Why we are obsessed with money

What a way to exist!

For most of us, practically the whole day all we are thinking is about money and more specifically how to have more money!

As if money was the only thing in life. Unfortunately for most of us, circumstances just do not permit any other thought!

We are running behind money most of the time which is almost akin to have become obsessed with money. Everything that we are doing in life is centred around money.

Unfortunately, this is because we need money for anything and everything that we do. There’s nothing wrong and what are you doing, however the problem is that over time, it becomes a compulsive habit to keep earning more.

That’s where the danger is. The problem is that there is a point where from we chase money as an addiction, we chase money because we like to do so. If we did not chase money we would not know what to chase now because we get out identity from money and the amount of money we have.

Another thing is that right from childhood we are always taught and our minds are conditioned that everything that we are doing is going to be for the sake of earning money.

There is no one who told you that money is just a means, and then there is something greater in life to achieve. Some examples are legacy; building something, charity; to giving something / helping someone, passion; pursuing something and living; simply to enjoy life and your money

We have got addicted to this and how!

There are three reasons for this:

First, we are what we do. It is the human behaviour. I know I should exercise and I don’t. I know I should eat healthy and I don’t. I know I should spend time with my kids and I don’t. I know that, yes, money isn’t going to make me happy and I still keep trying to make money.

We live by the laws of inertia, in a pattern which is hard to break. But we have to break it. For ourselves and for the sake of people and reasons for which we are chasing money.

Secondly, we need signals of progress. Money is a measure of how far you have progressed in life. The more the money you have the more you can make sure your progress. It’s simply the logic of evolution. People need validation of their success. Bigger house, bigger car, branded goods and list goes on.

Thirdly, it’s the easy way out. It’s only human to avoid difficult things. Important things are very difficult to measure.  Have I been a good father or husband? Have I groomed my child well?  Such things take years to measure and we still don’t have answers.

So, should we not be focused on creating money for ourselves?

I’m not saying that. Definitely create. Take care of yourself for sure!! Use it to the maximum to make yourself happy!!! You need a certain amount and beyond that is extra.

The definition of their certain amount is naturally different from one person to another. If that extra is going to happen easily, without stress and without your involvement, then its fine. Basically don’t kill yourself for that extra. Be Smart.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a certified financial planner, wealth manager and financial freedom coach.

How the RBI actually helps you

RBI

Most of us in Mumbai, see this huge structure called the Reserve Bank of India and wonder what it really does. It’s also a tourist attraction!! It has so many other offices and again one wonders why they need to have so many offices. I’m going to try and highlight a very interesting part of RBI’s work and how it helps us directly on a day-to-day basis.

The RBI does a review of the monetary policy of the country at frequent intervals during the year. So how does the monetary policy help us investors to take smart decisions?

Monetary policy is a tool by which the RBI decides to raise interest rates or reduce interest rates or keep them steady.

In our country, as we’re an oil importing nation, this decision is very closely linked to Oil. Oil to a large extent contributes to inflation. We all know what happens when inflation keeps rising. We in India unfortunately do not see too much of inflation falling and things becoming cheaper.

Oil is Not Well

So when oil prices rise i.e. we see a rise in crude oil prices almost instantly we can expect rising food prices. This is because there is going to be a rising cost pressure for manufacturing & services. This rise obviously gets passed onto the retail consumers.

When this happens RBI adopts a hawkish stance, tries to pull money out of the system by raising interest rates. Now when interest rates rise no one seems to be interested in borrowing. This immediately puts a brakes on money circulation.  Less money chasing goods decreases the demand for money. This way it controls inflation.

There is yet another tool that the RBI has and that is known as the CRR or the cash reserve ratio.  This ratio in simple words means the amount of cash that the bank must maintain with the RBI as the percentage of the total assets. So when this increases banks are forced to park more with the RBI and this is also a way to control inflation.

On the other hand when things look dull, when there is a recession of sorts, the RBI comes to the rescue and gets into action to kickstart growth in the country. It does this by lowering the interest rates. This we all will understand quite easily because we see a direct benefit of this happening. We see a fall of interest outgo in our EMI’s for the home loan that we are carrying. New loans become cheaper.

Individuals are motivated to go out and make purchases, whether it is for a washing machine or a piece of real estate. Businesses are motivated to go out and borrow to buy more machinery, to expand capacity, to hire more staff and manpower and basically do everything that will add to the growth of business.

Economic growth results as a result of all this. It is also during this time that stock market rises, we see a rally in stock prices and mutual fund NAV’s jumping higher and higher each day. There is prosperity all around.

Critical Role

As you can see that the central bank of the country has a very very important role to play.  If it makes a mistake, things can go really wrong.  Imagine like the USA or Japan if our interest rates were very low; everyone would run to borrow, they would borrow more than they require because it would be cheap and easy to borrow. And that is very individuals would run into what is known as the debt trap, because someday you’ll have to pay back.

Each day the central bank attempts to make sure that everything in our country remains stable and financially there’s nothing that goes wrong dramatically.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager & Financial Freedom Coach.

The year of the bond, once again!

We are not talking of James Bond, we are talking of investment bonds.

We are in a situation where the fixed deposit rates are at a general low and there is a lot of discontent among depositors of fixed deposits.

Whenever we see a situation like this, one way or the other, the bond markets come to the rescue. It comes to the rescue of smart depositors, who are agile to move their money from fixed deposits to bond funds.

Let’s understand what is happening and why.

What Exactly is Happening in the Bond Markets?

It is likely that in this year, investors of bond funds will make handsome gains. Bond prices may rise and there may be capital gains. Investors of bond funds not only earn the rate of interest, but also earn capital gains. So that way, they make more than the return they would make on fixed deposits. The returns could be a high single digit or sometimes as high as double digits.

Over three years, this will become practically tax free or the tax would be a very small amount. So, basically, I am thinking that a rally will happen in the bond market. There are three main reasons for this — reduction in government borrowing (which is favourable), recovery of trading losses (which is favourable) and no change in monetary policy (which is neutral).

A word of caution, however, that such bond market investments are also subject to bond-market volatility and should be considered ideally with the help of a financial expert.

Before proceeding further, let us, therefore, quickly explain a bond, bond fund and bond market. We need to do this because few people understand the bond markets and even fewer invest in the bond markets.

Bond is nothing, but a commercial transaction where the borrower is issuing a bond to the lender and the lender will earn a certain rate of interest. When interest rates fall, everyone becomes interested in owning that bond.

As a result, the demand for the bond increases, the price of the bond increases and the bondholder makes capital gains.

A bond fund is a fund where ordinary investors pool in their money and a fund manager buys them a portfolio of bonds.

Moving onto the Reasons For a Rally in Bond Funds…

Now, the fundamental reason for a rally is reduction in interest rates as it stimulates economy and growth.

Firstly, the government is a massive borrower of funds. So a reduction in government borrowing reduces the demand for money in the economy. As a result, prices of bonds rise and this contributes to capital gains for bond holders.

Secondly, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently announced that the commercial banks and RBI, which are the largest lenders to the government, will have another year to offset losses they have incurred on account of buying government bonds in the past. This action will lead to a rise in the price of bonds and this contributes to capital gains for bond holders.

Lastly, on one side due to the rise in oil prices, there is more inflation and thus more money is needed for circulation in the economy. On the other side, many government bonds are maturing, which will provide money supply. So, it is likely that we see a neutralising effect and thus RBI will take no action. This inaction here will support capital gains as explained above. Hence, this year might be a year of good gains for the bond investors.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager & Financial Freedom Coach.

Five new financial goals for you this summer

I am going to try and explain to you why the summer holidays of April and May are great months to get a lot of things started, financially speaking.

This time period in a way resets the financial clock. You also have the option to hit the reset button on everything you have done so far; financially speaking of course and hope to do better things better than you did last year.

Let’s look at some of the new and unusual things to do in April.

  • Make a learning budget

Learn something about money or anything you like. The best way to make money is to learn something about money. Just like if you wanted to learn cooking you will get into the cooking class. If you wanted to learn swimming you would enrol in the swimming class. If you find learning about money is too daunting task than learn something which is close at to your heart or related to your work. If you learn something new, there’s a possibility that you will use your new ideas to generate new income and in turn that will generate new wealth for you.  So make a budget, enrol somewhere and spend that budget. How about a % of your annual income? Spend it for sure!

  • Plan a unique holiday 

When you’re by yourself and without your mobile phone you will have the opportunity to think! When you have time to think, suddenly good ideas will come to your mind.  You may think this is silly but you can be sure that you will be amazed if your drivers experiment just once. So it might be a good idea to go for a holiday just by yourself. If you find that too intimidating, join a group of strangers. You can combine that with the adventures experience if you like.  Be extra careful if you’re going with your special buddies. Do this only if they are going to be in a position to help you discuss your idea and make it bigger. They must play the role of complimenting your thoughts. So make a schedule to do this holiday and obviously make a budget to make it happen. Think & create new ways of making wealth.

  • Make a prediction and make it happen

Be brave. Let’s aim to grow and multiply net worth by 50% by the time you come to the end of this financial year. This is not a joke and it is easier than you can imagine.  I’m speaking about NETWORTH and I’m not talking about return on investment. If your networth is Rs. 100 today, all I’m saying is that let’s aim to make this a 150 by the end of this year. This networth comprises of all your savings till date. This can be achieved by simply saving aggressively every month for the next twelve months. Just put this into a recurring deposit or liquid fund so you don’t spend it.  We just have to prove to ourselves that this is possible. Where and how we will invest this money will think about that later.

  • Eliminate a negative belief 

I want to give you an exercise here. Write down all your negative beliefs you have about money and wealth. Most people are not able to achieve the desired level of wealth because they think about wealth negatively. So even if you are earning a good amount of income you will never see yourself becoming wealthy. Examples are money causes problems, money causes a fight, managing money is complicated etc. Then for each negative thought, you have written down the positives i.e. the opposite for a few months. Soon negatively biased feelings will evaporate.

  • Make a new investment; something you have not done before

Again here you do not have to be a financial expert. The idea is to learn something new. There are hundreds of investment options. Our objective here is to learn something new. Talk to your advisor and seek his or her guidance. Just a word of caution here; don’t do anything which is speculative or is something that you just can’t understand. Do what do find easy you understand and do that then.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager & Financial Freedom Coach.

Seeking financial freedom? The time is NOW!

John Lewis famously remarked, “If not now, then when? If not us, then who?” This is so appropriate in the current financial world that we live in.

That statement will leave to rest every other argument that is conservative and against the idea of wealth creation. We are often faced with the situation where there is no option but to create wealth. Read on to know why!

Interest rates are painfully low. For all those diehard fans of guaranteed investment returns, there’s hardly any place to go to. Thinking of fixed deposits? Feeling happy with 7%? And fully taxable? That period is over. Period.

That doctrine of investing into pure fixed deposits and similar instruments is unfortunately standing challenged. There is no option but to sprinkle it with a combination of a little something that will add to the returns earned from fixed income type of securities. In fact this category of investors are in a way, best placed in terms of the current tax laws.

They can earn about 9-10% with minimal or near zero tax over about five years and more. Starting to generate rate of return above the inflation level of 7% is starting to create wealth. So there it is; there is no option but to move in the direction of creating wealth.

For more evolved investors, who invest in equities and who and still sitting on the sidelines tend to run out of patience every now and then. They are sometimes waiting for the right time, sometimes waiting for correction, sometimes waiting for valuation and sometimes waiting for just nothing. Sometimes, just too busy to take action!

I totally understand not wanting to lose hard-earned money. But if the money does not move it will stagnate. That’s the problem with money.

Hit the Ground Running

Inaction and inactivity kills it. Makes it costly to hold. Makes us lose opportunities, sometimes small and sometimes significant. I know of many people including my dad, who just kept investing into equities and holding forever. No doubt they were hugely (big HUGELY) better off then the people in the same time zone. I think they could have done far better with some smart lessons on asset allocation. This is because if they compare the growth rate of their holding over a period of 20 or maybe 30 years the compounded rate of return earned is often not impressive.

It is just marginally better or a few percentage points above the fixed deposit rate. Hence the need for asset allocation, which simply put is not to have all eggs in one basket at any given point in time. These sections of investors anyways create wealth, and, asset allocation is the tool that ensures that the process of wealth creation continues uninterrupted. So again there it is; even for this section there is not option but to start enhancing their wealth creation activities, else returns will continue to remain forever mediocre.

Then there are skeptics and there is nothing much for skeptics of everything, except that they need a serious dose of financial education. Perhaps what if needed is a proof of concept and for that, which better country to live in other than India where financial transparency in investments is so high that I sometimes feel, it comes from another planet.

 Your Money Needs Action

Today, there is a whole lot of variety to choose from and we have never been more spoilt for choice. But the most important thing in all this is to understand that your money needs action. It needs activity and for that the time is now!

And furthermore, if you asked me this question 10 years ago; I would have said that, the Time is NOW. If you ask this question 10 years hence, I will still say the Time is NOW. Any time is the right time to start the process of creating wealth. All that is important is that you take your first step; then continue it all the way with zeal and determination… till you have the level of wealth that you desire. And if you accumulate more than you need, still do it and share it with the world.

If you want your financial freedom; then the Time is NOW!

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager and Financial Freedom Coach.

Young Turks: Here’s the success story of venture fund Aspada

Venture fund Aspada was co-founded by Kartik Srivatsa and Thomas Hyland in 2012 and has made 17 investments so far across Fin-tech, agriculture, health and edu-tech startups.

Young Turks takes a look at their investment thesis, their differentiated VC model and meet three of their portfolio companies – Capital Float that underwrites unsecured loans to startups and SMEs; Dunzo, a hyper local concierge and delivery player that is also Google’s first direct startup investment in India; WayCool, a Chennai-based agriculture-tech startup.

Pfizer says 2021 COVID vaccine sales to top $33.5 billion, sees need for boosters

Will children be able to get COVID-19 vaccines?

Pfizer Inc on Wednesday raised its 2021 sales forecast for its COVID-19 vaccine by 29% to $33.5 billion, and said it believes people will need a third dose of the shot developed with German partner BioNTech to keep protection against the virus high.

The company said it could apply for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a booster dose as early as August.

Data showed that a third dose generated virus-neutralizing antibodies more than 5 times higher in younger people and more than 11 times higher in older people than from two doses against the more easily transmissible Delta variant of the virus.

“All in all, I think a third dose would strongly improve protection against infection, mild moderate disease, and reduce the spread of the virus,” Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten said on a call to discuss quarterly results.

Dolsten added that the data suggested levels of antibodies could be boosted up to 100-fold when compared to levels before the third dose.

Pfizer shares were up 3.1% at $43.41 in midday trading.

Pfizer’s decision earlier this month to seek authorization for a third dose drew criticism from U.S. health regulators, who said there was not yet enough data to show booster shots are needed. Scientists from U.S. health agencies have since discussed additional doses for people with compromised immune systems.

Meanwhile, billions of people in other countries are still waiting for a first COVID-19 shot.

Even without boosters, the company’s 2021 sales forecast is expected to move higher as it only accounts for 2.1 billion doses that it has committed to countries out of 3 billion it plans to make this year.

Pfizer said it has shipped over 1 billion doses of the vaccine since December. The U.S. drugmaker records most of the combined sales from the vaccine, and splits expenses and profit 50-50 with its German partner.

Pfizer, whose shot was authorized in the United States, Europe and other regions around the world in December of 2020, has won new orders as rivals such as AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson have faced manufacturing and safety hurdles.

Pfizer also competes with U.S. mRNA vaccine maker Moderna Inc, which has not been able to scale up production as quickly as its much larger rival.

J&J last week estimated full-year COVID-19 vaccine sales of $2.5 billion, while Moderna has forecast $19.2 billion.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan next month to test a version of the vaccine specifically designed to take on the fast-spreading Delta variant, with the first batch already manufactured, Pfizer said. The variant now accounts for more than 80% of new U.S. COVID-19 cases and has also become dominant in many other countries.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently asked Moderna to expand the size of its pediatric trial.

Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said the company expects to be able to stick to its timeline to apply for an EUA for the vaccine in children under 12 in September, despite also having been approached by the FDA about new study requirements.

“We are not changing right now our expectations,” Bourla said. “If we need to do more in less time, we will try to accommodate that.”

Pfizer also raised its estimates for overall full-year profit, with strong sales of blood thinner Eliquis, which it shares with Bristol Myers Squibb, and cancer drug Ibrance.

The vaccine is helping drive a large part of the company’s forecast, but Pfizer’s base business is also growing, said Mizuho analyst Vamil Divan.

Pfizer now expects full-year adjusted profit of $3.95 to $4.05 per share, up from its prior forecast of $3.55 to $3.65.

Sri Lanka beat India by 4 wickets to keep series alive

A depleted Indian team, playing with only five batsmen, could not defend a modest target of 133 despite a valiant effort from its players as Sri Lanka kept the three-match series alive with a four-wicket victory in the second T20 International in Colombo on Wednesday. With nine players unavailable after Krunal Pandya tested positive, India had no option but to play with six specialist bowlers, including one pacer Navdeep Saini, who wasn’t even given a single over. Dhananjaya de Silva (40 not out) anchored a tricky Lankan chase after India scored 132 for five. The hosts won with two balls to spare.

Vice-captain Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/21 in 4 overs) was economical till Chamika Karunartne launched his full-toss for a six. The 12 runs from that over brought the equation down to 8 runs off final overs which was very difficult for debutant Chetan Sakariya to defend. If one bowler despite figures of 2/30 will be annoyed is Kuldeep, who was brilliant but was let down by his fielders, who dropped a couple of catches. Some poor effort in the outfield also spoilt his figures.

Yadav outfoxed opposition skipper Dasun Shanaka by shortening the length of his stock delivery — the one that turns into the right-hander drawing him out and Sanju Samson effected a smart leg-side stumping. Minod Bhanuka (36 off 31 balls) also tried to fetch a widish tossed up delivery outside the off-stump and holed out at deep mid-wicket just after Bhuvneshwar had dropped one while running backwards when he skied one against the turn in the cover region.

Varun Chakravarthy (1/18 in 4 overs) also was impressive but the total became their undoing. Earlier, India struggled for momentum against the Sri Lankan spinners on a sluggish track, managing 132 for five.

Debutant Devdutt Padikkal, though, in his brief innings gave a glimpse of a bright future. The degree of difficulty could be gauged by the fact that only seven boundaries and a six was hit in 20 overs with as many as 42 dot balls consumed by the visiting team batsmen. Skipper Shikhar Dhawan (40 off 2 balls) aware of a thin-on experience batting line-up had a cautious approach on a track where ball simply refused to come onto the bat and improvisation was the order of the day.

With heavy rain slowing the outfield, run-making became an ordeal but young Padikkal (29 off 23 balls) was elegant as usual before a moment’s indiscretion did him in. The other much-anticipated debut of Ruturaj Gaikwad (21 off 18 balls) also ended in a whimper when a Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka’s short ball climbed on him and he got himself in a tangle while playing a pull-shot that went straight-up after for Minod Bhanuka.

Knowing that only five batsmen are playing on the day, Dhawan had to cut down on risky shots even though a cover drive, an on-drive and a slog-pull behind square were there among his five fours before off-spinner Dananjaya de Silva (2/13) got him to play the slog-sweep. But the man who impressed the most was Padikkal, who slog swept Dhanajaya de Silva for a six, ran well between the wickets during his 32-run stand with skipper Dhawan and brief one with Sanju Samson.

He also reverse swept Wanindu Hasaranga (1/30) for a boundary before a non-existent slog-sweep brought about his downfall. Some of his strokes didn’t reach the boundary but the Bengaluru boy showed that he has the temperament required for the highest level. But the player, who once again blew away an opportunity was Sanju Samson (7 off 13 balls). He was hoodwinked by a leg break from Akila Dananjaya (2/29) and was bowled. Samson has now blown away nine chances in T20 Internationals and is unlikely to get too many more after Thursday’s final game.

STARTUP DIGEST: Droom turns unicorn, Ola expands ESOP pool to Rs 3,000 cr

There were several important developments in the startup space during the day on Wednesday. Here are the top stories from the startup universe:

Freshworks, Eka Software founders launch $85 million VC fund

Freshworks founder Girish Mathrubootham and Eka Software founder Manav Garg launch a venture capital fund—Together— with a corpus of $85 million that has seen participation from leading tech entrepreneurs such as Kunal Shah of Cred, Ritesh Arora of BrowserStack and Gaurav Munjal from Unacademy, to back new-age startups that can go global.

“Together is India’s first operator-led fund. The fund is not meant to provide money alone,” Mathrubootham told CNBC-TV18.

The fund has seen participation from institutional funds, venture capitalists and tech entrepreneurs as well as professionals such as chief marketing officers and chief technology officers.

Together has already invested in seven startups, some of which are in the areas of digital health, fintech SaaS, companies build development tools and API infrastructure etc.

Droom turns unicorn post pre-IPO fundraise

Online automobile marketplace Droom has closed the first round of its up to $200 million pre-IPO funding round. The round has valued the company at $1.2 billion, making it the latest entrant into the unicorn club.

The round was raised from existing and new investors such as 57 Stars and Seven Train Ventures.

Droom, which is the 17th Indian unicorn so far this year, competes with likes of CarDekho, Cars24, Spinny and CarTrade in the used-car retail space. The company will use the funds to grow its presence in Top 100 cities of India and international markets and augment its last-mile delivery service.

Ola expands ESOP pool to Rs 3,000 cr ahead of proposed IPO

Ride-hailing giant Ola has expanded its employee stock option pool to Rs 3,000 crore.

The company is also allocating an additional Rs 400 crore worth of stocks to its employees as it prepares for its IPO.

The allocation rewards Ola’s high-impact employees and will lead to long-term wealth creation for them, the company said.

“Our expanded ESOP programme, along with the fresh stock allocation of Rs400 crore, enables our key talent to participate in the long-term wealth creation opportunities generated by their innovations and the impact they create,” said Bhavish Aggarwal, founder, Ola.

Earlier this month, Ola also raised $500 million from private equity giants Warburg Pincus and Temasek.

India-focused messaging startup Gupshup raises $240 M for share buy-back
Messaging startup Gupshup raises $240 million from Tiger Global Management and others to buy back shares ahead of a possible IPO next year.

Gupshup which allows businesses to communicate with customers through existing chat channels like text messaging had raised $100 million in April from Tiger Global and was valued at $1.4 billion.

“As Gupshup has been around for well over a decade, there was even an investor who passed away, making the buyback necessary,” said CEO Beerud Sheth.

The Whole Truth raises $6 million from Sequoia Capital

Health food brand The Whole Truth has raised $6 million in a Series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital India.

The round saw participation from existing investors Matrix Partners India and Sauce.Vc, along with a clutch of marquee angels like Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Udaan co-founder Sujeet Kumar and BharatPe co-founders Ashneer Grover and Shashvat Nakrani.

The company said that the fresh capital will be used to hire talent, expand manufacturing capabilities and enter new clean food categories.
The clean-label food brand claims to have grown 12x in the last 18 months.

AR-based social media platform Flam raises $3.5 mn

Flam, an AR-powered social media networking platform has raised a seed funding investment of $3.5 million led by Silicon Valley Quad and Inventus Capital Partners SV.

9Unicorns, Kwaish Ventures and prominent angels also participated in the round.

The seed capital will be used to further fuel growth and engagement on social media features, build a scalable next-gen AR engine, drive AR adoption, and expand to international markets, the company said in a statement.

The funding will also be used to develop a tech team comprising Computer Vision, Graphic Engineering, GPS Mapping, Social Media Product, Growth Managers, and 3D Designers to meet the company’s future needs.

Weather startup Skymet raises Rs 12 cr in debt funding

Weather forecasting and agri solutions startup Skymet has raised Rs 12 crore in debt funding from Northern Arc Capital and Caspian Impact Investments.
The company intends to use the funds to bolster its ground observation systems and accurate prediction of floods and cyclones in east India.

Skymet provides weather data services to media houses and also works in the farmers network by offering tech-enabled weather solutions to decrease their risk and in turn increasing their productivity.

The company said it is increasing focus on using the weather forecasting data for farming and is rapidly collaborating with different organizations to supply their needs for weather data so that it can be used for precision farming.
“The size of the weather forecasting industry in India is pegged to be around $100 Mn and has a lot of scope and opportunities which haven’t been exploited yet,” the company said.

Fitness tech startup Insane AI raises $873K seed round

AI-powered fitness training startup Insane AI, has closed $873,000 in seed round led by pi Ventures along with a clutch of angel investors including Anupam Mittal, Founder and CEO, People Group, Sameer Pitalwalla, ex-Culture Machine, Epic Games, Saumil Majumdar, Founder, SportzVillage, Karan Tanna, CEO, GhostKitchens, Arjun Jain, Faculty at IISc, and LetsVenture.

As per the company, Insane AI plans to utilise the funding to invest in product development and innovation, strengthen its tech team, and accelerate growth in the international market.

The startup uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to create home workouts and personalised training plans

LikeMinds launches SaaS Platform to boost creator economy

A mobile-first chat based platform LikeMind has unveiled its SaaS platform for community creator.

The platform has inbuilt tools for member acquisition, onboarding, retention, moderation, monetization, and referrals. The platform drives high engagement and belongingness via chat rooms, events, polls, member directory, and rewards, the company said.

The startup has helped 100+ creators including entertainers, fitness & wellness trainers, domain experts, language instructors, life coaches, financial experts, micro-entrepreneurship coaches, exam prep coaches, it claimed.
CropIn ties up with Tanzania-based food processing company Unyiha Associates.

AI and Data led Agtech company CropIn announced a strategic long-term partnership with Tanzania-based food processing company Unyiha Associates.

As per the company, the partnership aims to enable the digital transformation of the agricultural ecosystem in Tanzania and East Africa.

Through the partnership, CropIn will offer a solutions aiming at the digitization of the Tanzanian agriculture ecosystem value chain to ensure transparency and financial self-sufficiency in the ecosystem.

CropIn will also help Unyiha Associates to enrich the livelihoods of people and communities by delivering sustainable and good quality farm produce to them, the company said in a statement.

Mason launches ModeMagic Partner Program to help SMBs

SaaS startup for e-commerce entrepreneurs and DTC brands Mason announced the launch of ModeMagic Partner Program – an initiative for retailers & merchants in India and across the globe to collaborate with the industry’s leading e-commerce agencies experts & technologies.

With the ModeMagic Partner program, Mason’s clients will more easily identify and collaborate with the right pre-qualified partners across a range of technology and industry solutions, which will ensure that sure that any small-mid scale online store owner can also create delightful shopping experiences for their customers at all times – without the hassle of learning how to code, according to the firm.

Snapdeal’s fashion sales grew 210% in H1 2021

E-commerce company Snapdeal said today that sales in its fashion category have grown by 210 percent in the first six months of 2021 (January-June).
The growth was driven by users replenishing their wardrobe to meet work-from-home clothing needs (“Zoom fashion” that includes mostly waist-up garments such as T-Shirts, shirts and tops). Another factor that drove fashion purchases was the desire to buy new clothes to meet friends and family after a long gap and to meet travel needs, the firm said.

With people continuing to work from home post pandemic-induced lockdowns, Snapdeal has seen volume growth in casual wear including lounge wear (tracks, shorts, t-shirts, tops, dresses etc), athleisure sportswear and masks.

‘Value-buying’ emerged as a common theme cutting across buyers and categories in the apparel sector. “On an average, the popular price range for a single fashion item on Snapdeal is now anywhere between Rs 300-450, as compared to Rs 450-550 in 2020. In fact, on Snapdeal the purchases within the Rs 450 segment have doubled to 40 per cent in H1 of 2021 as compared to H1 2020,” Snapdeal said in a statement.

Bitcoin rises above $40,000

Bitcoin broke above $40,000 on Wednesday and headed for another attempt at breaking from its months long range as short sellers bailed out and traders drew confidence from recent positive comments about the cryptocurrency by high-profile investors.

According a Reuters report, Bitcoin was last up 1.7 percent at $40,149 while rival cryptocurrency ether rose 1 percent to $2,328. Bitcoin is within a small range of rising through its 100-day moving average.

Tango Eye onboards Arindam Chakraborty as CTO

E-surveillance and SOP compliance company Tango Eye has brought on board former vice-president of BNY Mellon Technology, Arindam Chakraborty, as its chief technology officer.

At Tango Eye, Chakraborty will be responsible for managing the technology, delivery, new generation platform and architecture development, and developing short and long-term technology objectives in line with the long-term company strategy, the company said in a statement.

Tango Eye is backed by unicorn retailer Lenskart through their Vision fund and is currently present in 1,000+ stores across India, Singapore, and Europe.

Instagram adds more protections for Teenagers

Social media platform Instagram will now ensure that users under the age of 16 will find their accounts set to private by default. It will also make changes to how advertisers can reach younger audiences and restrict targeting to just three metrics.

For users who are under 16 and already on Instagram with a public account, the platform will not force them to go private. Instead, it will show them a notification highlighting the benefits of a private account and explaining how to change their privacy settings.

Instagram will also stop adults whose activity has been labeled as suspicious from interacting with young people’s accounts, in attempts to keep potential child predators from connecting with younger audiences.

The platform will no longer show young people’s accounts and Reels in the ‘For You’ tab to adults who have been identified as “potentially suspicious.”

Amazon follows Flipkart to SC in anti-trust probe

After Flipkart, Amazon has now filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the July 23 order of the Karnataka High Court which had allowed the Competition Commission of India to probe both the companies over alleged anti-competitive practices.

The Karnataka High Court last week dismissed cases filed by Amazon and Flipkart which sought to quash the CCI investigation on accusations that the companies circumvent Indian law by creating complex business structures.
The companies have denied wrongdoing, but the High Court said “they should not feel shy in facing an inquiry”.

Details of Amazon’s plea were not immediately clear. As per Reuters, the apex court’s website showed the case listing of an appeal, without giving further details.

Delhi HC pulls up Twitter for non-compliance with IT rules

The Delhi High Court on July 28 pulled up social media giant Twitter over its non-compliance with new Information Technology (IT) rules that came into effect in May this year.

As the new digital rules require social media intermediaries to appoint grievance, compliance, and nodal officers who must be residents of India, the court slammed Twitter over its appointment of “contingent” grievance and compliance officers.

The high court said that the affidavit filed by the microblogging site reveals appointments of the officers are mere “contingent” in nature. Twitter gives the impression that a third-party contractor has been hired for the roles, the court noted.

It also said, “Things were better off with Twitter having appointed an “interim” officer, what does Twitter mean by “contingent”.

As the court held Twitter’s affidavit unacceptable, it said if the social media firm wants to comply with new IT rules, it should do it wholeheartedly.

The court added that Twitter is making so much money from the Indian market and yet it has not complied with IT rules. “We are giving Twitter a long rope, we don’t want third-party contractors,” it said.

The high court came down hard on the social media giant and said, “Why should Twitter not be held to be in contempt of court, IT rules clearly prescribe the officers should be employees? Appointments by Twitter are in the teeth of the rules. There must be some seriousness.”

Meanwhile, the Centre reiterated in the court that IT rules require the compliance officer and grievance officer to be an employee of the firm. It said that Twitter has admitted that the person appointed as a compliance officer is a contract worker.

“There is abject non-compliance with rules, it has been months, logical consequences must follow,” the Centre said and accused Twitter of repeated non-compliance with rules by using word-play in courts.

GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY & STARTUP NEWS

Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet report combined profits of more than $50 bn

Double-digit growth for Apple in India, says Tim Cook Tech giants Apple; Microsoft and Google owner Alphabet reported combined profits of more than $50 billion in the April-June quarter.

For April, May, and June, Apple recorded revenue of $81.43 billion, up 36 percent year-on-year. According to the company, it made a profit of $21.74 billion in this quarter. The earnings-per-share in this quarter was registered at $1.30.

Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged the brand’s rapid growth in India and put the country in his list of ’emerging markets’. “We set a new June quarter revenue record of $81.4 billion, up 36 percent from last year, and the vast majority of markets we tracked grew double digits, with especially strong growth in emerging markets, including India, Latin America, and Vietnam,” said Cook.

He added, “Apple is reporting a very strong quarter with double-digit revenue growth across our product and services categories and in every geographic segment.”

Google’s earnings improved markedly over the year-ago period, when the pandemic was starting to bite consumer spending and its partner, advertising.

Powered by Google, Alphabet earned $18.53 billion, or $27.26 per share, during the quarter, a nearly threefold increase from last year’s earnings of $6.96 billion, or $10.13 per share. Google’s advertising revenue soared 69 percent to $50.44 billion.

Meanwhile, Microsoft on Tuesday reported fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $16.5 billion, up 47 percent from the same period last year. Net income of $2.17 per share beat Wall Street expectations. The software maker also topped forecasts by posting revenue of USD 46.2 billion in the quarter that ended on June 30, a 21 per cent increase over the same time last year.

Spotify sees rise of 20% in Q2, 2021

Spotify beat Wall Street estimates for second-quarter revenue on Wednesday, as the music streaming company reported a 20-percent jump in paid subscribers for its premium service driven by demand in Europe and North America.

Revenue rose to EUR 2.33 billion (roughly Rs. 20,460 crores) for the quarter, from EUR 2.15 billion (roughly Rs. 18,875 crores) a year earlier. Analysts were expecting revenue of EUR 2.29 billion (roughly Rs. 20,105 crores), according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total monthly active users (MAUs) rose 22 percent to 365 million.
Shopify beats revenue expectations on resilient online shopping trend
Canada’s e-commerce giant Shopify beat second-quarter revenue expectations on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

“Shopify fired on all cylinders in our second quarter, keeping our merchants well equipped to seize the opportunities presented in a post-pandemic retail era,” said Amy Shapero, Shopify’s chief financial officer.

US-listed shares of Shopify rose 2 percent in premarket trading. Shopify’s value nearly tripled over the last year due to unprecedented growth of the e-commerce sector.

Net income rose to $879.1 million, or $6.90 per share, from about $36 million, or 29 cents per share, a year earlier. The jump in net income was due to the inclusion of $778 million of unrealized gains on its equity investments, Shopify said.

The company’s revenue rose 57 percent to $1.12 billion for the quarter ended June 30, compared with analysts’ average estimate of $1.05 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Visa-backed payments firm Conductor readies US IPO

Brazilian payments firm Conductor has hired banks for an initial public offering in the United States that could come as early as this year, sources told Reuters.
Conductor, which is backed by venture capital firm Riverwood Capital and payments processor Visa, is a provider of technology for financial services. Its tools allow retailers, banks and financial startups to offer credit cards and payment wallets to their clients, for instance.

Investment banking units of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Bank of America and Credit Suisse will manage the offering.

Conductor has 95 million users and processes $20 billion in payments transactions per year in Latin America, according to the company’s website.

Adani Enterprises gets land in Noida for data centre billed to be ‘one of the largest’ in country

Adani Enterprises has been allotted over 34,000 square metre land in Noida for setting up a data centre with an investment of around Rs 2,400 crore, the Noida Authority said on Wednesday.

The land has been allotted in the commercial Sector 62 of the city and the project is expected to generate employment for 1,350 people, the authority said in a statement.

Noida is one of the several locations where Adani Enterprises is establishing data centres across the country, the Adani Group told PTI. The Adani Group said it has procured land in Noida to establish “one of the largest data centres” in the country.

“As part of the Uttar Pradesh government’s objective to encourage investment in the state in information technology (IT) and information technology-enabled services (ITES), and spur employment, two land plots have been allotted this week,” the Noida Authority said.

“Adani Enterprises has been allotted 34,275 sq metre land in Sector 62 where it will develop a world-class data centre with an estimated investment of Rs 2,400 crore. The project would generate 1,350 employment opportunities and fetch a revenue of Rs 103.41 crore to the Noida Authority,” it added.

The other land plot measuring 16,350 sq metre has been allotted to MAQ India in Sector 145 for its IT projects where the company is expected to invest Rs 250 crore and generate employment for around 2,500 people, the authority said. Land allotment to MAQ India will fetch the authority a revenue of Rs 33.90 crore, according to the statement.

In a statement, the Adani Group said, “This (Noida) is one of the several locations across India that we see having significant potential for establishing Data Centres as we build out 400 to 500 MW of Data Centre capacity over the next five years.”

“Our position as the largest renewable power player in the country, as well as our access to several undersea cables across the Indian coastline through our port locations, puts us in a strong position in one of the most happening data centre markets in the world, it stated.

India skips London meeting on climate change; here’s why

India has skipped a two-day ministerial meeting on climate change in London, which was mapped out to lay the ground work for the COP 26 meet that happens in November in Glasgow.

The decision comes following India’s announcement a few days back on its disagreement with the language on net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

India said that it may not be adequate in view of fast depleting carbon reserves. They also urged G20 countries to bring down their per capita carbon emissions to the world average because it will allow other developing countries to grow.

Remember, India’s current greenhouse emissions are just 1/3 of the global average that is currently and countries like US, Canada, Germany, Australia, UK have much higher per capita emissions than the global average and that is why despite India being the third largest emitter in the world, stands at 134th rank as far as per capita emissions are concerned of course, population plays a big role there.

So overall, this move has been receiving a lot of criticism. But it is important to remember that main summit is in November, the big one which the entire global economy will be watching out for and also a lot more countries have also supported India’s idea and India stand on carbon emission norms.

However, the government later clarified that India couldn’t attend the climate meet in London due to technical issues.

To know more, watch the video.

Explained: How Hong Kong’s security law will be applied as China tightens its grip

At least 128 arrested people are awaiting trial under the National Security Law in Hong Kong, including three minors, dozens of politicians, and journalists. The first person to be tried under Hong Kong’s new security law was found guilty on July 27.

Tong Ying-kit was found guilty on charges of inciting secession and terrorism after he drove a motorcycle into a group of policemen during Hong Kong’s protests. 

Here is all you need to know about how this law will be applied and what it means for Hong Kong:

What is the National Security Law?

The National Security Law was passed last year even as Hong Kongers had been widely protesting against the enactment of the legislation. The law was seen as a way of China clamping down its authority in the city. The law was so unpopular in Hong Kong, which only joined China in 1999, that its 66 articles were not even revealed to the public until after it was passed. 

The law in essence criminalised secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces. 

What was the case against Tong Ying-kit?

Ying-kit, 24, was charged with inciting secession and terrorism. The former restaurant worker had been a part of the widespread protests against the passing of the law in Hong Kong. He was charged with terrorism for driving a motorcycle into 3 policemen, and inciting secession for flying a flag calling for Hong Kong’s liberation.

“Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” his flag had read during the protests. While Tong pleaded not guilty, the presiding Justice Esther Toh said Tong “committed terrorist activities causing or intended to cause grave harm to the society.”

The procedure of his trial was dictated by the new law as well. He was denied bail and the case was decided by three judges personally appointed to preside over the case by Carrie Lam. Carrie Lam is the Chief Executive of Hong Kong and Chairperson of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security. Traditionally, cases are decided by a jury of peers in Hong Kong. 

Tong now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for his crimes.

What have Rights groups said?

Yamini Mishra, Asia-Pacific Regional Director of Amnesty International, in a statement, said, “The conviction of Tong Ying-kit is a significant and ominous moment for human rights in Hong Kong. Today’s verdict underlines the sobering fact that expressing certain political opinions in the city is now officially a crime, potentially punishable by life in jail.”

Rogers, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Watch, said that the trial “sets a grim precedent that will open the path to further arrests, prosecutions, and political trials”.

Meanwhile, China has dismissed all criticism, claiming that it is only reestablishing order in the city. 

Other activists, leaders and pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong have already been arrested, fleed into exile or silenced to speak up. Hong Kong’s last pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, was forced by authorities to shut down last month as well.  

RBI imposes Rs 5-cr penalty on Axis Bank

Axis Bank

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday imposed a Rs 5 crore penalty on Axis Bank for contravention of certain provisions issued by the apex bank, which include cybersecurity framework.

The central bank, in a statement, said this action was based on the deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers.

The penalty was imposed for “contravention of/non-compliance” with certain provisions of directions, which include “strengthening the controls of payment ecosystem between sponsor banks and SCBs/UCBs as a corporate customer’; ‘cybersecurity framework in banks’; and ‘Reserve Bank of India (Financial Services provided by Banks) directions, 2016”.

The apex bank said the statutory inspections for supervisory evaluation (ISE) of the bank were conducted with reference to its financial position as on March 31, 2017, (ISE 2017), March 31, 2018, (ISE 2018), and March 31, 2019 (ISE 2019).

The non-compliance has been revealed by the examination of the Risk Assessment Reports pertaining to ISE 2017, ISE 2018 and ISE 2019.

The report of scrutiny carried out by RBI in the backdrop of the incident relating to a fraud and related correspondence thereto; and the incident report submitted by the bank in June 2020 related to a few suspected transactions and related correspondence. Notices were issued to the bank advising it to show cause as to why penalty should not be imposed on it for its failure to comply with the directions.

The central bank said after considering the bank’s replies, oral submissions, and examination of additional submissions made by the bank, the RBI came to the conclusion that the charges of non-compliance with contravention of the directions were substantiated and warranted imposition of monetary penalty.

RBI, however, added the imposition of penalty is based on the deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers.

Meanwhile, the RBI has also imposed a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on Alibag Co-operative Urban Bank Limited, Raigad, and Rs 1 lakh on The Mahabaleshwar Urban Cooperative Bank Limited, Mahabaleshwar, for deficiencies of regulatory compliance, according to a PTI report.

With PTI inputs

Paytm Payments Bank crosses 1 crore FASTags mark

Paytm

Paytm Payments Bank on Wednesday said it has become the first bank in the country to achieve the milestone of issuing 1 crore FASTags.

According to NPCI, over 3.47 crore FASTags were issued by all banks together till the end of June 2021. Paytm Payments Bank (PPBL) now has close to 28 percent share as FASTag issuer bank, it said.

“In the last 6 months alone, PPBL has equipped over 40 lakh commercial & private vehicles with FASTags. Besides this, Paytm Payments Bank is also India’s largest acquirer of toll plazas for the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) program offering an interoperable nationwide toll payment solution,” it said in a statement.

According to PPBL, 280 out of the total 851 toll plazas across the national and state highways are now using its payment gateway to collect toll charges digitally.

“Paytm Payments Bank is also working closely with NHAI for testing and implementing multi-lane free-flow movement using automatic number plate recognition technology. This will further improve the overall customer experience while travelling on the national highways. Paytm FASTag is linked to the Paytm Wallet ensuring users don’t have to opt for multiple recharges,” the statement said.

PPBL claims to have won 82 percent of cases of payment disputes regarding toll payments on behalf of its customers.

“The innovations that we have made in technology and the deep trust in our bank has helped us become the top issuer and the largest acquiring bank under the NETC programme. We aim to continue taking the government’s initiative of building digital highways across the country further with our payments technology,” Paytm Payments Bank Ltd MD and CEO Satish Gupta said.

According to draft documents filed by Paytm for its Rs 16,600 crore IPO, PPBL has 15.5 crore UPI handles on its platform. As of March 31, 2021, PPBL had 6.4 crore savings accounts, and over Rs 5,200 crore deposits, including savings accounts, current accounts, fixed deposits with partner banks, and balance in wallets.

Data firm RedSeer’s analysis shows that Paytm’s gross merchandise value at Rs 4,03,300 crore is the highest in the payments industry, while Paytm Payment Gateway has become the largest payment gateway aggregator in India based on total transactions.

RBI begins publishing Digital Payment Index data; March sees index rising by 30% over last year

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday published its first-ever Digital Payment Index (RBI-DPI) to gauge the extent of digitisation of payments across the country. The index stood at 270.59 for the month of March, up from 207.84 a year ago, indicating a rise of over 30 percent over the year, RBI data showed.

“The RBI-DPI index has demonstrated significant growth in the index representing the rapid adoption and deepening of digital payments across the country in recent years,” RBI said in a press release on Wednesday.

The index uses March 2018 as the base year, i.e. the DPI score for March 2018 set at 100. The DPI for March 2019 and March 2020 stood at 153.47 and 207.84 respectively and rose further to 217.74 in September 2020.

Also read: Delhi HC pulls up RBI over plea seeking regulation of digital lending platforms

The pace of digital payments adoption has been on a rising trend in India, and the pandemic gave a huge fillip to the acceptance of digital infrastructure.

 

RBI-DPI INDEX
Period RBI- DPI Index
March 2018 (Base) 100
March 2019 153.47
September 2019 173.49
March 2020 207.84
September 2020 217.74
March 2021 270.59

 

The central bank had first announced the construction of a composite RBI-DPI in February of 2020, and it went live on January 1, 2021. While announcing the launch of the DPI earlier this year, RBI had said that the index would be published on a semi-annual basis from March 2021 onwards with a lag of 4 months.

Both the RBI as well as the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) already regularly publish data on digital payments. However, this is the first such index created by RBI.

Also read: Time for central digital currency is near, says RBI deputy governor T Rabi Sankar

The RBI-DPI comprises five broad parameters that enable the measurement of deepening and penetration of digital payments in the country over different time periods. These parameters are – (i) Payment Enablers (weight 25%), (ii) Payment Infrastructure – Demand-side factors (10%), (iii) Payment Infrastructure – Supply-side factors (15%), (iv) Payment Performance (45%) and (v) Consumer Centricity (5%). Each of these parameters have sub-parameters which, in turn, consist of various measurable indicators.

For instance, payment enablers include the internet, mobile, Aadhar, bank accounts, participants, and merchants. Payment Infrastructure demand-side factors include debit and credit cards, FASTag, PPIs, and customer-registered mobile and internet banking.

On the supply side, payment infrastructure includes bank branches, business correspondents, ATMs, PoS terminals, QR Codes, and intermediaries.

Also read: RBI approves shorter tenure for private bank’ MD & CEOs in lieu of pandemic, except Federal Bank

Payment performance sub-parameters include volume and value of digital payment systems, unique users, paper clearing, currency in circulation, and cash withdrawals.

Consumer-centric sub-parameters include awareness and education, declines, frauds, complaints, and system downtime. RBI has not disclosed the individual parameter-level performance.

Paytm to recruit over 20,000 sales executives ahead of IPO

Paytm

Paytm is looking to increase its workforce significantly by adding over 20,000 sales executives. The financial services company will be increasing its sales team ahead of its planned Rs 16,600-crore initial public offering (IPO) to compete with other payment platforms like PhonePe and GooglePay.

The sales executives will promote Paytm’s products, including QR codes, POS machines, Paytm Soundbox, Paytm wallet, UPI, Paytm Postpaid, merchant loans and insurance offerings, to various merchants.

The company has not released an official statement yet on the matter but the company has unveiled its Field Sales Executive (FSE) programme, built to provide jobs to undergraduates. A sales executive will be able to earn Rs 35,000 on top of any commissions and bonuses. The only requirements to become an FSE are they should own a smartphone; be above 18 years; should have passed Class 10 or Class 12 exams or be a graduate. National Payment Corporation Ltd data revealed that Paytm had 11 percent of market share in UPI payments, while rivals PhonePe had 45 percent, and Google Pay 35 percent, in May.

Paytm will reportedly open its IPO later down the year near October. The company had filed its draft prospectus with regulator SEBI in July. The company will be looking to raise Rs 8,300 crore via equity along with another Rs 8,300 crore, which will be raised through an offer-for-sale of shares held by Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Alibaba group firms. Paytm had previously said it would use Rs 4,300 crore from the IPO to expand its market share by acquiring customers and merchants.