Digital Numero Uno!

India the Numero Uno of day to day transactions!

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                                                                  InternetGenie

Pramod somehow caught hold of Genie, managed to make Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “Pramod, you always claim that you know a few things in digital world. Tell me who is going to be the Numero Uno (the best or most important country) in day to day digital transactions? US of A, China (中国), Japan (日本) or Good old India?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

As usual, Genie kept on talking. Genie said, Pramod now that we have had a decade and half of digital revolution (a la Industrial Revolution) who do you think will be the leader by 2030 in day to day transactions! Even as early as in next five/ six years the clear winner maybe seen; do you want to say something about it, Pramod? Genie was hoping to trap Pramod into talking but Pramod just smiled. Genie as usual kept on blabbering.

Pramod, I feel it is going to be India! Come on, don’t believe in me. Let me share some information with you. Last year along with demonetization, Indian Government started digitalization drive. This gave impetus to digital way of doing transactions and payments. Even some small time vegetable vendors, fruit merchants started accepting money in new format. You obviously don’t go to market with your laptop, so the obvious solution was using cell phones. Suddenly, many apps started coming into picture. I am giving you information based data available today.

There are two methods of transferring money from A to B. Bank to bank transfer (the best method for this is created by Government is known as UPI, (Unified Payment Interface) and Wallets by private parties and banks. Basic difference is that in UPI your money remains with you in your bank account till you transfer it. Whereas in Wallets, you have to transfer the money in Wallets from you bank account for further use.

Let me start with UPI; Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an instant real-time payment system developed by National Payments Corporation of India facilitating inter-bank transactions. The interface is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India and works by instantly transferring funds between two bank accounts on a mobile platform.

“UPI is built over Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) for transferring funds. Being a digital payment system, it is available 24*7 and across public holidays. It uses Virtual Payment Address (a unique ID provided by the bank), Account Number with IFS Code, Mobile Number with MMID (Mobile Money Identifier), Aadhaar Number, or a one-time use Virtual ID. An MPIN (Mobile banking Personal Identification number) is required to confirm each payment.”

Pramod, many banks are now using UPI but again the Government is also equally serious and has come up with an App called BHIM. BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) is a mobile app developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), based on the Unified Payment Interface (UPI). The app supports all Indian banks which use that platform.

All banks have their own apps but Pramod you will realize that it is a seriously big business and Google has jumped into fray  with an App called TEZ (fast and furious!) based on UPI. It cannot get any more serious than Google making app only for India.

Pramod, Wallet is another option which transfers money in two ways. One is Wallet to Wallet and second is Wallet to bank. Wallet to Wallet transactions have the limitation that both parties should have same Wallet. Wallet to bank is a normal transaction. But how does money come in the Wallet in the first place? It come through credit cards and through Bank transfers! Wallets have started using UPI too! Wallets are apps by private companies like PayTm which is currently the most famous amongst the wallets.

Pramod, which one will you prefer? Many banks have their own apps. BHIM UPI has ease of use as your account can be from any bank, your UPI id can be 1234567890@upi where digits are your cell number! Easy, isn’t it? Current authentications are MPIN number, but this authentication can be easily replaced by biometric authentication? Aadhar anyone? Of course!  In Wallets I will currently prefer PayTm. It is backed by Alibaba in a big way, so theoretically should be around for a long time. It has facility for UPI too! Another interesting feature they have started is Chat! While chatting with someone you can get or transfer some money from the Partner. Another reason it is my favourite is that Uber account is linked to it and for extensive user like me, money gets automatically debited to PayTm!

Pramod, don’t you think that entry of Jio in cell phone service providers is a game changer? Their low-cost cell phones are offering most facilities provided by expensive cell phones; this  will also play a major role in proliferation of digital transactions. Credit cards are looked at by many as elite tool; so for users who do not spend large amount in month, credit period offered by card companies is of no use. So, cell phone is going to be Swiss Army Knife for us. Capable of doing everything and anything. Making calls, taking photos, chatting, video calls, financial transactions, sharing photos, chats, GPS the list is unending! Pramod, do you think that after say about ten years credit & debit cards will be relevant? Debit/Credit  card needs investment from vendors but UPI and Wallets don’t need to have swiping machines!

SwissArmyKnifeCellPhone

 

Pramod, I want your reply on this as I know you have strong views! Pramod tried his best not to talk but Genie hustled him again with the same question! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, “Genie, with one billion cell phones and one billion biometrics data in the from Aadhar (which is the best authentication method), it is no brainer to say that India will be Numero Uno in day to day digital transactions over next ten yeas”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. “Pramod my gut feeling tells me that it will be five years and not TEN!”

 

Freedom at Midnight from Aadhar!

Aadhar controversy on individual privacy is being explained from common man’s point of view!

Supreme Court gave a decision that “Right to Privacy is a Fundamental right of an individual”. This is a landmark decision and it is said that it will change many things in India. I am no political pundit nor am I a constitutional experts, I am a common man like most. This has directly affected LGBT community, who  are enthralled that their rights to choose sexual orientation can now be converted into a law! In another case, where there is a ban on beef business in various formats, a Supreme Court justice has said that what one should eat and if someone should drink alcohol are covered under fundamental rights. These cases will now get a different treatment. But in many discussions I have read that Right to Privacy can never be absolute and needs to be checked under proper legal infrastructure.

My take in this blog is going to be about Aadhar card! (Aadhaar is a 12 digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data.) When Aadhar came into being under Nilekani, ex Infosys honcho, there were the usual Nay Sayers. In a conversation with Journalist Manu Joseph, Nilekeni divided the Aadhar Nay Sayers in four groups.

  • The Privacy gang
  • The rights of the poor gang
  • Oh My God 1984 has arrived gang
  • Luddites (meaning a person opposed to increased industrialization or new technology- this has old reference to British workers in textile industry having fear of losing their jobs due to technology in 19th century)

Privacy gang is those like you and I who are required to give their biometric details to the government and in return get nothing back. They don’t get any dole or any subsidy from Government. They are the most “affected” by what, god knows! This gang does not mind giving their biometrics for passport because it is an essential document for this group. Then when they go to cooler climes of Switzerland, “Oh! What do to do! For Schengen Visa you have to share biometrics!” For US visa, people will even shed all their clothes if forced! After all going to US of A is  life’s necessity! These countries are foreign governments so no harm in sharing the data with them but Indian Govt and Modi! Nah, I can’t share at the cost of loss of Privacy!” These foreign Governments have such fantastic data security, probably software written by Wipro’s and TCS’s of this world, that except Edward Snowden nobody has been able to steal the data from them! Trumpets & bugles please! Data security is definitely a concern but we have been giving data to banks, passport office, and various websites for sometime. What has Aadhar done that it makes people suddenly insecure about! Friends, I will share one example with you which might help you with the beauty of Aadhar number.  55 dealers from MP, Andhra and UP states returned their license to sell fertilizers which Government used to supply to them. Reason? They were supplied fertilizers at two rates, one with subsidy for those below poverty line and one normal rate. They would buy at low rates and sale at normal rates with huge profits. Government now made a rule that they should link the sale to Aadhar card and based on that the rate will be decided. How can Government come in our way of making huge profits? Return the license. I am sure Govt officials were also hand in glove in this chain!

Rights of the Poor gang was worried that if subsidy is linked to Aadhar, some may not get benefit as they may be too illiterate to enroll for Aadhar card. Ok, great! Courts gave a decision that if they don’t have Aadhar they should still get subsidy. So, as the Aadhar system improves more and more of these people will get Aadhar and still get subsidy. What is the problem with this gang? What this gang is worried if systems fall in place, their importance will reduce. Some of them had a gumption to tell Nilekeni that you have never lived in a village, what you know about villagers needs! (Gumption means shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness)

 “Oh My God 1984 has arrived gang” is the trickiest ones. (Wikipedia describes, Nineteen Eighty-Four, often published as 1984, is a dystopian novel published in 1949 by English author George Orwell.[2][3] The novel is set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the Super state Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation.) This group of people probably thinks Government will use Aadhar data to spy on people. Government does it anyway but Privacy judgment will make Government more law abiding! How Aadhar was making this easy I have never understood! These proponents of Orwell theory, I am sure, give their latest status on Facebook, every time they travel. “Sitting in Jet Airways Gold Lounge, travelling to Egypt” or some such thing! This is  my cell number please call after two hours!  Privacy what is that!

Anyway once the human race decided to come out of jungle and live as a society, basic definition of privacy changed forever! I am always wondering what is privacy in days of internet! When filling some form can we say,  I should be allowed not to mention if I am a male or a female or transvestite! What happens to reserved compartments on trains for women? What happens to reservation for women in education? I am a private person I will not give my address, I will not tell my birthdate? Where will this lead to? So there is bound to be limit to privacy. During filling up of any form some information has to be shared, similarly more information may be needed for Income Tax purpose. Don’t forget that there is black money and terrorist angle too! To overcome lacunae in PAN card, (which people are having more than one) Aadhar is a better alternative. More controls, are most welcome but do we need Goebbels! Social media like FB and WhatsApp has already created them!

WhatsApp Image 2017-08-26 at 15.22.06

Luddites is the group which is very uncomfortable with new technology. As they are uncomfortable, they don’t believe in new technology. If you don’t believe in something how can you trust it! For such groups honestly there is no solutions.

No technology or a system is 100% perfect. These improve over a period. After using the systems for some time, may be some better additional viewpoints will come up. Systems are bound to improve but again data hacking is always a possibility. So called hacking incident that has been in discussion currently was an event, an illegal act by a bank officer. It was not hacking. Aadhar already has big base and I am sure once people understand the importance of the same, more will come forward and enroll. There is a big trust deficit with large organizations. Jio is selling their SIM cards against Aadhar card. Many Nay Sayers must be wondering, will their privacy be breached? Similarly many social organizations have axe to grind against Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. This foundation has achieved things in a few years that social organizations could not achieve in decades!

Aadhar system is a modern technology, take advantage of the same instead of thrashing it, embrace it! Bina Aadhar mat raho! Aadhar means support, “Don’t live without support”! 

 

 

 

 

Plan Senior Citizenship

Golden phase in our life of senior citizenship, is phase to enjoy, to be in peace with everything, to give back to society any which way possible.

Our group of friends from Engineering College meets for breakfast, every first Sunday of the month. The camaraderie and the joy during the meet is seen to be believed. Why do we meet? How did we start meeting? I presume this urge of meeting school and college friends must have been there all the time. But till a generation before ours, there were hardly any means to locate long lost friends. Internet, WhatsApp and FB are the vehicles that have made this possible.

As a group of friends in the age group of late sixties, we try to discuss different topics during these meets. Topics range from “How to manage major Illnesses” to Yoga, Vipashchana and what have you. There was once a discussion on cashless society last December when we had demonetization exercise going on. This time it was about us, the Senior Citizens! The other option was GST but everybody opted for the first one. My friend Prem has a way with words. He said let us not call ourselves old, we are senior citizens! This tweaking of the word had so much positivity,  that it set the ball rolling in the right direction. It culminated in my writing this blog, for which I wanted the title “Plan Old Age” but I changed it  to “Plan Senior Citizenship”!

The caricature below is the attitude we should have, especially at this age. In younger age people,  tendency is to think that they are infallible. They think that nothing is ever going to happen to them.

 Snoopy

The quality of life in the our Golden Period will be dependent of how we handle different things in life. There will be many scenarios in current situation, as they are in any other situation. Health of an individual can be broadly explained as

·       Those who may need physical assistance

·       Those who may need support due to brain related illnesses like Alzheimer, Dementia and so on

·       Those who are senior but do no need regular assistance or support 

The personal situations also will have a lot of variation e. g. 

·       Those who are living with the spouse    

·       Those who may have lost the spouse

·       Those whose children are nearby

·       Those whose children are far away 

With so many combinations, it is natural that each person’s status will be different and will need specific solution. We can however make a general attempt regarding what could be done to make life easier, relatively manageable and happy. I am not writing about bucket list! The key is to keep our health and wealth,  in good condition, in case of health both physical and mental, and in case of wealth it means management of funds that we have at the time of retirement. In spite of our best efforts things may not work out the way we want.

Speak Up

This is a very important aspect that humans usually avoid. Our body keeps on sending signals all the time. We assume that if something goes wrong in any system, it will auto correct, we should not rush things. Wait for a few days. At our age please don’t do it; if you find any variation, get it checked from the doctor! Don’t become paranoid but be careful. Acidity can be acidity but it can be preamble to heart attack too! With age, body’s chances of fighting out and  recovery are diminished, so not speaking  up may result in something irreversible.

It is necessary to speak up about things other than health too! This will enable us to resolve things rather than bottling them up.

Act early

Act early is next to Speak up. If you speak up about whatever issue you may have and act quickly, there are obvious advantages. We have been taking action on everything all our life but in older age we may think in terms of delaying action, sometimes because of not understanding the gravity of the situation! Maybe our reaction time has increased!

Make new friends and keep the old

This should be true all your life but during your working phase of life, you do not get time to increase your friends circle. But in old age there is definitely  a lot time available. So use it fruitfully and make new friends. Keeping links with old friends is an obvious thing but sometimes we forget importance of this. With old friends we can share anything and everything. Try to become an extrovert if you are not. When you go out, it could be a good idea to talk briefly with new people. When you go to a restaurant or get into planes, trains, buses say hi to person sitting next to you. Believe me you, in most cases people open out!

Make a rule to talk to at least one new person whenever you go out. You may have apprehensions, you may sometimes be rebuffed by someone who is a strong introvert. But don’t lose heart, people generally want to talk. Talk a bit to your grocer or the chemist. But make sure you don’t get popular as a big bore!

Be wise financially

When you retire, what you are left with, is all that is you are left with. Try and get advice on financial matters and tell your advisor that you want to be conservative. Don’t take actions based on sudden events that are out of control. Your actions should be well thought of.

Don’t be emotional about finances. Your assets are going to go to your children but make sure that they are in your name till you and your spouse, both are on the terra firma! Occasionally a child may need some funds from your kitty. Take a very measured decision considering your long term requirement and if you feel that you may be hand to mouth, be a little unemotional and deny the loan. Look at this as Catch 22 situation (meaning of Catch 22 situation is a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions). If you give the loan, your child may be happy but you may not be!

There will be some couples who do not have children. They need to discuss the matters in more details because their path for disposition of assets, after them, could be different. Nominate someone much younger than you, to execute your will! 

Don’t get tricked into card frauds attempted by tricksters asking for card details. Don’t get seduced by someone offering high interest rates way above bank rates! 

 Think out of box

Reverse mortgage is an avenue not much used in India. It is reverse of taking a housing loan from a bank. You mortgage your house to a bank (many nationalized banks are doing it) and against this you can get monthly, quarterly money from bank same as EMI’s you pay to the bank. By doing this you are opening up the value of your home  during your life time and you get to stay in the same home till you both die. I will not go into tenure and closure details but they are very fairly handled by banks. Only persons who may not be happy in this arrangement is your kids!  One very important point, since what you are getting is loan from the bank it is tax free!

Important threshold for doing reverse mortgage is the age, at which reverse mortgage should be done. Since we do not know our last day on the earth, one could think of 15 year period but when to start this is going to be a very tricky decision. 68 or 70,  what age is the right age we don’t know! 

Appoint a Proxy

This is a very natural thing to do and will make life smoother for you, in case of your falling sick and not being in a position to handle paper work, deciding line of treatment etc.

Make a Will

WILL is the most powerful document that can be used to pass on your assets to your next generation and it over rides everything else. Again, ensure that the “WILL”, will pass on assets “after both of you pass”! Keep emotions in check! Making WILL, will give you comfort that you have organized things well so that next generation does not have avoidable headaches!

Consider moving

Consider moving from a bungalow to an Apartment. Managing things in independent homes beyond a certain age is not easy. So downsize to a home where many services will be handled by common facility providers.

Live Well

This need not be said but our abilities to eat and drink get compromised with age. Limitations on physical activities also crop up. Hence we should not keep on eating things, we were eating in our younger age. Eat healthy food.

Same is true for exercise. By not doing appropriate exercise suitable to our age, we may damage muscles, bones or whatever.

Keep Connect with younger generation

This connect is absolutely essential to remain young mentally. You may also have a disconnect with technology! You may have disconnect with new thinking! All these things will make you feel lost.

And  last but not the least, never utter the sentence, “In our times ….”! 

Golden phase in our life as a senior citizen, is phase to enjoy, to be in peace with everything, to give back to society any which way possible. Make new friends, learn new things and rest assured that these are the things which you can do at any speed you want, the age is not going to come in the way!