Business & Finance - Current Affairs for January,2017

Month and Year:   
▼ Country's largest startup incubator to be set up in Hubballi   [01-31-17]

The Deshpande Foundation, the philanthropy arm of Silicon Valley entrepreneur Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, will launch the country’s largest start-up incubation centre at Hubballi.

The foundation aims to promote entrepreneurship in India’s tier-II and tier-III cities.

It is investing INR 30 crore in the centre, to be opened this September and able to seat 1,200 people at any point.

Housing a makers lab, a 3D printing lab, hardware labs and an IOT lab, the centre will try to attract entrepreneurs from across sectors and any background, to build new-age solutions.

A ‘sandbox’ location has been created to allow entrepreneurs to test and nurture their ideas into businesses.

His foundation has set up two more sandboxes. One is in Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and another in neighbouring Telangana.

The Hubballi centre will continue to be funded by the Deshpande Foundation.

About Deshpande Foundation

  • Deshpande Foundation is a non-governmental organization founded in 1996 by Gururaj and Jaishree Deshpande.
  • Founded: 1996
  • Headquarters: Massachusetts
  • Type: Non-governmental organization

▼ India Post receives payment banks license   [01-31-17]

India Post received the payments bank licence from the RBI to start rollout of banking operations commercially under the permit.

India Post has received the payments bank license and the service will be launched as per schedule.

This is the third entity to receive payments bank permit following Bharti Airtel and Paytm.

The new banking model allows mobile firms, supermarket chains and others to cater to banking requirements of individuals and small businesses.

This bank will confine its services to certain specified ones including:

  • DD
  • Remittances
  • Internet banking
In 2015, RBI has granted in-principle approval to 11 entities including the DoP. The license is for setting up payment banks and proposed to provide licenses on tap basis in the future.

Of the 8 companies currently in the race to set up the payments bank, Airtel has launched its commercial operation across India with an investment of INR 3,000 crore.

It is offering interest rate of 7.25 per cent on deposits, free money transfer from Airtel to Airtel numbers within Airtel Bank, money transfer to any bank account in the country.

Paytm, promoted by Vijay Shekhar Sharma and backed by Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba, plans to roll out payments bank worth about INR 400 crore.

Others in the fray are Aditya Birla Nuvo, Fino PayTech, National Securities Depository, Reliance Industries Ltd and Vodafone m-pesa.

The interim MD and CEO of the India Post Payment Bank is AP Singh, the JS in the Department of Disinvestment and a member of the founding team that launched Aadhaar.

India Post: Know More
  • Indian name:भारतीय डाक
  • Type: Agency of the Government of India
  • Industry: Postal services, courier
  • Founded: 1 April 1854
  • Headquarters: Sansad Marg, New Delhi
  • Secretary: B.V Sudhakar
  • Services: Letter post, parcel service, EMS, delivery, freight forwarding, third-party logistics, deposit account

▼ Alibaba to acquire MoneyGram   [01-30-17]

Ant Financial, e-commerce giant Alibaba’s financial arm, has reached an agreement to acquire American money-transfer major MoneyGram.

The deal is for $880 million, in a deal that will expand the firm’s business in the US after India and Thailand.

The mission is to bring inclusive financial services to users around the world.

The company owns Alipay, one of China’s biggest online payment platforms and controls the company that manages the country’s largest money market fund, Yu’ebao.

The transaction will connect MoneyGram’s money transfer network of 2.4 billion bank and mobile accounts and 350,000 physical locations with Ant Financial’s users.

The transaction is subject to approval of MoneyGram’s stockholders and regulatory approvals.

MoneyGram: Know More

  • MoneyGram International Inc. is a money transfer company.
  • It is based in the United States with headquarters in Dallas, Texas.
  • It has an operation center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
  • It also has regional and local offices around the world.
  • Headquarters: Dallas, Texas, United States
  • CEO: W. Alexander Holmes (Since 1 Jan 2016)
  • Founded: 1940
  • Parent organizations: MoneyGram Payment Systems Inc, MoneyGram International Holdings

▼ RBI prohibits entities from investing in non cooperative regions   [01-30-17]

Reserve Bank has prohibited Indian entities from making direct investments in any entity located in ‘non co-operative countries and territories.’

This is as identified by the inter-governmental body FATF.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) currently comprises two regional organisations and 35 member jurisdictions, including India, US, UK, China and the European Commission.

FATF was established in 1989.

Its objectives are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

FATF: Know More

  • Abbreviation: FATF
  • Formation: 1989
  • Type: Intergovernmental organization
  • Purpose: Combat money laundering and terrorism financing
  • Headquarters: Paris, France
  • Region served: Worldwide
  • Membership: 36
  • Official language: English, French
  • President: Roger Wilkins

▼ GAAR - General Anti Avoidance Rule to start from April 2017   [01-30-17]

The Union Finance Ministry has announced that the General Anti Avoidance Rule (GAAR) will be effective from the 1 April, 2017.

In this regard Income Tax (IT) department has issued a slew of clarifications on implementation of GAAR.

It is seeking to address concerns of foreign investors over implementation of the anti-evasion measure.

GAAR seeks to prevent companies from routing transactions through other countries. It prevent attempts to avoid taxes.

The rules are framed mainly to minimize and check avoidance of tax.

India will be the 17th nation in the world to have laws that aim to close tax loopholes.

At present, GAAR is in force in nations like Australia, Singapore, China and the UK.

GAAR seeks to give the IT department powers to scrutinize transactions structured in such a way as to deliberately avoid paying tax in India.

It will not be invoked in cases where investments are routed through tax treaties that have a sufficient limitation of benefit (LOB) clause to address tax avoidance.

LOB clause in tax treaties generally requires investors to meet certain spending and employment criteria to avail the benefits of the treaty.

All transactions or arrangements approved by courts and quasi-judicial authorities for tax

will not be subject to the GAAR test.

GAAR will not be applicable on compulsorily convertible instruments, bonus issuances or split/consolidation of holdings in respect of investments made prior to 1 April 2017 in the hands of the same investor.

Adequate safeguards also have been put in place based on which GAAR will be invoked.

The proposal to apply GAAR first will be vetted by an officer at the level of the principal commissioner.

It can also be vetted by commissioner of income tax.

At the second stage by an approving panel headed by a high court judge. GAAR will not apply on foreign portfolio investor if its jurisdiction is based on non-tax commercial considerations and the main purpose is not to obtain tax benefits.

▼ NEC, MoT signs MoU for tapping cane, bamboo potentially   [01-30-17]

The North Eastern Council (NEC) and the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)in Shillong.

It aims to to harness the hidden potential of Cane and Bamboo of North Eastern Region.

The MoU provides a push for the integrated and inclusive development of Cane & Bamboo Sector of North East Region.

This is by way of skilled manpower, technology dissemination, marketing support and institutional support required for the holistic development of Bamboo.

This can coordinate a mission to mobilise masses and promote Bamboo sector as a whole throughout the country.

The NEC and the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) will promote Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre (CBTC), Assam and the Bamboo & Cane Development Institute (BCDI), Tripura in South East Asia.

As per the MoU, the CBTC will be transformed into a Regional Centre of Excellence.

BCDI will be converted as a separate entity under the name Indian Institute of Bamboo Technology (IIBT).

CBTC and BCDI will collaborate for Institutional support for bamboo sector.

Both will generate awareness and cultivating knowledge base among the masses about possibilities of sustainable utilisation of the raw materials cultivated by the sector.

▼ Hugo Barra to lead Facebook oculus and VR team   [01-27-17]

Hugo Barra, vice-president at Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is to join Facebook.

He will lead the company’s virtual reality efforts, including the Oculus VR team as per the CEO of the social networking giant Mark Zuckerberg.

Barra, who has also worked with Google previously, had announced his exit from Xiaomi.

He indicated that he wanted to return to Silicon Valley.

Barra said it had been his dream to work in virtual reality.

In a separate post on his profile, Mr. Barra said he was returning to Silicon Valley in a couple of months and will be joining Facebook as VP of virtual reality (VPVR) and lead the Oculus team.

Mr. Barra was instrumental in Xiaomi expanding outside of its home market to geographies such as India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia.

More recently, under his efforts Xiaomi expanded to 20 other markets, including Russia, Mexico, and Poland.

The top job at Oculus has been vacant since 2016, when its CEO Brendan Iribe stepped down to run one of the other divisions.

Facebook had acquired Oculus in 2014.

Oculus: Know More

  • CEO: Brendan Iribe (since 2012)
  • Founded: 2012, Irvine, California, United States
  • Headquarters: Menlo Park
  • Acquisition date: March 25, 2014
  • Founders: Brendan Iribe, Palmer Luckey
  • Parent organization: Facebook, Inc.

▼ Microsoft-EY partnership to provide high performance intelligence and analytics services   [01-25-17]

Global leader in advisory services EY and Microsoft on 24th Jan 2017 announced partnership for innovative high-performance intelligence and analytics advisory.

These services will address the requirements of various industry sectors.

This includes financial, life sciences, retail, consumer and packaged goods and government and public sector.

The services will be powered by Microsoft's comprehensive digital and cloud technologies, including:

  • Azure Analysis Services,
  • Machine Learning,
  • Microsoft Power BI and
  • Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite.
EY's cross-sector advisory experience and the power of Microsoft's data intelligence and analytics offerings will benefit the industry,

Cortana: Know More
  • Developer: Microsoft
  • Initial release: April 2, 2014
  • Operating system: Windows, iOS, Android, Xbox OS
  • Available in 8 Languages.
  • Type: Intelligent personal assistant
  • License: Proprietary

▼ Kerala Gramin Bank launches financial literacy programme   [01-24-17]

The Kerala Gramin Bank (KGB) launched a novel programme “FI@School.”

Ths aims to propagate financial literacy among school children.

Under this programme, financial literacy clubs will be formed at every school.

It is implemented jointly with NABARD and Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI), Amsterdam.

Total 602 branches of the bank will identify and enter into a virtual tie up with a school in its locality.

It will organise various programmes such as account opening camps at schools, junior debit card distribution, financial literacy related classes.

It will also organise distribution of financial literacy booklets, competition on financial literacy, etc.

▼ PMGKY deposits cannot be accepted by Cooperative Banks   [01-23-17]

Union Government has notified that cooperative banks are not authorised to accept deposits under PMGKY.

PMGKY stands for Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.

The deposits under this scheme can be accepted by any banks to which Banking Regulation Act 1949 (10 of 1949) applies.

Scheme allows assesses to disclose previously unaccounted and non-declared income under the ambit.

The PMGKDS permits voluntary declarations of previously undisclosed income with effective tax rate of 50 percent.

It requires assesses to deposit further 25% of such wealth into 4 year interest free deposit.

PMGKY: Know More

  • This is a voluntary black money declaration under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).
  • Those with unaccounted cash can disclose it under PMGKY scheme by paying 50 percent tax and penalty before 31 March, 2017.
  • It is also a poverty alleviation program with proceeds of the income declaration going to the marginalised.
  • The scheme was launched on 17 December 2016. It will remain open for declarations upto 31 March 2017.

▼ 3D company Simplygon acquired by Microsoft    [01-19-17]

Developer of automatic 3D data-optimisation solutions, Simplygon has been acquired by Microsoft on 17th Jan 2017.

It was developed by Donya Labs AB, a privately-held company based in Sweden.

This acquisition accelerates Microsoft's 3D For Everyone vision and strategy. This vision was introduced with the Windows 10 Creators Update.

Simplygon is a leader in 3D game optimisation.

It is dedicated to helping creators and users of 3D data across industries optimise content pipelines and streamline workflows.

Simplygon's technology and talent will strengthen Microsoft's position in 3D creation.

It will also be making it easier to capture, create and share in 3D.

▼ Yes Fintech - Business accelerator program from Yes Bank   [01-18-17]

Yes Bank in Jan 17, 2017 launched 'Yes Fintech', a business accelerator program. The program was launched in collaboration with T-Hub a startup incubator set up by the Telangana government.

Anthill - a speed scaling platform for early growth stage start-ups also participated.

Yes Bank has been collaborating with and supporting over 100 fintech start-ups in the country to provide innovative financial solutions to its corporate, SME and retail customer base.

This is part of its Alliances, Relationships & Technology (ART) approach to digitised banking

The accelerator will help the bank co-create disruptive innovations in:

  • Financial inclusion,
  • MSME focused solutions,
  • Payments,
  • Lending,
  • Compliance,
  • Risk management,
  • Trade finance,
  • Capital markets and
  • Forex and treasury space
Financial technology startups are leading the digital revolution.

Yes Fintech Accelerator takes this philosophy forward and provides start-ups a platform for creating sustainable and market ready products.

▼ Andhra Bank launches e-Vyapar for cashless payments with only Aadhaar   [01-17-17]

PSU lender Andhra bank on 16th Jan 2017 announced the launch of a fresh initiative for cashless transactions through mobile phones. Only the Aadhaar number is required for these.

The e-payment scheme is called AB e-Vyapar. Andgra Bank CMD Suresh N Patel made the announcement.

The initiative needs only Aadhaar number and not even any card or a PIN.

Till now, the PSU bank had POS machines with the merchants and people were going with a card.

Now with technology, the bank has launched and created infrastructure where with mobile, a small instrument will be attached and through Aadhar, the payments can be effected.

About Andhra Bank

  • Industry: Finance
  • Founded: 20 November 1923
  • Founder: Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramayya
  • CMD: Suresh N Patel
  • Revenue: ₹178.68 billion (US$2.7 billion) for 2015

▼ 2.4 demat accounts opened in India, highest since 2008   [01-16-17]

As many as 2.4 million new dematerialized (Demat) accounts were opened in India in 2016 - the highest since 2008.

Experts are stating that a string of initial public offerings (IPO) and increased demand for mutual funds had attracted investors to financial assets,

Investors from retails sector had chosen to invest in stocks, and reforms such as the upcoming goods and services tax (GST) had encouraged people to open demat accounts.

Indians traditionally prefer gold, real estate and bank deposits.

In 2016, initial public offerings (IPOs) garnered INR 26,493.84 crore in 2016, data from Prime Database showed.

Meanwhile, mutual fund folios in India rose 4.47 percent quarter-on-quarter in the three months ended December 2016 to a fresh record.

As per Association of Mutual Funds of India, mutual funds added 1,64 million folios between October and December last year to touch 50.6 million.

Nearly 3 million Demat accounts opened in 2008, according to data from National Securities Depository Ltd, and Central Depository Services Ltd.

In India, less than 1% of the population invests in stocks either directly or through mutual funds.

▼ Microsoft to acquire AI startup Maluuba    [01-16-17]

Microsoft on 13th Jan 2017 announced a deal to purchase Montreal based AI startup Maluuba. The startup is focused on making machines think the way people do.

Microsoft has also included the founders of this startup on board, namely Kaheer Suleman and Sam Pasupalak.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Maluuba aims to create more general AI by opting for machines that can reason, communicate and think like humans.

Tech giants Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Google and Microsoft are vying to create the most sophisticated AI assistant.

Microsoft: Know More

  • Industry: Computer software & hardware, Consumer electronics, Digital distribution
  • Founded: April 4, 1975
  • Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
  • Founders: Bill Gates & Paul Allen
  • Headquarters: Microsoft Redmond campus, Redmond, Washington, United States
  • CEO: Satya Nadella
  • Chairman: J. W. Thompson
  • Founder and Technology advisor: Bill Gates
  • President: Brad Smith

▼ Airtel launches first payments bank in India   [01-13-17]

Airtel launched its first payments bank in the country. The company has rolled out the service in all the 29 states of the country.

Airtel Payments Bank is a fully digital and paperless bank.

It aims to take basic banking services to the doorstep of every Indian by leveraging Airtel's vast retail network.

Airtel retail stores across the country will also function as banking points.

Customers will be able to open savings accounts, deposit and withdraw cash across any of these banking points.

No processing fee is to be charged for customers and merchant partners for digital transactions.

Accounts can be opened on Aadhaar based e-KYC and the Airtel mobile number will be the bank account number.

The account holders can keep maximum of Rs 1 lakh in their accounts which will fetch an annual interest rate of 7.25 % on deposits, while the company will charge 0.65% fees on withdrawals.

Know More on Airtel

  • Industry: Telecommunications
  • Founded: 7 July 1995
  • Founder: Sunil Bharti Mittal
  • Chairman and MD: Sunil Bharti Mittal
  • Products: Fixed line and mobile telephony, broadband and fixed-line internet services, digital television and IPTV
  • Revenue: ₹966.021 billion (US$14 billion) (2016)

▼ Former Housing.com CEO Jason Kothari is Snapdeal Chief Strategy and Investments Officer   [01-13-17]

Ex Housing.com CEO Jason Kothari has been appointed the head of the Snapdeal strategy and investment operations.

This is following the merger of the realty portal with PropTiger.

Snapdeal's Chief Strategy and Investment Officer Kothari will work alongside Kunal Bhal and Rohit Bansal in a leading role.

Kothari will join Snapdeal on Jan 16, 2017. Both Housing.com and Snapdeal are backed by SoftBank.

Kothari's responsibilities will include:

  • Leading strategy.
  • Corporate development, including all investments and strategic partnerships.
  • Raising new capital for the company and portfolio management.
  • Overseeing companies that Snapdeal wholly owns or has invested in.
Housing.com announced merger with News Corp-backed real estate brokerage firm PropTiger.

The joint entity raised USD 55 million from Real Estate Australia (REA) Group and Softbank.

Before Housing.com, Kothari was CEO and Vice Chairman of character-based entertainment company Valiant Entertainment.

Know More about Snapdeal
  • Type of business: Private
  • Type of site: E-commerce
  • Founded: 2010
  • Headquarters: New Delhi, India
  • Founders: Kunal Bahl, Rohit Bansal
  • Industry: Internet
  • Subsidiaries: FreeCharge
  • Website: www.snapdeal.com

▼ Amazon India signs MoU with Gujarat Tribal Development Department   [01-13-17]

To promote digital literacy among tribal entrepreneurs in Gujarat, Amazon India on 11th Jan 2017 signed an MoU with Gujarat Tribal Development Department.

The MoU was signed during the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017.

As part of the MoU, Amazon India will educate, train and enable tribal entrepreneurs to sell products to Amazon customers in India and across the world.

Initiative will help tribals to grade and standardise their products, available to the Amazon customer base across the globe.

Amazon India will also train women entrepreneurs on making products attractive and appealing.

Product portfolio will include tribal products like paintings (Warli/Pithora/ Bhada), bamboo crafts, clay craft, minor forest produce, herbal medicines, embroidery items and tribal food items.

The agreement will benefit the local ecosystem and catalyse economic development among tribal communities.

Leading Retailer Amazon: Know More

  • Founded: July 5, 1994 (as Cadabra)
  • Location and HQ: Seattle, Washington, US
  • Area served : Worldwide
  • Owner/Founder/Chairman and CEO: Jeff Bezos
  • Key Executives: Werner Vogels (CTO), Andrew Jassy (CEO, AWS), Jeff Wilke (CEO, Consumer)
  • Industry: Internet

▼ SEBI joins demonetisation drive, asks for regulatory payments in digital mode   [01-13-17]

Joining focuses with the government on the post-demonetization cashless drive, market regulator SEBI plans to give option to market intermediaries and companies to make digital payments.

Move will help speed and ease of transactions while lowering failures due to payment gateway issues.

SEBI is said to follow many organisations on the digital drive, following demonetisation of high value currency by the RBI in Nov.

Intermediaries such as brokers, Foreign Portfolio Investors, Stock Exchanges, Custodians make payments to SEBI through online banking.

Payments made include penalties, disgorgement amounts, settlement amounts, legal charges and recovery amounts. An option for e-payment of the same through RTGS has been approved.

To enable digital payment, SEBI will pass an amendment in different regulations setting the option for payment to the regulatory authorities through the digital mode.

▼ Tokapoisa.in - Assam Government to launch e-wallet   [01-11-17]

The indigenously developed e-Wallet Tokapoisa.in aims to enable the people of the state for hassle-free online transactions in local language.

It will be launched on the occasion of Digi Dhan mela to be held in Guwahati.

Tokapoisa.in has been developed by the AMTRON to facilitate government-related transactions. It is using mobile application.

Besides being an e-Wallet, it will be a virtual payment terminal.

It will be a virtual payment terminal.

He said government-related transactions could also be possible through the mobile application.

It has a feature of ‘accounting package’ for such small traders who cannot engage full-time accountants to keep their financial records.

To enable offline payment, local cards will be available for paying through Tokapoisa.in.

It will be available via popular commercial online services for download.

It will be unveiled on the inaugural day of a state-level DigiDhan Mela here on January 11 next.

Meanwhile, Assam's Khetri gaon panchayat is being made fully digital.

It will be formally announced as the first digital GP of the state soon.

DigiDhan Mela will also see the launch of an e-payment portal of the Finance Department in association with the State Bank of India.

About Digi Dhan Mela

  • The DigiDhan Mela is being organised to promote cashless transaction.
  • It helps to adopt digital payment practice.
  • It also aims to help users in downloading, installing and using various digital payment systems.
  • Systems are for carrying out digital transactions.
  • The mela will also provide free wifi at the venue to enable citizens to download and install mobile apps.
  • It will be aiding on the spot digital payments.
  • The event will see participation from a lot of organizations.
  • These include e-wallet operators, banks, telecom companies, networking firms, oil companies, merchant associations and government agencies.

▼ PropTiger.com, Housing.com merge, form India's largest online real estate agency   [01-11-17]

Real estate portals PropTiger.com and Housing.com announced that they have merged.

The two will form India’s largest online real estate services company.

Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank is the biggest investor in Housing.com. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is the largest shareholder in PropTiger.com.

Dhruv Agarwala, co-founder of PropTiger will serve as CEO of the joint entity.

The company said that Jason Kothari, CEO of Housing.com has decided to move on to pursue other opportunities in the Indian Internet space.

REA Group Limited, an Aussie real estate firm owned by News Corp, is investing $50 million in the joint entity, according to the statement.

It also said that an affiliate of SoftBank is putting $5 million in the entity.

By 2030, India is expected to be the third largest real estate market in the world with the sector contributing to over 15 per cent of the national GDP.

With 1.2 billion people and a rapidly growing economy and middle class, India will have growth in this sector.

▼ India gets its first international exchange India INX in Gujarat's GIFT city   [01-10-17]

PM Modi launched India's first international exchange India INX at IFSC/International Financial Services Center in GIFT city Gandhinagar.

GIFT stands for Gujarat International Financial Tech City. INX is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

The global bourse, will start trading initially in equity derivatives, currency derivatives, commodity derivatives including Index and Stocks.

Subsequently, depository receipts and bonds would be offered once the required infrastructure is ready.

INX will work for 22 hours in a day working from sunrise to sunset. It will start when Japan exchanges begin and close when US markets end.

Although the international exchange was inaugurated on January 9, the trading operations are scheduled to begin on January 16.

It is one of the most advanced tech platforms with turn around time of 4 seconds.

It will facilitate international investors and NRIs to trade from anywhere in the world.

The international exchange inauguration was held as part of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit- 2017.

BSE is also going to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Vibrant Summit proposing INR 500 crore for its international exchange, clearing corporation and other activities.

IFSC provides advantages through tax structure and supportive regulatory framework.

About INX

INX is set to have 250 trading members including commodity and overseas brokers.

It benefits in terms of waiver of:

  • Security transaction tax
  • Commodity transaction tax
  • Dividend distribution tax
  • Long term capital gain tax
  • Income tax

▼ Axis Bank joins ICICI, Yes Bank in using blockchain solutions   [01-10-17]

Private sector lender Axis Bank became the third in the country to announce usage of blockchain solutions for operations. This follows ICICI and Yes Bank.

Axis Bank is led by Shikha Sharma. It will use the upcoming technology for remittances across border.

Blockchain technology will offer real time, reasonably priced money transfers.

Blockchain solutions is a distributed database maintaining list of ordered records called blocks.

It reduces turnaround time and is transparent. It also ensures zero errors.

Axis Bank has tied up with fintech firm Ripple to offer the solution.

As against 5 days to transfer money, blockchain can do it instantly.

Singapore is also set to launch blockchain-based electronic payment system soon

Second largest lender ICICI Bank was the first to announce block chain solutions in October 2016. This was followed by Yes Bank which announced in Dec 2016 that it will use the technology for vendor financing.

▼ CBDT to introduce General Anti-Avoidance Rules from April 2017   [01-10-17]

In the 2016 year end review, CBDT the apex policy making body of the IT dept declared GAAR will kick in from April 2017.

Legislation against tax avoidance, GAAR or General Anti Avoidance Rules is on a long list of CBDT achievements.

Legislations enacted in 2016-2017

  • Enactment of The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016,
  • Implementation of The Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2016
  • General Anti Avoidance Rules 2017
Regarding GAAR

In May 2016, consultations were started with stakeholders asking clarity for implementation of GAAR. GAAR is part of the 2012-2013 Budget speech of then FM Pranab Mukherjee.

It is a legislation to check tax evasion and avoidance.

GAAR was initially not implemented because of the concerns of foreign investors.

It was originally to be implemented from April 2014. It will come into effect from April 1, 2017 (assessment year 2018-2019).

The Rules contain provisions permitting the government to prospectively tax overseas deals involving local assets.

Foreign investors have objected to GAAR, saying it could be used to target P-notes as indirect investment. This would attract tax rate of 15 percent.

Investor may then have to set up P-Notes to specifically avoid paying taxes. In the Budget 2015, GAAR was deferred by two years.

▼ CBDT signs three unilateral APAs   [01-9-17]

CBDT started 2017 on a good note with 3 unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements, taking the tally of APAs of the country to 120.

The three APAs signed on Jan 4, 2017 related to the engineering goods and shipping sectors of the economy. The international transactions covered in these agreements include intra-group services and support services, an official release said.

Of these 120 APAs, 7 were bilateral and 114 unilateral. A total of 56 APAs (4 bilateral and 52 unilateral) have been entered into in the current financial year till date.

APAs: Know More

  • The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-Tax Act in 2012 and the “rollback” provisions were introduced in 2014.
  • The scheme aims to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and setting the prices of international transactions in advance.
  • Since its inception, the APA scheme has evinced a lot of interest from taxpayers and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) being filed in just four years.
  • The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Government’s resolve of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime.
  • The Indian APA programme has been appreciated nationally and internationally.
  • It is known for being able to address complex transfer pricing issues in a fair and transparent manner.
  • An APA is usually signed between taxpayer and central tax authority of the country (in case of India CBDT) for appropriating transfer pricing methodology.
  • It is used to determine the value of assets and taxes on intra-group overseas transactions.

▼ SEBI relaxes investment rules for angel funds   [01-9-17]

For boosting startup funding, SEBI has relaxed rules for investment by angel funds, permitting them to invest in up to 5-year-old entities.

The lock-in requirement has been reduced from three to one year for angel funds and their minimum investment threshold has been slashed to INR 25 lakh.


Upper limit for number of angel investors in a scheme will be increased from 49 to 200 in a notification dated Jan 4, 2016.

Regulatory SEBI has made an amendment to SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations 2012 following which the definition of startup for angel fund investments are similar to DIPP. As given in their startup policy.

Angel funds can invest in startups incorporated within 5 years, which was earlier 3 years.

To diversify risks, SEBI has also permitted angel funds to make overseas investments up to 25 percent of their investible corpus in line with other AIFs/ Alternative Investment Funds.

Angel Fund, a subcategory of AIF encourages entrepreneurship in the country by financing startups at a stage when firms find it difficult to obtain capital from traditional sources of finance such as banks and financial institutions.

Currently, 266 AIFs are registered with SEBI of which 84 are registered under Category 1. Angel Investors fund startups in their seed stage.

Angel investors generally make early-stage investments and highly risky bets in the start-up universe, but are essential to these companies’ growth trajectory.

The amendments are part of SEBI’s larger efforts to encourage young entrepreneurship in the country, and provide founders with access to private and eventually public funds.

▼ Chinese smartphone vendors capture 40% of Indian market: IDC   [01-5-17]

Chinese smartphone vendors in 2016 captured 40 percent share in India. India is the second largest smartphone market across the globe.

Lenovo was the second highest ranking company after Samsung which topped the list, compiled by global research firm International Data Corporation.

Xiaomi took the third spot with a market share of 10.7%. Indian domestic brands saw a fall in the market share. Micromax reported a 16.7 month-over-month sales dropping in October 2016.

Smartphone giants see India with the population of 1.34 billion as the new China. Despite growth, price war remains fierce in what has become the world's second largest smartphone market where price of mobile averages USD 100.

Besides price war, patents right and tariff could further hinder growth in the country.

Know More About Indian Smartphone Market

  • Indian smartphone market is driven by internet growth.
  • Over 90% of the total internet users in India have access to mobile internet.
  • Smartphones are expected to grow 36% CAGR in the next 5 years.
  • High competition, language localisation and ease of accessibility in the market drive growth.

  • Key IDC Findings

  • Smartphone market crossed 30 m units shipment milestone in Q3 2016 (IDC_.
  • It was maintaining healthy traction with 11 percent Y-O-Y growth
  • Online share increased to 31.6 percent with 35% Q-O-Q growth.
  • 4 G smartphone shipments grew 24.8% over previous quarter.
  • 7 of 10 smartphones shipped in Q3 2016 were 4G enabled.
  • 9 of the 10 smartphones sold by e-tailers were 4G.

▼ Conduent separates from Xerox   [01-4-17]

US based Conduent on 3rd Jan 2017 completed its separation from Xerox.

It has launched itself as a business process services leader with USD 6.7 billion in annual revenue.

With close to 93,000 employees in more than 40 nations, Conduent is a top Fortune 500 company.

It has expertise in transaction intensive processing, analytics and automation.

The CEO of Conduent is Ashok Vemuri.

The company handles more than 2.5 million contact centre interactions daily.

It services 8.9 million who pass through managed toll systems representing 46% of the US toll collections.

Know More About Xerox

  • CEO: Ursula Burns (from Jul 1, 2009 to present)
  • Headquarters: Norwalk, Connecticut, United States
  • Revenue: 18.04 billion USD (2015)
  • Founders: Joseph C. Wilson, Chester Carlson

▼ PM Narendra Modi launches UPI app BHIM   [01-2-17]

PM Narendra Modi on 30th Dec launched UPI (United Payments Interface) based app called BHIM, short for Bharat Interface for Money.

The BHIM app is a straightforward UPI app, which would allow anyone to make simple digital payments directly from their bank account, and it is now available for download.

The UPI-based BHIM app allows anyone to pay or receive money through online banking, unlike a wallet where you have to first load the money before you can use it.

Be it a smartphone or feature phone of Rs 1,000-1,200, BHIM app can be used. There is no need to have Internet connectivity.

With the BHIM app, anyone can send or request money through the app to make a digital payment.

The app is linked to your bank account, so you don't have to load money in it unlike a wallet, and a merchant does not have to worry about transferring the money back to their bank account.

It can be downloaded by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on Google Play to start using the free Android app.

BHIM app is presently now available on Android and will come to iPhone 'soon'.

All the major banks are supported by the BHIM app - as long as the bank supports UPI, you will be able to access your money through the BHIM app.

The list of banks supported by the BHIM app is as follows:

Banks Accepting BHIM

1. Bank of India
2. Vijaya Bank
3. United Bank of India
4. Union Bank of India
5. Syndicate Bank
6. State Bank of India
7. Standard Chartered Bank
8. South Indian Bank
9. Bank of Maharashtra
10. RBL Bank
11. Punjab National Bank
12. Oriental Bank of Commerce
13. Kotak Mahindra Bank
14. Canara Bank
15. Karur Vysya Bank
16. Karnataka Bank
17. IndusInd Bank
18. Indian Overseas Bank
19. Indian Bank
20. IDFC Bank
21. IDBI Bank
22. ICICI Bank
23. HDFC Bank
24. Catholic Syrian Bank
25. Federal Bank
26. Dena Bank
27. DCB Bank
28. Central Bank of India
29. Bank of Baroda
30. Axis Bank
31. Andhra Bank
32. Allahabad Bank

Know More About BHIM

  • There is a maximum of INR. 10,000 per transaction permitted, and INR. 20,000 within 24 hours.
  • The BHIM app comes with basic features such as the ability to send or receive money, linking of accounts, saving profile of the user, changing the language, recording beneficiary details and providing balance enquiry.
  • Banks that currently have individual UPI apps can either endorse the common BHIM app or only allow their customers to use the in-house app which may be loaded with more features.

▼ Oculus division acquires eye tracking technology startup The Eye Tribe   [01-2-17]

Facebook’s virtual reality-focused Oculus division has acquired eye-tracking technology startup The Eye Tribe based in Denmark for an undisclosed amount.

The Eye Tribe startup was founded in 2011 by four students from the IT University of Copenhagen. It develops software that enables eye control on mobile devices and computers, allowing hands-free navigation.

The acquisition will benefit Facebook’s Oculus to integrate eye-tracking software to its Rift VR (virtual reality) headset, allowing users to control actions by moving their eyes.

Oculus, a virtual reality company, was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for 2 billion dollars. It had rolled out two new features - Parties and Rooms - for Samsung Gear VR.

Oculus

CEO: Brendan Iribe

Founded: 2012, Irvine, California, United States

Headquarters: Menlo Park

Acquisition date: March 25, 2014

Founders: Jack McCauley, Brendan Iribe, Palmer Luckey

Head organization: Facebook, Inc.

Chronology of events
Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on 2nd Jan 2016 said it has suggested the government to constitute a Digital Payments Promotion Board
AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) Delhi has partnered with MobiKwik to go cashless. Resident doctors, staff and visitors can pay with MobiKwik in the institution’s cafeteria.
India has ranked third among the countries offering the highest average annual salary to expatriates, according to HSBC Holdings data.
Mobile payment service Paytm has received a formal nod from the Reserve Bank of India to launch its Paytm Payments Bank.
HDFC bank has launched a chatbot service called ‘OnChat’ to allow users to make payments through Facebook Messenger.
In a bid to strengthen capital base of public sector banks (PSBs), the government has allowed 12 lenders to raise nearly INR 3,000 crore via preferential shares over and above the INR 22,915 crore capital support committed to them in July last year.
4 biology start-up firms have signed up with the city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) to incubate their companies at Innovation Hub (iHUB). The CCMB is a research establishment of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) on Jan 5, 2016 said it has tied up with Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for augmenting capital support to enterprises in the country; The idea behind tying up with the state-run insurance behemoth is to give a boost to the venture capital ecosystem for MSMEs.
The Union Cabinet has given an ‘in-principal’ approval for strategic disinvestment of 26% equity shares in defence equipment manufacturer BEML Ltd. out of government’s shareholding of 54.03%. With this, it becomes the first major PSU to be sold through strategic disinvestment.
The retirement fund body Employees’ Provide Fund Organisation (EPFO) has made it mandatory for its pensioners and subscribers to provide either Aadhaar to remain beneficiary of its social security schemes.
The market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has amended the SEBI (Portfolio Managers) Regulations, 1993 to provide an enabling framework for registration of Eligible Fund Managers (EFMs).
3 Trade Receivables Discounting Systems (TReDS), which the RBI has licensed, start later this (2016-17) financial year; The key is to reduce transaction costs by automating almost every aspect of the transaction so that even the smallest MSMEs can benefit.
The venture arms of Microsoft and Qualcomm have invested in Team8, an Israeli creator of cybersecurity start-ups.
BSE has announced the launch of the ‘BSE StAR MF’ mobile application. The app is currently available to android mobile users. BSE runs the mutual fund trading platform – BSE Star MF – the largest MF distributor platform in India with more than 4 lakh SIPs (Systematic Investment Plans) per month.
Gionee has announced cricketer and the Captain of the Indian Cricket Team Virat Kohli will become their new brand ambassador.
ABB and Power Grid Corporation of India entered into a partnership for a ₹4,350 crore-plus project to connect Raigarh in Central India to Pugalur in Tamil Nadu by building an 1,830 km power line - one of the longest in the world
In 10 days there have been over 10 million downloads of the BHIM App; BHIM App has made transactions faster & easier, thus making it popular among the youth. The App is also beneficial for traders.
Transportation app Ola has roped in former SAB Miller India Managing Director Shalabh Seth as the chief executive officer of Ola Fleet Technologies, its wholly owned leasing subsidiary.
Samsung heir Lee Jae-Yong, chairman of Samsung Electronics and the son of the Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-Hee, questioned in connection to allegations of bribery to South Korean PM Park.
Units in the made-ups segment of textiles, which includes products like bedsheets, blankets and curtains, will get additional 10 percent capital investment subsidy of up to Rs 20 crore under the Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme.
ICICI Bank Ltd has blocked transactions on payments app PhonePe in at least the second such instance of a commercial bank trying to protect its turf against non-bank mobile wallet.
Tesla Gigafactory to get world’s largest rooftop solar array
American snack and beverage giant PepsiCo India has sold a 2.5 acre land parcel in the Central suburb Chembur to The Wadhwa Group .
The RBI Note Mudran printing press located in Mysuru (Karnataka) has broken all its past record by printing highest number of currency notes in December 2016 i.e 10.9 million notes were printed on a single day.
SEBI has tightened rules for mergers and amalgamations by Indian companies in a bid to safeguard the interests of the public shareholders.
British American Tobacco has agreed a $49.4 billion takeover of U.S. rival Reynolds American Inc, creating the world's biggest listed tobacco company after it increased an earlier offer by more than $2 billion.
Thirty more countries have applied for joining the China-sponsored Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) apart from existing 57 founding members.
Tata Motors has appointed Tata Group Chief designate N Chandrasekaran (54) as its Chairman and additional director with immediate effect.
NCLT has dismissed Cyrus Mistry’s petition for appointment of TATA Chairman.
The Union Cabinet has excluded States and Union Territories except Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi (UT) and Madhya Pradesh from National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) investments with effect from 1 April 2016.
Amit Singhal, a 15-year Google veteran and a former senior vice president for search at the company, said on 19th Jan 2017 that he planned to join Uber as senior vice president for engineering.
India’s second-largest state owned bank Punjab National Bank (PNB) launched a Contactless Credit Card dubbed as PNB Wave N Pay. It was launched by PNB’s Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer Usha Ananthasubramanian in New Delhi.
Technology giant Apple was named as the most innovative company in the year 2016 in the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG’s) annual list of corporate innovators.
Ride-hailing service provider Ola has appointed Vishal Kaul, a PepsiCo veteran, as its COO. Besides, it has elevated current COO Pranay Jivrajika as founding partner.
U.S. healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) will buy Swiss biotech company Actelion (ATLN.S) in a $30 billion all-cash deal.
State Bank of India (SBI) has launched ‘SBI Exclusif,’ its wealth management offering, in Kochi. It will be rolled out in other cities in the state during the course of the year.
Uber Technologies Inc. will soon launch food delivery service UberEATS in India.
T-Hub, the start-up engine catalysing innovation has announced the launch of ‘GIS Innovation Hub’ (GIH) for start-ups. The GIH is powered by Esri India, the Geographic Information System (GIS) software and solutions provider.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said rescheduling of payment period of such loans due to unemployment of borrower will not be treated as restructured accounts for computing NPAs.
UK’s Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC)-backed Utkarsh Micro Finance is ready to begin its banking journey and plans to disrupt the market with higher deposit rates.
The Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI) will organise “know your rights” programme in all the states.
Dairy firm Kwality Ltd has signed an agreement with Bank of Baroda for providing Rs 4,000 crore loans to the former’s one lakh farmers from whom the company procures milk.
India’s largest online travel portal MakeMyTrip has launched the first ever social luxury travel magazine called ‘Luxury Travel Times’. It is India’s first social luxury travel magazine.
Cabinet approves Short term market borrowing by NABARD for on lending to Cooperative Banks