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Binance’s India comeback; D2C brands spend big for q-commerce presence

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Happy Thursday! Barred crypto exchange Binance is set to restart ops in India. This and more in today’s ETtech Morning Dispatch.

Also in the letter:
■ KYC spoiler for payment firms
■ ETtech Done Deals
■ Musk to meet spacetech founders


Binance coins a new phase in India

Binance tightens token listing process as regulators keep close watch

Cryptocurrency giant Binance, banned by the central government in January, is seeking a return by registering with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and paying a penalty of up to $2 million, sources familiar with the matter told ET.

Driving the news: Binance will comply with all other applicable laws including the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as well as the VDA taxation, “which it had been sloppily flouting until now,” said one person cited above.

Binance GFX

Officials aware of the matter said that India’s stance “has always been clear to all global cryptocurrency exchanges, that is, to comply with all laws to continue operating in India.”

Tell me more: It is “unfortunate that it took (Binance) more than two years to realise that there is no room for negotiations and no global powerhouse can command special treatment, especially at the cost of exposing the country’s financial system to vulnerabilities,” one person cited above said.

However, the official did not confirm the $2-million penalty or the calculations behind it.

Tax leaks: Before it was banned, Binance accounted for nearly 90% of the estimated $4 billion crypto holdings by Indian nationals. The platform’s market dominance is mainly attributed to its non-compliance with tax laws which allowed investors to trade without paying the 1% TDS (tax deducted at source) applicable on registered exchanges.

Also read | FIU issues notice to Binance, 8 other offshore crypto platforms, writes to MeitY for blocking of URLs

Compliance grows: Binance will be the second offshore exchange to register in India after Seychelles-based Kucoin announced FIU compliance last month following which the ban on its website was lifted.

It also plans to offer localised payment solutions, build a dedicated India team as well as invest further in the country’s blockchain system.

Also read | Cryptocurrency comeback: Indian exchanges shine amid offshore challenges


D2C brands cough up 30-45% commission for a spot on quick-commerce platforms

quick commerce and ecommerce platforms_D2C brands_THUMB IMAGE_ETTECH

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands rushing to get listed on quick-commerce platforms are shelling out between 30-45% as commissions, compared to the 10-20% that large, more established FMCG companies pay.

Desperate steps: Such brands are also spending around 20% of their total sales on ads on the platforms, and discounting their products by about 20-25% on top of the commissions to get listed on such platforms. The rush comes as quick-commerce platforms have seen incredible growth, with multiple brands saying they saw sales grow three-fourfold in a matter of months after listing themselves on these apps.

Major challenges for brands_Apr 2024_Graphic_ETTECH

Fight for a spot: Facing a long and opaque listing process amid high demand, such brands are increasingly leveraging personal connections to break through. For the platforms, a brand's scale and comparison with competitors are crucial considerations when it comes to new listings, senior executives at quick-commerce firms told ET. Factors such as what people are searching for, sales on other platforms, buzz around the brand, and the depth of that category on the platform are also important.

Also read | On ‘quick’ path to profitability: Challenges for quick commerce companies

Need for data: As smaller brands get increasingly reliant on such platforms for sales, the negotiating powers of the platforms keep growing. At the same time, brands often don’t have access to data. While both Instamart and Blinkit have seller dashboards, they don’t provide much information around which products sell the best and in which geography, multiple founders said.

Also read | Non-grocery items deliver bright growth to dark stores


RBI’s stricter KYC rules may slow merchant onboarding 90%: experts

RBI scrutiny on merchant payments companies_KYC_payment aggregators_Razorpay_Cashfree_Pine Labs_Innoviti_Mswipe_online payments_Thumb_ETTECH

On April 16, the Reserve Bank of India unveiled draft guidelines for payment companies who deploy point-of-sales (PoS) terminals at retail outlets. This was expected. But what surprised the fintech sector completely was the fresh KYC suggestions which the regulator added for all payment aggregators.

First some context: Razorpay, Cashfree, Pine Labs and MSwipe built multi-million dollar businesses working with banks and staying away from regulatory clutches. But all that changed in 2020 when the RBI first issued guidelines to regulate payment aggregators. First the online players got regulated, now the PoS firms are set to be regulated too.

RBI KYC GFX

Hidden surprises: The industry had been engaging with the RBI over the last six months on these guidelines and had suggested a graded KYC for these merchants. But with a mandatory video KYC or a physical KYC, the tech-first fintech firms were taken for a surprise.

RBI’s take: Through these draft norms, the regulator has made its stance very clear. Anyone who is part of the financial services chain will have to undertake a KYC of their customer. These firms will have to monitor their business activities regularly too. They will need to report suspicious transactions. Overall, fintechs who are used to hyper growth and quick remedies are now staring at a growth slowdown and a manifold jump in cost of operations.

Also read | On KYC compliance front, payment aggregators may be second to some


Other Top Stories By Our Reporters

Vivek Sinha.

Former Unacademy chief operating officer Vivek Sinha

Former Unacademy COO raises $11 million for new edtech venture: Former Unacademy chief operating officer Vivek Sinha on Wednesday announced the launch of a new venture, Beyond Odds Technologies, with a seed funding of $11 million in a mix of equity and debt. The Bengaluru-based startup is building for employability-led training, certification, and recruitment services in the grey-collar workforce segment.

Circle of Games raises $1 million: Multi-gaming platform Circle of Games (COG) has raised $1 million in equity funding from strategic investors Nazara Technologies FZ LLC and Swiss-based The Hashgraph Association.

Dailyhunt parent acquires Magzter, grows revenue from ads to subscriptions: VerSe Innovation, the parent firm of online news aggregator Dailyhunt and short-video platform Josh, on Wednesday said it has acquired New York-based digital magazine store Magzter. The deal is a cash-and-stock transaction, cofounder Umang Bedi told ET, but declined to share specifics.

Elon Musk to meet spacetech founders in New Delhi: The government has invited the founders of spacetech startups such as Agnikul Cosmos, Bellatrix Aerospace, Skyroot Aerospace, Dhruva Space, Pixxel, SatSure and Digantara to meet Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk in New Delhi on Monday.

Mysuru’s Kaynes to make 3,000 RUDRA servers for govt’s CDAC: Mysuru-based integrated electronics manufacturer Kaynes Technology will manufacture 3,000 indigenously-designed RUDRA high-performance computing (HPC) servers for government-owned Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC).


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