Monday, August 15, 2016

21 Ways to Boost Mobile Banking in India through *99#

          We are witnessing a silent revolution amongst our country folks. The belief that LessCash Transactions are beneficial to the economy is growing.

          We are ready to experiment with Digital Transaction tools, as long as they are Safe and the charges are reasonable.

          In the last few years, there have been numerous efforts by the stakeholders to promote Digital Banking channels.

          One such channel is NPCI’s *99# Channel.

          The FAQs at the NPCI site encourage bank’s customers to migrate to LessCash transactions from Cash transactions.

Q: What is Mobile Banking?
Ans: Mobile banking refers to the use of a smartphone or other cellular device to perform online banking tasks while away from your home computer, such as monitoring account balances, transferring funds between accounts, bill payment and locating an ATM.

Mobile Banking generally requires a Smartphone and Net connectivity. The other option is SMS Based mobile banking.

EG: ICICI  Bank SMS Banking

Kotak Mahindra Bank – Bharat Banking APP

Union Bank SMS Banking
          The data on number/type  of 
transactions is not published by any Bank. Hence, it is difficult to judge the success/failure of SMS based banking.

          Over a period of time, Financial institutions explored USSD sessions for financial transactions.

          Q: What is USSD?

          Ans: USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) is a Global System for Mobile(GSM) communication technology that is used to send text between a mobile phone and an application program in the network. Applications may include prepaid roaming or mobile chatting.

          Read this to know more about “What’s the difference between USSD, MMI and SS codes?”

The most popular usage of USSD is to access the mobile balance. Each operator has his/her own USSD codes to access its services.

This Google search quotes ‘ussd codes for telecom companies in india’, provides the list of USSD codes of different telecom companies in India.

Types of USSD - There are two types of options:

Push - Network pushed USSD service in which the network (MSC, VLR and / or HLR) sends the USSD message toward mobile subscriber.
Pull - Mobile Subscriber requested USSD with user sending a USSD message towards the Gateway. i.e. using USSD Short Codes. e.g. *100
          The only drawback of USSD is that it is ‘Flash Memory ‘type, this means after the session is over, no data is stored on the mobile.
USSD in Financial Sector: These articles explore the various facets of USSD in financial sector.

Always Active Mobile – USSD Push

What is USSD & Why Does it Matter for Mobile Financial Services?

USSD in Indian Financial Sector: - In India Banks started to use the USSD option, only after NPCI unveiled its NUUP service. Through  the NPCI NUUP service, banks could immediately launch the services, without the need to enter into individual agreements with each telecom company. NPCI through the aggregator model has taken care of this aspect.

SWOT Analysis of the present *99# NPCI Service

a) An App to mimic the *99# commands
b) Proactive Implementation Team
c) The basic framework has been developed by NPCI and is in place. Banks need not individually negotiate with Telcos on commercials or service level agreements.

a) Charges levied by Telcos
b) Service not available for Corporate Phone Connections
c) Dependence on Telcos to complete the transaction cycle
a) Huge growing market
b) As minimal recurring costs are involved, banks can popularise the *99# mobile banking channel
c) *99# services can be accessed from  any part of the world, without any additional costs viz roaming etc
a) No audit trial of requests raised
b) High transaction charges
c) Transaction charges for incomplete  sessions too

21 ways to popularise *99# services in India

The 21 ways are broadly divided into 4 contributors:-

Contributor 1) Regulatory -- Way 1 TO Way 5

Way 01) ::  Free Transactions  - 15 per month per bank account. Charge per 16th transaction, not to exceed INR1

Way 02) :: Telecom companies to be reimbursed for the free transactions from the USOF Fund

Way 03) :: Fix upper limit per transaction, per day

Way 04) :: Establishment of Awards for promoting *99# service

Way 05) :: Publish Real time MIS like eTAAL

Contributor 2) Banks --  Way 6 TO Way 10

Way 06) ::  Launch Lite APPS for *99# services

Way 07) ::  Promote the ‘App’, through its branches and on-field staff

Way 08) ::  Setup dedicated Help Lines atleast for the initial couple of years, till the stabilisation of *99# services

Way 09) :: Explore ways and means to introduce more value added services to *99# portfolio

Way 10) ::  Encourage Peers viz Regional Rural Banks, Urban Cooperative Banks to launch Apps to promote *99# transactions

Contributor 3) Telecom Companies -- Way 11 TO Way 15

Way 11) :: Popularise *99# facilities on all their communication channels

Way 12) :: Assist bank customers who visit their physical touch-points to install the *99# App and guide them in the initial setup

Way 13) ::  Do not be greedy for transaction charges

Way 14) :: Launch similar Apps for their own USSD messages

Way 15) :: Create a win-win situation for its own customers and banking sector customers to adopt LessCash tools

Contributor 4) Customers -- Way 16 TO Way 21

Way 16) :: Use judiciously the limit of 15 free transactions

Way 17) ::  Double check the relevant data, before you execute a financial transaction

Way 18) :: Do not share your PIN with any one. Do not trust anyone except yourself

Way 19) :: Do not be greedy, and fall into quick money traps

Way 20) :: Spread the Joy of Safe Digital Transactions to your peers

Way 21) :: Give feedback to Regulators, Telcom Companies and Banks on ways and means to increase the transactions under *99# channel.

Q) What is USOF?

Ans: As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003 and 2006), Universal Service Obligation is defined as access to telegraph service to people in rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices.

The USO Fund was formed through a Universal Access Levy of five% of the revenue earned by the operators under various licences.

The fund aims to boost connectivity in the rural areas.

Read this Article to know the immense possibilities of USOF -
FinMin conservative in allocation under USOF: Telecom Secretary J S Deepak

The following two Graphs (Source USOF website), highlight the resources and tools available with USOF.

Q) What is eTAAL?
Ans: eTaal is a web portal for dissemination of e-Transactions statistics of National and State level e-Governance Projects including Mission Mode Projects.
It receives transaction statistics from web based applications periodically on near real time basis.

As on 15th August 2016, 3,070 eServices have been integrated to the eTAAL Portal.
Read this Press Release to understand the wonders of eTAAL

The economics of financial *99# transactions through ‘Universal Service Obligation Fund’

15 lacs *99# sessions per month through 5 lacs users. No user has exceeded the free limits i.e crossed 15 sessions.

Pay out from USOF at INR1.50 per session = INR7,50,000.

Is it not worth???

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Come April 1, 2018 and Your Banker will be professionally certified

          Today there is no set of standards certificates which a Banker has to obtain to discharge his/her official duties.

          Depending on the job profile, the preferred educational qualifications are highlighted. However, the Super Regulator i.e Reserve Bank of India or any accreditation agency does not lay down mandatory qualifications.

          Come April 1st, 2018 and all this going to change. Reserve Bank of India vide its Notification No DBR.No.BP.BC.4/21.03.009/2016-17 dated August 11, 2016 changes the present approach to capacity building in Commercial Banks and All India Financial Institutions.

          The indicative list of Commercial Banks can be read here

Exim Bank, NABARD, NHB and SIDBI are defined as  All India Financial Institutions for the purpose of this RBI notification.

          Background:  The mandatory certifications requirements are the outcome of the ‘Report of the Committee on Capacity Building in Banks and non-Banks’, released by Reserve Bank of India in September 2014.

          Suggestions were invited by Reserve Bank of India to opertionalise the recommendations of the Committee.

          The first set of directions encompassing the recommendations of the committee was given under RBI Notification No DBR.No.BP.BC.4/21.03.009/2016-17 dated August 11, 2016.

          The highlight of the Notification is the obtention of appropriate Certificates by personnel manning critical departments of the banks. Of course, each employee in the Bank has an important role to achieve customer satisfaction.

          As a beginning, banks should make acquiring of a certificate course mandatory for the following areas:

Treasury operations – Dealers,  mid-office operations.

Risk management – credit risk,  market risk, operational risk, enterprise-wide risk, information security, liquidity risk.

Accounting – Preparation of financial results, audit function.

Credit management – credit appraisal, rating, monitoring, credit administration.

This does not mean that employees working in other banks need not obtain mandatory certificates. Banks are free to require certification for other areas of work also.

The employees working in the aforementioned areas should be asked to acquire certifications within a specified period, say, 6 months. This period can be extended depending on the time required for the certification. Banks should have a specific policy in place for this purpose.

To address the issues of mis-selling and to minimise customer complaints, the employees involved in marketing third party retail products and wealth management products must necessarily undergo an appropriate certification process. Where other financial sector regulators have prescribed any certifications, these must be complied with.

          As the number of employees in Commercial Banks and All India Financial Institutions is quite large, an independent accreditation agency would be useful to all the stake holders.

In this regard, the issue of setting up of an accreditation agency for assuring and accrediting learning initiatives within the banking industry, etc., is being examined separately.

As a stop-gap arrangement, Indian Banks Association (IBA) has been requested to identify in consultation with RBI and provide to its members, by end December 2016, a list of institutions and courses that will meet the certification requirements for different work areas mentioned above.

As IBA has to release the list of institutions and course by December 210, IBA may, form an expert group comprising such agencies, institutions at it deems necessary

After the release of the aforesaid list by the IBA, the banks should identify the courses/certifications that are suitable for their operations and put in place a Board approved policy, mandating obtainment of such certifications by its employees working in the respective areas.

The banks should ensure that by end-March 2017, the employees in relevant areas have commenced the process of obtaining necessary certifications.

It is expected that, w.e.f. April 1, 2018, staff will have first obtained the requisite certification before being posted in the above mentioned functional areas.

If an employee has already acquired relevant graduate, diploma and certificate courses offered by reputed universities, the same can also be considered as an accreditation/ certification. More clarity on this is expected once IBA releases its list.

The employees of Small Finance Banks and Payment Banks too will benefit from this notification. It is expected that this notification will be applicable to Small Finance Banks and Payment Banks too.

It is expected that this notification will be applicable to Regional Rural Banks too.

Recertification every three years through CPD (Continuing Professional Development) certification would enable the bankers to stay update in their chosen specialization.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Safe ePayments @ Rio Olympics 2016

          By now you must have made the planning to enjoy the best of Rio Olympics 2106. A lucky few will view the events live in Rio De Janerio, Brazil.

                    The preparations for Rio Olympics 2016 are in the last stage. Last minute fine-tuning is being done for a memorable experience for all the Participants.

          Participants at Rio Olympics 2016 are Athletes, Sports Officials, Support Staff, Volunteers, Spectator Guides, Tourists etc.

          The Games open on 5th August 2016 and go on till 21st 2016.

          The games are spread over 37 venues, with 206 participating countries in 42 Sports Disciplines further divided into 306 events.

          Rio de Janeiro has 32 venues, plus five football co-host cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Manaus, Salvador and São Paulo.

          Millions of financial transactions take place during the run-up to the Games and also during the games.

          The Olympics are the planet’s most prestigious and most viewed games. Countries from diverse cultures participate in the games.

          The Olympic Games offer wonderful opportunities for promoting Safe ePayment techniques.  Innovative payment technologies too can be rolled out, but on a limited scale. This is to minimise damages if any, due to failure of the innovations.

          One of the ways in which Olympic Fans can see the live action in Rio is by participating in various contests. A large number of brands across the world are running contests in which the participants have a chance to win Tickets to Rio Olympics events.

By now, majority of the contests are closed and the winners have been announced.

Highlights of various contests around the world :-

01)  Rio 2016 launches new app with competition offering chance to win tickets to opening ceremony
03)  McDonald's UK - Win a VIP trip for you and your child to Rio 2016 Olympic Games to take part in the Opening Ceremony
04)  Win a trip for 2 to see ‘Team Canada’, in Rio De Janeiro
05)  McDonald’s Sunrise Olympic Kids Program
07)  Hype 2016 RIO Sports Innovation Contest
08) Petro-Pass 2016 Rio Olympics
09)  Tap & Pay VISA
10)  Win a pair of tickets to the Rio 2016 Olympics in association with DFS
11)  Promote sustainability and win tickets to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games
12)  Win a trip of a lifetime to Rio 2016
13)  Kelloggs Olympics offer
14)  Sainsbury's Olympics Tickets offer
15)  Barclays Olympics offer
16)  Nissan Olympics offer
17)  Road to RIO
18)  My Coke Olympics offer

The demographic profile of the visitors at the Games also attracts cybercriminals to try their luck.

This BoozeAllen document highlights the risks posed by cyber criminals during Rio Olympics.

The threats can be categorised into direct and indirect.

Direct Threats:- ATM Skimming, POS Skimming, Ransomware, Mobile Walware, Wife security

Indirect Threats:- Fraudulent lottery schemes, Fraudulent travel sites,

The experiences gained during FIFA World Cup 2014 will be beneficial for enforcement agencies to minimise cyber frauds.

The London Olympics were dubbed as the world’s first digital Olympics. Technology has rapidly changed since London Olympics,  and the cyber criminals have honed their skills.

11 Tips to safeguard yourself, your friends and your well wishers from Cyber Threats at Rio Olympics 2016.

Tip No 01) Remove all unnecessary APPS from your Mobile Phones.

Tip No 02) Download the latest Anti-virus program on your laptop and mobiles.

Tip No 03) Inform your Bank that you would be in Rio for the games and if possible, notify them to allow transactions on your ATM Card/Mobile Phones/Net Banking only if originated from the game cities.  

Tip No 04) Request for transaction limits on your Digital banking tools.

Tip No 05) Minimise updates on your social networks. Updates on social networks are a wonderful source of information for cyber criminals.

Tip No 06) Do not be GREEDY. Doubt any financial transaction which looks to be good to be true.

Tip No 07) Watch out for fake Wifi Networks, always ask at the venue the name of their WiFi Network.

Tip No 08) Evaluate Distress signals before acting on them. Especially distress signals emanating from friends saying’, I am near this ATM, please come quickly’.

Tip No 09) In the olden days, the Cybercriminals used misspelt words, used wrong grammar in their phisining attempts. Now days they have improved, so transact on sites only if you are 100 % sure.  

Tip No 10) Prefer one time usage digital cards, either credit or debit card

Tip No 11) Spread the joy of Safe ePayments to your fellow visitors

Additional Readings:
Deconstructing Cyber Security in Brazil
US Bureau of Diplomatic Security

Japan to train thousands on cyber-security ahead of 2020 Olympics

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Axis Bank is tapping the lucrative urban microfinance market

          The success of ‘Axis Sahyog ’, program in Rural Bharat has led to Axis Bank to roll out this program to the urban areas too.

The aim of ‘Axis Sahyog’, is to offer  small ticket, unsecured loans to economically active poor women.

          The End to end processing – from customer on-boarding to disbursement and servicing, is  faster, seamless and paperless.

The loans will be disbursed at the doorsteps of the borrowers, through cash, bank account or card.

Axis Sahyog is aimed at Joint Liability Group (JLG) borrowers.           

The app has the capability to reduce the TAT to 5 days from the present 12 days.
Key features of Axis Sahyog are:
  • Quick approval loans
  • Doorstep delivery
  • Collateral free loans
  • Nil Processing fees
  • Insurance for Customer and Spouse
  • Option for cash / Saving account / Card based disbursement
Besides Uttar Pradesh, the Axis Sahyog programme is hinterlands of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Karnataka andJharkhand.

Today Axis Bank unveiled this program for the urban poor at Pune,  under the Bank's flagship microfinance programme and the services will be delivered via its technology driven 'TAB based lending' solution.

As these loans will be disbursed under the Joint Liability umbrella, these loans will be collateral free.

The lender plans to commence urban microfinance operations in 85 branches across Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai, in addition to Pune. The loans disbursed to self-employed women, part of Joint Liability Groups (JLGs) are for income generating purposes like tailoring, catering, running kirana shops etc, with an average loan size of Rs 15,000. Axis Bank is currently providing small loans to around 8 lakh households with a total throughput of Rs. 1500 crores.

The bank has also introduced a first-of-its kind concept of 'Map module' under which the villages as well as customer touch points such as meeting place and individual households will be geo tagged and displayed on a map. This feature will help in tracking locations and delivering financial services on time and with accuracy.

Axis Bank is currently providing small loans to around 8 lakh households with a total throughput of Rs 1,500 crore and has a presence in states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

Under this, the loans will be disbursed to self-employed women, part of Joint Liability Groups (JLGs) small businesses like tailoring, catering and running grocery  shops with an average loan size of Rs 15,000.

According to Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN) data, a self-regulatory organization for the industry,  the loan portfolio of microfinance institutions (MFIs) stood at Rs 53,233 crore as of 31 March 2016, up from Rs 28,940 crore a year ago.

In April 2015, RBI eased rules for MFIs, raising total indebtedness limit of a borrower to Rs 1 lakh, double the previous limit of Rs 50,000. The new rules state that MFIs can disburse loans to a borrower in urban or semi-urban regions, the annual income limit has been raised to Rs 1.6 lakh from Rs 1.2 lakh.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Winners of NPCI Unified Payment Interface (UPI) Hackathon

          The winners of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) Hackathonwere announced on April11th, 2016 at the launch function of UPI in Mumbai.

          The launch function was graced by Dr. Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) along with Mr. Nandan Nilekani, Advisor to NPCI, Mr. Balachandran M., Chairman, Mr. A P Hota, MD & CEO and Mr. Dilip Asbe, COO, NPCI in Mumbai.

          The top five winners of the UPI Hackathon are Vsoft Nerds, CPay, Fundu, Ultra Cash, Enablers.

The UPI Hackathon platform provided for start-up/developer community to accelerate innovation in payments arena in association with Indian Software Product Industry Round Table (iSPIRT).
Brief details about Vsoft Nerds:
VSoft Nerds created the Jeb app which allows you to send and receive money. "This app is available in regional languages and enables quick response (QR) code payment. We are currently in talks with banks to offer this product," said Murthy Veeraghanta, chairman and chief executive officer, VSoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Brief details about CPay:
2 member team of Winster Jose and Venkataswamy

Brief details about Enablers:
4 member team of Amritpal Singh, Varundeep Kaur, Ankur Sharma and Govind Paul
Project Synopsis
A Unipay enabler digitizing the payments with respect to Government Initiatives of Smart cities, Bharat Nirmaan, EBT transactions for all kind of institutions likes of Government Departments, Municipalities, NGO’s , MFI’s , Micro insurance providers, NBFC’s, BOA’s , Schools, Cooperative / Agriculture / Housing Societies etc by providing accountability and transparency for all payment transactions including C2C, G2C and C2G payments allowing disbursements, collections , transfers and utility payments leveraging UPI’s key concepts of Virtual payment address for ‘Pay’ and ‘Collect’ requests bringing inter-operability among all PSP’s.
Brief details about Fundu:
4 member’s team backed by Eko India Financial Services Private Limited.
Team Members are Gautam Chowdhary,Vivek Kumar, GAURAV MALIK, Nirmal Maheshwari

Brief details about Ultra Cash:
4 member’s team @ Raja Mohata,Vivek Srivastava, Anshuman Purushottam, Manas Kumar Mallik

Reference Documents
01) NPCI organises Unified Payment Interface (UPI) Hackathon

02) NPCI presents Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system


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