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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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Google’s Hum To Search Feature Is Here To Make Searching For Songs Easier

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When Shazam was released for the first time, the entire smartphone community breathed a sigh of relief because the app let users search for songs by making the app listen to what is being played in your surroundings.  Since then finding new songs and genres has become easier as searching for songs at your favourite clubs or at a friend’s party is now at one’s fingertips.  But, what if you only know a piece of music or a tune which is stuck in your head and no way to identify the song.

Google is making it possible to try to find a song with its new feature called ‘hum to search.’  The feature can listen to humming, whistling or singing to identify songs.  ‘Hum to search’ is triggered when you ask Google “what is this song?” and then proceed to perform bits of the tune to the best of your ability.  Google will then present a list of songs according to a percentage match score which comes closest to your performance.

ALSO READ: Google Relents By Deferring 30% Play Store App Fee For Developers 

Google’s machine learning algorithm converts the audio input into a numbers based sequence which it then matches with other song melodies and tries to find the closest matching tune.  The model was trained with several sources with actual people singing, humming and whistling in addition to real studio recordings.  Google’s algorithms can also strip away musical instruments, as well as the timbre and tone of the singer’s voice in order so it only relies on the actual numeric sequence in the song matching process.

The ‘hum to search’ option is live and currently supports more than twenty languages.  While the feature might seem minor in terms of utility it makes up for improving the quality of life on a major level.  Google has once again proved to the world as to why it is the best company out there with their ‘hum to search’ feature.

 

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Leading Brands Which Jumped On The Baba Ka Dhaba Bandwagon For Positive Change

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Leading Brands Which Jumped On The Baba Ka Dhaba Bandwagon For Positive Change

A few days ago, a video appeared on social media of an old man and his wife, who run a small food business in South Delhi.  The old man can be seen breaking down on the video, because business has been quite bad due to low demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The old man who is now being called as Baba spoke about how it has been difficult for his wife and himself to make a living.  The video quickly went viral on social media and #BabaKaDhaba began trending.  The video was widely shared by celebrities, politicians and the people at large and Baba was not prepared for the outpouring of love, help and the surge in demand all of a sudden.  

Famous brands have also decided to get in on the #BabaKaDhaba bandwagon and Zomato was the first to make the most of the moment marketing.  A Twitter user tagged Zomato on the viral video and asked if they can add Baba Ka Dhaba on their app and Zomato obliged and went ahead and added Baba’s Dhaba as a listing on their platform.  Even the Indian Premier League franchise Delhi Capitals, shared the video and urged Delhites to go and help the Baba and his little eatery.

ALSO READ: Top Ten Long Standing Indian Brands

Pepsi also stepped up and provided a dealer hoarding, a fridge full of Pepsi beverages for free so that Baba can sell the beverages to his customers apart from sending rations for Baba’s home. 

Credit managing startup OkCredit helped the Baba by setting up a QR code for payments so Baba can keep a track of receivables and credit as Baba Ka Dhaba caters to the crowd who frequent nearby institutions and trucks drivers.  Google has set up a Google Pay QR code so customers have additional mode of payment.

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) pledged to upgrade the infrastructure of Baba Ka Dhaba to make it COVID-compliant.  The dating app Tinder also shared a tweet from their official Twitter account to urge others to choose the eatery for their next date.

 

 

Although Baba Ka Dhaba has become a hotspot for brands to advertise themselves, the incident will be a lesson on how social media can be a great agent for change and spreading positivity.  

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Google Relents By Deferring 30% Play Store App Fee For Developers 

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Google Relents By Deferring 30% Play Store App Fee For Developers,Startup Stories,Google defers 30% Play Store app fee for developers in India till Mar 2022,Google defers 30% Play Store app fee for developers in India till March 2022,Google postpones increasing 30% Play Store fees in India until March 2022: Here's why,Google defers 30% Play Store app fee in India till March 2022,Google defers 30% in-app commission in India to April 2022 after protests,Google delays its 30% fee for Android developers in India amid Play Store row

Indian companies and startups are beginning to come together and are calling for an Indian companies only alliance, to take on tech giant Google.  This comes after a severe backlash from the Indian Startup ecosystem over Google’s billing policies.  Last month Google clarified apps which fall under the category of education, games, dating and other content must use its in-app Google billing system in India as long as the apps are distributed through Google Play store.  

Phones which run on Google’s open source operating system, Android, own about 90% of the smartphone market in India.  Paytm was pulled out from Google’s Play store for several hours after Google said Paytm violated its policies.  Sensing the disgruntlement among Indian startups, which incidentally also contribute to Google’s cloud business, the tech giant took the decision to defer the 30% commission till March 2022.

“We will be setting up Policy Workshops to help clear any additional questions about our play store policies (sic,)” Purnima Kocchar, Director of Business Development, Games & Applications, Google Play said in a blog post.

ALSO READ: Epic Games Locks Horns With Google And Apple In A Lawsuit Over Fortnite

The move was welcomed by the Indian Startup ecosystem as they believe Google is listening to their concerns while some leading startups believe this deferment offers a unique opportunity to come up with an Indian alternative for the play store under the Atmanirbhar Bharat push.  Paytm on Sunday said it is starting a service where other apps can be listed on its payments app and one can use them within Paytm, similar to a super app.  Paytm said it has been testing the mini app store with select users and it will be free of charge.  Paytm’s Mini App Store aims to  drive a self-sufficient India and retain consumer spending within the country, the startup said in a statement Monday.  Pioneered by Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, mini apps are custom-built, low-cost software for basic mobile phones that offer users an app-like experience without the need to download full versions. 

Founder of CCAvenues, Vishwas Patel said “ust because Google owns the gate and the gateway to the digital ecosystem of this country, they should not act arbitrarily and enforce their rules and regulations which are contrary to our country’s laws.  Also, they cannot force Indian apps developers/owners selling digital services to compulsorily use the Google Billing and payment system and charge 30 % MDR (sic.)” 

India has a wealth of technical resources and it will be interesting to see how the Indian Startups will come up with ideas to create a new system which will bring down the digital monopoly of a behemoth.

 

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