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Tiktok, Helo, UC Browser among 59 Chinese apps banned: India's ShareChat to gain?

The Ministry of Information Technology, on June 29, banned 59 mobile apps, saying they are engaged in activities which are "prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
Jun 29, 2020 / 09:26 PM IST

Homegrown regional language social network ShareChat stands to gain as Indian government on Monday banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, Helo, Shareit, The Club Factory and UC Browser.

ShareChat, a startup valued at $600 million, faces stiff competition from Helo, a Chinese clone owned by ByteDance which launched in 2018.

ByteDance is the parent company of TikTok, the viral short video app- which is also among the 58 Chinese apps to be banned.

ShareChat has been one of India’s first homegrown social media successes, but has faced slowing growth and challenging fundraises after Helo, Vigo and TikTok have all become viral apps in the last two years in India.

“The ban will aid ShareChat and put an end to Chinese apps which were copying from Indian apps and using their deep pockets and marketing dollars to win users,” said a person close to the company, who did not want to be named.

ShareChat last raised $100 million in a funding round last year led by US-based Twitter Inc. According to people close to the company, it was a challenging round- taking more time than expected, and at a flat valuation- same as its previous round- generally seen as a sign of caution in the ecosystem.

Helo has claimed to have more users than ShareChat, although some say they were neck and neck, with the much newer Helo gaining on ShareChat. However the ban will help ShareChat grow faster and reduce its pressure significantly.

"This is a welcome move from the government against platforms that have had serious privacy, cybersecurity and national security risks. We expect the government to continue their support for the Indian startup ecosystem" said  Berges Malu, Director, Public Policy, ShareChat.

The Ministry of Information Technology, on June 29, banned 59 mobile apps, saying they are engaged in activities which are "prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.
M. Sriram
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