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BharatPe Initiates Action Against Former Founder After Governance Review, Introduces New Code of Conduct

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 10 May 2022

BharatPe on Tuesday said it has initiated necessary action against a former founder to claw back his restricted shares following a governance review.

In a statement, the firm said it will take all steps to enforce its right under the law.

In January 2022, the board of BharatPe initiated the corporate governance review of the company.

The company had appointed Alvarez & Marsal (A&M), a global professional services firm notable for its work in turnaround management and performance improvement, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co (SAM), India’s leading law firm, to help the board and management with its governance review and PwC, a leading consulting entity, to determine wilful misconduct and gross negligence by a former founder.

“After a detailed review of the above report over the last two months, the board of BharatPe has recommended several decisive measures that are being implemented,” the statement said.

These include a new code of conduct for senior management and employees, a new and comprehensive Vendor Procurement Policy, blocking of vendors involved in malpractices, and regular internal audits.

“BharatPe has also terminated the services of several employees in departments who were directly involved with these blocked vendors. If required, the Company will be filing criminal cases against some of these employees for the misconduct and act of cheating committed by them against the company,” it said.

BharatPe said it has registered the strongest quarter in its history (Q4 FY22) with 4x growth in overall revenue.

“On a sequential-quarter basis, the growth has been 30 percent, despite the third wave of COVID-19. Comparing month-on-month, all our metrics have grown at the fastest pace, i.e. merchant Total payments value, i.e., TPV (17 percent), consumer TPV (39 percent), loans facilitated in partnership with RBI registered NBFCs (31 percent), and revenue (21 percent) in March 2022 over February 2022.

“Going forward, we are tracking well to break even on our merchant business and further strengthen our consumer business,” the statement said.

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Google, Facebook Parent Meta Battle It Out to Create Ultimate AI Translator

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 7 July 2022

A man from South Africa speaks Sepedi to a Peruvian woman who knows only Quechua, yet they can understand each other. The universal translator is a staple of science fiction, but Google, Meta and others are locked in a battle to get as many languages as possible working with their AI models.

Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg announced on Wednesday that his firm now had a block of 200 languages that could be translated into each other, doubling the number in just two years.

Meta’s innovation, trumpeted in 2020, was to break the link with English — long a conduit language because of the vast availability of sources.

Instead, Meta’s models go direct from, say, Chinese to French without going through English.

In May, Google announced its own great leap forward, adding 24 languages to Google Translate after pioneering techniques to reduce noise in the samples of lesser-used languages.

Sepedi and Quechua, of course, were among them — so the Peruvian and the South African could now communicate, but so far only with text.

Researchers warn that the dream of a real-time conversation translator is still some way off.
Quantity vs quality

Both Google and Meta have business motivations for their research, not least because the more people using their tools, the better the data to feed back into the AI loop.

They are also in competition with the likes of Microsoft, which has a paid-for translator, and DeepL, a popular web-based tool that focuses on fewer languages than its rivals.

The challenge of automatic translation is “particularly important” for Facebook because of the hate speech and inappropriate content it needs to filter, researcher Francois Yvon told AFP.

The tool would help English-speaking moderators, for example, to identify such content in many other languages.

Meta’s promotional videos, however, focus on the liberating aspects of the technology — amateur chefs having recipes from far and wide appearing at their fingertips.

But both companies are also at the forefront of AI research, and both accompanied their announcements with academic papers that highlight their ambitions.

The Google paper, titled Building Machine Translation Systems for the Next Thousand Languages, makes clear that the firm is not satisfied with the 133 languages it already features on Google Translate.

However, as the cliche goes, quantity does not always mean quality.


European primacy

“We should not imagine that the 200×200 language pairs will be at the same level of quality,” said Yvon of Facebook’s model.

European languages, for example, would probably always have an advantage simply because there are more reliable sources.

As regular users of tools such as Google Translate and other automatic programmes will attest, the text produced can be robotic and mistakes are not uncommon.

While this may not be a problem for day-to-day use lie restaurant menus, it does limit the utility of those tools.

“When you’re working on the translation of an assembly manual for a fighter jet, you can’t afford a single mistake,” said Vincent Godard, who runs French tech firm Systran.

And the ultimate nut to crack is inventing a tool that can seamlessly translate the spoken word.

“We’re not there yet, but we’re working on it,” said Antoine Bordes, who runs Fair, Meta’s AI research lab.

He said Meta’s speech translation project works on far fewer languages at the moment.

“But the interest will be in connecting the two projects, so that one day we will be able to speak in 200 languages while retaining intonations, emotions, accents,” he said.

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Twitter Said to Have Complied With Ministry of Electronics and IT’s Final Notice

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 5 July 2022

Social media platform Twitter has complied with the final notice issued by the Ministry of Electronics and IT on June 27, an official source said on Monday.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT had set a deadline of July 4, failing which Twitter could have lost the intermediary status, which means it will be liable for all the comments posted on its platform.

“Twitter has complied with the notice,” an official source told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

According to another official source, the social media firm was asked to take action on some tweets and Twitter accounts but the microblogging had not reported compliance on the same earlier.

Twitter declined to comment on the matter.

The government in May had asked Twitter to act on content related to Khalistan and accounts eulogising terrorists in Kashmir. Later in June, the government asked Twitter to act on around 60 accounts.

According to sources, Twitter has taken action on the request and reported compliance.

On June 26, the microblogging site submitted a separate list of over 80 Twitter accounts and tweets that it has blocked based on a request from the government in 2021.

The request from the government was to block multiple accounts and some tweets from the international advocacy group Freedom House, journalists, politicians and supporters of the farmers’ protest.

As reported previously, Twitter was allegedly ordered by the Indian government in 2021 to block 2020 tweets by Freedom House in India that reported the declining Internet freedom in the country. The social media company is said to have only enforced the order on in June. It also blocked some tweets and/ or handles of various other users who are said to be critical of the India government. Various users have shared screenshots of emails they received from the microblogging platform explaining that the content they shared has been blocked in India. Furthermore, some auxiliary accounts of users have shared screenshots which read that their accounts have been “withheld in India in response to a legal demand.” However, in some cases Twitter has not taken any action after a removal request from the Government of India.

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Zomato Shares Fall Over 20 Percent After Blinkit Acquisition Announcement

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By Agencies | Updated: 4 July 2022

Food aggregator Zomato announcement of the acquisition of instant delivery service platform Blinkit has not gone down well with the investors as the former’s shares tumbled over 20 percent since the announcement.

The food aggregator company Zomato’s Board of Directors on June 24 approved a proposal to acquire the cash-strapped quick commerce company Blinkit for Rs 4,447 crore. Blinkit was earlier known as Grofers.

Zomato said quick commerce increases the company’s potential market, the potential profit pool and also makes the business more defensible.

Besides, the peak demand times for food delivery are also complementary to the quick commerce demand peaks in non-meal times. It believes the acquisition will help increase Zomato’s hyperlocal delivery fleet utilisation and reduce the cost of delivery.

“In today’s funding winter, people have increased their scrutiny on profitability, Zomato net losses tripled in the recent quarter. Investors are not taking it kindly the fact that a loss-making company is acquiring another company which might be subjected to strict govt regulations and has not yet demonstrated path to profitability,” Yashvardhan Singh, principal associate at Sarvaank Associates, had said.

On Friday, the shares of Zomato closed at Rs 54.9, down around 23 percent since the announcement of the Blinkit acquisition.

So far in 2022, it declined over 60 percent, data showed.

Even though the company reported healthy gains on its listings on the stock exchanges in July last year, it could not capitalize on it further.

The company’s current market capitalisation is worth Rs 43,147 crore, National Stock Exchange data showed.

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Google, Apple Urged to Remove TikTok From App Store, Play Store by FCC Commissioner

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By Reuters | Updated: 30 June 2022

A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission has urged the chief executives of Apple and Alphabet’s Google to kick Chinese-owned TikTok out of its app stores.

Brendan Carr, the FCC commissioner, said in a letter to the CEOs, dated June 24 and sent on FCC letterhead, that video-sharing app TikTok has collected vast troves of sensitive data about US users that could be accessed by ByteDance staff in Beijing. ByteDance is TikTok’s Chinese parent.

Carr tweeted details of the letter on Tuesday.

“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” Carr said on Twitter. “It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”

Carr asked the companies to either remove TikTok from their app stores by July 8 or explain to him why they did not plan to do so.

Carr’s request is unusual given that the FCC does not have clear jurisdiction over the content of app stores. The FCC regulates the national security space usually through its authority to grant certain communications licenses to companies.

A TikTok spokeswoman said the company’s engineers in locations outside of the United States, including China, can be granted access to US user data “on an as-needed basis” and under “strict controls.”

Google declined comment on Carr’s letter, while Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

TikTok has been under US regulatory scrutiny over its collection of US personal data. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, ordered ByteDance in 2020 to divest TikTok because of fears that US user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.

To address these concerns, TikTok said earlier this month that it migrated the information of its US users to servers at Oracle.

Google declined comment on Carr’s letter, while Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

TikTok has been under US regulatory scrutiny over its collection of US personal data. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, ordered ByteDance in 2020 to divest TikTok because of fears that US user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.

To address these concerns, TikTok said earlier this month that it migrated the information of its US users to servers at Oracle.

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US Senators Seek Report on Security Review of TikTok a Week After Data Transferred to Oracle

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By Reuters | Updated: 25 June 2022 03:08 IST

A group of six Republican senators on Friday asked the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen about an ongoing Biden administration national security review of social media platform TikTok.

The US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, in 2020 ordered Chinese parent company ByteDance to divest TikTok because of fears that the US user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.

Last week, TikTok said it has completed migrating information on its US users to servers at Oracle, as it seeks to address US concerns over data integrity.

Senators Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse, Mike Braun, Marco Rubio, Todd Young and Roger Wicker asked Yellen numerous questions saying the administration “has seemingly done nothing to enforce” the August 2020 divestiture order.” They noted “the results of the security reviews, likewise, have not been publicly released after one year.”

The senators want to know “will TikTok be locally managed in the United States?” and “Will the US government have the ability to routinely access and inspect the algorithm’s source code?” It also asks “what assurances does the US government have that TikTok will store US data and adopt privacy policies with adequate protections?”

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Former President Donald Trump attempted to block new users from downloading WeChat and TikTok and ban other transactions that would have effectively blocked the apps’ use in the United States but lost a series of court battles.

President Joe Biden in June 2021 withdrew a series of Trump’s executive orders that sought to ban new downloads of the apps and ordered the Commerce Department to conduct a review of security concerns posed by the apps.

The senators said the proposal for TikTok to store its US users’ information without ByteDance access “would do little to address the core security concerns.”

CFIUS has been in extensive discussions with TikTok on security issues, sources have said. A spokesman for Yellen declined to comment Friday.

TikTok is one of the world’s most popular social media apps, with more than 1 billion active users globally, and counts the US as its largest market.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Khaby Lame Reportedly Becomes Most-Followed TikTok Video Creator

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By ANI | Updated: 24 June 2022

Social media personality Khaby Lame has achieved a new record of garnering 142.8 million followers on the short-form video hosting service, TikTok.

Lame, has surged past popular TikTok video creator Charli D’Amelio who currently has 142.3 million followers, reported Variety. The 22-year-old’s video content includes reacting to absurd life-hack videos and recreating the video himself to show an, even more, easier and more logical hack.

Known for performing several comedic bits, Lame’s videos do not have any dialogue. However, his straight-faced iconic expressions and body language have made him one of the most widely loved and acknowledged TikTok creators globally.

In an official statement released in 2021, Lame had expressed he was ‘passionate about entertaining people and making them laugh reported Variety.

“I am passionate about entertaining and making people laugh since childhood, and I am thankful to TikTok for offering me a global stage to share my passion with the rest of the world. I will continue to work towards my dreams, knowing I can count on a beautiful community ready to cheer me on. Thank you and I love you all!” read the statement as quoted by Lame.

The famous TikTok creator was inspired by celebrities like Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, French actor Omar Sy, as well as several cartoons, reported Variety. On being asked what was his favourite video out of the numerous content he has created, Lame replied that ‘all of his videos’ have made him proud.

“I don’t have one in particular. I love all of my videos and all of them have made me proud.” said the 22-year-old.

Lame’s first viral video was posted on November 2020 which was viewed over 17 million times, reported Variety, In the short clip, Lame was seen reacting to a life hack where after a man lock’s a woman’s backpack to a post. Through his signature expressuiomns and gestures, Lame showed how the woman could easily extricate herself by just taking off her backpack.

Khaby Lame’s first ever posted video was on March 2020 after he was asked to leave his factory office during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from achieving 142.8 million followers on TikTok, he now boasts of having 78 million Instagram followers as well, reported Variety.

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