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Andhra Pradesh Government Flags Off The Blockchain Business Conference

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The Andhra Pradesh Government, in a bid to make Vishakhapatnam the blockchain capital of India, launched the Blockchain Business Conference yesterday. This flagship initiative by the Government of Andhra Pradesh marks the second leg of the Fintech Valley Vizag initiative that was started in March 2017, with the Fintech Spring Conference.

The two day conference will explore blockchain technologies, its applications and how it will impact the financial services industry. Regional and international experts, startups, corporates, regulators, entrepreneurs, policymakers and academics will be participating in this event. More than 50 startups from across the world will be showcasing their products and solutions in the fintech and blockchain domains.

Speaking at the conference, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu said, “I want to make Visakhapatnam not only India’s capital for fintech or blockchain technologies, it will be a center of excellence for the global community.

ICICI Bank and Mahindra Finance also inaugurated two new accelerator programs at the conference which will mentor and finance 30 startup companies and help them in solving problems. The Government is also looking to triple the size of their Rs. 100 crores angel fund by bringing in co investors and domestic institutions. A Rs. 500 crores fintech fund will also be set up, which will function separately from the innovation focused angel fund. With a target to engage with 50 startups this fiscal year, the fintech fund will receive Rs. 100 crores from the government and the remaining amount will be raised from co investors such as the Small Industries Development Bank of India.

Along with the Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Lokesh Nara, the IT Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Gulshan Rai, the Special Secretary of Cybersecurity and Prime Minister’s Advisory, Mr. Ravi Menon were the other keynote speakers at the event. Speaking about the disruptive blockchain technology, Lokesh Nara said Andhra Pradesh was the first state to use blockchain pilots and the technology has also been already taken up by the IT sector.

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Binny Bansal Sells ₹531 Crore Worth Flipkart Shares To Walmart

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Binny Bansal, an Indian billionaire, entrepreneur and co founder of the e-commerce website Flipkart, sold $ 76.4 million worth of his shares in Flipkart to Walmart’s Luxembourg entity FIT Holdings SARL.

Binny Bansal, along with his partner Sachin Bansal, co founded the Flipkart and served as its Chief Executive Officer until January 2016.

Walmart, a multinational retail corporation, bought Flipkart in 2018 and back then, Bansal sold a small portion of his shares and held 3.85 % of stake.

Now, according to the documents filed by Flipkart with the regulators, Binny Bansal transferred 539,912 equity shares to FIT Holdings SARL.  These shares are valued to be $ 76.4 million (approximately Rs. 531 crores.)  This latest deal left him with only 3.52 % stake in Flipkart.

Vivek Durai, the founder of Paper.vc, a business intelligence platform, said, “With this transfer, Binny Bansal has monetised a small portion of his shareholdings. He had sold 1,122,433 shares for about $ 159 million during the Walmart takeover.”

According to his contract with Walmart, Binny Bansal is entitled to sell more than half of his shares to Walmart by August 2020 and he could gain around $ 400 million from this transaction.

Bansal, who is mostly based in Singapore, is now an investor in India’s  startup ecosystem and is also the co founder of xto10X Technologies, which was launched last year.

In December 2018, Binny Bansal invested a sprawling $ 25 million dollars in the online insurance startup Acko.  He also invested in several AI and healthtech startups.

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Facebook Reveals Details Of Its Cryptocurrency Libra

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On the 18th of June, Facebook revealed details of its brand new cryptocurrency called Libra.  An alternative to cash, this cryptocoin can be used to buy things or send money to people with close to no fees.  The cryptocurrency is going to be launched by an association called The Libra Association, which consists of a group of companies interested in getting Libra out into the world.

You can use Libra to buy or cash out your Libra at local stores like grocery stores and through third party wallet apps.  To make using Libra an easier task, Facebook owned Calibra Wallet will be built into WhatsApp and Messenger, thereby simplifying transaction processes.  Although certain countries have banned the use of cryptocurrencies, Facebook is trying to break new ground with the launch of Libra.

While Facebook is launching Libra, the social media giant is not going to be in complete control of the cryptocoin.  The coin will be controlled by a consortium consisting of its founding members, Visa, Uber and Andreessen Horowitz. The three companies have invested at least $ 10 million each into the creation of this cryptocurrency.

Customers interested in holding or transferring the newly acquired token will be given multiple options to do what they wish.  To further simplify matters, Facebook will let customers access transactions through this cryptocurrency via a special app designed for iOS and Android.

To protect the identity of its users while making transactions through the new app, Facebook won’t require you to share personal details.  “The advent of the internet and mobile broadband has empowered billions of people globally to have access to the world’s knowledge and information, high fidelity communication, and a wide range of lowercost, more convenient services,” the Libra Association said in a paper announcing the cryptocurrency.

Libra will be made available to the world during the first half of 2020.  As of now, Facebook is focusing on building relationships in international waters.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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Facebook Invests In Indian Startup Meesho

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On the 13th of June, social media giant Facebook announced, it invested an undisclosed amount in Indian startup Meesho.

A Bengaluru based startup, Meesho works with resellers and emerging brands using social media.  This is the first time Facebook invested in a startup based in India. Through this investment, Facebook aims to increase its commitment to the Country’s vibrant internet ecosystem.

“Facebook is an ally for India’s economic growth and social development. We are excited about India and its rapidly rising Internet ecosystem. With this investment in Meesho, we want to fuel a business model that can result in rapid job creation and the rise of a female entrepreneurial class in India,” Ajit Mohan, the Managing Director of Facebook India, said in a statement.

It was two primary factors which made Facebook invest in Meesho.  The first reason was how the startup is growing outside the Tier II and III cities, where new users are present.  The second reason is, Meesho has a larger user base, 80 % of which are women.

So far, Meesho has raised $ 50 million from a Series C funding round in November last year.  According to industry reports, the startup helps people using its service earn close to Rs. 25,000 every month!  With WhatsApp playing a crucial role in the app’s growth, it comes as an added blessing that Facebook invested in this particular startup.

Through investments like these, Facebook is capitalizing on the social media boom happening in India.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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