Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nine of the World’s Biggest Banks Form Blockchain Partnership


Banks in Partnership to Form Blockchain

According to reports, nine of the world’s biggest banks which include Goldman Sachs as well as Barclays have come together with New York based financial tech firm R3 in order to develop a structure in utilising blockchain technology in the market.

For the first time banks have now joined forces to work on a shared way in which the technology that helpsbitcoin a Web based cryptocurency couldbe utilised in finance. Interest in blockchain has increased in the past few years and has already attracted major investments from many important banks which would be saving them money by making their operation quicker, efficient and more translucent.

The latest project which is the outcome of over a year’s worth of consultations with the R3, the banks as well as other members of the financial industry, would be led by R3 CEO David Rutter, earlier CEO of electronic trading at ICAP Electronic Trading which is one of the world’s largest interdealer brokers.

Rutter had informed Reuters recently that they had several round tables to consider in depth what the possible implications of the blockchain would be and what it could probably do in order to save money and time as well as to create an improved paradigm for the world of Wall Street and finance.

Function as Huge Decentralized Ledger

Some of those who have signed up for the initiative are J P Morgan, UBS, State Street, Royal Bank of Scotland, BBVA and Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Credit Suisse.

Blockchain tends to function as a huge decentralized ledger of all bitcoin transaction made which has been verified and shared through a global network of computers.

Hence it tends to be effectively tamper-proof. A team from Bank of England have been dedicated to it calling it a `key technological innovation’. Data that can be safeguarded by using the technology is not limited to bitcoin transactions.

Two parties could utilise it for the exchange of any other information quickly as well as without the need of a third party to verify the same. Rutter has mentioned that the earlier focus would be to approve on underlying architecture, however it had not been certain whether it would be supported by bitcoin’s blockchain or another one like one which is being built by Ethereum, offering additional features than the initial bitcoin technology.

Technologies - Transform Financial Transactions

He further added that once the same is agreed on, the first use of the technology could be the issuance of commercial paper on the blockchain.

He is of the belief that these technologies would probably be post-trade and the savings would be in the settlement side, in post-trade in issuance though not in exchange trading of OTC trading, in the near future. He also mentioned that R3 will soon be announcing a few more banks that would be joining the banks.

 Hu Liang, Senior Vice President as well as the head of emerging technologies at State Street, had mentioned in a statement that these new technologies could transform how financial transactions are recorded, reconciled as well as reported, with all additional security, lower error rates and significant cost reductions.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Could This Start-Up Save the Greek Economy


Week Long Start-up – Contribute to Crisis Worn Greek Economy

A week long start-up fast-track program had been started recently in London for the purpose of locating ways which would make some contribution to the crisis worn Greek economy. In 2012, the Greek government had the largest sovereign debt default in history and on June 30 2015, it became the first developed country to fail in making an IMF loan repayment while at that time, Greece’s government had debts amounting to €323bn.

Six short listed companies would now be working with mentors as well as investors which includes Steve Vranakis, Google executive together with George Kartakis of PayPal owned Braintree in refining their views prior to competing in a Dragons Den-style event.

The idea includes a chemical formula in order to protect historical sites from illustrations, a scheme of recycling unused hotel toiletries, a Mastiha liqueur importer, an online education manager a digital diary for the purpose of booking civil weddings as well as an internet shop for products that are handmade by the Greek businesses.

The accelerator program which is run in partnership with Watershed Entrepreneurs is planned by Greek expats as well as others who have a social and an economic impact in Greece.

The Brain Drain-Lost Generation-Lose Contact

Co-founder Effie Kyrtata, a 25 year old Athenian who had moved to London seven years back has stated that `as they are based in London, they are tapping into the dispersion, the global community who are connected with Greece.

He adds that they have seen a lot of people leaving Greece to go to other countries – the brain drain, the lost generation and lose contact with Greece and that he wants to create a bridge between Greece and the UK’. Reload Greece, has helped entrepreneurs to raise £1m in funding over the past 18 months which generally runs mentorship schemes that tend to run for several months, however was prompted to do the strong accelerator as a reaction to the recent economic improvements in Greece.

Kyrtata has stated that this is our effort to do something fast due to the great need that exists. They are aiming to activate the community which resides abroad in making an immediate impact now and what can be done that will help the Greek economy straight away by using the youth and the people who have left’.

Six Start-ups – Refining Business Plans/Coordinate/Interact

The six start-ups that had been selected from more than thirty applications from the UK as well as Europe would be refining their business plans, coordinate with successful entrepreneurs and interact with expert mentors prior to pitching to a panel of investors. The winner is said to receive five free business coaching sessions from Eudaimonia Coaching.

However, Reload Greece is hoping that all the participants would be able to make their contributions to the Greek economy by developing jobs and boosting businesses. Moreover, the non-profit organisation also perceives its task as much more than financial. Kyrtata has commented that they desire to change the perception which the world has created about Greece by showcasing young as well as successful entrepreneurs who could make a difference and that there is a crisis and it is essential to be motivated to create new things’.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

China Economic Transformation Painful and Treacherous

China’s Economic Changeover – `Painful & Treacherous’

China’s changeover from an economy which is greatly dependent on manufacturing is a painful and treacherous one. China’s economic reformation has entered its most critical phase and authorities should deepen improvements in significant areas, eliminate barriers and restore the framework. Various challenges and tough times will be faced ahead.

This would create rare investment opportunities together with volatility and fluctuations and investors need to be positive and alert, looking for options to profit from the changes. China’s Premier Li Keqiang answered queries during a meeting on September 2, 2015, with foreign company executives at the World Economic Forum – WEF, in China’s port city Dalian and stated that China should embrace its global obligations with regards to combating climate change and that the country was already under huge pressure to meet emission reduction goals.

He admitted that the country is on track in achieving its target this year. He had informed the audience at the event that it was difficult to achieve 7% growth domestic product – GDP growth as China has targeted in 2015. However the nation’s new growth drivers as it tends to move from factories to a broader, service based economy would speedily tend to take shape.

Leaders Not Influenced by Short-Term Fluctuations

Li added that the Chinese economy has a bright future to what is known as the Summer Davos saying that `this is not unrealistic optimism’. Li further commented that China would be continuing in reforming its markets which included adopting an open and transparent capital market and relax restrictions on capital flow in the country.

He adds that over 10,000 new businesses are being registered in China each day and `sharing economy’ have been making new ways in creating growth.As the changeover takes place, leaders of China would not be influenced by short-term fluctuation in the economy, according to Li, who describes the company as shock-resistant and resilient.

His message reverberated to a statement which had been made by Finance Minister, Lou Jiwei earlier at the G-20 meeting in Ankara, Turkey wherein he had informed that China was not focused on monthly data. The position is at add with some of the economists who believe that what data is available from China, indicate that the world’s second largest economy is probably heading for a recession.

Risk of Falling into Deflation

Recession is usually demarcated as two successive quarters of a contraction in GDP. The influential Citigroup chief economists and a former member of the Bank of England’s interest rate-setting committee, Willem Buiter, have cautioned in a note that `there is a high and rising likelihood of a Chinese, EM – emerging market and global recession scenario playing out’.

Later on he also informed CNBC that the official data which had been provided by China was `largely meaningless’ and as per Citi’s own model, the economy of China had increased by 4 percent in 2014 and not at 7.3 percent since the number was studied down, by China earlier in the week.

The data that was released recently indicated that consumer inflation had accelerated in August when producers’ prices had fallen deeper into deflation. The CPI – China’s consumer price index increased to 2% in August from the previous year against expectations for a 1.8% increase from Reuter’s poll, following July’s gain of 1.6%. Chief China economist, Li-Gang Liu, at ANX stated that `as PPI remains negative for over three years, China is still facing the risk of falling into deflation’.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Coin is the Future of Payments


Coin – Secured & Connected Device for Transaction

Coin, a secure, connected device can hold and act like the card we tend to carry and works with debit cards, credit cards, gift card, membership cards and loyalty cards. Instead of carrying multiple cards, users could carry one Coin with several accounts together with information in one place.

Coin functions by enabling the user to add all the cards onto one piece of technology on `the Coin’. On signing with the Coin app with the same identifications to order Coin, users need to create a unique six digit tap code and when the app is set up, they can pair their Coin with the addition of new card by entering the information manually, swiping the card through an included card reader which goes into the headphone jack of the phone or by taking a picture of the card.

The Coin tends to get connected to the smartphone via a secured Bluetooth channel which is designed to thwart third parts from using the Coin or in transmitting information from it without access to the user’s smartphone. Its feature of the Lock-and-Find tends to provide a real time validation of the owner of Coin being available at the time of the transaction. Should the owner not be available at the time of the transaction, Coin tends to lock itself and can be found by the owner utilising the mobile app.

Designed on Custom 128-bit Encryption Layer

Coin has been designed on a custom 128-bit encryption layer for Bluetooth which can safeguard sensitive information as well as prevent man-in-the-middle outbreaks as informed byCoin CEO Kanishk Parashar to TechCrunch.

When not in use, the Coin tends to remain in locked position and when one intends making a transaction, a single tap on the Coin’s solitary button would activate the device to do a quick search for the specific smartphone and after a couple of seconds it will get unlocked. If the phone is on Airplane mode or turned off or else unavailable, user could unlock the Coin by editing the same six digits Morse style pin code which is utilised in accessing the Coin app.

The Coin functions as a standalone device and the mobile device is essential for the initial set-up for the purpose of adding or changing cards on the Coin and to completely use the Lock & Find system. However, it could also be used without the mobile device.

Stays Active for Seven Minutes

It can stay active for around seven minutes once the same is unlocked, in order that the waiter tends to have the time to swipe and then it automatically gets locked.

Moreover, it also remembers its last known location and alerts the user as soon as it contemplates that the smartphone could have been separated from the Coin. Users have the opportunity of saving up to eight cards on the Coin at a time and can re-sync various cards which are stored in the app as long as they are within reach of their smartphone.

Parashar informed TechCruch that the team have been working on an EMV product and that Coin would be attempting to make the shift as seamless as possible for the user. However, it seems too early in knowing the exact deal or trade-in process. Parashar had commented that it would be something sizable enough to show their appreciation for early adopters.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Save tax by investing in Mutual Funds


Mutual Fund – Substantial Returns

A collective investment in the form of mutual fund is professionally handled fund and investing in it could maximise the savings as well as receive substantial returns. As an investor, one needs to identify the needs and goal for the investment which could be in funding for a child’s education or retirement or a secondary income. In identifying the goal one could opt for the most appropriate investment options and reap the benefits. Tax savings mutual funds are known as Equity Linked Saving Schemes – ELSS wherein the main objective of these funds tends to provide a tax rebate of the Income Tax Act under section 80C and are also exempted from taxes for long term capital gains. Tax rebate from one lakh INR to 1.5 lakhs in 2015 had been increased by the Government of India. For ELSS, the minimum investment tenure is 3 years and if the fund tends to do well it could offer benefits of around INR 1 lakh. ELSS funds are offered 13% to 22% returns annually averaging to around 17.5%. Due to these reasons ELSS seems to be one of the topmost tax saving mutual funds of 2015. Besides this, other popular tax saving investment comprise of –

  • Tax Saving Fixed Deposit wherein one could benefit up to 1 lakh INR though the interest which is earned from fixed deposits tend to be taxable 
  • National Savings Certificate – NSC – which enables investments as low as INR 100 with a rate of interest of 8.5% for a period of 5 years and 8.8% for 10 years wherein one could save around INR 1 lakh with this scheme. 
  • Home Loan Principal – under section 80C, principal amount on home loan qualifies for a maximum deduction of INR 1.5 lakh. However the same is not applicable for properties under construction as well as commercial properties. 
  • Rajiv Gandhi Equity Saving Scheme – RGESS is a good choice for first time investors since it tends to offer tax savings of around 50% on the invested amount for the first year. Maximum deduction is INR 50,000 which can only be claimed by those whose annual incomes falls below INR 10 lakhs.

ELSS – Long Term Investment

ELSS seems to be a better investment plan due to its comparatively minimal lock in period of 3 years over Public Provident Fund – PPF which tends to be locked in for a period of 15 years. National Savings Certificate – NSC on the other hand is locked in for a period of 6 years and fixed deposits are locked in for 5 years. Moreover, ELSS could offer enhanced returns over the long term since it is an investment in equity markets. Prior to investments one needs to be well informed on the risks and expenditures associated with mutual funds. Some insight could be beneficial to the investors such as –

  • Considering the prevailing financial situation of the market intending to invest in 
  • Select an experience fund manager who is well versed in delivering good results, one who will keep you informed on the anticipated trends as well as prospects of the fund in the market 
  • The prevailing performance of the mutual fund need to be investigated to lessen probable risks and look out for premium, mutual fund rates as well as consistency of the fund in the market 
  • Match the returns of the fund with the other tax saving investments 
  • Discover hidden expenses like the fund manager’s commission, marketing expenses and the other expenses.