NPCI to Launch RuPay Credit Card by July

NPCI to Launch RuPay Credit Card by JulyThe National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has said it will launch a RuPay credit card by June or July this year. “By June or July we will rollout RuPay version of credit cards,” said NPCI chairman M. Balachandran on the margins of a Unified Payment Interface (UPI) hackathon the umbrella organisation for retail payments in the country organised.

He later said the NPCI has escalated its paid-up capital to Rs 137 crore from Rs 100 crore by broad-basing its stakeholders from public and private sector banks as well.

As many as 56 different banks have shareholding in NPCI despite it being a non-listed entity with no dividend declarations.

“Ours is a non-profit company, and in spite of not being a listed entity and we don’t declare dividends, the enthusiasm shown by people to become shareholders in NPCI has been tremendous,” said Balachandran.

According to him, there are 241 million RuPay cards in circulation comprising 35 per cent of the total card base in India and accounting to 20 percent of all card-based transactions.

Starting September, China Union Pay and Japan Credit Bureau (JCB) foreign cards will be accepted in India, said Balachandran.

Speaking on the UPI hackathon, NPCI honorary advisor and former Infosys chief executive Nandan Nilekani said banks can use digital footprint to give customers a loan.

“As more and more payments become digital, it creates a digital footprint of your activity and you (customer) can authorise a bank to use your digital footprint to give you a loan,” he said.

[“source-ndtv”]

The world condemns North Korea’s rocket launch and misses the point again

The world condemns North Korea’s rocket launch and misses the point again
Photo Credit: Kyodo/Reuters
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The collective global roar of disapproval that greeted North Korea’s launch of its satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 is a familiar sound by now. The universal fury at Pyongyang’s actions was similar to that which greeted its purported recent underground test of a hydrogen bomb.

As they did after that event, the US, South Korea, Russia, Japan and China (and many others) were forced into an uncomfortable diplomatic lockstep by their need to issue loud objections – though later statements on what might be done to censure North Korea were rather more uneven. And just as was the case with the size of the January 2016 test at Punggye-ri, the scale of the Kwangmyongsong-4 launch’s technological achievement has already been questioned. South Korea’s Yonhap agency was characteristically quick to suggest it had been a failure.

Business as usual, then. And as usual, the world is overlooking any context for the launch beyond the issue of nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. As is generally the case when it comes to North Korea and technology, there’s a glaring gap between what’s actually going on in North Korea and the invective thrown back by its foes. Kwangmyongsong-4 is as much about national scientific and economic development as much as it is about geopolitical messaging.

In December 2012, North Korea launched Kwangmyongsong-3, which it described as an earth observation satellite designed to generate data to support North Korean agricultural planning (though it was also intended to broadcast the Song of Kim Il-Sung to the planet on a 470Mhz frequency). Unfortunately for Pyongyang, nothing was ever heard from it; both computer simulation and visual observation proved that whatever had been placed in orbit was spinning hopelessly out of control.

So far, North Korea has refrained from bragging about Kwangmyongsong-4’s technical capacity, and has issued no claims as to its musicality. It is once again described as an “earth observation satellite” containing “measuring apparatuses and telecommunications apparatuses needed for observing the earth”.

But this time, according to analysis of its path and orbit, the object released by the final stage of the orbital vehicle appears to be under control; in fact, its orbit has even been described by respected Dutch satellite tracker Marco Langbroek as “consistent with a remote sensing role”.

Of course, nations around the world seem determined not to accept Kwangmyongsong-4 as anything other than yet another example of provocative weapons testing. They are keen to negate Pyongyang’s assertions that this is indeed an exercise in the development of its capacity to explore space for peaceful ends.

Getting a grip

Such exploration and utilisation is of course entirely legal under the United Nation’s 1967Outer Space Treaty and the 1975 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space – both of which North Korea acceded to in 2009.

Why indeed would it be so strange for Pyongyang to want to develop its capacity to launch vehicles into space, or to build functional earth observation devices? North Korea’s conception of 2012’s device as an element of projects focused on improving its agricultural capacity surely makes perfect sense given the historically haphazard nature of North Korean industrial planning.

Reuters/Kyodo

If the satellite really does have remote sensing capacity, that could be a boon to North Korea’s ability to manage its forests and fisheries, and could greatly improve the country’s meteorological monitoring ability.

These are major domestic priorities. The Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Un, quite unexpectedly and viciously denounced the country’s weather forecasting service in 2014, and in 2015, his government put a lot of work into developing the fishing industry and improving flood prevention and forecasting (especially after recent floods in the important Rason Special Economic Zone).

And aside from the obvious potential practical benefits, external commentators have paid scant attention to Kwangmyongsong-4’s place in North Korea’s charismatic political calendar.

Fascinating vapour

Western commentators certainly made mention of the North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun’s euphoric report of the launch, which marvelled at “the fascinating vapour of Juche satellite trailing in the clear and blue sky in spring of February on the threshold of the Day of the Shining Star”. But they failed to connect the commemorative dots.

February 16, the Day of the Shining Star, was Kim Jong-Il’s birthday, what better posthumous gift could there be for the Dear Leader?

The outside world has also overlooked any connection with the impending Seventh Party Congress of the Korean Workers Party in May 2016, and the political and developmental theatrics that will accompany this year-long event.

Instead, the wider world is railing against Pyongyang using its typical themes of threat, fear and danger. The global gnashing of teeth shows us just how myopic and black-and-white the thinking on North Korea has become.

We live in a world where potentially dual-use technology is blasted above the stratosphere many times a year, and where the launch of astronauts such as the UK’s new “hero” Major Tim Peake can be lauded as manifestations of national pluck. Even in the depths of the cold war, the Soviet Air Force’s Yuri Gagarin was lionised in the West for his pioneering space voyage. And yet, for all that the domestic context for this launch is plain to see, we refuse to open our minds to the idea that Pyongyang’s space ventures may be motivated by anything other than belligerence.

[“source-Scroll”]

Tech Executives Launch $100 Million Fund Targeting Software Startups

Tech Executives Launch $100 Million Fund Targeting Software Startups

A group of technology executives have launched a $100 million (roughly Rs. 671 crores) venture fund targeting a range of business software startups across North America.

Leaders Fund, based in Toronto and Atlanta, is in discussions with several potential portfolio companies and plans to announce a few investments in the coming weeks, said David Stein, co-founder and managing partner of the fund.

The fund is eyeing startups across the growth cycle, with a particular interest in early and mid-stage companies that generate revenue and have customers.

Within enterprise software, the fund is especially interested in areas such as mobile, cloud computing and machine learning. Leaders Fund is also looking to partner with early and late stage venture capital firms on such investments, Stein said in an interview on Wednesday.

“It’s really about establishing a core investment portfolio,” he said. “We’re essentially focussed on software companies that sell to enterprises.”

The fund also wants to take advantage of talent in markets such as Toronto and Atlanta, which Stein views as underserved regions for technology investing.

“Clearly, Canada will be an important part of the mix,” he said.

Stein is a founder of Rypple, a social performance management software company that was sold to Salesforce.com .

Joining Stein on the team are Steve DeBacco, most recently the chief revenue officer of Applied Predictive Technologies, which was acquired by Mastercard Inc; and Gideon Hayden, who joins from OMERS Ventures, one of Canada’s biggest venture-capital firms.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Uber to Launch Carpool Service in Kolkata

Uber to Launch Carpool Service in KolkataAfter Bangalore and Delhi, taxi aggregator Uber would launch carpool service Kolkata this year, offering at least 30 per cent lower fares to those who share cab rides as part of efforts to check rising pollution.

“In 2016, we are going to start carpool service in Kolkata. This is keeping in view of the high pollution levels which are choking the various metros of the country by bringing down the number of cars on the roads,” GM (east) of Uber India Systems Ashwin Dias said.

Passengers can take advantage of sharing rides in the same direction which would help them to reduce their individual fares by at least 30 percent, Dias told PTI.

For this, Uber would have to develop a Kolkata-specific app which would contain entire data relating to traffic congestion and traffic behaviour in the area where its GPS would operate.

The other app-based aggregator Meru Cabs had already started carpooling services in the city.

Dias said that Kolkata has been one of the fastest growing markets for Uber internationally.

“We started our service in August 2014 and the response was terrific. People who were used to the yellow taxis have moved over to app-based aggregators as it provided them convenience and the drivers got flexibility,” he said.

Asked about the number of cars which Uber was aggregating in Kolkata, Dias said as per international practice that number could not be divulged.

To abide by the West Bengal government guidelines, Dias said that Uber would apply for the for On Demand Technology Transportation Aggregators (ODTTA) licence soon.

Dias also said that Uber would also make efforts to take advantage of the state government’s Gatidhara’ scheme.

“The scheme entails that any unemployed youth of the state would get a subsidy of Rs. 1 lakh for purchase of a commercial vehicle”, he said.

This is a great opportunity for us to get more drivers in our fold, he said.

Regarding security and safety issues, he said that Uber was now doing a pilot project with Bidhan Nagar Police Station for GPS tracking of the vehicles.

“This will be implemented in other police stations as well,” he said.

[“Source-Gadgets”]