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European Commission investigates Meta over child protection concerns

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Brussels, May 16 (IANS/DPA) The European Commission announced on Thursday that it has opened investigations into Meta over child protection concerns regarding its Facebook and Instagram platforms.

The investigations concern fears the two platforms “may exploit the weaknesses and inexperience of minors and cause addictive behaviour,” according to a commission press release. Another concern is “rabbit hole” effects that “draw you into more and more disturbing content,” a commission official said. The EU executive is also concerned about minors’ access to inappropriate content, as well as privacy.

The two probes into Facebook and Instagram, respectively, fall under the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA), a broad online content law that requires large platforms to assess and mitigate various risks arising from the use of their services, especially for children.

“We are not convinced that Meta has done enough to comply with the DSA obligations – to mitigate the risks of negative effects to the physical and mental health of young Europeans on its platforms Facebook and Instagram,” said EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton on X.

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A commission official explained that a “rabbit hole effect” is created when a platform’s algorithms “feed users with content of a certain type – for example leading to depression, or unrealistic body images – that can foster mental health issues in children.”

Meta may also be failing to use age verification tools that are “reasonable, proportionate and effective” to prevent minors from accessing content that is inappropriate for children, the commission’s press release said.

The commission will also investigate whether the company is falling short of “DSA obligations to put in place appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure a high level of privacy, safety and security for minors.”

The EU executive will pay particular attention to the default privacy settings Facebook and Instagram have for minors, as well as the “design and functioning” of “recommender systems” that push content towards users.

If Meta is found to have breached the DSA’s risk mitigation rules, it could face fines of up to 6 per cent of its global annual revenue.

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The company is already subject to DSA investigations over its handling of political advertising, ahead of the forthcoming European Parliament elections on June 6-9.

The commission is also investigating TikTok over similar child protection concerns.

The DSA’s risk mitigation rules apply to “Very Large Online Platforms” meaning those with more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU.

Other DSA provisions – such as obligations to have mechanisms allowing users to flag illegal content – also apply to smaller platforms.

But heftiest fines are only applicable to very large platforms.

Monitoring smaller platforms’ DSA compliance is the responsibility of the EU’s 27 member states, whereas the European Commission is the DSA enforcer for the large platforms.

Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) have to pay a yearly “supervisory fee” to cover the commission’s costs, capped at 0.05 per cent of each VLOP’s global annual revenue.

–IANS/DPA

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EV-maker Euler Motors raises Rs 200 cr to expand its operations to over 40 cities

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New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Electric Vehicle (EV) manufacturer Euler Motors on Wednesday said that it raised an additional Rs 200 crore to close its Series C funding round, bringing the total funding raised in this round to Rs 570 crore.

The company said that it will use the fresh capital to scale its pan-India presence and servicing infrastructure and establish a presence in over 40 cities by FY25.

It will also use the funding for product development, and augmenting technological and R&D capabilities.

“This fresh capital injection, coupled with the trust of our investors, will propel us towards our goal of double-digit market share,” Saurav Kumar, Founder and CEO, Euler Motors, said in a statement.

Existing investors including British International Investment, the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor, Blume Ventures and new investor Piramal Alternatives India Access Fund participated in this round.

“We remain enthused both by the wider EV category itself as well as our chosen sub-segment in terms of last-mile mobility within the commercial/logistics category and Euler Motors’ relative positioning on the back of its strong technology and R&D capability,” said Kalpesh Kikani, CEO at Piramal Alternatives.

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In FY24, the company had 3,700 HiLoad EVs on the road across 22 cities.

Euler Motors has raised a total of Rs 770 crore in funding since its inception in 2018.

–IANS

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17 teams emerge as winners in 'Build for Bharat' initiative by ONDC, others

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Bengaluru, May 29 (IANS) Seventeen teams emerged as winners in the ‘Build for Bharat’ initiative, launched by the government’s Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), in collaboration with Startup India, Google Cloud India, Antler in India, Protean and Paytm, it was announced on Wednesday.

Launched on December 4, 2023 across more than 50 cities, the ‘Build for Bharat’ initiative saw over 27,000 participants representing startups, companies and colleges from across the country.

The initiative was structured around three distinct categories.

The ‘NextGen Ventures’ category aimed at accelerating venture creation on the ONDC Network, specifically for early-stage and aspiring founders.

Six teams – Shopeg, OmniFlo, Zepic, Upaz, DPI corp and Zceppa – emerged as winners, securing non-equity grants of up to $40,000 each.

The eligible teams will also receive Google Cloud credits along with an opportunity to be inducted into the Antler India Residency Programme, with an equity funding of up to $250,000.

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“The diverse array of solutions developed by participants from across the country showcases India’s immense potential to revolutionise the growing digital commerce ecosystem,” said T Koshy, MD and CEO at ONDC.

The ‘Scalable Solutions’ category saw four teams – Progmatic, Cyborg, Cydra Tech and oof — won the first prize of $7,500 each, while Harentortoise and Indexvoyagers won the second prize of $3,500 each. Eligible teams will also receive Google Cloud credits.

In the ‘Foundation Solutions’ category, five teams – Checkfirst, Faszen Tech, Pokleaniket927248, Phoenix, and The Sentient Squad — received $3000 (each winning team), while three teams – Morin, Pinpoint and Decap — received the second prize of $1,000 (each winning team). Eligible teams will also receive Google Cloud credits.

“The ‘Build for Bharat’ initiative has been a resounding success, serving as a testament to the power of collaboration and the collective genius of the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Anil Bhansali, VP Engineering and Head of India Development Centre at Google Cloud.

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–IANS

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Fintech startup BharatX acquires Zenifi to enter medical lending market

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New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Y-Combinator-backed BNPL fintech startup, BharatX on Wednesday announced that it has acquired healthcare finance startup Zenifi to enter the medical lending segment.

As part of the deal, the co-founder and CEO of Zenifi, Padam Kataria, will join BharatX as the Head of Business — Healthcare. He will work on building BharatX’s healthcare lending vertical.

“This acquisition will allow BharatX to go deeper into the healthcare vertical where currently no fintech or traditional players are able to disburse credit instantly, which is critical in emergency healthcare,” Mehul Jindal, Co-founder CEO, BharatX, said in a statement.

Founded in 2023 by Kataria, Harshit Shrivastava and Rajendra Kulkarni, Zenifi gained traction in the healthcare sector by offering affordable payment options.

With partnerships established across multiple hospitals and aggregators, the company generated an annual rate of demand worth over Rs 1.2 crore.

“We have firsthand experience of making medical lending easy and accessible and with BharatX’s well-established credit as a service, the synergies between the two companies will ensure that we can accelerate the speed with which we capture the market,” said Padam Kataria, CEO, Zenifi.

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Moreover, the company said that this acquisition will allow BharatX to break into the healthcare sector, a sector ripe for disruption and one of the largest sectors needing credit after its disruptive success in online shopping credit solutions.

–IANS

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Report on acquiring a stake in Paytm totally false: Adani Group

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New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) The Adani Group on Wednesday categorically denied a media report which claimed that the company is going to acquire a stake in digital payments company Paytm.

A media report earlier claimed that the Adani Group was in talks with Paytm to acquire a stake in the fintech company, owned by One 97 Communications Limited.

“We categorically deny this baseless speculation. It is totally false and untrue,” said a spokesperson of the Adani Group.

In a stock regulatory filing, Paytm also denied any such move.

“We hereby clarify that the news item is speculative and the company is not engaged in any discussions in this regard,” said Paytm.

“We have always made and will continue to make disclosures in compliance with our obligations under the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015,” said the company.

–IANS

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Industry hails RBI's 3 new initiatives to bolster fintech sector

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New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) The fintech industry leaders on Wednesday hailed the three major initiatives of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which include the PRAVAAH portal, the Retail Direct Mobile App and a FinTech Repository.

The repository will provide a centralised platform for fintech entities to document and share their technological implementations and activities, fostering greater transparency and trust within the industry.

“The repository’s focus on advanced technologies such as AI and ML enables fintech firms to access data-driven insights, optimise operations, and deliver more personalised and efficient customer experiences, thereby enhancing competitiveness and supporting industry growth,” said Anil Sinha, Chief Technology Officer, Fibe.

Additionally, consumers will benefit from the transparency and trust promoted by the repository, as the advanced use of AI and ML ensures more secure, personalised and efficient financial solutions, leading to better financial inclusion and improved customer satisfaction.

The PRAVAAH portal will make it convenient for any individual or entity to apply online for various regulatory approvals in a seamless manner.

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The Retail Direct Mobile App will provide retail investors seamless and convenient access to the retail direct platform and provide ease of transacting in government securities (G-Secs).

Ankit Ratan, Co-founder and CEO, Signzy, said that these initiatives mark a significant step towards a future-proof financial sector in India.

“By encouraging participation from both fintech and regulated entities, the RBI is encouraging a collaborative environment where all stakeholders can leverage the repository’s insights to strengthen security practices and drive innovation,” added Ratan.

–IANS

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