Flipkart set for financial services foray; to lend to consumers and sellers

E-commerce firm in process of getting NBFC licence, to lend to consumers and sellers initially

In a move that could disrupt the consumer lending segment, e-commerce giant Flipkart is set to enter the financial services space, offering credit and insurance products to consumers and sellers on its platform.

The Bengaluru-headquartered firm has begun the process of applying for a non-banking financial company (NBFC) licence, which will allow it to open lines of credit to its 100 million-odd customers and over 100,000 sellers. In time, the company will offer these services beyond its platform, taking on firms like Paytm and Bajaj Finserv.

It is also partnering insurance companies to co-create micro-insurance products that will align with a customer’s e-commerce journey, according to the company. “Our vision for fintech at Flipkart is to create highly differentiated financial solutions for our customers, both consumers and sellers, leveraging data and technology to make it very inclusive, simple and transparent,” said Ravi Garikipati, senior vice-president and head of financial services at Flipkart. “A strong understanding of customers helps us arrive at credit-risk profiles very differently and will play a big role in underwriting.”

Currently, over 60 per cent of the consumers shopping on Flipkart do not have any access to formal credit. This deters them from making large purchases on the platform, which, the company says, hinders its growth. While Flipkart has for some time partnered banks and Flipkart NBFC to offer customers EMIs on making big purchases, it says a gap still exists.

On the seller front, Flipkart scrapped its lending programme after it witnessed gaps in the speed at which credit could be delivered to them. Garikipati says the new products will reduce the time taken for sellers to access credit from a few days to a few minutes or even seconds. The company is also looking at lending to sellers from its own balance sheet.

“Be it consumer lending or seller lending, we have a hybrid strategy. We are planning to apply for an NBFC licence on our own and when we have that in place, we would like to drive most of the loans using our own balance sheet. It is not exactly a marketplace, but a curated set of partners who will work with us,” added Garikipati, who in his previous stint served as the CTO and head of engineering at Flipkart.

On the insurance front, Flipkart will at first partner select insurers to offer byte-sized micro insurances pertaining to specific purchases on its platform.

For instance, customers will be able to buy a comprehensive protection plan for their smartphones right on Flipkart and sellers will be able to insure their products against damage in the reverse shipping process.

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Asus to launch Zenfone 5z with notch display, Qualcomm 845 SoC on July 4

Unveiled at the MWC 2018, Zenfone 5z was the first Android smartphone to sport an iPhone X-inspired notch and system-wide AI capabilities, along with a dual camera set-up on the rear

Asus, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, is gearing up to launch the Flipkart-exclusive Zenfone 5z in India on July 4. The e-commerce platform recently listed the teaser page, confirming the launch of premium smartphone in India.

Asus Zenfone 5z was first unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in February, alongside Zenfone 5. Both sport similar glass-metal-glass sandwich design and feature a dual camera set-up on the back. However, the processor, RAM and storage configurations set them apart.

In terms of features, the Zenfone 5z boasts 90 per cent screen-to-body ratio, thanks to its 6.2-inch fullHD+ screen covering almost the entire front. The 19:9 aspect ratio leaves just a small notch on top to accommodate an 8-megapixel camera, earpiece and sensors – just like in Apple iPhone X but smaller.

On the back, the smartphone sports a dual-camera set-up, which features 12MP and 8MP shooters.

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The primary 12MP sensor boasts f/1.8 aperture. and the 8MP sensor features 120-degree wide-angle lens. Both front and rear cameras are backed by AI for automatic scene selection and portrait photography, and machine learning to improve the output by learning usage patterns.

Zenfone 5z sports a 2.5D curved glass on the front and back, supported by a metal chassis. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip (SoC), paired with 6GB RAM and a host of storage options starting from 64GB.

When unveiled, Zenfone 5z and Zenfone 5 were the first smartphones in the Android realm to feature iPhone X-inspired notch-based screen. They were also among the first generation devices to offer system-wide artificial intelligence-based utilities such as automatic scene selection and setting optimisations in camera, auto ringtone adjustments and optimal battery utilisation etc. However, both the notch-based screen and the native support for artificial intelligence have become a common proposition in smartphones.

Flipkart’s PhonePe ties up with Ola, bets on micro-apps for growth

Through the AutoPay feature, users can link their credit or debit card for an Ola ride in the PhonePe app once, and the ride-fare would automatically be paid at the end of every ride

Flipkart-owned digital payments firm PhonePe has tied up with homegrown cab aggregator Ola, where users can book a cab or an auto using a micro-app built on its payments platform.

The company has gone live with three such micro-apps, including that of redBus and Metro services, and plans to go live with 5 to 10 more in the ongoing quarter.

“Ola’s scale and reach, topped with our AutoPay feature will enable greater convenience and control to our users while making payments seamless,” said Rahul Chari, co-founder and chief technology officer, PhonePe.

The company, which has built its payments platform primarily on top of the National Payments Corp of India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI), crossed the 100-million user milestone last month.

Through the AutoPay feature, users can link their credit or debit card for an Ola ride in the PhonePe app once, and the ride-fare would automatically be paid at the end of every ride.

The company has already integrated mobile wallets such as FreeCharge and Jio Money on its platform to give more options to users.

Flipkart lists Reliance JioFi WiFi hotspot JMR815 at Rs 999: Details here

JioFi 4G WiFi hotspot is capable of attaining a download speed of up to 150Mbps, and upload speed of 50Mbps. It features a circular design and allows up to 32 simultaneous connections

Reliance Jio has added a new 4G LTE hotspot model to its portfolio of JioFi devices. The new model, dubbed the JioFi JMR815, is currently available on Flipkart at a price of Rs 999. However, the JioFi is not yet listed on Jio’s online portal.

The JioFi 4G WiFi hotspot, according to the Flipkart listing page, is capable of attaining a download speed of up to 150Mbps, and upload speed of 50Mbps. The device features a circular design, unlike the oval design of the predecessor.

It allows up to 32 simultaneous connections – 31 WiFi and 1 USB – to connect over Jio’s 4G network for accessing the internet. The device also allows HD voice calls and video calls on non-4G phones via Jio 4G Voice app.

JioFi 4G WiFi hotspot JMR815In terms of features, the device has power buttons, along with WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) button for instant connection. There are notification lights for battery, 4G connectivity and signal strength. It is powered by an ALT3800 processor and supports 4G connectivity at FDD-Band 3, Band 5, and TDD-Band 40 – supported by Reliance Jio.

JioFi 4G WiFi hotspot JMR815The new JioFi hotspot device also sports a a microSD

card slot to augment storage to up to 64GB. The device is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery.

Adding to the cart: Flipkart to launch Billion, its own smartphone

The firm will launch Capture+ under the Billion brand on Wednesday

Flipkart, the country’s largest e-commerce marketplace, is launching its own smartphone on Wednesday.

Flipkart own smartphone : On Thursday, the company put a ‘teaser’ of the device on its website, showing features such as dual cameras, fast charging and unlimited cloud storage. The phone will be launched under the Billion brand and is named Billion Capture Plus . Flipkart also boasted a service network that spans 130 cities.

The teaser did not disclose the price.

Unlike major rival Amazon’s attempt at building a smartphone, which tried to compete directly with the likes of Apple’s iPhone, Flipkart is largely targeting the mid-range smartphone market. The similarity between the two companies is that both are targeting the country’s most voluminous smartphone segment.

While iPhones were and are still among the best-selling smartphones in the US, prompting Amazon to go after that market, those costing between Rs 10,000 and Rs 13,000 make the largest chunk of smartphones sold online in India. What Flipkart will be aiming to do differently is actually sell some of its devices.

Launched in July 2014, Amazon’s Fire Phone was among the biggest failures in the company’s history. After spending years in research and spending millions to develop, sales never took off. Largely due to extremely experimental features that failed to catch the public fancy, which was in tune with the features of an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy device, or a Google Nexus.

The firm has not revealed detailed specifications. The company seems to have put together a device with features customers search for the most on its platform when buying other phones, at a price point where it sees most of its action. (more)

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 with flagship specs, 18:9 screen launched: Know everything

At Rs 35,999, the Mi Mix 2 is an affordable Android challenger with bezel-less screen to rival iPhone X

China-based phone maker Xiaomi has launched its flagship Mi Mix 2 smartphone in India at Rs 35,999. The smartphone will go on sale through online sales partner Flipkart, Mi Store and offline retail stores starting from the first week of November.

Built on the concept of Mi Mix, which was the first bezel-less smartphone and the first to take refugee from 16:9 aspect ratio screens, the Mi Mix 2 brings host of new features along with top-notch specifications under the hood. The smartphone sports 5.99-inch FHD+ screen in 18:9 aspect ratio, which covers almost the entire front with almost no bezels on top and sides. The bottom area also has limited bezel that houses the front camera. With extended screen aspect ratio and minimum bezels, the phone manages to house a larger screen in a frame equal or less than a 5.5-inch screen smartphones.

The Mi Mix 2 takes a move from piezoelectric speaker solution, which was used in Mi MIX, and the second-generation uses a hidden speaker that only takes up a thin sliver of space between the top edge of the phone and the screen. The smartphone boasts ceramic back with four-sided curves, which blends seamlessly in frame made of aluminium 7-series.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

For seamless connectivity across the globe, the smartphone supports 43 network bands including CDMA networks. The smartphone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, which comes coupled with Adreno 540 graphic processor unit (GPU) for immersive graphics. In terms of camera, the phone sports a 12-megapixel rear camera, which utilises Sony IMX386 sensor, assisted with 4-axis optical image stabilisation (OIS) that reduces the effect of handshake or motion, so images and videos remain sharp. (more)

Flipkart-eBay India merger done; sellers can now take products global

Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce marketplace said it will begin offering the global inventory of eBay to Indian consumers while taking the products of thousands of sellers in the country to eBay’s customers globally.

 

This comes after Flipkart completed the takeover of the India operations of eBay.

In a deal announced in April, Flipkart raised $1.4 billion from global technology majors eBay, Tencent and Microsoft. In exchange for an equity stake in Flipkart, eBay had made a cash investment and sold its eBay.in business to Flipkart.

 

Flipkart will now own and operate eBay.in, which however will remain an independent entity.Additionally, both companies are also partnering to leverage opportunities in cross-border trade. As a result, Flipkart customers will get expanded product choices with the wide array of global inventory available on eBay, while eBay customers will have access to more unique Indian inventory from Flipkart sellers. The partnership will thus provide a new opportunity for Flipkart sellers to expand their sales globally, the firm said in a statement.

 

“Being an early mover, eBay.in has a unique standing in the Indian e-commerce market, which is a great addition to Flipkart’s leadership position. Our coming together directly benefits Indian customers and sellers for whom we want to provide the best possible e-commerce experience. This is a step in that direction,” Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy said in the statement.