Facebook opens up Internet.org for developers to attract more app makers

Facebook Monday opened up its free Internet access site, Internet.org, for developers to host more content and services on it.
“Our goal with Internet.org is to work with as many developers and entrepreneurs as possible to extend the benefits of connectivity to diverse, local communities. To do this, we’re going to offer services through Internet.org in a way that’s more transparent and inclusive,” Facebook said in a blog post Monday.

The social media giant added that since the services needed to be specially built to be simple and data efficient, Facebook has developed the initial offerings on it, but increasing choice of services is critical, and therefore the company called upon developers to join.

Facebook said the parameters for developers to come on board Internet.org would be to make data-light content for both feature and smart phones. The company has also issued technical requirements which can be viewed on the Internet.org site.

The company emphasised that neither operator nor content developer was paying for Internet.org, which was a platform to give consumers a taste of access until they become paying customers.

“This is a set of basic websites and services to introduce people to the value of the Internet,” the post said. It added that the movement has already netted in seven million people to join the Internet.

Internet.org has come under scrutiny after it was viewed as a zero-rating product which violated the concept of net neutrality in an ongoing raging debate about the interpretation of the term.

In India, Internet.org is offered non-exclusively on Reliance Communications’ network. The CEO of the Anil Ambani company’s consumer business had said the tie-up would increase the consumption on its network and possible net in more paying customers for data services.

The blog post issued by Facebook aimed at dispelling notions that Facebook was trying to hold consumers captive. The note said, had the free offering been through the Facebook platform it would limit the world of access, but Internet.org was being opened for more features and a broader set of services.
Internet.org was launched in India in February this year with around 33 content and services providers. Some have subsequently dropped out, and the company has said it is talking to these specific apps, apart from others, to address any concerns they may have and is hopeful that the latest initiative to make Internet.org more open will get them back.
The latest initiative – to open Internet.Org for developers – was aimed at addressing some of the concerns that backers of an open Internet had raised, Facebook said.
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No proposals under consideration to review FDI policy on e-commerce

The government today said there is no proposal under consideration to review the foreign direct investment policy on the e-commerce sector.

“At present, there is no proposal under consideration of the government to review the FDI policy on business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

Global retail giants like Amazon wants India to relax the foreign investment norms in e-commerce space.

India’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy restricts e-commerce companies from offering services directly to retail consumers. At present, 100 per cent FDI is allowed in business -to-business (B2B) e-commerce but not in retail trading.

In a separate reply, the Minister said the government has not taken any decision with regard to implementation of FDI policy in the multi-brand retail trading.

Currently, as per the policy, 51 per cent FDI is allowed in the multi-brand retail sector.

In another reply, Sitharaman said an action plan has been developed for improvement of regulatory environment and increasing ease of doing business in the states.

“States have been requested to complete action by June 30,” she said.

The government has said it wants to improve India’s position to top-50 in terms of ease of doing business from 142nd currently, as per the latest World Bank report in this regard.

Startups, e-commerce companies like Snapdeal, TinyOwl, Knowlarity line up special recruitment teams to take on rivals

They comprise the crack team responsible for luring key candidates from competition and getting employee pipelines ready. Recruitment teams of startups and ecommerce firms consist of information technology specialists, analysts, marketing professionals and staffing heads who previously hired in large numbers for the BPO and aviation sectors.

“Competition is so fierce that positions have to be closed in 3 weeks as compared to a turnaround time of three months in other industries. Diversity of profiles, sheer volume and pace is the challenge,” says Saurabh Nigam, VP (HR) of Snapdeal.

Snapdeal, now four times the size it was a year ago in terms of staff strength, has a recruitment team which is divided according to profiles like technology, supply chain, and customer support.

The tech recruitment team at Snapdeal has 35 employees who are former employees of companies like Microsoft and Adobe.

Those from DHL and shipping companies look at supply chain openings and recruiters with BPO and KPO experience have been hired to take care of customer support posts.

According to earlier reports of ET, the ecommerce industry is expected to hire more than 50,000 in the next couple of years.

To ensure they remain motivated and net the best candidate, some firms have even created special incentives for their recruitment teams. To encourage aggressive strategies, companies such as TinyOwl Technology and Knowlarity have decided to incentivise their recruitment team.

Last quarter, TinyOwl announced that for every candidate placed exclusively by the team of 10, there will be monetary rewards over and above salary and variable pay. “In one quarter the turnaround time dropped by 25-30%. This will keep the firm motivated to work within the budget and get 300 more on board,” said Tanuj Khandelwal, co-founder.

At Knowlarity, for every outstanding hire, the recruiter will get twice the amount of variable pay or bonus he or she was entitled. This was started a quarter ago. “It is only fair that recruiters are judged and incentivised for the quality of talent they bring in,” says Anu Yadav, HR head. From this year onwards, the company is also linking hiring to managers’ KRAs.

These incentives do help in getting the best on board. “We have to sift through diverse profiles as compared to larger firms where there is a herd mentality while selecting the right candidate,” says Kanchan Singh, people ambassador (recruiter) with Housing.

com. Singh, till two months ago, was in an established MNC and realised that recruiters at start ups and internet firms need to be at the top of their game.

The online real estate portal’s team of 40 include handpicked software programmers who know how to marry technical abilities with talent search. On board are a group of special recruiters who have worked with the BPO, aviation and insurance sector during the boom and know the strategies to hire in large numbers when the sector is on an upswing.

It is this team that came up with the idea of an external referral system where job openings will be put up online. Anyone can refer a candidate and if successful will get monetary benefits. External referrals are thrown open to public and will start in next two months. “We need to hire another 500-600 in this year and this will help us save the 8-30% cut that consultants charge,” says Ajay Nair, CHRO of Housing.

Paytm’s recruitment team of tech hiring experts too have been given a larger chunk of their salary as variable pay that is directly linked to their recruitment targets.

The mobile payments and ecommerce platform’s recruitment team originates from consulting firms and to beat competition, will be given bonus on a milestone basis.

Internet companies want recruiters who have sales and marketing experience and can convince candidates to leave plush jobs.

The big heads of the large teams can get up to Rs 1 crore, says GC Jayaprakash, executive director for RGF International. Then there are others like Jombay who prefer their business leader to do the hiring and not depend on recruitment teams.

Online restaurant locator, Zomato for example, will hire 10 more recruiters to their team of 25, while ShopClues is looking forward to another six to seven appointments to add to their team of 10 and is exploring role enlargement and expansion for key performers, says Sanjay Sethi, co-founder and CEO.

“Our HR team is incentivised with quarterly incentive programmes based on hiring targets,” he adds. The company is planning to double its staff strength from the current 700 to around 1,500 by March next year.

Then there are others like Jombay who prefer their business leader to do the hiring and not depend on recruitment teams. “The business heads speak the language, they are the face of the teams and hire with support from staff,” says Mohit Gundecha, CEO and founder.
In some cases, the bosses decide to get into the game. A third of Snapdeal’s hiring is through social media with founder Kunal Bahl posting key openings through platforms like Twitter.

Startups bet on speedy growth in B2B e-commerce market

A clutch of startups have sprung up in India’s business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce industry, which may finally be catching up with the rapidly growing business-toconsumer or B2C sector that has spawned the country’s most celebrated startup success stories.

Industrybuying.com, BazarA2Z, and StoreRoom.in are among new players on the B2B block, betting on tremendous growth in the near future in industry that has established the likes of 15-year-old IndiaMart and Walmart’s BestPrice.in. “Industry products in India are not catalogued in one place and are very fragmented. You would have to contact 50 vendors to negotiate to buy each product. So building all this information on one internet platform would be of huge value,” said Rahul Gupta, 36, co-founder of Industrybuying.com.

On the other hand, BazarA2Z decided to establish its online presence after running several offline B2B portals since 1997, having received multiple enquiries for its two lakh members. Bengaluru-based Storeroom.in, set up in August 2014 and specialising in household goods, now has over 600 customers and is coming out with a mobile app.

Barriers to entering the B2B ecommerce space are high, given that players have to develop strong business and logistical connections with exporters, businesses and banks to ensure smooth delivery. Moreover, margins can be even thinner than B2C. Newcomers have tended to focus on specific vertical categories at first, such as industrial or safety products and electronics. Besides, taxation hurdles remain for interstate transactions. “In 2016, when new goods & services tax policies come in, all of India will be one market and B2B e-commerce will flourish. We are slowly creating more traction from buyers and sellers for that period,” said Amit Chatterjee, founder of BazarA2Z.

According to a Walmart report in 2014, India’s B2B e-commerce industry will grow to $700 billion by 2020 from $300 billion. For now, these portals are doing little more than a handful of orders per day, averaging Rs 10,000 each, although Industrybuying-.com’s online orders have doubled every month since it received funding from SAIF Partners in December last year.

“In India, purchasing of local distributors and wholesalers is archaic and unorganised, with high information asymmetry. There is a fair amount of inefficiency in the ecosystem and not a lot of innovation has happened, so it is ripe for tech-based platforms and models to make big business,” said Mukul Singhal, principal at SAIF Partners.

Unlike B2C, B2B ventures do not face restrictions on foreign direct investment, hence attracting the attention of multinational etail giants such as Walmart, which launched its ecommerce portal BestPrice in four states over the past year. Amazon is preparing to launch an online B2B portal this year, EThad reported last September. Alibaba, which came to prominence by providing a platform to China’s unorganised B2B sector, has not announced plans to bring the model to India.

“Convenience of our virtual stores, coupled with a variety of payment options and efficient delivery solutions, is some of the feedback we have received from kiranas, offices and institutions, hotels, restaurants and caterers,” said Rajneesh Kumar, vice president (corporate affairs) at Walmart India.

Snapdeal, the e-commerce site has broken growth records in 2011; What next?

Enter Snapdeal’s office in Okhla, and the world seems a wonderful place. There is nothing smashing about the building. It is the vibe: bold red splashed on the walls, rooms named after music bands, quirky posters, glass panels covered with scribbles and 25–year-olds milling around with easy smiles and weighty designations. Of course, at the back of your mind is the net worth of the company: over Rs 1,000 crore. That alone is glamourous. More so, because the company is just 18 months old. Exactly what do they do again?

They sell deals online. And if you don’t get mailers from them about the best bargains of the day, you are not one out of eight Internet users who are Snapdeal’s customers. You are the growth opportunity for the company whose meteoric rise is perhaps bested only by the big daddy of deal-a-day sites, US-based Groupon — a company, incidentally, in as deep trouble as the discounts it offers.

“These days, I often find myself defending Groupon. People forget that for every merchant that cried foul, thousand others built their business through its platform,” says Kunal Bahl, co-founder and CEO of Snapdeal. Groupon is under fire for promising the moon to its vendors who offer bargains with the hope of repeat customers. It is also busy explaining accounting blunders in its books.

“Out here, we keep things real. Both Kunal and I remember that just two years ago, we were selling physical coupons from our office in a basement the size of one of the bigger cabins of the current building. We are paranoid about protecting this now,” says Rohit Bansal, co-founder, Snapdeal.

Starry Rise

‘This’ refers to a business that employs over 800 people across 50 cities. This business is no longer restricted to selling innovative deals. Since four months ago, it is also an online retail company selling shampoos and solitaires. “The response to product retail has been overwhelming. We are already market leaders in watches, sunglasses, perfumes and jewellery categories,” claims Bahl.

Snapdeal’s numbers belong to a business fairytale. This is why, even though the company is not profitable, its success is flaunted as the coming of age of e-commerce in India: a sector that, despite huge potential, has not taken off. Travel portals are the only exception.

“The next three to four years will be fundamentally different. The launch of 4G technology, growth in debit and credit card users and proliferation of devices like tablets will give a huge thrust to online retail. Already many portals have started offering cash-on-delivery services. This should tackle security concerns of internet users,” says Arvind Singhal, chairman, Technopak Advisors.

Yet, the future needn’t be click-happy. There are fundamental issues plaguing e-commerce and Snapdeal is no exception. For one, how will it differentiate services from competitors? Bargain hunters (read: most Indian customers) are likely to switch loyalties to other sites with every better deal they find. And there are plenty of them to choose from: flipkart.com, infibeam.com, crazeal.com, to name a few.

For instance, Indiatimes Shopping says it has made significant investments in technology, warehousing, sourcing and last mile delivery and is on track to hit Rs 500 crore gross market value next year. So what will be Snapdeal’s unique selling point?

Of Assortment and Analytics

“Our biggest advantage is the product and service mix we offer. From spas and fine dining deals to mobiles and bags, such a range is not found on any other coupon site,” says Bansal. The shopping list is expanding rapidly: Snapdeal adds new brands to its shelves everyday.

“Earlier, we were the destination for discretionary expenses. Now from essentials to luxury, customers can come to us for everything. We want to be their first stop before they make a purchase decision. Once customers come to us, we are confident that 80% will make a transaction,” says Sandeep Komaravelly, head, marketing and alliances, Snapdeal.

The portal is relying on its 20–strong analytics team to achieve this goal. It wants to customise deals by assessing the consumption behaviour of each user. “We realise that services, not products, are the proxy for consumption patterns. Let’s say two people buy BlackBerry phones on our site. We cannot predict what either of them wants next.

They could be anyone, from a student to a company executive. But the person who dines at a five-star restaurant shares his background with others who have bought the deal. So when we sell such a service, we have a fair idea what to offer next,” says Bahl.

The company earns almost equal revenue from deals and product retail now, but it is the information from selling discounted services it cherishes most. “Most online retailers have little use for the information they collect from subscribers.

What happens in the Internet world every second ?

The Internet is growing day by day. Every second online is packed with information and activity. This infographic from Irish Telecom outlines the amazing landscape of the Internet of today, and highlights just how much business one second online can be.

In just one second there are 2,355,911 emails sent, 54,806 likes on Facebook and 8,195 tweets sent? All of this results in 20 milligrams of CO2 emissions entering the atmosphere every second from Internet usage.

Tax-saving tips for buying and selling a property – by Tinesh Bhasin

Irrespective of class or income, Indians are fond of buying gold and real estate. Purchasing and selling the metal is a straightforward game but a property, through its lifecycle (buying, owning and selling), can be taxing. If played right, you can reduce the tax outgo.
House Property
While buying
A house is the biggest purchase most people make in their lifetime and the government realises this. To give buyers relief, the government has allowed income tax (I-T) deductions if the property is bought on a loan. Under Section 80C, the borrower can claim deduction of up to Rs 1.5 lakh. For a self-occupied property, a Rs 2 lakh benefit is available under Section 24 (b) of the Income Tax Act for interest on the home loan. If the property is not self-occupied, the entire interest paid to the lender can be deducted from income. “This applies even if a person borrows money from a friend, his family or a private lender provided appropriate loan document between the borrower and private lender is done and there is either a letter or a confirmation of interest charged by lender,” said Hemal Mehta, senior director, Deloitte in India.
Problem area
Under the current market conditions, project delays are a common thing. This can cause financial trouble to the borrower. A person can’t claim deduction for the interest if his or her house is still under construction. A buyer can, however, get benefit for the principal amount. On possession, the borrower can claim deduction for the interest paid during the pre-construction period. This needs to be done in five equal installments, starting the financial year you are handed the property.
Tip
To take advantage of current laws, a couple should take a joint loan in equal proportion. This will allow each to claim full tax deductions available for the principal and interest. This also applies to a child and a parent.
While you own it
If it’s the borrower’s only house and self-occupied, there’s no taxation. For those who have two or more houses and these are neither let out nor occupied, the taxation can get tricky.According to I-T laws, in such cases the owner should take a notional rent value and pay tax on it. There’s a prescribed method to calculate the notional value, which takes into consideration the municipal value of the property and the rent control legislation (either of the two) or the prevailing rent in the area for a similar house. “In a case of a notional rent, there is no rule to submit a certificate from a third party. However, it’s better that a person submits a letter from a broker stating the prevalent rent in the area,” said Mayur Shah, executive director – tax & regulatory services, EY India.
Problem area
If you are claiming housing loan deductions and housing rent allowance (HRA) at the same time, it can cause trouble. Many people claim HRA by showing rent paid to parents or wife (if there’s a house in their names). A taxpayer is allowed HRA and loan deductions both under certain conditions. For example if your house is in a different city than that of residence. The department also allows you to claim HRA if you have a house in the same city as your residence, but you need to have a genuine reason. For example, many people in metros such as Delhi and Mumbai own house in far-off suburbs and can find it difficult to commute, owing to the distance. In such case, the person can claim both.
Tip
While calculating the notional value of a second home, you are allowed to claim few deductions such as municipal taxes. Also, an owner can claim deduction of a sum equal to 30 per cent of the value of the house property towards repair and maintenance charges.
While selling
When a person sells a property, he or she needs to pay tax on the profits made. If sold within three years of acquisition, the seller needs to pay short-term capital gains tax (STCG). In this case, the profits are combined with the income and taxed on the I-T slab rate.If the property is held for more than three years, it attracts long-term capital gains tax (LTCG). The tax is levied at 20 per cent (plus surcharge and cess) after adjusting the gains for inflation using the cost inflation index the government issues. A seller can save entire tax outgo if he or she uses proceeds equivalent to long-term capital gains for buying a new house located within India within one year prior to the sale date or two years from the sale date. If the property is under construction the time period permitted is three years. The amount used for buying a new property is exempted from tax and if there’s any balance, it will be taxed at a flat 20 per cent (plus cess and surcharge). If you are not immediately buying a house, this money needs to be kept in the Capital Gains Account Scheme (CGAS), and withdrawn within the stipulated timeframe. If you don’t want to go for a residential property, you can still save LTCG tax by investing in specified bonds issued by the National Highways Authority of India or Rural Electrification Corp (under section 54/54EC) within six months from the date of sale. These bonds have a lock-in period of three years. Also, the seller can only invest a maximum of Rs 50 lakh in these bonds, while you have to pay tax on the remaining amount.
Problem area
If the seller had inherited the property or it was gifted to him, the capital gain will be computed on the basis of the cost to the previous owner. If the house was purchased before April 1, 1981, the I-T department will consider the acquisition cost by the original owner or the fair market value of the property as on April 1, 1981, whichever is higher. If a person sells an under-construction property after holding it for over three years, the taxation rules completely change. This is because the I-T department considers the person as a property owner only when he or she has received possession.
Tip
While calculating STCG and LTCG tax on sale of property, one can deduct the money spent on improvement and also cost for acquiring the asset such as stamp duty, legal fees, and payment of brokerage.

TDS WHILE BUYING A PROPERTY

  • For property purchases over Rs 50 lakh, buyers need to deduct withholding tax on behalf of the seller
  • This is 1% of the agreement value
  • This amount needs to be deposited with the income tax department
  • Buyer needs to furnish information online in Form 26QB
  • He/she also needs to download TDS certificate (Form 16B) and issue it to the seller
  • Failure to comply results in interest and penalty on the buyer

The Best Careers For Your Personality Type – by JACQUELYN SMITH

Ever wonder why you’ve always been drawn to the idea of becoming a veterinarian or microbiologist ? Or why you’re convinced you’d be happy as a landscape architect or teacher ?

Your personality type has a lot to do with why you fancy some jobs over others. And that’s why understanding your personality type could be a key factor in finding the career that makes you happy.

To help, Truity Psychometrics, a provider of online personality and career assessments, and the developer of the TypeFinder personality type assessment, put together an infographic with the details of the four dimensions of personality type, as well as suggestions for ideal jobs for each :

personality careers_972

Small businesses don’t need to maintain book of accounts – by TineshBhasin

If you’re running a small business, you can save the cost and hassles of maintaining book of accounts and getting them audited. To give relief to small tax payers and expand the tax base, the government has a programme called presumptive taxation scheme (PTS). Under this, firms that have a turnover of under Rs 1 crore can pay tax without maintaining books and getting them audited.

This scheme, covered under Section 44AD of the Income Tax, is eligible for proprietary businesses, partnership firms and Hindu Undivided Family. Companies limited by shares, limited liability partnership firms, professionals (doctors, lawyers and architects), those earning income by way of commissions or brokerage (insurance and real estate agents), and those in the business of plying, hiring or leasing goods carriage are not covered in this scheme.

Some of these businesses and professions have higher profits margins on their turnover and that’s why the government has not included these under PTS, say experts. Those plying and leasing goods carriage are covered under Section 44AE, where the presumptive taxation is based on the number and specification of vehicles owned.

“Under this scheme, a firm needs to take eight per cent of the total turnover as its income and pay the applicable tax on it,” says Sunil Shah, partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells. The turnover includes money spent to pay sales tax. According to some experts, it’s better if service tax paid is also included as part of the turnover. So, if a proprietary business has a turnover of Rs 1 crore, the income considered will be Rs 8 lakh. This will be clubbed with the income of the owner and taxed according to the slab. “The best part is that those opting for this don’t need to pay advance tax,” says Shah.

If the business owner thinks his tax liability is lower than what he will pay under the PTS, he can do so but needs to maintain book of accounts and should get them audited, too.

Experts also say that once a person opts for this scheme, the assessee is not under any obligation to explain individual entries of cash deposits into bank account, unless the entry has no connection with gross receipts.

For all the benefits it offers, PTS comes with certain restrictions. For example, assessees cannot claim any exemptions – not even depreciation. “If a person files returns under this scheme currently and next year the turnover crosses the qualifying limit (Rs 1 crore), he will need to used the written down value of the asset while calculating depreciation,” says Satish Aggarwal, tax partner, Ernst & Young. This means if the current value of the asset is Rs 1 lakh and this year it depreciates by Rs 15,000. Next year, the person will need to take the value as Rs 85,000, if the business does not qualify for PTS.

Similarly, if the person is carrying forward losses from the previous financial year, he cannot adjust them against profits under this scheme, explains Vikas Vasal, partner (tax), KPMG.

New tax norms target black money but make filing cumbersome : Experts- By Biswajit Choudhury

The government may intend to target black money with a new income tax returns form, mandating assessees to disclose their bank accounts and details of foreign visits, but it also makes filing of returns that much more cumbersome, experts maintain.

“The disclosure requirement on number of accounts and those opened and closed is interesting,” Vineet Agarwal, partner, international accounting firm KPMG in India, told IANS, referring to the norms notified by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) applicable from the 2015-16 assessment year.

“A lot of people have a number of bank accounts. They also leave some of these accounts passive, or inactive. These have to be divulged in the new set of forms for e-filing of returns,” he added.

But one doubt remains. “A question that needs clarification in respect of disclosure requirements of is whether the ‘all bank accounts’ includes recurring deposits, fixed deposits, time deposits and loan accounts, besides saving and current accounts,” said Sandeep Kanoi, a chartered accountant.

The assessee, as per the new norms, also has to furnish the name of the bank, account number, its address, the Indian Financial System Code (IFSC code) and any possible joint account holder. But one demand, of not having to send a physical form after electronic filing, has not been met.

On foreign travel, the returns are required to disclose the passport number of the assessee, the countries and the frequency of visit in the financial year, as also the expenses incurred, if any, from own sources of income on such trips.

The move, experts said, is to ostensibly check black money and also have written proof from an assessee, that can be used in a court of law, regarding the foreign assets and income abroad in terms of what has been disclosed and what has not.

But that is one aspect. Assessees will also have to track their overseas travel.

“Given that disclosures are required for the financial year 2014-15, one would need to collate and analyse the expenses incurred on trips made in the recently-concluded tax year,” Tapati Ghose, partner, Deloitte Haskins and Sells LLP, said.

“Steps have also been taken to arrest leakage of tax on Indian income, with additional reporting requirements like details of all Indian bank accounts, usage of balance in capital gains schemes in the return and confirmation that tax residency Certificates have been obtained,” she said.

“It is imperative that the fine print in the return forms and the instructions to the same are thoroughly analyzed by all individuals filings returns to understand the implications an applicability in each case.”

Some of the significant disclosures required include :

– Mention status of an account: Owner, beneficial-owner or beneficiary

– Furnish account opening date, held since, date of acquisition

– State nature of income earned from various sources, including assets held

– Mention amount taxable and offered in the return

– Disclose details of any other income derived from any other source outside India

– Report the Aadhaar number if an individual has one

– Provide more details on short-term and long-term capital gains

– Mention if tax relief has been claimed using various tax treaty with other countries

– Furnish signed copy of physical return.