Tech Roundup: Jun. 19, 2020 | Brazilian delivery app workers rise up for better pay

. Jun 19, 2020
Brazilian delivery app workers rise up for better pay App workers rest between deliveries. Photo: FP

You’re reading The Brazilian Report’s weekly tech roundup, a digest of the most important news on technology and innovation in Brazil. This week’s topics: the national delivery app workers strike, Brazil’s advances in 5G technology and WhatsApp’s cybersecurity concerns.

Brazilian app couriers strike for better work conditions

Work for delivery, courier, and transport app companies has become one of Brazil’s main drivers of job creation numbers in recent years

—&nbsp;the number of workers in the sector is currently estimated to be 4 million people. However, the work conditions and pay are often appalling, and couriers are calling for a national strike on July 1.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>The pandemic has raised <a href="">awareness about the conditions of these workers</a> — who risk their lives on a daily basis to deliver food and other goods.</p> <p><strong>What they ask. </strong>While<strong> </strong>most of their demands are not new, such as higher pay per kilometer, insurance coverage, and the end of the &#8220;blacklisting&#8221; of workers who take part in protests. Companies are known to identify protestors and reduce the calls of workers who take part in demonstrations.</p> <ul><li>Workers are also asking for personal protective equipment.</li><li>Edgar da Silva, a union representative, says tech companies provided hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves … <em>once</em>. “We have already tried to negotiate resupply, but they either don’t want to talk or don’t get anything done. This has been going on for years, the pandemic only gave us visibility.”</li></ul> <p><strong>Competition.</strong> While the pandemic has boosted the use of delivery services, the sharp rise in unemployment has also <a href="">increased the number of delivery app workers</a>&nbsp;—&nbsp; meaning that each worker gets <em>fewer</em> calls than they used to. “Only the companies benefit. Couriers are earning less,” Mr. Santos told <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong>.</p> <p><strong>Less money, more problems.</strong> In order to make 20 deliveries in São Paulo, workers must ride for an average of 15 hours — earning less than BRL 1 (USD 0.19) per kilometer, says Gitane Leão, São Paulo&#8217;s former deputy Social Assistance secretary. In the city of São Paulo, the biggest market for delivery apps in Brazil, motorcyclist deaths spiked to 40 in May, the highest in 2020.</p> <ul><li>Besides accidents and contamination risks, deliverers are struggling to feed themselves — as many low-cost restaurants have closed due to quarantine measures.</li></ul> <p><strong>What companies say.</strong> Rappi and Uber did not respond to requests for comment. After this roundup was published, iFood sent a statement to <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong>. It claims to have invested over BRL 25 million in various <a href="">social initiatives</a>, including:</p> <ul><li>Two aid funds: one for quarantined workers and another for at-risk workers;</li><li>Discounts in health services for workers and one dependant;</li><li>Free delivery of hand sanitizers and masks;</li><li>Matching what customers pay in tips&nbsp;—&nbsp;according to iFood, amounting to over BRL 4 million so far.</li></ul> <p><strong>Legal battle. </strong>São Paulo’s City Hall is analyzing <a href="">a bill</a> to classify delivery couriers according to federal mototaxi law. Companies would have two options: (1) hire properly licensed workers who would be granted a special red license plate (the same as for taxis); or (2) health and life insurance for workers who don’t receive the new license.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>Delivery app giants <a href="">claim</a> the changes could reduce the number of workers in the sector from 50,000 to 8,000.&nbsp;</li><li>The bill would not change couriers&#8217; status as &#8220;autonomous workers.&#8221;</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Users could be WhatsApp Pay blindspot</h2> <p>By launching its <a href="">new payments function in Brazil,</a> WhatsApp is one step closer to becoming a “super app” in the mold of China’s WeChat. But even though the new function is apparently supported by top-notch security features, users’ poor cyber security practices could open the door to a “whole new world” of schemes.</p> <p><strong>Background. </strong>WeChat is one China’s favorite apps — not only for users, but for <a href="">scammers</a>, too. Brazil, where WhatsApp has 120 million users, is no different.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>Earlier this year, cybersecurity company PSafe estimated 8.5 million Brazilians were hit by a <a href=",golpe%20da%20clonagem%20de%20WhatsApp.">WhatsApp “cloning” scam</a>, in which criminals obtained access to the victims profile using SMS texts and blocked them out of their own accounts, sometimes demanding money for their return or harassing victims&#8217; contacts for money.&nbsp;</li><li>The scam led consumer protection service Procon to <a href="">order</a> the messaging app’s owner Facebook to take preventive measures.</li></ul> <p><strong>Scale.</strong> Around <a href=",servico-de-pagamentos-no-whatsapp-esta-disponivel-para-1-5-milhao-no-pais,70003334401">1.5 million Brazilians</a> are already using the function.</p> <p><strong>Enhanced security.</strong> Users will have to adopt multiple security steps to transfer money using WhatsApp, including:&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>Registering their data, card number and a password on Facebook Pay.&nbsp;</li><li>The banks will send codes via SMS texts to check the cards, to avoid the use of stolen cards.&nbsp;</li><li>Users will also be required to provide a PIN code, password or biometric identification for every transaction.&nbsp;</li></ul> <p><strong>New world.</strong> Fernando de Falchi, Security Engineering Manager at cybersecurity company CheckPoint, points out that transactions between payments companies and banks have been widely tested and are usually safe. But users are almost always the “weakest link” in every cybersecurity process.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>5G regulations moves forward, but still no sign of spectrum auction</h2> <p>Brazilian telecommunications watchdog Anatel approved the technical and operating requirements for the use of 2,300 to 2,400 MHz spectrum ranges for 5G in Brazil. The agency also opened a public consultation to define the requirements of the 3,300 to 3,700 MHz spectrum range for the same use; this is expected to expedite the country’s 5G auction.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Clearing the path. </strong>The process, however, has already been postponed multiple times, and the pandemic is expected to push it to 2021.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Legislation. </strong>After nine months, President Jair Bolsonaro passed regulations to put <a href="">Brazil&#8217;s new Telecommunications Law</a> into practice.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>It replaces a model based on public concessions for landline telephone operators, giving companies more freedom to set prices and choose the regions where they want to operate.</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>Oi Telecom alone has <a href=";infoid=53945&amp;sid=8">reportedly</a> lost BRL 3 billion in the three years it took the government to approve and properly regulate the Telecommunications Law, as it was forced to keep investing in outdated infrastructure.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Take note</h2> <ul><li><strong>Investments. </strong>Brazil&#8217;s National Development Bank (BNDES) <a href="$-20-milhoes-em-fundo-voltado-as-startups/">announced</a> a BRL 20-million investment in Fundo Anjo, a trust fund to foster startups focused on creative economy, agribusiness, health, biotechs, fintechs, smart cities, and IT solutions. The fundraising drive increased the banks’ share on Fundo Anjo to BRL 60 million. The goal is ultimately to reach BRL 145 million available for investments, gathering BNDES and private partners’ resources. They are currently invested in four companies, however, the funds’ manager, venture capital firm Domo Invests, believes they can reach their goal of investing in 20 companies by the end of the year.</li><li><strong>Research.</strong> A study by Russian cybersecurity giant Kaspersky <a href="">sheds light</a> on Brazilian children&#8217;s digital behavior. The study found out that 49 percent of them use a smart device for the first time before turning six years old, while 73 percent receive their own smartphone or tablet before the age of 10. On average, Brazilian youngsters get their first smartphone at 8.5 years old, the earliest among Latin American countries.</li><li><strong>Innovation. </strong>Brazilian startup Nanox developed a fabric that kills Covid-19 in up to 5 minutes by using nanoparticles of silver. The discovery, achieved through a partnership with researchers from São Paulo and Spain, is already being patented. In an <a href="">interview</a> with Fapesp, Nanox’ director Luiz Gustavo Pagotto Simões claimed the firm is negotiating the production of masks and medical uniforms with two companies.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Covid-19 in science and technology</h2> <ul><li><a href="">System glitches compromise Brazil’s official Covid-19 data</a></li><li><a href="">Brazil to get the first data repository for coronavirus studies</a></li><li><a href="">Brazilian researchers develop voice-based Covid-19 diagnosis</a></li><li><a href="">São Paulo launches competition for innovative Covid-19 solutions</a>

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Natália Scalzaretto

Natália Scalzaretto has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Before joining The Brazilian Report, she worked as an editor for Trading News, the information division from the TradersClub investor community.

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