Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Dutch banking giants hit by DDoS attack

Banking and financial services in the Netherlands were at a standstill as the country’s biggest banks and financial services systems were attacked by the potentially dangerous DDoS attack. Offline banking and online banking services of ABN AMRO, ING, and Rabo Bank were severely hit on 27th and 28th January.
Internet Banking, Mobile Banking, the website and iDeal were unavailable or extremely slow on 27 January from around 20.00 to 00.15 CET and on 28 January from 12.00 to 14.00 CET and after 19.00 CET. This was due to so-called DDoS attacks. In a DDoS attack, attackers send large volumes of data traffic to a website, which overloads the server. For users, the site under attack becomes difficult to access.
Rabobank, the Netherlands’ second-largest lender, had a failure that lasted about three hours on Monday morning. Customers had no access to mobile banking and internet banking due to the disruption. Around noon, the website of the Dutch tax authorities was also hit by a DDoS attack. Over the weekend, ING, the country’s largest bank, and ABN Amro were also hit by DDoS attacks. The services are restored now and the banks said clients’ info was not compromised or leaked.
According to Cloudflare, a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic. DDoS attacks achieve effectiveness by utilizing multiple compromised computer systems as sources of attack traffic. Exploited machines can include computers and other networked resources such as IoT devices. From a high level, a DDoS attack is like a traffic jam clogging up with the highway, preventing regular traffic from arriving at its desired destination.
Security firm ESET suggested that the attack was conducted from the Russian servers.  The perpetrators used a so-called botnet – an army of hijacked computers and smart devices – to commit the DDoS attacks. Using the program Zbot, they remotely ordered these devices to visit a certain site en masse, thereby overloading the site’s server and crashing the site.
The motive for these attacks is still unknown. The security company points out that the perpetrators can be anyone ranging from bored teenagers to state hackers – DDoS attacks are easy to buy online. With the rise of malware and DDoS attacks, cybersecurity has become critical to protect nation’s infrastructure.
– Chaitanya Kulkarni
Source – Netherland Times.
Originally published on | Tech that transforms life.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

#ICICILombardCaringHands: Healthy eyes for a brighter future.

ICICI Lombard General Insurance

Corporate Social Responsibility is high on agenda for every organisation in today’s age. Especially in a country like India where ‘Giving back to society’ is core part of our social values. The research report by Tower Perrins Global Workforce states that the CSR as one of the most important driver for employee engagement. It helps in fostering the culture of team building and leads to self-motivation. The research concludes - Employees need to be informed and involved with the CSR agenda and the values attached with it, finding self-fulfilment in the process of having contributed to the community, beyond the routine work, developing one's personality, leadership, talents and social skills in the process. Caring Hands, by ICICI Lombard is one such initiative which believes in employee volunteering for effective last-mile impact.

Caring hands is an employee volunteering program, wherein employees take up the responsibility of organizing the activity end to end. The noble initiative was a part of ICICI Lombard’s Corporate Social Responsibility. ICICI Lombard General Insurance has a tradition to go beyond the scope of business and help the society through specific initiatives in the field of preventive health care, road safety campaigns and disaster support. The Caring Hands initiative focuses on underprivileged children from the age group of 9 to 13. Started in 2011, the initiative has reached more than 1,40,000 children of over 300 municipal schools with more than 20,000 students benefitting from corrective spectacles.

With a Pan-India network of its employees, the Caring Hands initiative achieved last-mile connectivity across rural and urban areas. Although the activity demands high-end equipment and ophthalmologists, the employees successfully conduct eye check-up camps every year on 11 December, which is now earmarked as ‘Caring Hands Day’ at ICICI Lombard. Despite these challenges, ICICI Lombard employees have been successfully conducting eye check-up camps year on year.

ICICI Lombard

Eyes and eye-sight are the gifts of God. Just try to close your eyes in a busy area and within minutes we feel lost in darkness and surrounding noises. But it is a sad fact, that most of us ignore the health of the organ from which we see this world. Like any other part of your body, our eyes too require conscious efforts to protect them, which also help in improving your vision.

In India, nearly 41% of our population suffers eye-related defects and diseases. India has one of the largest population of unnecessarily blind and vision impaired individual population in the world. Worryingly, the data from India Vision Institute suggests that eye defects in kids below 14 years old are on the rise. Some major reasons for a defect in eye and eyesight are: lack of vitamins, poorer economic background, dust, pollution, excessive stress and ‘Chalta Hain attitude’ or sheer ignorance. It is often observed that kids with undiagnosed eyesight disorder lack in studies, physical fitness or games, which hampers the overall development of a child.

Since the last six years, the employees of ICICI Lombard have received a positive feedback from the students and teachers. The students which received spectacles through this initiative felt confident and could perform better at studies with a clear vision.

The task undertaken by ICICI Lombard is really appreciating. Right from approaching school authorities for permissions to coordinating teams of volunteers and trained ophthalmologists. ICICI Lombard Caring Hands initiative is a result of planning, hard-work and executions by thousands of ICICI Lombard employees. For this initiative, ICICI Lombard General Insurance has been conferred the prestigious ‘Golden Peacock Corporate Social Responsibility Award’ in 2015. In coming years, the employees of ICICI Lombard are committed to this unique program which is poised to make a difference to India’s next generation.

Chaitanya Kulkarni

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

India’s stressed banks to get Rs 80,000 crores in 2017-18 under bank recapitalisation plan

Indian Rupee notes

The Government of India has unveiled details of the recapitalisation of Public Sector Banks (PSBs) which was announced in October 2017.  The capital infusion plan for 2017-18 includes Rs.80,000 crore through Recap Bonds and Rs. 8,139 crores as budgetary support. This plan addresses the regulatory capital requirement of all PSBs and provides a significant amount towards growth capital for increasing lending to the economy. 

The recap would be accompanied by a strong reforms package across six themes incorporating 30 action points. The reform agenda is aimed at EASE - Enhanced Access and Service Excellence, focusing on six themes of customer responsiveness, responsible banking, credit off take, banks as Udyami Mitra (investor friendly), deepening financial inclusion & digitalisation and developing personnel for brand PSB. The overarching framework for the reforms agenda is “Responsive and Responsible PSBs”.

Capital infusion by the government is contingent on the performance of PSBs on the reform.  Whole Time Directors of PSBs would be assigned theme wise reforms for implementation.  Their performance in this regard would be evaluated by the bank board. After the successful JanDhan and MUDRA scheme, more and more Indians are connecting to financial systems.

The government of India has envisaged a bank recapitalisation plan of Rs 2,11,000 crores till FY 2019. The capital of Rs 2,11,000 crore accounts for almost 80% of recapitalisation requirements. While the government has not detailed the manner in which capital will be allocated within banks, some banks need capital more urgently than others.

Major credit rating agencies considered the bank recapitalisation move as positive. Although, continuous banking reforms are required along with the use of fintech to avoid such bad loan situations in future.

Source – PIB

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Plan, Invest and Achieve – a way towards happiness!

Bajaj Allianz Life Goals

I will start with a question. A question which will make you think. A question which is applicable to every person you know, right from the start of one’s career till his or her retirement. WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?  Some would want to buy their dream car. Some would dream of living in a sky bungalow. People who have just entered the career cycle may want to invest in an international MBA. Depending upon the age, our goalposts or aspirations may change but goals remain constant.

Life coach experts believe that one should plan strategically and focus on realistic goals. Setting a goal, no matter how simple is always the easy part. Everyone has goals. The real challenge is not determining if you want the result, but if you are willing to accept the sacrifices required to achieve your goals. To achieve life goals, one needs to systemically plan his financial investments. That way, you will always win. With sound financial planning, your short-term goals will be achieved and you will get the motivation to achieve your next goal.

Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, one of India’s leading private insurer invited us for their #LifeGoals meet. The meet started with a surprise. S.B. Anandan, a Malayalee fellow appeared on stage to explain his failed investment ideas, with the sense of comedy and enthralled the audience. The character was played by none other than Suresh Menon, a legendary comedian and YouTube sensation.

S.B. Anandan, with an advice from family and friends invested in different financial products. But sadly, it never resulted in any worthy savings. In fact, with the wrong financial advice, he lost his money in stock market. Though this was a plot in his stand-up scene, still the story stands true for millions of us. Bank investments these days don’t pay attractive interest which could beat inflation. People who want to achieve more look forward towards equities and mutual funds. Yes, India’s bullish markets have given handsome returns but these returns are based on market research and not mere speculation. People who do not have any financial background may find it difficult to understand and invest. This is where ULIPs work.

ULIPs or Unit Linked Insurance Plan is a long-term investment plan that offers the combined benefit of investment and insurance. These plans invest a portion of your premium in capital markets and allow you to invest in debt, equity or balanced funds depending upon market conditions or your risk appetite. Capital market investments under ULIPs are managed by experts who can mobilise your savings according to the market conditions. By investing in ULIPs, you can stay invested for a longer term, have your life covered and enjoy the benefits of investment made by experts on your behalf. ULIPs bring a modern-day approach towards insurance investing. Now, #InvestBefikar with ULIPs and chase your life goals.

Ideas of today’s aspirational India are far-reaching than a steady job or business. Fitness, solo-travel, road trips, adventure tourism, EDM concerts, technology, start-ups are deep-rooted in our younger minds. Happiness is not something ready-made, it comes with our actions. ULIPs have become a popular choice for investments due to affordability, capital appreciation, flexibility and transparency. ULIPs stand apart from traditional insurance as they act as life maximisers.

Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance is soon going to launch something interesting. Stay tuned on for more!

- Chaitanya Kulkarni

Monday, 15 January 2018

IRFC lists green bonds at India INX Exchange

IRFC bond listing at India INX Exchange at GIFT IFSC

India INX Exchange is BSE’s international exchange at GIFT City, Gujarat.

The BSE’s India International Exchange has listed Indian Railway Finance Corporation’s green bonds on its debt listing platforms at GIFT City. Gujarat International Finance City near Gandhinagar is India’s first financial SEZ and smart city. India INX exchange at GIFT has a daily turnover of Rs. 1400 crores. IRFC, the financial arm of Indian Railways recently raised $500 million from 10 year green bonds at London Stock Exchange. IRFC green bonds have become the first debt security to be listed on GIFT IFSC.

Listing the bond on India INX at an event organised by the BSE in Mumbai, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said "India is the fastest-growing economy in the world and our need to raise funds is a continuous process. To have a platform to tap global investors by issuing bonds in any currency is the first of its kind in India and India INX as India’s first international exchange at IFSC Gift city, Gandhinagar has yet again been a pioneer in this.”

"In a country like ours, this will make global investors and funds more accessible to Indian and foreign issuers at a fraction of cost that is being incurred today by issuers," he added.

The bonds have an annual yield of 3.835 per cent.

"We are excited to be the first issuer to list on BSE's India International Exchange. Such a listing platform from India INX will now help us to tap global investors from India going forward," IRFC chairman B N Mohapatra said.

India INX's Global Securities Market (GSM) segment, India's first debt listing platform, allows raising funds in any currency of choice by both foreign and Indian issuers from investors across the globe.

Source – GIFT City Press Release

FDI will bring fierce competition in Indian markets

Photo Courtesy - Deutsche Messe AG/Lars Kaletta

The decision taken by Indian cabinet to bring in 100% FDI in single brand retail will spark fierce competition in FMCG and electronics sector. India’s FDI policy is likely to increase exports in a long-term horizon and bring in high pay jobs in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities.

The Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi has given its approval to a number of amendments in the FDI Policy. These are intended to liberalise and simplify the FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business in the country. In turn, it will lead to larger FDI inflows contributing to the growth of investment, income and employment.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a major driver of economic growth and a source of non-debt finance for the economic development of the country. The government has put in place an investor-friendly policy on FDI, under which FDI up to 100%, is permitted on the automatic route in most sectors/ activities. In the recent past, the Government has brought FDI policy reforms in a number of sectors viz. Defence, Construction Development, Insurance, Pension, Other Financial Services, Asset Reconstruction Companies, Broadcasting, Civil Aviation, Pharmaceuticals, Trading etc.

Measures undertaken by the Government have resulted in increased FDI inflows into the country. During the year 2014-15, total FDI inflows received were US $ 45.15 billion as against US $ 36.05 billion in 2013-14. During 2015-16, the country received total FDI of US $ 55.46 billion. In the financial year 2016-17, total FDI of US $ 60.08 billion has been received, which is an all-time high.

Keys decisions by Cabinet
  • 100% FDI under automatic route for Single Brand Retail Trading
  • Foreign firm can invest up to 49% in Air India
  • 100% FDI under automatic route in real-estate broking services.
  • Amendments in the definition of medical devices.

Hits and misses

FDI in single- brand retail trading has been key issues of Left and opposition parties since 1992. The fear raised by many vouches for an opinion that Indian companies are weak in comparison to MNCs. Well, the reasoning is becoming untrue for few sectors like FMCG. Indian brands like Patanjali, Britannia, Parle, DMart, Big Bazaar and Reliance has a wide-spread brand presence in major Indian cities. International brands which may enter India through FDI namely Walmart, Lotte, Mondelez would find it difficult to enter Indian markets with the bang. They may likely to take a safer M&A route to establish a base in the country.

Electronics is one such segment where Indian companies have failed to grasp consumer attention. Indian manufacturers are finding it almost impossible to counter MNC giants like Apple, LG, Sony and Samsung in high-end products. Chinese companies namely Xiaomi, Oppo, Haier has been a choice recently for Indian middle-class consumers. Apple, Xiaomi etc would open new stores in India. By 2020, Make-In-India electronics products will likely be a global norm. Foxconn, the maker of iPhone has decided to invest in mega-factory in JNPT CEZ, near Navi Mumbai.

Industry rumours suggest that the government of India has tweaked FDI in aviation to welcome investments in debt-ridden Air India. Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines are likely to buy Air India. It is yet unclear whether the national career would retain its name. With Air India acquisitions, Vistara would be India’s largest aviation company.

Fierce competition between ‘Desi vs Videshi’ brands will continue to benefit consumers. Patanjali and Jio have made a significant market share in FDI dominated businesses. Indian brands, over the years, have proved that they are no longer weaker than their international competitor.

- Chaitanya Kulkarni 

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

ONGC makes major oil and gas discoveries at Mumbai High

ONGC India gas discovery

State-run Oil and Gas company, ONGC has made significant oil and gas discovery west to Mumbai High fields. Bombay High (now Mumbai High) is an offshore oilfield located in the Arabian Sea, approximately 160km west of the Mumbai coast. Discovered in 1974, the field started production in 1976 and is operated by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

The Mumbai High field currently holds 1,659 million metric tonnes (MMT) and is producing approximately 16 MMT of oil per annum, which is 44% of India’s total crude oil production of 36 million tonnes.

The information was received by a reply to LokSabha by Dr. Dharmendra Pradhan, India’s Petroleum and Natural Resources minister. Dr. Pradhan said that the discovery was made in the well WO-24-3 (WO-24-C) drilled west of Mumbai High fields. Based on the data generated during drilling, 9 objects/zones were identified and on testing all the objects flowed oil/gas. The discovery has indicated potential in-place reserves of about 29.74 million tonnes of oil and oil equivalent gas.

Dr.Pradhan informed the lower house,“ the 9th object on testing flowed oil at the rate of 3,310 barrels per day and gas at the rate of 17,071 cubic meters per day,” the minister said. “This multi-layered oil and gas accumulation in this well opened up the new area for exploration/development.” Mumbai High, India’s biggest oil field, currently produces 205,000 barrels of oil per day (just over 10 million tonnes per annum) and the new find would add to that production in less than two years’ time.

Upon the discovery, ONGC’s stock on Bombay Stock Exchange traded in green by a jump of 2% in an intra-day.

Recently, India opened 2.8 million sq km of sedimentary basins for oil and gas exploration with a view to raise domestic production and reduce dependence on oil and gas imports. Under Open Acreage Licensing (OAL), $5-6 billion in exploration activities and another $20-30 billion for development activities is expected.

Source – PTI.

Originally published on

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Trading in Bitcoin, Ethereum or any other crypto-currencies is illegal in India

Bitcoin India

Bitcoin or any other crypto-currency are not legal or lawful tender in India. Investors should stay away from investing as the transaction is not backed by any asset. Reserve Bank of India has not given any approval or licenses to CryptoCoin exchanges to perform financial trading. Arun Jaitley, India’s Ministry of Finance has given a statement in RajyaSabha. BitCoin is a virtual crypto-currency invented by Satoshi Nakamoto. In 2010, the value of 1 bitcoin was not even close to a Rs. 100 but today, just 7 years later, the value of 1 bitcoin ranges from Rs. 8 to 10 lakhs.

The Ministry of Finance has issued the following statement today on Virtual ‘Currencies’.

“There has been a phenomenal increase in recent times in the price of Virtual ‘Currencies’ (VCs) including Bitcoin, in India and globally. The VCs don’t have any intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets. The price of Bitcoin and other VCs, therefore, is entirely a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices. There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes which can result in sudden and prolonged crash exposing investors, especially retail consumers losing their hard-earned money. Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such Ponzi schemes. VCs are stored in digital/electronic format, making them vulnerable to hacking, loss of password, malware attack etc. which may also result in permanent loss of money. As transactions of VCs are encrypted they are also likely being used to carry out illegal/subversive activities, such as terror-funding, smuggling, drug trafficking and other money-laundering Acts.

VCs are not backed by Government fiat. These are also not legal tender. Hence, VCs are not currencies. These are also being described as ‘Coins’. There is, however, no physical attribute to these coins. Therefore, Virtual ‘Currencies’ (VCs) are neither currencies nor coins. The Government or Reserve Bank of India has not authorised any VCs as a medium of exchange. Further, the Government or any other regulator in India has not given license to any agency for working as an exchange or any other kind of intermediary for any VC. Persons dealing in them must consider these facts and beware of the risks involved in dealing in VCs.

The users, holders and traders of VCs have already been cautioned three times, in December, 2013, February, 2017 and December, 2017, by Reserve Bank of India about the potential financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks that they are exposing themselves to by investing in Bitcoin and/ or other VCs. RBI has also clarified that it has not given any licence/ authorization to any entity/ company to operate such schemes or deal with Bitcoin or any virtual currency. The Government also makes it clear that VCs are not legal tender and such VCs do not have any regulatory permission or protection in India. The investors and other participants therefore deal with these VCs entirely at their risk and should best avoid participating therein.”

News report suggests that Income Tax department is likely to take actions on investments in bitcoin or any other virtual currency.

Originally published on

Source – Ministry of Finance