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Buy Now Pay Later portal tabby picks up a cool $50m in record fintech funding

Dubai: The Buy Now Pay Later phenomenon sweeping through UAE and Gulf retail and consumer space is not abating. One of the key platforms offering such financing support, tabby, has picked up a staggering $50 million from Partners for Growth – the biggest such facility to date in the region for a fintech company. This investment will "bolster tabby’s capitalization to expand lending capacity and support the company’s growth," said a statement. "The vision is to grow the size of the facility as tabby’s underlying sales scales over time." "As our transaction volumes and merchant numbers have continued to surpass all our expectations, it was essential for us to partner with an organization that would support our current and long-term growth,” said Hosam Arab, CEO of tabby. Read More FAB’s Magnati partners with Al-Futtaim to offer Buy-Now-Pay-Later at IKEA online UAE consumers could soon be paying off school or medical bills on 'Buy Now Pay Later' - and on 0% Palazzo Versace Dubai becomes first luxury hotel in Gulf to offer ‘buy now pay later’ At a time when consumers are still squeamish about spending on anything other than essentials, the BNPY platforms allow them to pick their choice of goods or service and pay in short monthly instalments. No interest rates are charged. These portals have carved up quite a good deal of visibility within the broader fintech space - the $50 million funding just proves that. “tabby is one of the fastest growing companies in the MENA region and they have an attractive market opportunity ahead," said Max Penel, Investment Director at PFG. "We are excited to support the tabby team and provide financing that can enable tabby to scale the platform, harnessing the continuous growth of the buy now pay later sector both regionally and globally.”

GulfNews Technology

Facebook launches Clubhouse-like live audio rooms and podcasts

Media|World|Business|: Facebook Inc on Monday launched its own Clubhouse-style live audio rooms and a way to find and play podcasts on its platform, marking a push into social audio by the world's largest social network. Facebook's rollout of a potential Clubhouse rival follows the explosive early success of the invite-only live audio app, which became a hit as people stayed at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was one of the Silicon Valley celebrities who have made appearances on the app, which recently expanded to Android users. Facebook, which has said it wants to make audio a "first-class medium" on its platforms, joins Twitter Inc and messaging platform Discord which have already launched their own live audio offerings. Spotify debuted its own version, "Greenroom," last Wednesday. Slack, Microsoft Corp-owned LinkedIn and Reddit are also working on similar products. Public figures and certain Facebook Groups in the United States using iOS will be able to create live audio rooms, with up to 50 speakers and unlimited listeners. These users can also invite people without a "verified badge" to speak, Facebook said in a blog post. Users on iOS and Android can listen to the rooms. The company, which has been vocal about its push to attract content creators, said it is partnering with public figures including musicians, journalists and athletes in the live audio rooms rollout. Listeners will be able to send Facebook's virtual currency "stars" to creators in live audio rooms. Zuckerberg has said the company will not take a cut of creator revenue until 2023. A number of select podcasts will also be available on Facebook to US listeners and the company said it would soon add to this initial slate. Facebook, which has been criticized for its handling of problematic content across its products, will face the challenges of moderating live and recorded audio content, including in private Facebook Groups. Facebook is also working on a project with Spotify to share and listen to music on the platform.

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Facebook, WhatsApp urge Delhi High Court to stay CCI notice in privacy policy matter

India|Media|: New Delhi: Facebook and WhatsApp on Monday urged the Delhi High Court to stay the Competition Commission of India (CCI) notice asking them to furnish certain information in relation to a probe ordered by it into the instant messaging app's new privacy policy. A vacation bench of Justices Anup Jairam Bhambhani and Jasmeet Singh said it will pass an order on the application. During the hearing the bench said since it was sitting on a vacation bench, it did not want to delve into the merits of the matter even as the main petitions are pending before a bench headed by the Chief Justice. 'We will pass an order. The matter will be listed on July 9 (the date already fixed for the main petitions),' the bench said. The case relates to the appeals of Facebook and WhatsApp against a single judge order dismissing their pleas against the probe CCI ordered into the instant messaging app's new privacy policy. The high court had earlier issued notices on the appeals and asked the Centre to respond to it. Read more WhatsApp to Delhi HC: No deferment of privacy policy, trying to get users on board WhatsApp sues India government, says new media rules mean end to privacy Facebook says it aims to comply with India's new IT rules India police summon Twitter chief over viral video Twitter loses 'safe harbour' shield in India over non-compliance to IT rules In their fresh applications filed in the pending appeals, Facebook and WhatsApp sought stay on the CCI's June 4 notice asking them to furnish certain information for the purpose of inquiry conducted by it. Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing WhatsApp, said the problem is that they have received a fresh notice on June 4 and the last date to respond is today, that is June 21. He said the privacy policy is already under challenge in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court by way of a batch of petitions and even the government is looking into it. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Facebook, said the question here is of propriety and it is not correct as the highest court of the country, that is, the Supreme Court is looking into the matter. 'Why did they wait for June 4 evening to issue the notice? They could have done it earlier,' he said. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi, representing CCI, opposed the pleas saying at the stage of inquiry furnishing of information will not lead to any order by the CCI and the notice is in pursuance to the inquiry which was not stayed by the high court and that this not the first notice issued to them. ASG Balbir Singh, also appearing for CCI, said since there is a statutory order against Facebook and WhatsApp, they should not use the high court's order and say that they will not furnish the information sought by CCI and the information should not be stalled at this stage. When the court asked what was the hurry of issuing notice by CCI, Lekhi said the question was not of hurry but the matter itself requires a lengthy process. He said till a report is submitted by the Director General to the CCI, there will be no precipitate action against them. The high court had on May 6 issued notice and sought reply of CCI on the appeals filed by Facebook and WhatsApp. The single judge on April 22 had said though it would have been "prudent" for the CCI to await the outcome of petitions in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court against WhatsApp's new privacy policy, not doing so would not make the regulator's order "perverse" or "wanting of jurisdiction". The court had said it saw no merit in the petitions of Facebook and WhatsApp to interdict the investigation directed by the CCI. The CCI had contended before the single judge that it was not examining the alleged violation of individuals' privacy which was being looked into by the Supreme Court. It had argued before the court that the new privacy policy of WhatsApp would lead to excessive data collection and "stalking" of consumers for targeted advertising to bring in more users and is therefore an alleged abuse of dominant position. "There is no question of jurisdictional error," it had contended saying that WhatsApp and Facebook's pleas challenging its decision were "incompetent and misconceived". WhatsApp and Facebook had challenged the CCI's March 24 order directing a probe into the new privacy policy. CCI had also told the court that only after the investigation can it be determined whether the data collection by WhatsApp and sharing it with Facebook would amount to an anti-competitive practice or abuse of dominant position. It had also contended that the data collected, which would include an individual's location, the kind of device used, their internet service provider and whom they are conversing with, would lead to creation of a customer profile and preference which would be monetised by way of targeted advertising and all this amounts to "stalking". The two social media platforms had contended that when the top court and the Delhi High Court were looking into the privacy policy, CCI ought not to have "jumped the gun" and intervened in the issue. They had also said that CCI's decision was an abuse of the commission's suo motu jurisdiction. They had claimed that the CCI in the instant case had "drifted far away" from the competition aspect and was looking into privacy issues which were already being looked into by the apex court and the Delhi High Court. In January, the CCI on its own decided to look into WhatsApp's new privacy policy on the basis of news reports regarding the same.

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India responds to UN, says new IT rules 'designed to empower ordinary users of social media'

India|Technology|: New Delhi: India's permanent mission at the United Nations has clarified that India's new IT rules are "designed to empower ordinary users of social media" and that they were finalised after the government held broad consultations with civil society and other stakeholders in 2018. India's mission at the UN has in a letter responded to concerns raised by three rapporteurs of the Special Procedures Branch of the Human Rights Council in a communication sent to the government on June 11 this year, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on Sunday in a statement today. The Indian government told the UN that it had framed the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 ('new IT Rules') and notified the same on February 25, 2021. The Rules have come into effect from May 26, 2021. Read more Twitter loses 'safe harbour' shield in India over non-compliance to IT rules India police summon Twitter chief over viral video India government serves final notice to Twitter over non-compliance of new IT rules India asks Facebook's WhatsApp to withdraw privacy policy update WhatsApp sues India government, says new media rules mean end to privacy Facebook says it aims to comply with India's new IT rules WhatsApp to Delhi HC: No deferment of privacy policy, trying to get users on board India needs stricter action as WhatsApp privacy policy goes live It said that "The Rules are designed to empower ordinary users of social media. The victims of abuse at social media platforms shall have a forum for redressal of their grievances. The IT rules finalized after due discussion with various stakeholders." The enactment of new IT Rules, wrote the government, had become necessary due to widespread concerns about issues relating to increased instances of abuse of social media and digital platforms, including inducement for recruitment of terrorists, circulation of obscene content, spread of disharmony, financial frauds, incitement of violence, public order etc. The letter to the UN explained that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting undertook broad consultations in 2018 with various stakeholders, including individuals, civil society, industry association and organisations and invited public comments to prepare the draft Rules. Thereafter, an inter-ministerial meeting had discussed in detail the comments received in detail and, accordingly, the Rules were finalized. "The concerns alleging potential implications for freedom of expression that the new IT Rules will entail, is highly misplaced," the government wrote. India's democratic credentials are well recognized. The right to freedom of speech and expression in guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. The independent judiciary and a robust media are part of India's democratic structure, it said. "On the traceability of the first originator of the information, it may be noted that the new IT Rules seeks only limited information. Only when a message already in public circulation is giving rise to violence, impinging on the unity and integrity of India, depicting a woman in a bad light, or sexual abuse of a child and when no other intrusive options are working, only then the significant social media intermediary will be required to disclose as to who started the message," the government wrote in its response to the UN letter. Several social media platforms, which use end-to-end encryption technology to ensure user privacy, have argued that they will have to read, track and trace all user messages in order to trace the first originator of the texts that are offensive. "The concern that the Rules may be misused deliberately to make a large number of complaints so as to overwhelm the grievance redressal mechanisms created by social media platforms is also misplaced, exaggerated and disingenuous and shows lack of willingness to address the grievances of the users of these media platforms while using their data to earn revenues," the government said. India said it fully recognises and respects the right of privacy, as pronounced by the Supreme Court of India in K.S. Puttusamy case. Privacy is the core element of an individual's existence and, in light of this, the new IT Rules seeks information only on a message that is already in circulation that resulted in an offence. The Rules, said the government, have framed in exercise of the statutory powers of the IT Act, fully taking into account the principles of reasonableness and proportionality.