What is PM Narendra Modis credit card killer BHIM Aadhaar platform and how it works 5 things to know

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched BHIM-Aadhaar platform for merchants. This biometric-based payment system makes paying with the help of thumb impression a reality, in Nagpur. On the occasion, PM Modi said that soon people’s mobile phone will become ATMs. “The day is not far when premises-less banking will become and reality and mobile phones will play the most crucial role in it.”

The launch of the biometric-based payment system on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the Father of Indian Constitution Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar is expected to mark the start of a new transaction culture in the country. While launching the BHIM App, a digital payments app, on December 30, PM Modi had talked about the Aadhar Pay for the first time. “Download it (BHIM) on a smartphone or on a feature phone. It is not necessary to have the internet for this app. In the next two weeks, one more work is being done, which will increase the power of BHIM so much that you would be able to withdraw money even with your fingerprints,” PM Modi said at the event.

The BHIM-Aadhaar payment platform is expected to make digital payments easy even for people who cannot read or write. Moreover, it is expected to end people’s dependence on credit or debit cards and reduce cash transactions. In the start of this month, IDFC Bank had first launched the Aadhar Pay within its network.

Here are five things you should know about the Aadhaar Pay:

1. What is BHIM-Aadhaar payment platform, or Aadhaar Pay: Aadhaar Pay is the merchant version of the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS). It will especially benefit those who do not have debit cards, mobile wallets and mobile phones.

2. Only merchants need to have Aadhaar Pay: Aadhaar Pay is an app that needs to be carried by the merchants only. Users just need to have an Aadhaar-linked bank account and mobile phone, credit or debit cards. Merchants can download the Aadhaar Pay app to take payments online from customer’s bank account to their own account using the 12-digit unique Aadhaar number of the clients where clients can choose any of their bank accounts to do the transactions.

Each transaction will be authenticated by the fingerprint of the customer. Transactions can be made through Aadhaar-linked bank accounts (AEBA) only.

3. How to use: Merchants can download the app from play store or iTunes. After that, they can login with their Aadhaar number using the fingerprint scanner. Once the app is validated, merchants can use it to take payments.

4. Security concerns: According to the Niti Aayog, the Aadhar Pay is a highly secure app which will use two main platforms – Aadhaar Payment Bridge (APB) and Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS). APB will act as repository between the banks and the customers to provide a smooth flow of transactions, while AEPS will help in authenticating the online process.

5. Customer benefits: Customers do not need a debit card or credit card for payments through Aadhaar Pay. Also, Aadhar Pay would end the need to have an internet connection, many payment apps, or POS machines.

Aadhaar Pay would not charge Merchant Discount Rate (MDR). MDR is the charge paid by the merchants to a bank merchant for accepting digital transactions through credit or debit cards.


3 big insights for fashion brands looking to compete with Amazon

L2, the business intelligence platform that tracks brands’ digital performance, held a clinic yesterday in New York for fashion brands looking to compete with — or simply stay afloat amidst — Amazon’s rise.

It’s a hot topic of late, and for good reason: Amazon has seen a $64 billion growth in overall sales since 2010. What’s more, 52 percent of Americans currently have Amazon Prime. To compare, L2 pointed out that just 51 percent attend church monthly and 49 percent own a landline telephone.

While many have been suspect of Amazon’s ambitions in the fashion space, and whether it can really pull them off, L2’s founder Scott Galloway believes the company has effectively declared war in the space. “This is a company that has conspired with consumers and technology to destroy brands,” he said, alluding to shoppers’ preferences for low prices and the sophisticated algorithms the company relies on.

But there are a few insights, outlined below, that brands can use to either leverage Amazon’s power for their own benefit or compete with them directly.

alexa-cp-dotAmazon’s Echo Dot, with Alexa voice activation

Get in bed with Alexa
Voice, in general, is on the rise, according to Greg Hedges, the director of strategy at Rain Agency, who predicts user growth in the space will increase from 390 million in 2015 to 1.83 billion by 2021. He went so far as to call this coming paradigm shift the “Age of the Ask.”

Amazon currently has the first-mover advantage on access, purchase intent and reach in that space with Alexa — the voice service that powers their Echo device — and L2 believes they will continue to dominate in the space.

As a result, if brands don’t do the work necessary to get involved with voice — specifically by creating skills and actions (the voice version of apps) for Alexa — Amazon is going to use that very tool to kill off many of the brands we know and love.

As L2 pointed out, the company is already working to drive more consumers to shop via Alexa than their website by offering discounted prices for most items purchased via voice. When you use Alexa to shop, you’re not surrounded by the usual visual cues from other brands, lending more power to Amazon’s preferred recommendations. “They will slowly but surely take control of your preferences so that they’re the ones Amazon makes the most margin on or that are Amazon Private Label,” said Galloway.

To mitigate this, brands will need to develop the aforementioned skills and actions that are popular enough on Alexa to drive direct brand purchases that are equally as seamless as those purchases made via Amazon’s marketplace. Everlane, for example, could create a shopping skill for all of their best sellers, allowing consumers to opt for their coveted tees or loafers over Amazon’s selection.

Hedges did offer one warning, however. “Think of voice as a product, not a campaign or a one-off,” he said. “Alexa’s the proxy, but how can you make sure she’s using your brand voice?”

il_fullxfull.2894834781Heritage brands like Hermès are at less risk than others

Not all products are Amazon-able
Oliver Chen, a senior retail analyst at Cowen & Company, is confident that certain retail sectors are more immune to Amazon’s reign. These include brands like Tiffany & Co. that serve up emotional content or offer an emotional shopping experience, like that of picking out your wedding ring with a loved one.

Heritage and luxury companies like Hermès and Louis Vuitton also wield more power against the juggernaut, due to the trust and craftsmanship often required of those purchases, neither of which Amazon is known for. (Counterfeit products are an ongoing issue.) Such premium products also require a level of brand control that, according to Ryan Bonifacino, the former CMO of Alex and Ani, a longtime first-party seller on the site, is “next to impossible at Amazon.”

Companies offering products that are experiential in nature or service-driven are also well-placed to compete with Amazon. Think brands like 3×1, with its made-to-measure denim offering, or Drybar, where customers can opt for a quick blowout alongside any product purchases.

7102b710_c9f3Basics are Amazon’s bread and butter

Replenishment categories are key
If a brand does decide to partner up with Amazon, limiting its product offering to only their brand staples is important, said Maureen Mullen, the chief strategy officer at L2. The replenishment of basics like tees and underwear is what Amazon sells really well, so to compete in the same space, brands should look to do the same. “Focus on a core assortment of 5-10 products in these categories,” she said, adding that it could be particularly well-suited to any licensed items.

What’s more, this allows a brand to retain some control over their image and continue driving customers to their own e-commerce platforms.

Mullen also suggests that brands use the site to target product segments they haven’t touched before, such as plus or petite sizes. It’s much easier to connect with these hard-to-reach consumers on Amazon, where they’re already shopping, she said, than to spend extra time and money chasing after them yourself.



How to become a gear changing guru

How to become a gear-changing guru...

Whether you think you’ve got your gear-changing on lockdown or not, you should read our 6 tips to become the ultimate gear-guru. Let’s go champ.

Start off small

The best way to learn to use a gearbox is to ride a low-power 125 on which you will have to work the gearbox efficiently to make any respectable progress.

Not like this…

What’s happening ahead?

The best gear to use will depend partly on your speed but also what you are approaching. For example, when planning an overtake, a responsive (in other words, lower) gear will give you the power and control to complete a pass quickly and safely. Likewise, when entering a bend a responsive gear will give you good control through the throttle to fine tune your speed as you negotiate the corner and provide acceleration on the exit.

They’re not brakes

Do not, however, use your gears as brakes. Crashing down through the gears on the approach to a hazard is a very crude way to slow and is harsh on the engine and transmission. Instead, slow on the approach by braking or rolling off the throttle and then choose a flexible gear to negotiate the situation ahead. A flexible gear is one in the middle of your rev range that allows you control through the throttle to moderate the speed selected or to accelerate further.

More miles for your cash

Most large-capacity machines nowadays have such flexible and powerful engines that they are still very usable in the higher gears for normal riding. Selecting a higher gear where possible will reduce your fuel consumption and will have the added benefit of giving a smoother ride into the bargain.

Smoothly does it

When riding with a pillion do you ever get head butted by your passenger as you change gear? Try changing up early to smooth the transition from one gear to the next. Also, when riding on a wet road changing up early will keep power inputs smooth and enhance the smoothness and security of your progress.

Give it a blip on the way down

When downshifting, maintain your throttle position or blip the throttle slightly to drop the gear in smoothly and prevent any transmission lurch as the lower gear engages. Gear indicators are a common feature now on bikes and useful for both new and experienced riders as a quick double check and will also prevent you from searching for that mythical seventh gear!


Syria war: Evacuation begins in besieged towns

A rebel fighter stands near buses carrying people evacuated from the two villages of Kefraya and Foah

Dozens of buses are being used in the evacuation

The Syrian government and rebel groups have begun an operation to move people away from four besieged towns, activists say.

People from Foah and Kefraya, two government-held towns in the north-west, have arrived in Rashideen, west of Aleppo, AFP news agency reports.

Similar operations have begun in rebel-held Madaya, near Damascus. It is not clear if nearby Zabadani, included in the deal, is also being evacuated.

More than 30,000 people will be moved.

Last month, the UN described the situation in the four towns as “catastrophic”, with more than 64,000 civilians “trapped in a cycle of daily violence and deprivation”.

Many people are reported to have died as a result of shortages of food or medicine.

  • ‘Starving to death’ in Madaya
  • Madaya, where children resort to suicide
  • Why is there a war in Syria?
People evacuated from the two villages of Kefraya and FoahImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPeople evacuated from Foah and Kefraya have been taken to Rashideen

Foah and Kefraya, most of whose residents are Shia Muslims, have been encircled by rebels and al-Qaeda-linked Sunni jihadists since March 2015.

Madaya and Zabadani, which are predominantly Sunni, have meanwhile been besieged since June 2015 by the Syrian army and fighters from Lebanon’s Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement.

The evacuation deal has been brokered by Iran and Qatar. But critics say it amounts to forced demographic change.

Some 4.7 million people live in hard-to-reach and besieged areas in Syria, including 644,000 in UN-declared besieged locations.

Map showing control of Iraq and Syria (13 March 2017)

Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of Russia, Syria and Iran are due to meet in Moscow in the first meeting of the three allies since the US fired 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase near Homs.

The US says its strike was in response to a Syrian government chemical attackin the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, in which more than 80 people were killed.

Media captionMr Assad, in an interview approved by the Syrian presidency: “A 100%… fabrication.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied carrying out a chemical attack, calling the reports “fabricated”.

The ministers meeting in Moscow are expected to consider their next move, including what sort of investigation they might back, the BBC’s Ben James in Beirut reports.