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Quick Summary

One important thing: Soon after acquiring Twitter, Elon Musk began overhauling its operations. The "Chief Twit," is reportedly considering making verification a Twitter Blue feature while also charging four times for the subscription service. Twitter Blue is a $4.99/month subscription that enables additional capabilities on the platform.

  • Employees on the project were warned to launch the feature by 7 November or be sacked.
  • Once the new policy kicks in, users will have 90 days to subscribe or lose their blue tick.

The billionaire also wants logged-out Twitter users to be redirected to Explore, which showcases trending tweets.

In today’s newsletter: 

  • Byju’s founder is truly sorry
  • RBI flags off CBDC pilot
  • Top Amazon India seller to be shut

Top 3 stories

Byju’s founder is truly sorry

Byju’s founder is truly sorry

"I am truly sorry... You are not just 5% of my company, you are 5% of me."

This is just a part of the heartfelt note that Byju’s chief Byju Raveendran wrote to his staff today.

Why now

Byju's recently revealed plans to lay off around 5% of its 50,000 staff, earning headlines for its troubles yet again, after a year-long delay in filing its FY21 annual report, a large number of layoffs, and the struggle to close its funding round earlier.

"Some business decisions have to be taken to protect the health of the larger organisation… Sometimes what Byju wants is not what Byju’s demands," he said.

This mail from the founder to employees comes as he battles criticism about the company forcefully asking employees to resign in an attempt to cut costs amid mounting losses.

Time off not laid off?

In the email, Raveendran assured those who had been laid off that they will be prioritised in the rehiring process as the company restructures.

  • "What others see as ‘layoff’, I only see as time off," he said.

  • "Bringing you back by putting our company on a sustainable growth path will now be the number one priority for me," he added.

RBI flags off CBDC pilot

RBI flags off CBDC pilot

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is all set to take the first steps toward introducing the much-anticipated Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).  Days after launching a concept note on digital currency, the RBI announced that it will commence pilots, beginning with wholesale CBDC.

  • RBI said that the first-ever pilot for wholesale CBDC, or e₹-W, will commence on November 1

  • The regulator has identified nine public and private banks to launch the pilot - State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank, IDFC First Bank and HSBC.

CBDCs are not cryptocurrencies. It is a digital form of legal tender backed by the RBI, as opposed to cryptocurrencies. 

What is wholesale CBDC?

Wholesale digital currency is only available to select financial organisations with restricted access. It is intended for the settlement of interbank transfers and related wholesale transactions.

  • ​The use case for the wholesale pilot is the settlement of secondary market transactions in government securities. The use of e₹-W is expected to make the inter-bank market more efficient, the RBI said.

Retail CBDC pilot soon

For retail payments, i.e. day-to-day transactions, the focus will be the pilot of the Retail CBDC. 

  • RBI said that the first pilot for the retail segment (e₹-R) is planned for launch within a month in select locations in closed user groups comprising customers and merchants.

Top Amazon India seller to be shut

Top Amazon India seller to be shut

A big disruption is afoot at Amazon.

Months after the shutdown of Cloudtail, another Amazon India seller is preparing to phase out its operations. Appario Retail, a joint venture between Amazon and Patni group, will cease to list products as a seller on the e-commerce marketplace within a year.

Why it matters

Appario is a seller of electronics on Amazon. On the marketplace, it sells items from brands such as boAt, Fire-Boltt, Noise, Zebronics, HP, and Samsung, among others.

  • Amazon has a 45 percent market share of the smartphone category in online retail, according to a recent Bernstein report
  • In the aftermath of phasing out Cloudtail, small brands on Amazon who were its clients have reportedly faced disruptions in sales
  • Appario Retail earned a profit after tax of Rs 54 crore and booked revenues of Rs 14,636 crore in FY21

In the rear view

According to a Reuters report last year, Appario and Cloudtail cumulatively accounted for 35 percent of sales on the Amazon India marketplace in early 2019. 

  • The e-commerce giant also owned sizable stakes in these companies at that time which, reportedly, were reduced subsequently

MC Interview | Rajeev Chandrasekhar: The reluctant internet ombudsman

MC Interview | Rajeev Chandrasekhar: The reluctant internet ombudsman

As our interview began with Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology ministry Rajeev Chandrasekhar, he interjected our very first question which pointed out that the amendments to IT Rules 2021 took months to be notified.

"Nobody asks me why it has taken so long,” Chandrasekhar said before laying the blame for the same on industries that were tasked to bring in a viable structure of self regulatory organisation (SRO). 

"I waited for three months and they did not give me an SRO. We were ready with this (final draft) in July," Chandrasekhar said. 

Now that the government has gone ahead with the option of setting up multiple government-appointed grievance appellate committees (GAC) for adjudicating user appeals, it has its task cut out.

"You think this is something I’m excited about doing? Not at all. Nobody in the ministry is excited. But we have to do it," he said. 

Essentially, Chandrasekhar envisions the GACs to be like a ‘traffic light of internet appeals’.

"Let us say a patent or an IP dispute comes up. The GAC will say I'm not equipped to deal with it and point you in the direction of the tribunal that deals with it," he said. 

Tweet of the day


Today in crypto

  • To regain its image as a fintech centre, Hong Kong's government has proposed enabling retail investors to trade in cryptocurrencies and exchange-traded funds. According to Financial Secretary Paul Chan, authorities will begin a consultation process on providing retail investors with "a suitable degree of access" to virtual assets.

  • UN Countering Financing of Terrorism Coordinator Svetlana Martynova says terrorist groups prohibited from "formal banking system" have turned to crypto to fund their activities. Martynova noted that while cash and "hawala" have been "predominant methods" of terror financing, "we know terrorists adapt to the evolution of conditions around them and as technologies evolve they adapt as well."

  • Valereum has received regulatory approval to acquire the Gibraltar Stock Exchange (GSX). Gibraltar Financial Services Commission approved Valereum's acquisition. Valereum didn't disclose the deal's price, which it expects to complete in 2023.


Have we cracked the secret to eternal youth?

Have we cracked the secret to eternal youth?

Man's quest for youth in perpetuity has taken him to far-flung places and inspired myths and legends in countless cultures.

Imagine for a moment that there was a way to turn back the hands of time and regain your youth.

More than 15 years ago, Japanese researchers discovered that by introducing four proteins to aged skin cells and waiting for a couple of weeks, they could rejuvenate the cells. The scientists claim to have found evidence that giving lab animals carefully regulated doses of the reprogramming proteins makes the animals, or at least some of their organs, more youthful.

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