Flipkart’s PhonePe ties up with Ola, bets on micro-apps for growth

PhonePe app

Flipkart-owned digital payments firm PhonePe has tied up with homegrown cab aggregator Ola, where users can book a cab or an auto using a micro-app built on its payments platform.

The company has gone live with three such micro-apps, including that of redBus and Metro services, and plans to go live with 5 to 10 more in the ongoing quarter.

Ola’s scale and reach, topped with our AutoPay feature will enable greater convenience and control to our users while making payments seamless,” said Rahul Chari, co-founder and chief technology officer, PhonePe.

The company, which has built its payments platform primarily on top of the National Payments Corp of India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI), crossed the 100-million user milestone last month.

Through the AutoPay feature, users can link their credit or debit card for an Ola ride in the PhonePe app once, and the ride-fare would automatically be paid at the end of every ride.

The company has already integrated mobile wallets such as FreeCharge and Jio Money on its platform to give more options to users.

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Truecaller set to make deals with Chillr to foray into digital payments

smartphones lose brand powers, smarp[hones, apple,samsung, chinese smatphones

Phone number search engine Truecaller on Wednesday announced a strategic investment into the payments space in India by acquiring Chillr, the country’s first multi-bank payments app.

Truecaller co-founder and chief strategy officer Nami Zarringhalam said the founders of Chillr — Sony Joy, Anoop Sankar, Mohamed Galib and Lishoy Bhaskaran — will join Truecaller.

Sony Joywill be the vice-president of Truecaller Pay.

Zarringhalam said the company intended to leverage its full reach of over 150 million users in India as well as its 300-plus existing partnerships in the country.

By acquiring Chillr, we are reaffirming our commitment to mobile payments and strengthening our plans to raise its adoption amongst our user base,” Zarringhalam said.

He, however, did not disclose the amount paid and the terms and conditions for acquiring the Chillr, which was launched in 2014.

Truecaller has 65 employees in India.

Chillr co-founder Sony Joy said: “While ICICI partnership is already there with Truecaller, going forward we will have multiple bank partnerships also. We are doing a multi-bank model with UPI. So you will see lot more banks on the platform working closely with us.”

On the issue of privacy getting breached and wrong details fed into Truecaller’s system, Zarringhalam said: “What started to happen was that people started tagging other users. That was an issue.

A couple of months back we rolled out the capabilities of users themselves being able to determine what their types were.”

Modi in China to begin meet with Xi Jinping soon: Everything you must know

Modi Xi meeting

The informal, two-day Narendra Modi-Xi Jinping summit will begin today; Prime Minister Modi arrived at the Chinese city of Wuhan a little past midnight on Friday. Before departing for China, Modi said President Xi and he “will exchange views on a range of issues of bilateral and global importance” at the summit and “review the developments in the India-China relations from a strategic and long-term perspective”. The Modi-Xi meeting will be different from past such encounters as the talks will be freewheeling, instead of being choreographed. Further, only one Mandarin-speaking Indian interpreter will be present.

The Wuhan summit will see Modi and Xi reportedly discuss issues ranging from US President Donald Trump’s trade policies, protectionism, globalisation, Xi’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to the India-China border dispute, even as the two leaders take lakeside walks and boat rides together.

With the future of Sino-Indian ties hanging in the balance, Chinese President Xi is hosting ModiInChina for the informal summit where officials said the two leaders would spend most of their time interacting in one-on-one conversations. According to official statements from both sides, the Modi-Xi summit aims to create a broad framework for India-China ties and build trust between the two leaders. The summit is being seen as an effort by India and China to rebuild trust and improve ties, which have faced stumbling blocks and were hit by the 73-day-long Doklam standoff last year.

Even though official sources have said that the Modi-Xi summit will eschew looking into specific issues in favour of the big picture of India-China ties, a section of the Chinese media has accorded high importance to the summit. The Modi-Xi Jinping Wuhan summit could be as significant as the one between former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the then leader of China Deng Xiaoping in 1988, the official Chinese media commented on Tuesday. “The meeting can be as significant as the one in 1988 when Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi met, and will set the course for bilateral ties,” an op-ed in Global Times said.

Here are the top 10 developments around the two-day Narendra Modi-Xi Jinping Wuhan summit in China that starts today:

Modi-Xi Jinping Wuhan summit to address CPEC, border dispute: Top updates

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold an informal summit in China’s central city of Wuhan from April 27 to 28 to improve Sino-Indian ties. According to China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Prime Minister Modi will be visiting Wuhan at the invitation of President Xi. During the summit, Modi and Xi will try to formulate a new paradigm for India-China bilateral ties, which have been bogged down by a host of disputes and differences like last year’s Doklam standoff, informed sources told news agencies. Modi and Xi were expected to have a “heart-to-heart” chat and look at the big picture of bilateral ties, they added. The announcement comes amid External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to China for talks with Wang and to take part in Monday’s two-day foreign ministers meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

According to official statements from both sides, the Modi-Xi summit aims to create a broad framework for India-China ties and build trust between the two leaders.

The summit, though informal, will not shy away from issues of major strategic divergence between New Delhi and Beijing. Modi and Xi will have candid talks on the contentious issue of the latter’s pet project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — which includes the $50-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). CPEC has become a major stumbling block in India-China bilateral ties, with India holding the view that the Beijing-Islamabad venture does not respect India’s sovereignty as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which India claims as a part of its territory. Modi and Xi will also explore ideas to address the contentious bilateral issue of the India-China border dispute.

The Modi-Xi Wuhan summit’s aim is to give an understanding at the top on the future course of India-China relations an “honest try”, sources told news agencies, adding that the summit was meant to navigate the maze of differences between the two nations and build strategic trust and communication between the two leaders. Announcing the summit, China’s Foreign Minister Wang said that Modi and Xi will have “communications of a strategic nature concerning the once-in-a-century shifts going on in the world”, adding that the two leaders “will also exchange views on overarching long-term and strategic matters concerning the future of China-India relations”. Sushma Swaraj, on India’s part, said that the informal summit will be an important occasion for Modi and Xi to “exchange views on bilateral and international matters from an over-arching and long-term perspective with the objective of enhancing mutual communication at the level of leaders”.

Here are the top ten developments around the Narendra Modi- Xi Jinping Wuhan summit and what it means for India-China bilateral relations:

India, Pakistan ‘stalk, harass’ each other’s diplomats: Top 10 developments

India, Pakistan

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While the relations between India and Pakistan hang in the balance, especially after the recent barbs exchanged at the UNHCR, they seemed to have hit a new low with both countries accusing each other of “harassing” their diplomats and their families. India and Pakistan threatened to withdraw their diplomats from Islamabad and New Delhi, respectively, if the so-called “intimidation” did not come to a halt.

The issue was brought to the attention of Foreign Secretary of India Vijay Keshav Gokhale by Pakistan High Commsioner Sohail Mohammed and Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, who had met Pakistan Foreign Secretary on February 16 and made a strong case against multiple acts of hooliganism against Indian personnel and their properties. India’s residential complex was not only illegally raided by Pakistani agencies, but power and water supply were also cut off for over two weeks, according to sources.

“The Indian High Commission in Pakistan has been facing tremendous harassment for long, particularly in the last year,” the source said.

Pakistan, on the hand, lodged four harassment charges, known as note verbale, with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), alleging incidents of harassment and intimidation of its diplomats. Highlighting one of the recent episodes, Pakistan High Commission said two cars carrying Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner’s children to a school in New Delhi were followed and obstructed on Tuesday. The driver was also, apparently, threatened later. A note verbale is unsigned and prepared in third person, therefore making it less formal in nature.

This comes close on the heels of frequent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control.

Here are the top 10 developments of the Indian-Pakistan diplomatic spat so far.

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Budget 2018: Govt may use loss-making firms’ land for ‘housing for all’

Housing for All scheme in Budget 2018

Live Budget 2018

In order to give momentum to affordable housing projects, the Modi government has identified land available with six loss-making central public sector enterprises, which it plans to use to build ‘houses for all’ under the Pradhan Mantri Away Yojana (Urban). The six companies, including IDPL, HMT, Hindustan Antibiotics and Tungabhadra Steel Products, have about 3,000 acres. According to a senior government official, some of the projects would be completed before 2022.

Under PMAY (U), people can avail benefits under various components to buy a house in urban areas.

“We have put all such proposals on a fast track. The land available with sick CPSEs is in prime areas. In some cases, we will allow mixed use,” the official told Economic Times.

“We expect more such projects in the near future as the government has decided to exit loss-making entities,” said an executive with NBCC. NBCC has been appointed as the land management agency to auction the real estate assets of loss-making companies and will get 0.5% of the value realised from such sales as fee, subject to a cap of Rs 10 million. The agency will determine the current land use and its suitability for industrial, manufacturing or other purpose, according to the guidelines.

Budget 2018 for Housing for All scheme

Housing for All by 2022 was a major poll promise of the BJP in the run-up to 2014 parliamentary election. However, states such as Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi have not been able to get many proposals sanctioned. Sources said this year’s budget allocation might see a jump of nearly 50 per cent as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream scheme is moving at a slow pace and more funding will help it achieve targets.

The budget announcements are going to be crucial, considering the government has only one year left before the 2019 elections.

Budget 2018: HUA ministry seeks Rs 170 bn to build houses for urban poor

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna target

The target of PMAY (Rural) is to complete 10 million new houses by March 31, 2019. Of these, 5.1 million units have to be completed by March 31, 2018. The government has a similar target for PMAY (Urban). The scheme targets mostly the poor section of the society which forms a larger chunk of the vote bank in the country. In the Budget 2017-18, the scheme was allocated Rs 62 billion.

US security aid to Pak down 62% over 5 yrs. Will the $1.1 bn fund cut hurt?

Pakistan

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There has been a 62% decline in security aid from the the United States of America (USA) to Pakistan over the last five years, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of data released by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS).

The data–indicative of worsening US-Pakistan ties–come as US President Donald Trump slammed Pakistan’s “lies and deceit” for providing “safe havens” to terrorists in exchange of $33 billion worth of US aid to Islamabad. Trump tweeted that there will be “no more” US aid to Pakistan.

In the post-9/11 period, Pakistan emerged as one of the biggest recipients of US aid because of its role as a regional ally in the American-led military intervention in Afghanistan.

Pakistan received over $32 billion in the form of US security aid, economic aid and Coalition Support Funds (CSF) over 15 years.

Bilateral relations became increasingly fraught since the US special-forces raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that led killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden in May 2011. This led the US to become critical of Pakistan’s role in fighting terror, particularly on the matter of safe havens to terrorists.

US security aid to Pakistan fell 62%–from $849 million in financial year 2012 to $322 million in financial year 2016. Overall, Pakistan received nearly $8 billion security aid in the form of arms transfers from the US, including F-16 fighter jets, AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters and P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, according to this CRS report on May 4, 2015.

Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, has confirmed that the Trump administration is withholding $255 million in security aid for Pakistan.

Economic and humanitarian aid to Pakistan declined 77% from $1.1 billion in financial year 2012 to $246 million in financial year 2016.

Since 2002, Pakistan has received over $13 billion in Coalition Support Funds (CSF) from the US. These are meant to reimburse Pakistan for its “operational and logistical support of U.S.-led counterterrorism operations” in the region, the CRS notes.

Pakistan has used these funds to deploy troops along its militancy-hit northwest region that borders Afghanistan. The CSF funds also compensate Pakistan for allowing the US-led coalition forces access its airfields and ports to provide supplies and logistics in their deployment in Afghanistan.

The CRS reimbursement has declined 20% from $688 million in financial year 2012 to $550 million in financial year 2016.

India stands vindicated, US-Pakistan row erupts

India, who for decades has accused Pakistan of being a state-sponsor of terrorism, welcomed Trump’s tweet.

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