Current Affairs March 2017 - Finance


News 1 - SIDBI signed a pact with CSFB to help MSMEs avail loans at cheaper rates


The Small Industries Development Bank of India has inked an agreement with the Capital Small Finance Bank (CSFB) to enable it to provide loans at a concessional rate to MSMEs.

The MoU is aimed at promoting and strengthening the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). As a part of agreement, SIDBI will also co-finance MSMEs for capital expenditure under 'SIDBI Make in India Soft Loan Fund for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises', popularly known as SMILE, at a concessional rate of 9.60%.

News 2 - Lakshmi Vilas Bank inked tie-up with Centrum for wealth management of HNI Clients

Lakshmi Vilas Bank

Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) has tied up with Centrum Group, wherein the latter will offer wealth management and family office services to High Networth Individuals (HNI) of the bank.

Centrum will manage investment portfolios of the HNIs. Centrum Wealth Management is a five-year-old firm engaged in investment advisory across all asset classes. It also has a Rs. 500 crores private equity fund, named ‘Kalpavriksh’.

News 3 - American Express launched 'Buyer Initiated Payments'

American Express

American Express, a global leader in payment solutions has launched an electronic payment platform linked to corporate card, Buyer Initiated Payments (BIP) to eliminate payment through cheques or drafts.

The BIP card will help organizations and their vendors by reducing the processing cost and offer extended payment terms compared to traditional invoice payments. BIP enables companies to increase the Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) while still paying vendors on time.

News 4 - Reliance General Insurance tied up with Catholic Syrian Bank

Reliance General Insurance

Reliance General Insurance (RGI), a part of Reliance Capital, has entered Bancassurance tie-up with the Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB).

As a part of this tie-up, RGI will offer its vast array of affordable General Insurance products to customers of the Catholic Syrian Bank. The Company plans to boost its top line by up to 15 percent through these tieups. Reliance General Insurance has already signed partnerships with Indusind bank, Bank of India, SVC Bank and Andhra Bank under new open architecture Bancassurance guidelines.

News 5 - India foreign exchange reserves increased by USD 63.7 million

India foreign exchange

India's foreign exchange reserves increased by USD 63.7 million to USD 362.79 billion in the week ended 24th February 2017. Foreign currency assets, a major part of the overall reserves, increased by USD 63.4 million to USD 339.783 billion. In the previous week, the reserves had declined by USD 56.8 million to USD 362.73 billion.

The Gold reserves remained unchanged at 19.248 billion. India's special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund rose by a marginal USD 100,000 to USD 1.444 billion, while the country's reserve position also increased by USD 0.2 million to USD 2.318 billion.

News 6 - NPAs at record high of Rs. 6.8 lakh crore


The NPAs of public sector banks reached at a record high of Rs 6.8 lakh crore. 70% of these NPAs belong to big corporate houses.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chief K V Thomas favoured naming and shaming corporate houses which default on repayment of bank loans. NPAs declared by various PSBS are – State Bank of India: Rs. 97,356 crores, Punjab National Bank: Rs. 54,640 crores, Bank of India: Rs. 44,040 crores, Bank of Baroda: Rs. 35,467 crores, Canara Bank: Rs. 31,466 crores.

News 7 - IRDAI proposed up to 50% hike in motor insurance premium


Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has proposed up to 50% increase in motor insurance premium beginning April 1.

  • For cars, up to 1,000cc: Rs. 3355
  • For cars, more than 1,000cc: Rs. 9246
  • For 2-wheelers up to 75 cc: no change
  • For sports bikes and super bikes: Rs. 1194

However, there is no proposal to increase third party motor insurance premium for small cars (up to 1,000 cc) from Rs. 2,055 currently.

News 8 - RBI to penalize Rs. 10,000 for bank branches refusing to exchange soiled notes

soiled notes

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has clarified that currency notes with scribbles are legal tender. However, any note with slogans and messages of a political nature cease to be legal tender.

As per the Clean Note Policy of RBI introduced in 1999, the citizens should refrain from writing on the notes.

If any bank branch refuses to exchange soiled notes from any member of the public, the bank should pay a penalty of Rs 10,000.

News 9 - Finance Minister gave in-principle approval to PSU banks for ESOPs


The Union Finance Ministry has given its inprinciple approval to Public Sector Banks (PSUs) to offer stock options to their employees from 2017-18.

However, only those banks which have earned substantial profit as well as made remarkable improvement in managing NPAs could offer the Employee Stock Option plans (ESOPs). ESOPs help reward and retain key and top-performing employees. It would also help motivate the employees to build a strong financial status of the bank.

News 10 - HDFC Bank launched chatbot “Eva” for customer service


HDFC Bank Limited announced the launch of Eva (Electronic Virtual Assistant), a futuristic Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven Chatbot for Customer Service. The Chatbot is powered by Senseforth, a Bengaluru-based AI start-up.

Eva is India’s first AI-based banking Chatbot and can answer millions of customer queries across multiple channels instantly. Eva can assimilate knowledge from thousands of sources and provide answers in simple language in less than 0.4 seconds.

News 11 - State Bank of India launched ‘Work from Home’ facility for Employees

Work from Home

The State Bank of India has approved the ‘Work from Home’ policy to enable its employees to work while at home using mobile devices. It will help increase the employee productivity.

The bank will use mobile computing technologies and thus have continuous control over all the enabled devices centrally to manage and secure the data and applications on the mobile devices. It will be monitored through carefully designed MIS and dashboard.

News 12 - IDFC bank launched India’s first Biometric-Based Payment System


IDFC Bank became the first bank to launch India’s first Aadhaar-linked cashless merchant solution, named as 'Aadhaar Pay'. IDFC launched ‘Aadhaar Pay’ across 16 States on pilot basis. One of the main attractive feature of payment system is that, it does not charge any merchant discount rate and anyone with a mobile phone and small dongle can turn into a merchant for everyone else and start accepting payments.

It is developed by IDFC Bank under the guidance of the Ministry of IT, NITI Aayog, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

News 13 - RBI Restricts Cash Loan against Gold by NBFC to Rs. 25,000

Gold by NBFC

The Reserve Bank of India has issued a guideline for Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) which now cannot lend more than Rs. 25,000 in cash against gold. Any loan for more than Rs. 25000 must be disbursed through cheque as part of RBI's "go digital" drive post-demonetisation.

The earlier threshold was Rs. 1 lakh and above. The new guideline is in line with the provisions of the Income Tax Act.

News 14 - ICICI Bank, SBI top bank frauds list: RBI

SBI top bank frauds

As per a data published by RBI, ICICI Bank topped the list of banks that witnessed the most number of frauds during April to December period of 2016 with the stateowned SBI taking the second spot. During the first nine months of the current fiscal, as many as 455 fraud cases, involving 1 lakh rupees and above, were detected in ICICI Bank, closely followed by SBI with 429, Standard Chartered with 244 and HDFC Bank with 237.

However, in value terms, frauds involving 2,237 crore rupees were reported in SBI, followed by Punjab National Bank with 2,250 crore rupees and Axis Bank with 1,998 crore rupees.

News 15 - Bank of Baroda approved bond issue

bond issue

The Capital Raising Committee of Bank of Baroda’s board approved raising of funds through issuance of Basel III compliant Additional Tier-I bonds (perpetual debt instrument). The bonds to be raised amount to ₹500 crores with the Greenshoe option of ₹500 crores.

A Perpetual bond, which is also known as a perpetual or just a perp, is a bond with no maturity date. The Greenshoe option is a special provision in an IPO prospectus, which allows underwriters to sell investors more shares than originally planned by the issuer.

News 16 - IndusInd Bank to acquire IL & FS Securities Services

IL and FS

The IndusInd Bank will buy IL&FS Securities Services Ltd (ISSL), a subsidiary of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) Ltd, in an all-cash deal. However, the cost of acquisition was not disclosed. The proposed acquisition is expected to close within the next three months.

The ISSL is a capital market intermediary for professional clearing, depository and custodial Services. In FY2016, ISSL reported a revenue of ₹277.60 crores and a net profit of ₹39 crores.

News 17 - SEBI gives nod to Reliance Communications for a merger with Aircel Ltd.

Reliance Communications

Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) has received the nod from capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to spin-off and merge its wireless division with Aircel Ltd and Dishnet Wireless Ltd.

The proposed merger has also received nod from the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd and BSE Ltd. Both RCom and Maxis Communications will hold 50% each in the merged entity and have equal representation on the board and committees.

News 18 - SBI announced a Rs. 6,000 Crore Tractor Loan Settlement Scheme

Tractor Loan

The State Bank of India has announced a onetime farm loan settlement scheme worth 6,000 crore rupees primarily for tractors valid until 31st March.

The loans disbursed before 2011 and falling under doubtful or loss category accounts as of September 2016, will be considered under the scheme. Other agricultural loans like Kisan Credit Cards and other term-loans for tractors and farm loans may also be covered under the scheme. SBI's total farm loan portfolio is 1.25 Lakh Crore rupees and tractor loan book is about 6,000 crore rupees.

News 19 - Retail inflation rises to a 4-month high of 3.65%

Retail inflation

The retail inflation rose to 4-month high of 3.65% in February 2017, mainly due to an increase in the prices of food items. The inflation measured in terms of the Consumer Price Index had stood at 3.17% in January 2017. The retail inflation was 5.26% in February 2016.

As per the data released by the Central Statistics Office, retail inflation in food items rose to 2.01% in February, from 0.61% in January. But, prices of vegetables declined by 8.29% and of pulses by 9.02%.

News 20 - Wholesale Inflation rises to 6.55% in February

Wholesale Inflation

The wholesale inflation shot up to a 39-month high of 6.55% in February 2017, because of costlier food and fuel items. The wholesale price based inflation had stood at 5.25% in January 2017, and 3.68% in December 2016.

As per the official data, food inflation jumped to 2.69% in February, from minus 0.56% in January. Inflation in the fuel basket spurted to 21.02% in February, from 18.14% in January.

News 21 - UCO Bank, Future Generali tie up

UCO Bank

Future Generali India Insurance Company Limited (FGII) has entered a corporate agency tie-up for its products with UCO Bank. As a part of the tie-up, FGII will offer its insurance products across branches of UCO bank.

The FGII is a joint venture between Future Group – The game changers in Retail Trade in India and Generali – a 186 year old Global Insurance Group. UCO Bank also announced its Corporate Agency Tie-up agreement with Liberty Videocon General Insurance Company for distribution of General Insurance Products.

News 22 - HDFC Bank to offer online loans against securities


HDFC Bank has launched an instant Digital Loan against Securities (LAS) facility wherein customers can calculate their eligibility for overdraft limit against shares, and open a current account instantly. The bank has tied up with the National Securities Depository Ltd. (NSDL) for this.

The customers can avail loan against shares in three steps — select the shares to be pledged on net banking; accept agreement through one-time password (OTP); and pledge the shares with NSDL online through OTP.

News 23 - State Bank of India signed an MoU with CREDAI


The State Bank of India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India(CREDAI) to jointly conduct various initiatives towards development of the realty sector. The MoU was signed for a period of three years.

The SBI will be a national partner for all CREDAI activities. SBI and CREDAI will jointly work together for various marketing activities like conclaves, seminars, exhibitions, campaigns and CSR activities as well. CREDAI is the largest real estate association in the country with over 11,500 members.

News 24 - RBI got an approval to print Rs. 10 plastic notes

plastic notes

The Government has authorized the RBI for a field trial with plastic banknotes of Rs. 10 at five locations of the country. Plastic notes are expected to last longer than cotton substrate based banknotes.

An inter-disciplinary Standing Committee on Cyber Security has been constituted to review the threats inherent in the existing and emerging technology and suggest appropriate policy interventions to strengthen cyber security and resilience.

News 25 - ESAF Small Finance Bank becomes the first private bank of Kerala


ESAF Small Finance Bank became Kerala's first private sector bank after it was launched by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The bank is promoted by ESAF Microfinance and Investments (P) Ltd.

The small finance bank has plans to open 85 branches in its first year of operation. Currently the bank has a network of 285 branches in 93 districts spread over 11 states. The bank has a business target of Rs. 20,000 crore by 2020.

News 26 - BSE tied up with Sentifi for Algo Analysis, Updates


The BSE has tied up with Sentifi, a Swiss company and leader in algorithmic-based analysis, for social media updates of 40,000 globally listed stocks. Sentifi analyses in real time the public online communication of more than 60 lakh persons and organisations relevant to the financial markets.

As a part of the agreement, Sentifi would track, analyse and report social media messages on various stocks which would be provided on the BSE website.

News 27 - SEBI allows celebrity endorsements in MFs

celebrity endorsements

SEBI has allowed celebrities to endorse Mutual Fund instruments to increase awareness of mutual funds as a financial product. SEBI issued new advertising code that will require fund houses to communicate in a simple manner with the public.

The SEBI Board also approved the investment by mutual funds in REITs and InvITs. The move is likely to help in attracting more number of investors into Real Estate and Infrastructure Investment Trusts, with a permission to invest only up to five percent of its net asset value in units of a single issuer of REITs and InvITs.

News 28 - ICICI Bank launched India’s first mobile banking application for rural customers

rural customers

The ICICI Bank Ltd. launched a unique mobile banking app called ‘Mera iMobile’ for rural customers that allow them to access banking services as well as information on agricultural services. Anyone including non-ICICI Bank customers can also download and use the app which is available in eleven Indian languages.

The App allows users in rural areas to avail as many as 135 services. It is the first banking app to offer agriculture related information like crop wise mandi prices of nearly 230 crop varieties across 460 mandis. It also displays taluka-wise weather update for close to 3700 talukas across and over 300 districts.

News 29 - RBI proposes to fix upper limit in PPIs at Rs. 1 Lakh


The RBI proposed to fix the upper limit for Prepaid Payment Instruments at Rs. 1 lakh.

As per the RBI’s new draft norms for PPIs, amount in a PPI should not exceed Rs. 1 lakh at any point of time if the customer provides full KYC and Rs. 20,000, if the customer provides minimum KYC details to the PPI issuing entity. The maximum value of any prepaid payment instrument should not exceed Rs. 50,000. The cash loading to PPIs should be limited to Rs. 50,000 per month subject to the overall limit of the PPI.

News 30 - NTPC Plans to Achieve 32 GW Installed Capacity via Renewable Sources by 2032

NTPC Plans

NTPC Ltd. has raised Rs. 2,000 crore through issuance of green masala bonds in overseas market under its USD 4 billion medium term note programme. The proceeds of these bonds will be used for financing renewable energy projects in accordance with applicable guidelines and regulations of Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

"National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited has drafted/prepared its long-term Corporate Plan and has planned to achieve 32 GW installed capacity through renewable energy resources by 2032", the minister added.

News 31 - Finance Ministry finalized capital infusion for 10 PSU banks

PSU banks

The Finance Ministry has approved ₹8,586-crore capital infusion plan for 10 weak and non-performing public sector banks. The capital allocation would be linked to quarterly milestones.

The 10 identified banks are:

  • Allahabad Bank (₹418 crore)
  • Andhra Bank (₹1,100 crore)
  • Bank of India (₹1,500 crore)
  • Bank of Maharashtra (₹300 crore)
  • Central Bank of India (₹100 crore)
  • Dena Bank (₹600 crore)
  • IDBI Bank (₹1,900 crore)
  • Indian Overseas Bank (₹1,100 crore)
  • UCO Bank (₹1,150 crore)
  • United Bank of India (₹418 crore)

News 32 - South Indian Bank introduces Aadhar-based payment app


South Indian Bank (SIB) has introduced Aadhar-based payment in its Unified Payment Interface (UPI) mobile application- 'SIB MPay'. Even non-customers of South Indian Bank can link any of their bank accounts in this mobile application.

Unified Payment Interface enables all bank account holders to send and receive money from their Smartphone without entering the bank account information. With SIB M-Pay, the fund transfers can be done by just entering the Aadhar number of the beneficiary. The amount will be credited directly to the beneficiary’s Aadhar linked bank account.

News 33 - BSE, NSE to launch F&O series in 15 companies

F and O

BSE and NSE will introduce futures and options (F&O) contracts in 15 companies - PVR, InterGlobe Aviation, Indian Bank, Equitas Holdings, Reliance Defence and Engineering, Muthoot Finance, Capital First, Suzlon Energy, Infibeam Incorporation, Escorts, Ujjivan Financial Services, Piramal Enterprises, Shree Cements and Max Financial Services.

Trading in equity derivatives segment of these securities can be done from March 31, 2017. Presently, there are over 200 securities available in the F&O segment for trade.

News 34 - RBI approved appointment of T S Anantharaman as part-time Chairman

T S Anantharaman

The Reserve Bank of India has accorded its approval for appointment of Shri T S Anantharaman as Part-time Chairman of the Catholic Syrian Bank. Anantharaman has been holding the position of Non-Executive Director of the bank since August 28, 2009. Currently, he is an investment consultant and director of number of other companies and institutions.

Anantharaman is a senior chartered accountant. He had served with United Nations for seven years. Anantharaman was the President of Chamber of Commerce, Thrissur, Thrissur Management Association and several other institutions.

News 35 - REPCO inked an agreement with NHB


Repco Home Finance Ltd (RHFL) has inked an agreement with National Housing Bank for implementation of credit-linked subsidy scheme for the middle-income group.

The scheme divides middle income group into two categories — with annual household income up to ₹12 lakhs and ₹18 lakhs. The subsidy will be available for the two brackets for a loan amount of ₹9 lakhs and ₹12 lakhs at the rate of 4% and 3% per annum, respectively, for a tenure of 20 years. Maximum permissible carpet area is 90 sqm and 110 sqm. The maximum subsidy amount for an individual beneficiary is ₹2.35 lakhs.

News 36 - Syndicate Bank opened 40 ‘Ananya’ branches


Syndicate Bank digitally inaugurated 40 ‘Ananya’ transformed branches. These 40 branches are a part of the 372 Phase 1 Ananya transformed branches that aim to enhance customer experience, improve sales focus, and improve digital transactions through a dedicated digizone.

Project Ananya is a two-year large-scale transformation project undertaken by the bank to provide customers with ‘best in class’ services while improving and modernising the whole bank.

News 37 - ICICI Bank partnered with Truecaller


ICICI Bank announced its partnership with Truecaller to power a new UPI based mobile payment service called as ‘Truecaller Pay’. It will allow users of the app to instantly create a UPI id, send money to any UPI id or a mobile number registered with the BHIM app. Users can also recharge their mobile number from within the Truecaller app itself.

Any user of Truecaller app, including nonICICI Bank customers can link their bank account of any bank (participating in UPI) to create a UPI id and instantly make payments in a safe and secure manner.

News 38 - Truecaller partnered with Google and Airtel


Truecaller has announced partnership with Google to integrate the tech giant's video calling app Duo within the Truecaller app. This feature will be available for Android and iOS users.

Truecaller has partnered with Airtel in India to bring Truecaller’s caller identification and spam detection features to feature phones. The ‘Airtel Truecaller ID’ feature will identify a caller and send his information via a flash message in advance.

News 39 - SBI launches 'Unnati' Credit Card


State Bank of India launched a unique credit card ‘SBI Card Unnati’ targeted at all SBI customers, including Jan Dhan accountholders across the country.

The target clientele of the card are new users of credit cards who do not have a credit history. It will not have annual fees for the first four years. Any SBI customer with a balance of at least ₹25,000 in his/her savings account with the bank would be eligible for the Unnati credit card.

News 40 - Paytm became the first e-commerce company to become ASCI member


Paytm is set to become the first e-commerce company to become a member of the selfregulatory voluntary organisation - Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

The reason behind the move is advertising violations by e-commerce companies, which are big spenders on television, print and digital media, have been on the rise in recent years. A complaint was filed against PAYTM to ASCI on November 2016 when Paytm had made a misleading advertisement with offer of "flat 50% cashback" but it was limited to Rs. 150 only.