Google Launches ‘Tez’ Mobile Payments Service in India for Android and iOS

Google today launched a new mobile payment app in India that allows users to connect their bank accounts directly to the service and employs ultrasound technology in lieu of an NFC chip to transfer money between devices.

Called Tez (Hindi for "fast"), Google's new payment platform links customers' bank accounts to Android and iOS via the Unified Payment Interface (UPI), a state-backed payments system. Google has partnered with State Bank of India, the country's biggest lender, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and Axis Bank, with 55 banks in total said to be supporting the service across India.


Tez uses a technology called audio QR that allows mobile users to transfer cash between devices using an inaudible ultrasonic frequency to identify the payer and payee. The system works with any mobile device with a mic and speaker and the Tez app installed, and therefore doesn't require an NFC chip.

India is home to 300 million smartphone users, but most handsets in the country don't feature NFC, so Google's audio QR solution is being marketed as a secure mainstream alternative. Apart from typical mobile transactions to pay for everyday items, Google says small businesses can also use the app to accept payments into their bank accounts, with payments from mobile merchants supported, too.


According to Bloomberg, digital transactions have surged after the Indian Government banned high-value cash notes in 2016. Tez is available on both Android and iOS, and Google plans to release the app in other emerging countries including Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand. Apple has yet to launch Apple Pay in any of the aforementioned countries and is still negotiating with the Indian government about bringing its own mobile payment system to the country. Apple Pay Cash, Apple's peer-to-peer mobile payment feature, is set to launch in the U.S. with the official release iOS 11 this month.

Tags: Google, India, Tez

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Apple Risks Ire of Indian Government Over Refusal to Approve State’s Anti-Spam App

Apple's refusal to approve the Indian government's anti-spam iPhone app has infuriated state regulators, which could work against the company's efforts to increase its market share in the country, a report on Wednesday revealed.

According to Bloomberg, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has so far been unable to get its Do Not Disturb (DND) software on the App Store. The app allows people to share spam call and text message logs with the agency, which then sends the data to mobile operators for them to block the spammers. However, Apple has told regulators that the app violates its privacy policy.
“Nobody's asking Apple to violate its privacy policy," said Ram Sewak Sharma, chairman of the Delhi-based telecom regulator. "It is a ridiculous situation, no company can be allowed to be the guardian of a user's data."

The regulator is currently seeking public and stakeholder comments on a consultative paper on users’ control over their personal information and rules on the flow of data through telecommunications networks. The process, scheduled to be completed in September, could eventually lead to new rules governing user data. That could also become part of the telecom licensing process, Sharma said.
Apple has been in talks with the Indian government to open retail stores and to gain permission to sell used iPhones imported into the country. The company is also seeking economic concessions including tax breaks as it sets up local manufacturing plants there, but those efforts could be negatively impacted by Apple's refusal to approve the anti-spam software.

In 2016, Apple shipped 2.5 million iPhones in India, and this year one of its suppliers began assembling a limited number of iPhones in Bangalore. So far, India's government has declined Apple's request to import used iPhones and has yet to respond to the company's other demands.

Half a dozen meetings with Apple have reportedly failed to resolve the standoff over the anti-spam app. While Apple's privacy policy allows it to share user data with affiliates and strategic partners, Sharma said the Indian government's Do Not Disturb app only requires a limited, pre-approved level of data sharing. However, Apple's policy states that sharing data with any other entity isn't permitted.

"The problem of who controls user data is getting acute and we have to plug the loose ends," Sharma said. "This is not the regulator versus Apple, but Apple versus its own users."

Tag: India

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Indian Movie Company Eros Group Reportedly in Talks With Apple and Others to Sell Media Library

Eros Group, a movie production company based in India, is said to be looking at potentially selling its entire media library to Apple, further boosting the Cupertino company's foothold in the Indian smartphone and entertainment markets. The $1 billion deal is said to also include interest from companies like Amazon and Netflix as potential competitors to win Eros Group's library of films and music.

Still, nothing at this time is confirmed. The talks are in "very early stages," according to a source who spoke to Reuters, and even market watchers looking at the deal believe that the $1 billion estimation will be "substantially lower" if any agreement is made. When asked for a comment by Reuters, Eros Group didn't respond, and Apple said it does not comment on speculation, which is its usual response for such stories.

Apple CEO Tim Cook meeting with Indian PM Narendra Modi in 2016

The back catalogue of Eros Group's media library includes 3,000 films, many of which are major movies from Bollywood and are believed to help any streaming partner boost its presence in India. Eros Group reportedly began looking for a company to sell its library to about six months ago, including previous attempts to work out deals with Sony, Star, Viacom, and Zee.

Apple has recently gained a stronger foothold in India through the beginning of production on the first-ever iPhone devices assembled in the country, related to an iPhone SE plant in Bangalore. Aimed at consumers looking for cheaper devices, Apple's made in India iPhone SE smartphones began appearing at retailers in June, although at the time there had yet to be any price cut. If the company wins the deal with Eros Group -- potentially making iOS devices the exclusive home of Eros Group's film and music content -- it could be a way for Apple to convince more Indian customers to purchase iPhones.

Tag: India

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First Run of ‘Assembled in India’ iPhone SE Models Appear in Bangalore

The first iPhone SE devices that have been made in India are beginning to circulate around Bangalore, according to a report today by The Indian Express. The site noted that it's still hard to come by an iPhone SE with "Assembled in India" on its back, because Apple has kicked off its Indian iPhone production with just a small trial run of limited units.

Image via The Indian Express

The India-made iPhone SE models are mostly appearing in Bangalore, which is expected since that's where Apple's assembly plant is located. Apple officially began assembling iPhones in India in the middle of May, with sources predicting that retail outlets would get the first shipments over the next few weeks.

The handsets have been assembled by Apple supplier Wistron, and Apple's plans for local production of iPhone devices began as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" initiative last year. This past weekend, PM Nodi met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and a collection of other tech CEOs to discuss the Indian government's attempts to improve the country's business climate and convince American-based companies to extend manufacturing into India.

Unfortunately, the iPhone SE hasn't seen a price reduction yet in the country, despite Apple's local manufacturing goals finally being realized after so long, which the company hopes will eventually lead to lower-priced devices. The Bangalore-made iPhone SE models are said to be "priced the same as other models manufactured in China," and it's unclear when such a price reduction might come to the iPhone SE models made and sold in India.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE
Tag: India
Buyer's Guide: iPhone SE (Caution)

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First Run of ‘Assembled in India’ iPhone SE Models Appear in Bangalore

The first iPhone SE devices that have been made in India are beginning to circulate around Bangalore, according to a report today by The Indian Express. The site noted that it's still hard to come by an iPhone SE with "Assembled in India" on its back, because Apple has kicked off its Indian iPhone production with just a small trial run of limited units.

Image via The Indian Express

The India-made iPhone SE models are mostly appearing in Bangalore, which is expected since that's where Apple's assembly plant is located. Apple officially began assembling iPhones in India in the middle of May, with sources predicting that retail outlets would get the first shipments over the next few weeks.

The handsets have been assembled by Apple supplier Wistron, and Apple's plans for local production of iPhone devices began as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" initiative last year. This past weekend, PM Nodi met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and a collection of other tech CEOs to discuss the Indian government's attempts to improve the country's business climate and convince American-based companies to extend manufacturing into India.

Unfortunately, the iPhone SE hasn't seen a price reduction yet in the country, despite Apple's local manufacturing goals finally being realized after so long, which the company hopes will eventually lead to lower-priced devices. The Bangalore-made iPhone SE models are said to be "priced the same as other models manufactured in China," and it's unclear when such a price reduction might come to the iPhone SE models made and sold in India.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE
Tag: India
Buyer's Guide: iPhone SE (Caution)

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Apple CEO Attends U.S. Business Leader Roundtable With Indian Prime Minister

Apple CEO Tim Cook joined top business leaders in a roundtable session with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. As many as 21 high-profile chief executives of U.S. corporations attended the gathering in Washington, D.C., including Google's Sundar Pichai, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos (via India Economic Times).

Prime Minister Modi kicked off his U.S. visit by telling the CEOs that India's growth presented a "win-win" opportunity for both nations, referring to his government's attempts to improve the business climate, including a unified Goods and Services Tax (GST) that he hoped would encourage American companies to invest there.

"The whole world is looking at India. 7,000 reforms alone by GOI for ease of (doing) business and minimum government, maximum governance," Gopal Bagley, spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said in a tweet from inside the meeting, quoting the prime minister.

India's growth presents a win-win partnership for the country and the US, and American companies have a great opportunity to contribute to that, Modi told the CEOs, according to Bagley.
The Prime Minister reportedly listened to the wish lists of the CEOs in attendance, with some voicing their concerns about tax rates under the coming GST regime. Modi, meanwhile, stressed the importance of cooperation for start-ups, for innovation and for tapping the intellectual, educational, and vocational training potential in India.

Apple is in talks with Indian government officials to expand its fledgling iPhone manufacturing base in the country, following discussions last year with Prime Minister Modi, who has been working to promote his "Make in India" initiative. Apple is also creating a new distribution center in India to consolidate its logistics and supply chain in the country.

The company will reportedly begin selling iPhones directly through its website in India later this year, and is expected to open its first physical retail store in India as early as 2018. Apple is said to be looking to open four to five flagship-class stores in the country over the next five to ten years.

Prime minister Modi's two-day visit continues on Monday, when he will meet President Trump to discuss trade and investment issues between the two countries.

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Tag: India

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Apple Chasing Market Share in India by Letting Retailers Reduce Prices on Older Model iPhones

As Apple gears up to sell iPhones directly through its website in India later in 2017, the company's successful sale of older generation iPhones in the country has come to light in a new article by Bloomberg. Within India, Apple has let third-party resellers and shops -- including Amazon and Flipkart -- reduce prices for "retro model" iPhones, because Indian users are said to be willing to concede in performance and specs for a cheaper Apple-branded smartphone.

One of the older iPhones in question is the iPhone 5s, launched in 2013 and replaced by the iPhone SE three years later in 2016. One user in the country described purchasing an iPhone 5s for 20,400 rupees (about $300) at local reseller iPlanet, and Amazon even listed the 5s as low as 15,999 rupees during a sale in May. Right now in the U.S., the cheapest iPhone you can buy is a SIM-free iPhone SE for $399.


Last summer, Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted that iPhones are too expensive in India, saying he wants Indian customers "to be able to buy at a price that looks like the U.S. price." Now, it appears that potential iPhone users in India are being able to do that at even cheaper prices.
Now it’s letting stores and online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc. and Flipkart Ltd. slash prices for retro models, a rare concession for a brand that carefully guards its high-end image

“It doesn’t bother me that it is several generations old,” says Varuni T.V., a business professor in India who teaches at a college in Hospet, a mining town six hours north of Bangalore. “It’s a good feeling to own an Apple phone.”
Apple shipped 2.6 million devices to India in 2016, and older iPhones accounted for about 55 percent of those devices. In addition to the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 are said to be popular options at Indian retailers and online stores. The company is believed to be doubling down on this retro iPhone sales idea, hearing retailer pitches about cash-back offers, product exchanges, and monthly payment plans on iPhones, "all aimed at making it easier for young Indians to spend a month’s earnings or more on a 5S."

Additionally, Apple will hire "affordability managers" in India, who will negotiate with banks and other money lenders on behalf of potential iPhone buyers, focusing on customers in smaller towns with less of a track record in buying expensive smartphones. Apple's competition in the country is still steep, with Xiaomi and Oppo remaining the dominant forces in the Indian smartphone market.

Analysts remain hopeful for Apple's presence in India, thanks to the onset of iPhone SE production in the country in its Bangalore plant. Next, it's believed that Apple will attempt to begin individual component manufacturing for iPhone devices in India in order to continue establishing its foothold in the country.

Tag: India

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Apple in Talks With India State Officials to Expand iPhone Production Capacity

Apple is in talks with government officials in India to expand its iPhone manufacturing facility in Bengalaru, a federal minister acknowledged on Tuesday (via Reuters).

The Cupertino-based company reportedly wants to bulk out the plant in the southern Indian tech hub as part of its plan to capture a bigger share in one of the world's fastest growing smartphone markets.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, the state official for Electronics and IT, said government officials were in touch with Apple and other mobile phone manufacturers for expanding facilities and setting up new plants.
Last week Apple officially began initial production of a small number of iPhone SE devices at its Wistron-run Bangalore plant, and plans to ship Indian-created iPhones to local customers as soon as this month.

The locally produced phones could be up to $100 cheaper than the current going rate for iPhone SE devices in the country, which would help Apple to compete with the wide variety of cheap devices available there.

Apple's struggles in India have been put down to the iPhone's traditionally expensive price tag, a fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook has openly admitted. Last year, a Strategy Analytics report said a total of 35 percent fewer iPhones sold in 2016 in the country than in 2015.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE
Tag: India
Buyer's Guide: iPhone SE (Caution)

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Apple Officially Begins Assembling iPhone SE in India

After months of reports that suggested Apple was gearing up to begin iPhone production within India as a way for the company to boost its presence in the country, a report by The Wall Street Journal today has confirmed the first ever iPhone assembly trial run completed in India earlier this month. As it was previously reported, assembler Wistron handled the iPhone production trial run, specifically focusing on the assembling of iPhone SE devices.

Apple has further confirmed that it has begun the initial production of an unspecified "small number" of iPhone SE devices in its Bangalore plant, and plans to begin the first official shipment of Indian-created iPhones to local customers as soon as this month. Retail stores are expected to get their first shipment of iPhone SE handsets "as early as this week or next," according to people familiar with the manufacturing plans.

The manufacturing of Apple’s cheapest iPhone model, the SE, was handled earlier this month by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp., which has an assembling unit in the southern state of Karnataka, a state official with direct knowledge of the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

Apple said in a statement that it has begun initial production of a small number of iPhone SE handsets in Bangalore and will begin shipping the Indian-made devices to domestic customers this month. The first devices could hit stores as early as this week or next, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The cost of the device remains unclear, with some Indian government officials hoping that the iPhone SE could be up to $100 cheaper than $320, the current average going rate for iPhone SE devices in the country. In most markets, including the United States, the iPhone SE starts at $399, but some analysts watching Apple's move in India argued for the need of an "aggressive" pricing on the smartphone in order for Apple to compete with the wide variety of cheap devices available.
Bringing its price down below $250 would help make it more affordable, analysts say, though it would still be well above the average smartphone price in India which research firm IDC says is around $150.

“Apple is likely to sell a good number of iPhones if it prices them so aggressively,” said Faisal Kawoosa, principal analyst at research firm CMR. “In three to five years, these users will be able to graduate to a standard-priced iPhone.”
Looking forward, some of the government officials said that Apple "could seek more production" within India down the line, potentially opening up manufacturing on other iPhones. Additionally, India is open to granting Apple more land and resources for its contract manufacturers to expand their operations throughout the country.

Last year, Apple began discussing its expansion in India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was trying to boost his "Make in India" initiative, at the same time as it looked to set up a local distribution center that could help consolidate its logistics and supply chain in the country. Apple's struggles in the country have been reported to center around the iPhone's expensive price tag -- a fact that CEO Tim Cook has admitted himself -- with a Strategy Analytics report last summer outlining a total 35 percent fewer iPhone devices sold in 2016 than in 2015.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE
Tag: India
Buyer's Guide: iPhone SE (Caution)

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Apple to Begin Selling iPhones in India Directly Through Its Website This Year

Apple will begin selling iPhones directly through its website in India later this year, according to local newspaper The Economic Times.


Apple plans to make the iPhone SE available on its online store by October, in time for the Indian festival Diwali, followed by other iPhone models once it expands local production to include the rest of its smartphone lineup.

Apple manufacturing partner Wistron is expected to begin iPhone SE assembly at its Bengaluru facility by the end of June, satisfying India's requirement that 30 percent of products sold by foreign companies be manufactured or produced within the country. Thus, the iPhone SE can soon be sold on Apple's website in India.

Wistron will begin assembling the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s over the coming weeks too, The Wall Street Journal previously reported, so those older models could eventually be added to Apple's online store in India as well.

Apple's website in India currently has a "Where to Buy" page for all iPhone models, directing users to resellers Airtel and Vodafone.

Apple may also sell some accessories sourced from India on its online store in the country, according to today's report.

Apple is expected to open its first physical retail store in India as early as 2018, and the company is reportedly looking to open four to five flagship-class stores in the country over the next five to ten years.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE
Tags: India, Apple retail
Buyer's Guide: iPhone SE (Caution)

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