such as heart disease or breast cancer, a new content shelf in search will throw up videos related to the relevant health topic from accredited health organisations and government entities.

ETtech Done Deals


■ Online beauty brand Plum has raised $35 million (Rs 270 crore) in a round led by A91 Partners, which is also an investor in its rival, Sugar Cosmetics. The round also saw participation from existing investors Unilever Ventures and Faering Capital. It saw the company’s valuation soar to $250 million, founder Shakar Prasad told us.

■ UAE-based fund Cypher Capital is launching a $100-million Blockchain Fund that will focus on crypto, blockchain and other digital-asset projects. It aims to invest 40% of the fund in emerging blockchain and crypto startups in India. Bijan Alizadeh, the fund’s founder, is also its sole financier.

■ Digital parenting platform BabyChakra, part of direct-to-consumer (D2C) beauty brand The Good Glamm Group, has acquired regional parenting platform Tinystep for an undisclosed sum. Tinystep will merge its social assets with BabyChakra’s existing platform. Its founder Suhail Abidi will exit to start a new venture after the sale.

■ Direct-to-consumer (D2C) beauty and wellness brand The Ayurveda Company (TAC) has raised $3 million from Wipro Consumer Care Ventures, Rahul Gupta of Tricity Technologies, and Harsh Gupta of School of Design & Entrepreneurship in its maiden fundraise. The company said it would use the funds to ramp up its…

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