Business News

ICICI Group celebrated completion of 60 years with the launch of a ‘Digital Village’ initiative in the village of Akodara in Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district. This initiative is centred around 3Cs – a Cashless payment ecosystem; a Comprehensive approach spanning education, healthcare & skill development; and making the village Connected, with a wi-fi tower and internet & social media presence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the ICICI Digital Village to the nation on 2 January 2015.

Zomato Media Pvt, a New Delhi-based restaurant and dining Web portal, has acquired Urbanspoon from IAC/InterActiveCorp to gain a foothold in the US and Australian markets and push forward with a global expansion.

Banglore-based marketing and analytics platform, ZipDial, has been acquired by Twitter for an undisclosed amount. ZipDial, which was founded in 2010 by Valerie Wagoner (CEO), Amiya Pathak (COO) and Sanjay Swamy (chairman and investor), allows people to give a missed call to a toll-free number to start receiving content like SMS messages, voice calls or app notifications from brands or their favoutite celebrities or organisations.

Wind turbine maker Suzlon Energy Ltd said it had agreed to sell its German unit Senvion SE to Centerbridge Partners LP for 1 billion euros ($1.16 billion) in an all-cash deal that will help the group reduce its debt.

Mobile operator Bharti Airtel will apply for a payment bank licence, while private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank will have a 19.9 percent stake in the proposed banking venture. Airtel’s proposed tie-up with Kotak is the first formal partnership announced by an existing lender and a non-bank entity aspiring to get into the space.  The payments banks are aimed to encourage savings and help with the remittances, although RBI has put a cap on the stake which can be held by commercial banks in such entities. Airtel Money, launched in 2011 was the first mobile based prepaid payment instrument service in the country.

Existing non-bank lenders, prepaid payment instrument issuers, corporate business correspondents, mobile telephone companies and super market chains have been allowed by the RBI to set up payment banks, which would not have the entire range of banking services offered by full-fledged banks.  As per RBI norms, those seeking to set up payment banks would need minimum ₹ 100 crores of capital and fulfill the necessary ‘fit and proper’ criteria, among other conditions.  The payment banks will initially be restricted to holding a maximum balance of ₹1,00,000 per individual customer.  They will be allowed to issue ATM/debit cards as also other prepaid payment instruments, but not the credit cards.  They can also distribute non-risk sharing simple financial products like mutual funds and insurance products, but non-resident Indians will not be allowed to open accounts.

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