Opinion

How AI is redefining the ‘human touch’ in fintech industry
Culture, Opinion

How AI is redefining the ‘human touch’ in fintech industry

Artificial intelligence (AI) has and is continuing to transform the fintech industry as we know it and it’s looking unlikely that its impact will diminish any time soon. For example, a recent study revealed that 70 per cent of global fintechs are using AI today, and the technology is predicted to dominate the market by 2025, with over two-thirds of fintechs believing AI is the technology that will have the biggest impact on the sector over the next five years.This comes as no surprise given its ability to quickly analyse massive quantities of data to derive important insights and information, resulting in it being used by thousands of businesses on a global scale to create efficiencies and recognise patterns that can significantly improve decision-making.However, this also creates challeng...
Land for green power will be a challenge
Culture, Opinion

Land for green power will be a challenge

Will the focus on renewable energy trigger the next land grab? As India is seized by the urgency to switch from fossil fuel to clean energy, it will in all certainty trigger a race to establish mega green power plants. This in turn would necessitate the need for substantial acreage to locate large spreads of solar panels. And in the rush to find a place in the sun, the alternative power generating companies may go into land acquisition mode that could short-change landowners and farmers on the margins of cities and urban clusters and even eat into agricultural or forested land.Unless the process is regulated and monitored, in India the situation could well be a throwback to 1970s Mumbai when unscrupulous realtors with the muscle of the mafia, arm-twisted simple folk to give up their proper...
Can’t but bank on cybersecurity
Culture, Opinion

Can’t but bank on cybersecurity

With an incremental emphasis being laid on digitisation for financial institutions, there has been a monumental increase in cybersecurity threats as well. As the world goes on to connect more and more digitally, cybercriminals have started to infiltrate by finding new entry points of attack, which means that the need for stringent cybersecurity measures for digital banking is now more pressing than ever.Taking into account that there have been data breaches for technologically savvy banks as well, financial institutions need to start looking at cybersecurity as a priority. The threatsMalware: Digital transactions are generally conducted on end-to-end user devices such as mobiles, computers, etc. which is why they need to have security measures in place. If devices being used for access are...
Should India host the Olympics?
Culture, Opinion

Should India host the Olympics?

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has recently said that India is among the aspiring countries to host the Olympics in 2036, 2040, and beyond. Olympics in India? Sounds fascinating — be it in Mumbai, Delhi, or Ahmedabad — in 2048 as a part of the centenary celebration of the Independence, or even before. Hosting the first Asian Games in New Delhi in 1951 was certainly a glorious statement for the newly independent nation. However, India’s experience of organising the 2010 Commonwealth Games is not quite inspiring, for sure. Quite often, hosting mega multi-discipline events like the Olympics is an exhibition of the capacity of the host nation. Japan wanted to portray the 1964 Tokyo Games as a narrative of its miraculous recovery from the War. China treated the 2008...
How to boost export of high-end products
Culture, Opinion

How to boost export of high-end products

Just a few decades back, artisans made shoes and shirts using locally available inputs. Now, large global firms control the trade. Production is shared across a group of countries. Each specialises in making a part and not the complete product.This applies not only to high-end electronics and engineering products but also to simple products like shirts, chocolates and bicycles. For making a shirt, yarn from India moves to China for making of fabric, which moves to Spain for dyeing. Dyed fabric moves to Morocco, Bangladesh, or Vietnam, where it is cut, sewn into a shirt for shipping all over.Chocolates made in Belgium use hazelnuts from Turkey, palm oil from Malaysia, cocoa from Ghana, sugar from Europe, and vanilla from the US.High-end bicycles use brakes and peddle imported from Japan, w...
Telecom industry gets a timely lifeline
Culture, Opinion

Telecom industry gets a timely lifeline

Recent announcements by the government in providing relief to the telecom sector, the major one being a four-year moratorium on the payment of spectrum usage charges (SUCs) as percentage of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR), are welcome. The government also has redefined the calculation of AGR to exclude non-telecom revenue, which should substantially reduce the regulatory burden for the telcos. Apart from the financial relief, there are a couple of other notable points in the Cabinet decision. First, the regulatory levy on the sector, which is one of the highest in the world. Licence fees, annual SUCs, and other fees including Right of Way charges for installing telecom infrastructure have burdened the sector. While there have been many discussions on reducing the regulatory fee, the mobil...
Making the banking sector more vibrant
Culture, Opinion

Making the banking sector more vibrant

In 1999, the RBI set up a Regulations Review Authority (RRA) for reviewing regulations, circulars and reporting systems, based on feedback from the public, banks and financial institutions. This process, besides streamlining and increasing the effectiveness of several procedures and simplifying regulatory prescriptions, paved the way for issuance of Master Circulars (MCs) and reduced reporting burden on regulated entities.MCs significantly improved general understanding of central bank rules and procedures, and increased transparency. The transition from MCs to Master Directions became effective from January 2016, heralding availability of central bank rules and regulations for each subject matter on real-time basis.The RBI set up the Second Regulations Review Authority in May 2021 to stre...
Cracking the Indian auto market: Why Ford lost and Hyundai won
Culture, Opinion

Cracking the Indian auto market: Why Ford lost and Hyundai won

Though Ford’s exit from the Indian market has not come as a surprise, it has certainly thrown into spotlight the ongoing issues of sustainability and strategy in the Indian auto industry.While poor product line up, failure of strategic partnerships and overcapacity are being cited as some reasons for Ford’s declining profitability, a comparison with Hyundai Motor, which entered India at around the same time (1998) as Ford, reveals some interesting insights on the entry and investment strategy of the American versus the Korean giant. Hyundai created a niche and was able to compete with Maruti in the small car segment initially using a combination of aggressive marketing and flexibility. Termed as Judo entry strategy in game theory, entrants can capture a significant market share from the in...
NMP — Unlocking the hidden fortune
Culture, Opinion

NMP — Unlocking the hidden fortune

The National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) was unveiled in this year’s Budget, which was later designed by the NITI Aayog. The policy envisages the Centre entering into a structured contractual partnership with private sector to unlock an estimated ₹6 lakh crore of wealth that can be ploughed back into the economy in the next four years. The NMP will be coterminus with the balance period of four years of National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) – 2020-25. The NMP will be a roadmap for the asset monetisation of various brownfield infrastructure assets. It paves a way for leasing out various state-owned infrastructure.Under NMP, the unused part of the government asset (building, land, property) will be leased out on a long term basis to private entities to start commercial activity. The long-ter...
Railways could turn the corner with infra push
Culture, Opinion

Railways could turn the corner with infra push

Amidst the Covid-triggered gloom that has permeated the country, the Indian Railways has shown resilience and optimism. It recorded highest ever annual freight loading of 1,233 million tonnes (mt) in 2020-21, exceeding the preceding year’s 1,210 mt. It has maintained the momentum in FY22 as well, despite the crippling restrictions and lockdowns.Though around one lakh of railway staff and their families were struck by the rampaging virus, all ranks of frontline railwaymen demonstrated 24x7 readiness when called to deliver, winning yet again the nation’s trust. Recall how they speedily improvised all equipment and infrastructure to operate the Oxygen Expresses, delivering more than 30,000 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen, the veritable elixir for patients battling for life in hospitals. What ...