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Microfinance.AI raises a pre-seed round of Rs 1.5 crore led by We Founder Circle

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NEW DELHI: We Founder Circle (WFC) – a founder backing founder based early-stage start-up investor has led the $200,000 (Rs 1.5 crore) worth pre-seed investment round raised by Microfinance.ai, a digital mobile platform for local-language preferred users to avail micro-financial services. The round also witnessed participation by an array of esteemed investors including – FAAD Network, Gujarat University Start-up and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC), Saurabh Aggarwal, Co-founder Fitso, Ankit Prasad Founder & CEO Bobble AI, and 10+ angel investors.

Microfinance.AI operates under Uthaan Technologies Pvt Ltd, and promotes a digital mobile platform that allows users to avail micro-financial services digitally through trusted partners. Additionally, the platform offers convenience by allowing users to access the information in their own regional language. Currently, the start-up has two institutional partnerships to offer financial services for micro-credit borrowers. Over the period the platform has witnessed that the majority of borrowers availing services on Microfinance.AI are women, experiencing digital financial services for the first time, availing micro-loans through mobile phones.

On the Investment Neeraj Tyagi- Co-Founder and CEO, We Founder Circle said “All the financial platforms in some of the other formwork as extended arms of the Indian traditional banking system. With a huge population, the ultimate aim of 100% financial inclusion invites aggressive participation from innovators like Microfinance.AI. In addition to this, the size of the market, the low penetration rate, and the high rate of growth make this industry an attractive investment area. The finer technology used by players like Microfinance.AI, just makes it a more lucrative creation that is going to create a bigger difference in the overall growth of the nation.”

“Consumer behaviour is rapidly changing with the advancement of the internet. One size doesn’t fit all, and the same applies to technology. Microfinance.AI primarily focuses on providing a digital platform for availing micro-financial services and empowering local-language preferred users with customised knowledge delivered in bit-size content. We’re building a platform where 500M+ local language people can avail financial services through their mobile and delivered through trusted partners,” said Mr. Kapil Patil – Co-Founder, Microfinance.AI

Swati Sinha- Co-Founder, Microfinance.AI affirmed “While working across geographies I have realised that the financial system of the country is not adequate to meet the demands of all the sections of the society. With the fast-growing economy, the financial need is also increasing and the only way to meet this huge scale is by adopting technology. We have been working with the vision to build a tech platform which will promote financial inclusion for all.”

“Coming from a tier 2 & tier 3 city myself & with my personal vast experience in financial services & angel investing, I have realised that those start-ups who are creating a mass product for digital inclusion of Bharat, are going to be sure winners in the long run. Microfinance.AI founders have the unique advantage of the best global education pedigree from premier institutes like LSE and hands-on experience of working with low-income category consumers on the lending side. And so they are well poised to create a large impact company,” Mr. Gaurav VK Singhvi, Co-Founder We Founder Circle

The brand plans to exhaust a part of the fund in the backend technology development in order to further strengthen the platform. In addition to this, the startup also aims at utilising the fund infusion on quality talent acquisition which will enable the brand to achieve the target of 1 lakh users.

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Mobile Phones

India seeks to block Chinese firms from sub-Rs 12,000 phone market: Report

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NEW DELHI: India seeks to restrict Chinese smartphone makers from selling devices cheaper than Rs 12,000 ($150) to kickstart its faltering domestic industry, dealing a blow to brands including Xiaomi Corp.

The move is aimed at pushing Chinese giants out of the lower segment of the world’s second-biggest mobile market, according to people familiar with the matter. It coincides with mounting concern about high-volume brands like Realme and Transsion undercutting local manufacturers, they said, asking not to be identified discussing a sensitive matter.

Exclusion from India’s entry-level market would hurt Xiaomi and its peers, which in recent years have increasingly relied on India to drive growth while their home market endures a series of Covid-19 lockdowns that crippled consumption. Smartphones under $150 contributed to a third of India’s sales volume for the quarter through June 2022, with Chinese companies accounting for up to 80% of those shipments, according to market tracker Counterpoint.

Xiaomi’s shares extended losses in the final minutes of trading in Hong Kong on Monday. It slid 3.6%, extending their decline this year to more than 35%. It’s unclear whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will announce any policies or use informal channels to convey its preference to Chinese companies, the people said.

“Xiaomi smartphone shipments may fall by 11-14% a year, or 20-25 million units, with sales decreasing by 4-5%, we calculate, if India enacts a ban on China-made mobile phones retailing under $150. It accounts for 25% of the segment in India, which is Xiaomi’s most important overseas market, with 66% of its smartphones priced under $150,” according to IDC’s analysts.

New Delhi has already subjected Chinese firms operating in the country, such as Xiaomi and rivals Oppo and Vivo, to close scrutiny of their finances, which has led to tax demands and money laundering allegations. The government has previously employed unofficial means to ban Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. telecom equipment. While there’s no official policy prohibiting Chinese networking gear, wireless carriers are encouraged to purchase alternatives.

The move shouldn’t affect Apple Inc. or Samsung Electronics Co., which price their phones higher. Representatives from Xiaomi, Realme and Transsion didn’t respond to requests for comment. Spokespeople from India’s technology ministry also didn’t respond to Bloomberg News inquiries.

India amped up pressure on Chinese firms in the summer of 2020 after more than a dozen Indian soldiers died following a clash between the two nuclear-armed neighbors on a disputed Himalayan border. It has since banned more than 300 apps, including Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat and ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, as relations between the two countries fray.

Homegrown companies such as Lava and MicroMax comprised just under half of India’s smartphone sales before new entrants from the neighboring country disrupted the market with cheap and feature-rich devices.

Chinese smartphone players now sell the vast majority of devices in India, but their market dominance has not been “on the basis of free and fair competition”, MoS IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar told Business Standard last week. Recurring annual losses posted by most Chinese handset makers in India, despite their leading position, add to criticism of unfair competition.

In private, the government continues to ask Chinese executives to build local supply chains, distribution networks and export from India, suggesting New Delhi still very much wants their investment, the people said.

Source: Bloomberg

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Airtel to commence 5G Deployment from August 2022

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier communications solutions provider, today announced that it has signed 5G network agreements with Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung to commence 5G deployment in August 2022.

Airtel has had a long-standing relationship for connectivity and Pan-India managed services with Ericsson and Nokia while the partnership with Samsung will begin this year onwards. The 5G partnerships follow closely on the heels of spectrum auctions conducted by the Department of Telecom in India, where Airtel bid for and acquired 19867.8 MHZ spectrum in 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 3300 MHz, and 26 GHz frequency

Speaking about the agreements, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, Airtel said, “We are delighted to announce that Airtel will commence roll out of 5G services in August. Our network agreements are finalized and Airtel will work with the best technology partners from across the world to deliver the full benefits of 5G connectivity to our consumers. India’s transition into a digital economy will be led by telecom and 5G presents a game-changing opportunity to drive the digital transformation of industries, enterprises and the socio-economic development of India.”

Choice of multiple partners will enable Airtel to roll out 5G services spanning ultra-high-speeds, low latency and large data handling capabilities, which will enable a superior user experience and allow the pursuit of new, innovative use cases with enterprise and industry customers.

Speaking about the agreement, Börje Ekholm, President and CEO, Ericsson, said: “We look forward to supporting Bharti Airtel with its deployment of 5G in India. With Ericsson’s unrivalled, global 5G deployment experience, we will help Bharti Airtel deliver the full benefits of 5G to Indian consumers and enterprises, while seamlessly evolving the Bharti network from 4G to 5G. 5G will enable India to realize its Digital India vision and foster inclusive development of the country.”

The multi-year deal will see Nokia provide equipment from its market-leading AirScale portfolio along with solutions and services for network management, deployment, planning and optimization services to ensure the best end-user experiences.

Speaking about the partnership, Pekka Lundmark, President and CEO of Nokia said, “This landmark deal reinforces our long-standing partnership with Bharti Airtel. We are delighted that they have chosen Nokia’s best-in-class AirScale baseband and radio portfolio to deliver superior 5G performance in one of the world’s largest networks. I look forward to our continued successful long-term collaboration in this vital and dynamic market.”

Airtel will also bring in South Korean Major Samsung as a network partner to deploy #Airtel5G. This is the first time that both companies will work together.

Speaking about the partnership, Paul (Kyungwhoon) Cheun, President and Head of Networks Business at Samsung Electronics said, “5G will have a powerful impact on India’s consumers and businesses—taking mobile experiences to a new level, introducing a gamut of enhanced capabilities and expanding what is possible. As a global leader in 5G, Samsung is excited to embark on this 5G journey with Airtel to deliver innovative solutions that will help advance India’s entrepreneurial spirit and open up a new paradigm for the country.”

Over the past year, Airtel has led the industry and spearheaded 5G technology in India testing several use cases with multiple partners at many locations. From demonstrating India’s first 5G experience over a live 4G network in Hyderabad to India’s first rural 5G trial to the first cloud gaming experience on 5G to the successful deployment of India’s first captive private network on the trial spectrum, Airtel has created and nurtured a vibrant ecosystem of partners and start-ups to support faster adoption of next-generation technologies.

 

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Ericsson gets 5G contract from Airtel

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier communications solutions provider, today announced that it has awarded its first 5G contract in the country to Ericsson, with deployment to get underway in August 2022.

Ericsson is Airtel’s long-standing connectivity partner and pan-India managed services provider, with a partnership spanning more than 25 years and covering every generation of mobile communications. The latest 5G partnership follows the close of 5G spectrum auctions in India on July 26.

Gopal Vittal, MD and Chief Executive Officer, Airtel, says: “As our trusted, long-term technology partner, we are delighted to award our first 5G contract to Ericsson for 5G deployment in India.

“5G presents a game-changing opportunity to drive the digital transformation of industries, enterprises and the socio-economic development of India. With our 5G network, we aim to deliver the full benefits of 5G connectivity, fuel India’s journey towards a digital economy and strengthen the country’s position on the world stage.”

Airtel will deploy power-efficient 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) products and solutions from the Ericsson Radio System and Ericsson microwave mobile transport solutions. Ericsson will be providing 5G connectivity in 12 circles for Bharti Airtel.

In addition to an enhanced user experience for Airtel customers – spanning ultra-high-speeds, low latency and large data handling capabilities – Ericsson 5G network products and solutions will also enable Bharti Airtel to pursue new, innovative use cases with its enterprise and industry customers.

Börje Ekholm, President and CEO, Ericsson, says: “We look forward to supporting Bharti Airtel with its deployment of 5G in India. With Ericsson’s unrivaled, global 5G deployment experience, we will help Bharti Airtel deliver the full benefits of 5G to Indian consumers and enterprises, while seamlessly evolving the Bharti network from 4G to 5G. 5G will enable India to realize its Digital India vision and foster inclusive development of the country.”

With 125 live networks in 55 countries to date, and around 50 percent of the world’s 5G traffic outside China now carried over Ericsson’s radio networks, the company is at the forefront of 5G around the world. Ericsson is independently recognized as a 5G industry leader, having recently topped the Frost Radar™: Global 5G Network Infrastructure Market ranking for second year in a row. The company was also named a Leader in the 2022 Magic Quadrant for 5G Network Infrastructure for Communications Service Providers report by Gartner.

From setting up the very first switch in India, in 1903, to providing connectivity across 2G, 3G, 4G – and now 5G – Ericsson continues to play a pivotal role in powering virtually every facet of telecommunications in the country.

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