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Will WhatsApp PayMent Change The Payment Industry In India?

Smruthi Kishore

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After months of anticipation, WhatsApp, the online messaging service, officially has the payments app as a part of its features. The online messaging system rolled out this feature only to select users across the country and within the short time of its introduction, it has become one of the most popular features of this app.

However, this induction almost did not happen because of the company’s foreign origin. In fact, this was WhatsApp’s second attempt on this front. Last year, this messaging service had tried to partner with a private bank in the country to develop a digital wallet app to facilitate payments on its platform.

All was fine till the bank and WhatsApp went to the Reserve Bank of India. Multiple stakeholders of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was not ready to allow a foreign entity to enter India’s digital payments space. According to RBI guidelines, “Non bank entities applying for authorisation shall be a company incorporated in India and registered under the Companies Act 1956 / Companies Act 2013.”

WhatsApp is a Facebook owned company and Facebook is based in the United States. Ergo, this means this company could not directly enter the Indian online payments wallet. This was last year. What changed from then to now is the fact that Government actively started promoting the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) as part of its push to digitise India’s economy.

UPI allows for real time bank to bank transactions and once WhatsApp was sure this move was finalized, they jumped on the bandwagon. Facebook messenger service has had a decent run with the payments system and based on Facebook’s track record, the company decided to integrate this feature into WhatsApp as well. However, while this move came as a positive change for the messaging service, it brings to mind one important question.

Is this going to change the online payments game for banks and other companies? Is this service coming on board as a threat or as a new turn in the history of online payments? Consumer payments is a low margin game and is entirely defined by the scale of operations. On this front, WhatsApp has the potential to become a dominant game changer because of its base of 250 billion users all over the country.

Despite all its advantages, WhatsApp has one thing going against it. A little while after becoming live, the messaging service ran into a series of problems especially with Paytm raising a huge hue and cry about the safety of WhatsApp online payments. One bank which jumped on board with WhatsApp’s online payment feature is ICICI bank. India’s largest private sector bank was the first to team up with WhatsApp on this feature and it looks like the other banks are just minutes away.

With banks coming on board with WhatsApp’s new feature, it is interesting to see how two separate forces from different areas are coming together to create history for the first time. Clearly the times are changing and this move seems to be just one of those steps for an interesting future ahead.

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Elon Musk Works 120 Hours a Week, Stays In Factory For 4 Days

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In an interview with The New York Times, Elon Musk said he has been working 120 hours a week. It is more than three times the national average work week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As the CEO of two major companies, Tesla and SpaceX, Musk seems to be having a hard time delegating his work. This is making him overworked.

“The classic problem as an entrepreneur is that they have a hard time delegating,” Robert Pozen senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management. “But that’s really crazy. Recruiting other executives is critical, so is dealing with customers and dealing with regulators. Those are functions that only the top founders can do.”

Silicon Valley has been criticized for glorifying overworking. “A culture of overwork is damaging because it turns brief binges of hard work into a long-term strategy, and, worse still, an expectation. When managers start measuring the worth of their employees according to how quickly they return emails at 3 a.m., that particular work culture is broken,” said Adam Alter, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Musk realised that this behaviour is harmful and has been affecting his life drastically.

“There were times when I didn’t leave the factory for three or four days – days when I didn’t go outside,” Musk said. “This has really come at the expense of seeing my kids. And seeing friends.”

Elon Musk also revealed that he has not been on vacation since 2001, he has spent his most recent birthday at work. Musk added, he has trouble sleeping “it is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien.”

It has been reported that the Tesla executives are looking for a number two, to take on some of Musk’s daily responsibilities. Musk said that he is not aware of this search and has no plans to step away from his many roles at Tesla.

As the CEO of two major companies, Musk is known to keep an intense daily routine. Inc. previously reported that the CEO ignores most phone calls, abstains from getting stuck dealing with emails, and breaks his entire day into a series of five-minute slots. But apparently, he’s still there for 120 hours a week.

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Google Parent invests $ 375 Million In Oscar Health

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Google’s parent company, Alphabet has invested $ 375 million in an insurance startup company, Oscar Health.

Post the investment, Alphabet will own 10% of the stake in the startup. Alphabet through its venture firm CapitalG and the life sciences division Verily participated in a $ 165 million funding round for Oscar Health.

Founded in 2012, Oscar Health is a technology-focused health insurance company that is headquartered in New York City.

Oscar Health co-founder and CEO Mario Schlosser said, “it’s fantastic for us because it will really allow us to focus fully on the core model we’ve been building for the past 6 years, which is: use technology, use data, use design, use a human approach to build a very different health care experience,”

The startup offers health coverage through ObamaCare in six states. Oscar Health is planning to introduce new innovation like providing a “concierge” team, which includes a nurse. The nurse will help the people enrolled to find suitable doctors.

Schlosser announced the news in an interview,  “We can hire more engineers, we can hire more data scientists, more product designers, more smart clinicians who can think about health care a different way. It’s the acceleration of that product roadmap that fascinates us the most. The second, more tangible piece, is that we’re launching new product lines.”

The co founder of Oscar Health, is Josh Kushner, the brother of Jared Kushner. Jared Kushner is Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser. This relationship is quite intriguing looking at Oscar Health’s participation in ObamaCare.

Schlosser in an interview said Josh Kushner’s connection to Trump “does not affect what we do.” He added, “Whatever happened in the press, whatever happens on the regulatory side, I have personally always thought, and I think the company shares in this, that if we have something that leads to lower costs and happier members in some shape or form we’ll be able to turn this into a successful company.”

 

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Startup WeWork Raises $ 1 Billion from Soft Bank

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WeWork raised an additional $ 1 Billion in convertible debt from Soft Bank, the New York based company continues to grow rapidly. Their revenue doubled to a hefty $ 712 million according to the newly released financial information on Thursday.

WeWork is an American company that provides shared work spaces, tech startup communities, and various other services for startups, freelancers, small businesses and large enterprises. Founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel Mckelvey in 2010, it is one of the world’s most valuable startups as it is valued around $ 20 billion.

The startup WeWork has been piling up losses. During the first half of the year, the loss widened to $ 723 million as the company continued to expand, opened new spaces and spent more money to market them. The losses increased while the revenue for the first half of the year has more than doubled to a whopping $ 763.8 million.

The unusual mechanism of piling up losses gives WeWork an immediate cash injection as it continues to funnel money into expanding its shared office business globally.

The Chief Financial Officer, Artie Minson, in a recent interview described the financing as “the ability for us to opportunistically add a billion dollars to the balance sheet.” Minson further added, WeWork has around $ 4 billion in cash and commitments.

Due to being a private company WeWork has no obligation to publicly disclose its financial status. It released the figures to the media in conjunction with a periodic update to bond investors.

The latest funding from its investor Soft Bank, comes in the form of a subordinated convertible note that is structured so that the Japanese company has an edge in the next fundraising round. Soft Bank, has already invested $ 4.4 billion in equity funding in WeWork last August.

“There is no investor closer to us than Soft Bank and it was an opportunistic financing that we were able to do,” Minson said in an interview.

WeWork has more than 5,000 employees in over 280 locations, spread across 77 cities in 23 countries around the world including India, United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Argentina, Germany and Brazil.

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