Government Working to Expand Digital Transactions at Great Pace, Says Jaitley

Government Working to Expand Digital Transactions at Great Pace, Says Jaitley
Asserting that the government is working to expand digital transaction at a great pace despite criticism, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday asked Opposition not to eulogise the virtues of cash as it leads to temptation for shadow economy.

“If an economy runs on cash, it is not credit to the country. …Cash gives temptation for shadow and parallel economy. …Don’t find fault with the system, don’t start singing the virtues of cash,” Jaitley said while intervening in the discussion on Motion of thanks to President’s Address in Rajya Sabha.

On Opposition’s criticism that the country does not have adequate infrastructure to support digital economy, Jaitley said that there are 1.5 lakh bank branches, 2.10 lakh ATMs and 1.25 lakh banking correspondents.

Besides, telecom companies have been licenced to act as payment banks in addition to Department of Posts which will further enhance financial inclusion, he added.

On concerns on additional cost associated with digital payments, Jaitley said there are several modes of payments including UPI and e-wallets.

“This expansion is taking place at a great pace,” he said. Jaitley said the technology has advanced so much that people can withdraw money without going to brick and mortar bank and asked the Opposition not to find faults with digital system.

“Don’t underestimate power of technology. Let us not underestimate this country,” he said and added that predominantly cash-based economy is not good for the country.
The Finance Minister said that cash leads to temptation for dealing in black money. “I can’t think of any country which propounds only cash transactions. Why are you sprouting virtues of cash?”

Stressing that demonetisation was not a sudden decision, he said the government had been working since assuming office in May 2014 to address the problem of black money.

In this context, he cited steps like review of double taxation agreements and amendments to Benami Act among others.

“This government has been working since day one to end black money which had become a part of life,” he said. He said that 2016 was a “historic” as the government amended its double taxation agreements with Singapore, Cyprus and Mauritius.

Jaitley also pointed out to Congress that the White Paper on black money by UPA government in 2012 itself had talked about vices of cash which leads to parallel economy, lesser revenue to the government and corruption.

The Finance Minister said it is true that terrorists don’t deal only in cash but it is a great enabler.

Tags: Digital Payments, Cashless Payments, Internet, Apps, India, E Wallets


Mozilla Lays Off Employees Working on Firefox-Powered Connected Devices: Report

Mozilla Lays Off Employees Working on Firefox-Powered Connected Devices: Report


  • Mozilla dissolves team behind connected devices initiative
  • The company has reportedly laid off a team of 50
  • Mozilla ended development of its Firefox OS for smartphones in 2015

Mozilla, the non-profit company popular for its Firefox browser, has given up on its dream of expanding into connected devices. The company has confirmed that it is dissolving its connected devices initiative after failing to make an impact after all.

Separately, CNET reports that the company is eliminating the team working on Firefox-enabled connected devices initiative. It adds that this affects roughly 50 employees citing people familiar with the situation. The report claims that Ari Jaaksi, Senior Vice President, Connected Devices at Mozilla, is also leaving the company alongside Bertrand Neveux, Director, Connected Devices at Mozilla. Mozilla reportedly had about 1,000 employees at the end of 2016.

In a statement to CNET, Mozilla confirmed it’s dissolving the team tasked to work connected devices initiative. It said, “We have shifted our internal approach to the internet-of-things opportunity to step back from a focus on launching and scaling commercial products to one focused on research and advanced development, dissolving our connected devices initiative and incorporating our internet-of-things explorations into an increased focus on emerging technologies.”

Notably, this is not the first time Mozilla has failed trying to do something more than its browser success. In 2015, Mozilla killed its smartphone operating system citing it was not “able to offer the best user experience possible” in its Firefox OS on smartphones. Some smartphones with Firefox OS did make it to the market in 2013 and 2014 though were able to gain any positive response from the Indian market. Over time Mozilla collaborated with OEMs to launch several low-budget smartphones including Spice Fire One, and Intex Cloud FX in India.

Early last year, Mozilla revealed that it was ending development on Firefox OS for smartphones. The operating system created by Mozilla developer community as an open-source system failed to gain traction in mobile devices.

Tags: Mozilla, Firefox, Firefox OS, IoT, Internet of Things

Google ends Hands Free mobile payments pilot, iOS app will stop working Feb. 8

Introduced in March for iOS and Android, Hands Free aimed to simplify the payment process for its users by allowing for confirmation of identity to be performed by the cashier. In theory, this allows for customers to conduct transactions with their payment cards and mobile phones safely stowed away in pockets or bags, leaving their hands free to carry their purchases and other items.

Hands Free used a combination of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and location services to determine what store the smartphone owner is inside, and if it was a retailer participating in the program. At the point of payment, customers would advise they planned to “pay with Google,” with the cashier able to check the user’s identity using a photograph on the payment terminal’s display.

A notice on the project’s website revealed it will be shutting down next week, with users unable to make payments using the mobile apps from Feb. 8. Stores in the San Francisco Bay Area participating in the scheme will also find the payment system will be unavailable from the same date.

Google advises it will be working to “bring the best of the Hands Free technology to even more people and stores” following the app’s closure. While Google “can’t share any more details” about where the project is headed, it is likely some of the technology involved in its creation could be rolled into Android Pay, the company’s own NFC-based mobile payments platform and main competition to Apple Pay.

Alternative forms of mobile-based payments are also being trialled by other tech companies, looking to offer customers a streamlined shopping experience. In December, Amazon revealed it’s first ever grocery store called “Amazon Go,” which relied on customers checking in to the store with an app before being able to collect any shopping they want and leaving, with their Amazon account automatically billed based on what was taken.

For the moment, consumers are still enjoying the use of Apple Pay, with the number of transactions up 500 percent year-on-year, according to Apple’s recent quarterly financial results. The high usage helped boost the “Services” segment of Apple’s business to $7.17 billion for the quarter.

Facebook Reportedly Working on Snapchat-Like Discover Feature

Facebook Reportedly Working on Snapchat-Like Discover Feature

Feature called ‘Collections’ functions similarly to Snapchat’s Discover
Social networks have become a popular source of news
‘Collections’ content will be inserted directly into the News Feed
In yet another attempt to take on photo sharing mobile service Snapchat, Facebook is working on a new feature which will showcase lists of curated content from publishers directly in the News Feed.

“The feature called ‘Collections’ functions similarly to Snapchat’s Discover section, showcasing news stories, videos and the company is reportedly asking publishers to create more content,” technology website reported on Saturday, confirming an earlier report by Business Insider.

Social networks have become a popular source of news for many, trailing only TV as a top source of information.

The move for the new publisher programme comes at a time when Facebook is trying to struggle between high-quality content from established media and fake news stories that go viral across the social network.
Earlier this year, Facebook has joined a network of more than 30 international media companies and organisations in an effort to filter out fake news stories and to improve the quality of information found online.
Seen everyday by more than 150 million users, Snapchat’s Discover feature lets users stumble upon channels from top publishers who curate content daily, watch ‘Live Stories’ from an event.

“Facebook, which has 1.8 billion users has told early ‘Collections’ partners that the content they create will be inserted directly into the News Feed, effectively giving them direct and potentially much broader access to the social network’s vast audience,” the Mashable report added.

Tags: Facebook, Facebook Collections, Snapchat Discover, Facebook Feature, Social