BANKING - 2017 MARCH

March 1

Reliance General Insurance ties up with Catholic Syrian Bank.
Reliance General Insurance (RGI), a part of Reliance Capital, has entered into a bancassurance tie-up with Catholic Syrian Bank.
With this tie-up, RGI will offer its general insurance products to Catholic Syrian Bank's 1.5 million customer base spread across its 430 branches in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
This tie-up will enable RGI to leverage Catholic Syrian Bank’s retail and SME customer base, robust distribution network, strong technology platform and brand name and offer them innovative and a comprehensive range of insurance products from RGI.

Possession of Banned Notes Now Attracts Fine of Rs. 10,000.
The government has notified the law that makes holding of more than 10 scrapped notes punishable with a minimum fine of Rs. 10,000.
The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Act, 2017, was passed by Parliament last month with a view to eliminating the "possibility of running a parallel economy" using the old Rs. 500-1,000 notes that have been demonetised.
The law, signed by President Pranab Mukherjee, also provides for a minimum fine Rs. 50,000 for false declaration by persons who were abroad during the demonetisation period (November 9 - December 30, 2016) and given time to deposit such scrapped notes with RBI till March 31.

India, World Bank sign USD 63 million agreement for 'Tejaswini'.
The World Bank signed a financing agreement for IDA credit of USD 63 million (equivalent) for 'Tejaswini', which is a socio-economic empowerment of adolescent girls and young women project.
The agreement was signed under the presence of joint secretary Department of Economic Affairs, Raj Kumar and on behalf of the Government of India and Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank (India) on behalf of the World Bank.
The project seeks to empower the adolescent girls with basic life skills and thereafter provide further opportunities to acquire market driven skill training or completion of secondary education, depending on the inclination of the beneficiary.
The project will be delivered in 17 Districts of Jharkhand, and it includes three main components, which includes expanding social, educational and economic opportunities, intensive service delivery and state capacity-building and implementation support.

March 2

HDFC, ICICI and Axis to charge Rs. 150 after 4 cash transactions.
India's leading private banks will charge a minimum of Rs. 150 for cash deposits and withdrawals at bank branches after four free transactions in a month.
HDFC, ICICI and Axis will calculate the fee – aimed at reducing cash transactions at banks – at the rate of Rs. 5 for every Rs. 1,000 transacted or Rs. 150, whichever is higher.
HDFC Bank:
There are four free transactions. Rs. 150 plus taxes and cess will be charged from the fifth transaction onwards.
Withdrawal and deposit up to Rs. 2 lakh is allowed at home branches, with transactions above this limit being chargeable.
The transaction charge is applicable on all basic savings and salary accounts. Prime, Classic, Preferred, Imperia or any other Managed program customers are exempt.
ICICI Bank:
There are four free transactions and a levy of Rs. 150 will be applicable from the fifth transaction onwards.
The charge is applicable only on cash transactions at non-home branches of ICICI. ICICI defines it as all the branches in the city where an account was opened.
This levy will be charged on customers with basic savings accounts, salary accounts and 'priviledged' customers are exempt.
Axis Bank:
A charge, of Rs. 5 per thousand or Rs. 150 whichever is higher, will be levied from the fifth cash transaction onwards on savings accounts.
Axis Bank has clarified that it does not differentiate between home and non-home branches.
Salary accounts and 'priviledged' customers are exempt from the transaction fees.

HDFC Life ties-up with ET Money to launch data-led policy.
HDFC Life announced the launch of an exclusive data-led group term insurance plan in partnership with ET Money, the Times Internet backed financial services app.
This is the country's first term insurance plan based on the spend pattern of the users.
This financial planning management app brings insurance at the finger-tips of the discerning new-age generation.
Offered as an ET Money benefit, the group term life insurance plan can be availed exclusively by 1 million users of the ET MONEY app.
One can get a group term life insurance coverage that ranges anywhere from Rs. 25-50 lakh and it will be based on spend pattern of the user.

Number of Jan Dhan a/cs rose by 2.26 crore after note ban.
The demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 bank notes on November 8 last year seems to have given a thrust to new account opening under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY).
A hundred days after demonetisation, the number of accounts under the PMJDY has increased by 2.26 crore and deposits by Rs. 19,084 crore.
The scheme had witnessed a growth of around 1.87 crore in the number of accounts and Rs. 6,720 crore in deposits during the November - February period of 2015-16.
The number of PMJDY accounts increased to 27.77 crore (February 22) from 25.51 crore (November 9), during the 100-odd days post-demonetisation.
A major share of new PMJDY accounts came from Uttar Pradesh (57.11 lakh), followed by Maharashtra (25.05 lakh), and Madhya Pradesh (24.11 lakh).
During the period, the amount in PMJDY accounts increased to Rs. 64,721 crore (February 22) from Rs. 45,637 crore (November 9).

March 3

Training camps to impart knowledge on digital transactions in villages: RBI.
Financial literacy centres (FLCs) will conduct special camps for one year starting from 1 April to impart knowledge of digital transactions in the villages.
In a notification on central banks website, FLCs will train people on how to adopt digital platforms-unified payment interface (UPI) and unstructured supplementary service data (USSD).
FLCs are a part of bank offices or rural bank branches which are headed by a financial literacy counsellor. They identify different target groups ranging from farmers to small businesses and school children for which they conduct special camps.
Rural branches of banks are henceforth required to conduct only one camp per month (on third Friday of each month after branch hours). This camp will cover all the messages that are part of the financial awareness messages booklet and the two digital platforms UPI and *99# (USSD).

Government asks all banks to provide mobile banking facility by March 31.
In a further push to promote a less-cash economy, the government has asked all the banks to provide mobile banking facility to all customers by March 31.
According to Electronics and IT Secretary Aruna Sundararajan They have asked the banks to do is to enable all customers who have mobiles for mobile banking... They are asking the banks to run a nationwide campaign up to March 31 to ensure that every customer who has a mobile phone is enabled for mobile banking.
Any customer who accesses UPI or BHIM app should automatically be enabled for mobile banking ''because it means they want mobile banking''.

March 4

Union Bank of India to strengthen its loan portfolio.
Union Bank of India will strengthen its loan portfolio under retail, agriculture and MSME (RAM) to achieve its growth in advances.
For the year ended December 31, 2016, Union Bank's RAM share in domestic advances stood at 54.8 per cent against 51.1 per cent for the corresponding period a year-ago. This will increase to 60 per cent in a year’s time.
The RAM segments share was about 45 per cent of the bank's domestic loan book 18 months ago. During the December quarter of the current fiscal, the share increased to 55 per cent.
Also, the average growth of the RAM sectors was 13.5 per cent against the loan growth of 5.3 per cent in the quarter. With 62 per cent of its branches located in semi-urban and rural areas, the bank sees the share of RAM in its loan portfolio increase to about 60 per cent in a year's time.

Banks refusing to exchange soiled currency will be fined Rs. 10,000.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has clarified that currency notes with scribbles are legal tender.
There is no RBI instruction to anyone not to accept any currency note with scribbling on it even though do, from time to time, keep appealing to people not to write/ staple/ fold currency notes as these things lessen the life of currency notes.
According to the RBI circular, if any bank branch refuses to exchange soiled notes from any member of the public, the bank has to pay a penalty of Rs. 10,000.
But there are some restrictions. According to a July 2016 RBI circular, if you exchange more than 20 notes, or notes worth Rs. 5,000 per day, banks may levy a service charge.

SBI will penalise you for keeping low balance in account; ATM charges revised.
State Bank of India has decided to reintroduce penalty on non-maintenance of minimum balance in accounts from April 1, and revised charges on other services, including ATMs.
The country’s largest bank will permit savings bank account holders to deposit cash three times a month free of charges and levy Rs. 50 plus service tax on every transaction beyond that.
In case of current account, the levy could go as high as Rs. 20,000.
According to the list of revised charges of SBI, failure to maintain Monthly Average Balance (MAB) in accounts will attract penalty of up to Rs. 100 plus service tax.
In metropolitan areas, there will be a charge of Rs. 100 plus service tax, if the balance falls below 75 per cent of the MAB of Rs. 5,000. If the shortfall is 50 per cent or less of the MAB, then the bank will charge Rs. 50 plus service tax.
Withdrawal of cash from ATMs will attract a charge of up to Rs. 20 if the number of transactions exceeds three from other banks' ATMs in a month and Rs. 10 for more than five withdrawals from SBI ATMs.
However, SBI will not levy any charge on withdrawals from its own ATMs if the balance exceeds Rs. 25,000. In case of other banks’ ATM there will be no charge if the balance exceeds Rs. 1 lakh.
There will be no charge for UPI/ USSD transactions of up to Rs. 1,000.

March 5

NPAs at Rs. 6.8 lakh crore: PAC for naming and shaming defaulters.
As Non-performing Assets (NPAs) of public sector banks soared to a staggering Rs. 6.8 lakh crore, the chairman of a key Parliamentary panel favoured naming and shaming corporate houses which default on repayment of bank loans.
Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chief K.V. Thomas hopes "naming and shaming" such corporate houses may help financial institutions get back their money.
Out of the Rs. 6.8 lakh crore of Non-Performing Assets of public sector banks, a whopping 70 per cent are those of big corporate houses, hardly one per cent of it constitutes loans to farmers.
In case, of farmers or small traders, banks act strong and they go to their houses to recover money. They even get published their name and photograph in newspapers. But when it comes to corporate houses, they don't reveal the names.
The PAC has suo motu chosen to examine the issue of bad loans of public sector banks as these were rising and needed to be checked.

IFC may invest up to $100 million in L&T Infrastructure Finance's green bonds.
International Finance Corporation, the private investment arm of World Bank, is looking to invest up to $100 million in L&T Infrastructure Finance Ltd’s proposed green bonds.
Proceeds from green bonds are used for allocation for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Moody's Investors Service projected that companies globally are likely to raise a record $206 billion by way of green bonds in 2017, more than double of $93.4 billion mopped up last year.
IFC would subscribe to non-convertible debentures of the non-banking finance company for the purpose of financing solar energy projects in India.
The solar energy projects helps improve access to electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency and renewable energy.

March 6

Finance Minister gives in-principle approval to PSBs for running ESOP.
Finance Minister has agreed to offer Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) for public sector bank employees.
The step has been taken in order to retain experienced employees with the help of better incentives. This step will help motivate the employees to build a strong financial status of the bank.
Employee Stock Option Plan can be as much as 5 per cent for large public sector banks and 3 per cent for small banks.
Other benefits like performance-linked packages and bonuses are also under consideration as suggested by the Banks Board Bureau.

Vijaya Bank Inauguration of 2000th branch at Tirupati.
Vijaya Bank has opened its 2000th branch in Tirupati. The branch was opened by Chadalawada Krishna Murthy, Chairman, and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. This is the region's 65th branch and the second in Tirupati city.
Vijaya Bank was the first bank to start banking operations in Tirumala and has been extending yeoman service to the devotees of Lord Venkateswara.
Vijaya Bank now has a presence in all 29 states and 7 union territories. It has been receiving accolades for its digital initiatives from all sections of society and the same can be validated from the many awards conferred on it by distinguished organisations and institutions.

HDFC Bank launches chatbot Eva for customer services.
HDFC Bank announced the launch of an electronic virtual assistant (EVA), an artificial intelligence-driven chatbot, for customer services.
Eva is India's first AI-based banking chatbot and can answer millions of customer queries across multiple channels instantly.
Eva can assimilate knowledge from thousands of sources and provide answers in simple language in less than 0.4 seconds.
Within the first few days of its launch, Eva has answered over 1 lakh queries from thousands of customers from 17 countries across the globe.
With the launch of Eva, bank's customers can get information on its products and services instantaneously and it also becomes smarter as it learns through its customer interactions.

ESAF Microfinance to raise Rs. 650 crore before small finance bank launch.
ESAF Microfinance, which will be kicking off its small finance bank journey in a fortnight, is looking to ramp up capital ahead of the transition.
The Thrissur-based company is in talks with investors such as insurance companies and mutual funds to raise Rs. 500 crore in non-convertible debentures, along with another Rs. 150 crore in commercial papers.
The company expects to close the issues by the end of this week. The lender has already mobilized Rs. 180 crore in commercial papers last week.
The lender from Kerala, a state on India’s Malabar Coast with a vast non-residents population sending remittances and dollar deposits in local banks, plans to offer ''a little higher'' interest rates compared to mainstream banks to attract depositors.

March 7

IDFC launches Aadhaar Pay, becomes the first to launch biometric based payment system.
IDFC Bank officially launched its Aadhaar pay infrastructure meant for those without any mobile phone to carry out cashless transactions.
It actually makes cashless transactions possible even for those who do not have mobile phones, but the merchant has to have a mobile phone. All one needs is to get the bank account number linked with Aadhaar. Basic banking services will come to those who even do not have basic mobile phones.
The bank aims to reach 50,000-75,000 merchant points to be connected to the Aadhaar pay module in the next two years. Before this official launch, IDFC Bank has done successful pilot across 16 states.

March 8

SBI launches Work from Home facility for employees.
Country's largest lender State Bank of India launched a new facility to enable its employees to work from home.
The Board of the bank has recently approved the Work from Home policy to enable its employees to work while at home using mobile devices to address any urgent requirement they may have, that prevents their travelling to work.
The lender will be using mobile computing technologies and shall have continuous control over all the enabled devices centrally to manage and secure the data and applications on the mobile devices.
The use of technology and services shall be monitored through carefully designed MIS and dashboard to enable improvements and refinements.

ESAF Microfinance issues Rs. 330 crore worth commercial paper.
ESAF Microfinance, the only company from Kerala to receive small finance bank licence, has issued commercial paper (CP) worth Rs. 330 crore. Rated A1 by CARE ratings, the subscribers to the CP are major private sector banks and NBFCs.
The proceeds would be used to boost the short-term funding needs of the organisation.
ESAF Small Finance Bank will be opened on March 17. The biggest advantage of becoming a bank, according to Thomas, is that ESAF can offer value-based banking with a difference.
The bank will provide loans for farming, small businesses, housing and education. It will also have a spectrum of deposit options for all customers, including NRIs.
The company hopes to start operations with a network of around 85 branches and over 300 customer touch points in the first year of operations. Currently, ESAF Microfinance has a network of around 285 branches spread across 11 States.

Karur Vysya Bank launches 3 technology services.
Karur Vysya Bank has launched three technology services, namely FASTags, UPI app, Bharat Bill Payment System, for the benefit of customers.
Out of this three, FASTag was launched in association with Indian Highways Management Company, a subsidiary of National Highway Authority of India, wherein pre loaded tags affixed to vehicles help them move on without having to join queues at toll plazas and handing cash for payment. FASTags can be pre-loaded with amounts and the toll amount will automatically be debited by the toll plazas through sensors.
The second service, United Payments Interface (UPI) is a mobile app that helps customers to transfer funds inter-bank, 24×7 through their smartphones.
The third one is Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), a facility offered through NPCI where in customers can make utility bill payments like electricity, water, gas, DTH and telecom services through a single utility, instead of accessing multiple sites.

No need for minimum balance in Jan Dhan accounts: Arundhati Bhattacharya.
SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya has clarified that minimum balance requirement re introduced by the bank from April does not apply to the PM's Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts or to the 'Basic Savings Bank' accounts This does not apply to any financial inclusion account.
In July 2012, SBI had waived the minimum balance requirement on bank accounts to expand customer base.

March 9

Reserve Bank of India to issue new Rs. 10 notes with enhanced security features.
The Reserve Bank (RBI) will soon issue Rs. 10 denomination notes with enhanced security features for circulation.
The banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi series-2005 are to carry inset letter 'L' on both number panels, bearing the signature of Governor Urjit Patel.
The year of printing, 2017, will be on the reverse of the note.
Among other features, numerals on both the panels will be in ascending size from left to right.
The first three alpha-numeric characters (prefix) will remain constant in size.
All the banknotes in the denomination of Rs. 10 issued by the Bank in the past will continue to be legal tender.

HDFC Bank digitises over 1200 dairy co-operatives across India.
HDFC Bank, under the aegis of its Milk to Money (M2M) programme has digitised payments at over 1,200 dairy co-operatives in the country.
M2M was launched in 2010 and benefits about 3.2 lakh dairy farmers across 16 states.
M2M is aimed at bringing dairy farmers into the organized banking system, digitising the entire dairy value chain, and bringing to them all products meeting their banking and financial needs.
Milk to Money ATMs at larger collection points have cash dispensers, while smaller collection points are equipped with business correspondent (BC) who operate Micro ATMs, enabling the farmer to withdraw the amount from his account immediately.
The payment coming into the farmer's bank account creates a credit history, with which he can take a loan, buy more cattle, increase business and avail other banking products.

March 10

Paytm withdraws 2 per cent fee on wallet top-up via credit cards.
Paytm has withdrawn the 2 per cent fee on adding money to mobile wallets using credit cards, just two days after introducing the levy.
The Alibaba-backed company had introduced the fee after it found multiple users using its platform to get free credit by using credit cards to top up their mobile wallets and then transferring the money back to their bank accounts at zero transaction cost.
The company is also strengthening the team that focuses on identifying and blocking various types of misuse.
While Paytm had started levying the 2 per cent fee, its smaller rival MobiKwik would keep all such transactions free.

Ujjivan Small Finance Bank opens 6 new branches in Bengaluru.
Ujjivan Small Finance Bank (Ujjivan SFB) has strengthened its presence in Bengaluru by opening six new branches. The branches are located at Magadi Road, Chandra Layout, Chamarajpet, Uttarahalli, Devaiah Park and Nelamangala.
Ujjivan commenced its banking operations last month with five pilot branches in Bengaluru. Over the next few months, the bank is planning to open 12 more branches in the city and expand its presence across 24 States in a planned and phased manner.
Currently, 11 branches of Ujjivan SFB are offering full range of banking services.

NBFC cash loan against gold restricted to Rs. 25,000.
Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) cannot lend more than Rs. 25,000 in cash against gold.
The earlier provision for NBFC was that high value loans against gold of Rs. 1 lakh and above must only be disbursed by cheque.
RBI reduced the amount to Rs. 25,000 from the earlier Rs. 1 lakh in line with the provisions of the Income Tax Act.
This assumes significance in the backdrop of government's focus on less cash economy and promoting digital payments.

March 11

To mark Women's Day, BMB offers loan to 1000 female entrepreneurs.
Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) sanctioned loan to 1000 women entrepreneurs for various income generating economic activities across the country on the eve of International Women's Day.
With the vision 'Empowering Women economically', BMB organised a workshop to encourage women entrepreneurs at the Registered Office of the Bank in Delhi.
The Bank is focusing on the entire pyramid of Indian women; special attention is given to economically neglected, deprived, discriminated, unbanked, rural and urban women to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth.
On this occasion to further encourage women entrepreneurship, the bank entered into an MoU with Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE) and Beauty and Wellness Sector Skill Council (BWSSC).

Germany provides support of EUR 200 million for India's Energy Efficiency Programme.
The German Development Bank (KfW) signed - on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) - a loan agreement of over EUR 200 million (1,400 crores INR) with India's Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL).
With this, the total German commitment for better energy efficiency in India stands at EUR 600 million (INR 4,200 crore).
The agreement was signed by Selva Kumar, Joint Secretary Department of Economic Affairs, Saurabh Kumar, Managing Director, EESL, and Dr. Norbert Kloppenburg, member of the Executive Board of KfW, and Roland Siller, member of the Management Committee of KfW.
With this programme, the Indo-German development cooperation addresses mutual interests of mitigating global warming and bringing together the expertise of highly committed institutions on both sides.

Karnataka Bank signs MoU with Bajaj Allianz.
City-based Karnataka Bank has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company for General Insurance business.
With the agreement, the bank would be able to provide vast choice of non-life insurance products to its customers across all its 747 branches, supported by the customer centric products of Bajaj Allianz.
The corporate agency agreement was inked at the Head Office of Karnataka Bank.

IndusInd Bank confirms deal talks with MFI Bharat Financial.
Mid-sized private lender IndusInd Bank is in talks with multiple entities for business expansion, including the widely speculated merger of Bharat Financial Inclusion (BFI).
The management has been exploring strategic alternatives, and engaging in discussions from time to time with various parties, including Bharat Financial, as and when required.
IndusInd and BFI (formerly SKS Microfinance) are likely to announce a merger in an all-stock deal, the management has been authorised to evaluate strategic opportunities for business expansion.

March 12

ICICI Bank, SBI, StanChart top bank frauds list: RBI.
ICICI Bank topped the list of banks that witnessed most number of frauds during April-December period of 2016 with state-owned SBI taking the second spot.
During the first nine months of the current fiscal, as many as 455 fraud cases involving Rs. 1 lakh and above were detected in ICICI Bank, closely followed by SBI (429), Standard Chartered (244) and HDFC Bank (237).
The other banks which reported large number of frauds to the apex bank during the period include Axis Bank (189), Bank of Baroda (176) and Citibank (150).

SBI floats wholly-owned subsidiary to manage its premises and estate related matters.
State Bank of India (SBI) has incorporated SBI Infra Management Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (SBIIMS Pvt. Ltd.) as a wholly owned subsidiary to manage premises and estate related matters of the bank.
The primary role of the new entity will be to handle transaction management/ advisory services, project management, facility management and implementation of policies & initiatives.
The decision to incorporate a separate entity is to save time of banks’ executives who were involved in managing this non-core business so that these executives can instead focus on core Banking Services.

Yes Bank bullish on smart cities, signs up 3 projects.
Mid-sized private sector lender Yes Bank is looking at smart cities initiative as a lucrative business opportunity and has signed up three projects to offer payments-related solutions.
Yes Bank has tied up with Udaipur, Nashik and Puducherry for introducing various solutions for the smart city initiative.
This work will be both revenue accretive as well as help the bank forge newer client relationships, which can be leveraged for cross-sell.
There is a revenue share arrangement in the contracts which it will be signing with the service providers, which helps the bank get some commission on usage.

March 13

No Limit On Cash Withdrawals From Savings Bank Accounts.
All limits on savings bank cash withdrawals post-demonetisation ended, as had been announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last month.
In a two-stage process, the weekly withdrawal limit per account had been raised to Rs. 50,000, from Rs. 24,000, with effect from February 20, and all limits on ATM withdrawals were slated to cease from March 13.
The announcement had been made by RBI Deputy Governor R. Gandhi following the fiscal year's last monetary policy review announcement by the central bank in February, when it kept its key interest rate unchanged at 6.25 per cent.
On January 30, the central bank had ended all curbs on withdrawals from current accounts, cash credit accounts and overdraft accounts.

Over 1 lakh SB accounts opened in TN: Airtel Payments Bank.
Airtel Payments Bank, offered by telecom major Bharti Airtel, announced that over one lakh savings accounts were opened in 100 villages across Tamil Nadu.
Through the initiative, the villages would have access to banking services along with the option of making digital payments.
Till date, over one lakh savings accounts have been opened with Airtel Payments Bank across Tamil Nadu. A network of over 16,000 neighbourhood Airtel stores offer banking services.
By launching the service, Airtel Payments Bank will not charge any processing fee from its customers and merchant partners for digital transactions.

March 14

Canara HSBC OBC Life to launch term insurance with return of premium.
Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance Company plans to launch a pure term insurance product, with return of premium, in April in the wake of the insurance regulator coming out with guidelines for the same.
The Gurugram (Haryana) - headquartered life insurer will shortly approach the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to get approval for the product.
With term return of premium (ROP), if nothing has happened (no insured event - death - occurs during the policy tenure), whatever premium you have paid you will get it back.
For example, for a 20-year term policy with a sum assured of Rs. 50,000, the annualised premium could be, say, Rs. 2,000. If the insured event does not occur, the policyholder will get back the premium paid (Rs. 24,000) over the 20-year period.

RBI to open up UPI platform for digital wallets.
Digital wallets such as Paytm and MobiKwik are set to become inter-operable as Reserve Bank of India (RBI) prepares to open up the Unified Payment Interface platform for them as part of the government’s digitisation campaign.
RBI is expected to issue guidelines shortly on interoperability and 'know your customer' (KYC) norms for digital wallet companies, according to two people familiar with the developments.
RBI will also decide on the interchange fees between the wallets for them to be able to access the UPI framework.
Digital wallets can currently access the UPI network through partner banks to facilitate bank-to-bank money transfers. Allowing direct access will mean that a PhonePe or a MobiKwik user will be able to send money directly to, say, a merchant with a Paytm or a FreeCharge digital wallet, expanding the usability of these instruments.

March 15

SBI announces Rs. 6,000 crore tractor loan settlement scheme.
State Bank of India (SBI) announced a one-time farm loan settlement scheme worth Rs. 6,000 crore primarily for tractors.
One Time Settlement (OTS) announced for Agriculture Loans, Scheme valid until 31st March.
The scheme will result in the bank taking a 40 per cent haircut on outstanding tractor loans as of September 2016.
SBIs total farm loan portfolio is Rs. 1.25 trillion, the tractor loan book is about Rs. 6,000 crore.
SBI had announced OTS schemes for SMEs last December and education loans early in 2016.

IndusInd Bank to acquire IL&FS Securities Services.
IndusInd Bank has entered into an agreement with Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) to acquire 100 per cent stake in IL&FS Securities Services Ltd (ISSL).
The private sector bank, however, did not disclose the cost of acquisition or the price at which ISSL shares were acquired.
ISSL, which was incorporated in 2007 as a subsidiary of IL&FS, is a capital market intermediary for professional clearing, depository and custodial Services.
The proposed transaction, which is expected to be completed in three months, is conditional on definitive agreements and approvals, including regulatory approvals.
ISSL services both retail and institutional clients including over 1,000 Brokers, foreign portfolio investors and foreign institutional investors.

BoB approves bond issue.
The Capital Raising Committee of Bank of Baroda’s board approved raising of funds through issuance of Basel III compliant Additional Tier-I bonds (perpetual debt instrument) amounting to Rs. 500 crore with green shoe option of Rs. 500 crore.
In a stock exchange notification, the issuance will be on private placement basis depending on market conditions.

Reliance Communication stock exchange, Sebi approval for merger with Aircel.
Reliance Communications has got the approval of capital markets regulator SEBI and stock exchanges, BSE and NSE, for the proposed demerger of its wireless operations into Aircel Ltd.
The company has now filed an application with the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Mumbai Bench, for approval of the scheme.
RCom and the present shareholders of Aircel Ltd (Maxis Communications Berhad) will hold 50 per cent each in the merged entity, with equal representation on the board and committees.
The proposed transaction is subject to necessary approvals.

World Bank loan for MP solar plant.
The World Bank has agreed to provide loan to develop internal transmission arrangements of the upcoming Rewa Ultra Mega Solar project in Madhya Pradesh.
The World Bank has agreed to provide loan to develop internal transmission arrangements of the Rewa project. It will provide 25 per cent of the loan amount under its Clean Technology Fund, where the money will be provided at an interest rate of only 0.25 per cent.
This would be the first solar power project of the country to receive a loan under CTF.


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