Oct 162017
 

As I open my computer table drawer, I am simply not able to take stock of situation that going on inside. Corners of multiple phones protruding out of a tangled mess of charging cables, old and new, more useless than useful. As I reach my hand to pick up the old ipod box with the ipod still on it, a male jumper cable pokes my palm, reminding my neglect towards a “well planned” project on my Raspberry Pi. The yellowed charger cable for my Kindle 3G keyboard doesn’t turn anymore white than it was a month back. Below it, lies the remains of another Kindle with a broken screen. The Kindle was bought in that state, another home project, which was pushed aside on cost concerns. More cables and pins and stuff hint to a mess, long neglected, under the assumption that this mess would be needed one day or the another.

Right now, all I need to do is cleanup. And it would be a good scenario if i could #CleanUpCashOut .  A little cash against this mess wouldn’t hurt.

I had my opportunities to get rid of the situation. But you develop an affection towards these things which have been with you for long and you can’t part away. Some years back, I thought that my days with kindle were over as I had a respectable sized smartphone with kindle app on it. I could now access all my ebooks on my phone and carrying another gadget around seemed very yesteryearly. So I listed my beloved kindle for sale on an online portal with a high price. I was actually in two minds about selling so I listed a high price, thinking that it would not sell and I would just use it as an excuse to keep the kindle.

If you gave me a rupee for all my wishes which didn’t come true, I would have been a millionaire. The kindle sold quickly, as if it was the last piece of equipment on earth. So I finally decide to come to terms with this relation and packed the kindle in its original box, with all the original accessories(manual included, I am fair in that sense). I went to the post office and was shocked at the amount I would need to pay to get it across to the buyer. Between the postage and the commission for the portal, I would be giving it away at half the price for which I listed. My heart sank.

I excused myself from the post office and went back home thinking. I had to come up with something which would prevent the buyer from giving me a poor rating and I wouldn’t be penalised by the e-commerce portal. But I just couldn’t come up with anything believable.

At home, I unpacked the kindle and reached for the same drawer full of mess to keep it back in place. As I opened up, the drawer it gave me the solution to all my problems. I saw the kindle with the broken screen lying below a pile of cables. Guess what I did…!!

No. I am not some fraud. I might be a bit of a lair in this case but I wouldn’t cheat anyone off their money. Of course I didn’t send the broken kindle to the buyer. I sent a message to the buyer to either provide his phone number or call me on mine. He gave me his number and I explained to him the situation. I told him that while packing the kindle screen broke as I applied too much pressure. I didn’t want him to feel cheated so I didn’t sent the broken kindle to him. This would also prevent any escalation with the e-commerce portal. He was a reasonable guy(to whom I lied but didn’t defraud or do any harm) and he understood the situation based on what I told him.The kindle stays on with me and I have read many more books on it.

But now I feel it is really the time to part with it. My kids are too small to start reading and they will break it apart if I give it to them now. When they grow up, I will get them another one. Meanwhile this one can ‘kindle’ another person’s interest in reading.

Cashify

I found a website which deals in this stuff. Buying old stuff off your hands and also paying you for it. It’s https://www.cashify.in/ . I plan to sell my kindle to them along with my other accessories like the old iPodd Shuffle, two working mobile phones etc. Check out their video below. The famous dacoit, Gabbar selling his phone to cashify using his famous dialogue sequence is genius.

If you use the coupon code CLEANCASH on their website, they also provide rs. 250 additional for the sale that you make to them.

Cashify is also available as a mobile app. Download it here. Come on #CleanUpCashOut .

Oct 082017
 

One of my previous posts introduced you to NPCI and the products and services offered by them. Today we concentrate more on UPI BHIM mobile app and see how we can use it for our daily transactions. The transactions can be money transfer from one party to another or a payment at merchant point of sale terminals.

The older methods

For money transfer, we have been using the NEFT/RTGS and the IMPS services for quite some time. These services require that the remitter knows the beneficiary details. It is quite difficult to remember these details. The remitter has to feed a 15-16 digit account number, IFSC code, Bank Branch details and the correct name of the account holder. Some banks also have set a period of time before which the beneficiary is not activated. So in case of emergency, immediate transfer to a new beneficiary is not possible.

For online payments or at a brick and mortar retails store, we need to either present a card to the merchant or feed in the card or account details on the website. There are chances of misuse of the card details if proper security measures were not in place. The process is also tedious due to multiple levels of authentication.

With the advent of UPI and BHIM, all this has changed. Online money transfer and payments have never been simpler.

What is UPI

I have explained about UPI in my previous post. But in short, UPI(Unified Payment Interface) helps the financial organisations and clearences houses to use a simpler method for identifying remitter and payee. All it requires is for you to login to BHIM APP create a VPA(virtual Payment Address). This VPA is unique to a user and is in format XXXXX@UPI. Eg. if your phone number linked to a bank account which you choose to register with BHIM is 1234567890, then the VPA can be 1234567890@UPI. If you choose to set it on the basis of name, it can be yourname@UPI or your.name@UPI etc. It’s your choice on the basis of availability.

Note that the prerequisites for using BHIM app are a bank account with phone number linked.

Getting Started

The first thing you will need to do is download the BHIM app. Make sure that you download it from google play store or apple app store. Do not use any other app which you may get via any file sharing site. It could be fake. The link are here for Google Play store and here for Apple itunes store.

Once downloaded, launch the app using the app icon in you app drawer and follow the below slide-show in sequence to set up BHIM.

  • First you will need to verify your mobile number. For a multi-sim device, select the sim which you wish to register with BHIM. This should be the phone number which is linked to you account.
  • Setup a 4 digit pin to access the app. Note that this app doesn’t work on rooted devices.
  • Select the bank which you want to link. The app will display the accounts registered with the bank and linked to the phone number. Select the account you wish to link with BHIM.
  • Setup a 6 digit UPI pin using your debit cards details . You will use this pin for authorising any transaction you wish to carry out.

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Using BHIM

Home Screen

Once setup you can launch BHIM app. You should enter the 4 digit pin which you have set to login to the app. You will be presented with the screen as below.

The various option available on the home screen are as follows:

Clicking the bell icon will display any notification like transfer status, money transfer requests etc.

Send button is used to transfer money to a beneficiary

Request button is used to send a money transfer request to a remitter.

Scan & Pay option is used to use the mobile camera to scan a QR code for payment.

Under the the My Information section:

Transactions list out all the successful and failed transactions and their details

Profile gives the details of your profile including your UPI ID

Bank Account list out the bank accounts linked to BHIM. It gives you option to set default account for UPI transactions.

My Beneficiaries list out the beneficiaries added by you. In case you have installed the app fresh, you will have to add beneficiary using this section.

Adding Beneficiary

To add a beneficiary, click on My beneficiaries. If you have not yet setup beneficiary address, the page will be blank with an option to Add UPI ID.

  • Click on it and on the next screen, enter the UPI Id provided by the beneficiary. It could be in the format XXXXXXX@UPI or XXXXXXXX@hdfcbank etc. The XXXXXXX stand for the combination of alpha numeric id.
  • Click on Verify.
  • The app will verify the UPI ID and provide more details of the payee if the verification succeeds.
  • If the details are correct, click on Add Beneficiary.
  • The My Beneficiaries screen will list the newly added beneficiary.

Click through the slide show below for graphical representation.

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Sending Money

To send money to a beneficiary, click on Send button in the home screen.

  • Select the beneficiary to whom you want to send money.
  • Enter the amount and remarks(if any)
  • Click on Confirm in the confirm to pay screen.
  • Enter you 6 digit UPI PIN for the transaction.
  • The last two slides show a successful transaction and the view of the beneficiary Transactions screen.

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Requesting Money Transfer

Your friend owes you some money but you find it embarrassing to ask him. Well no need to ask anymore. Just send a request with remarks and he will get the hint.

To request money, click on Request button on the home screen.

  • Select the UPI ID from whom you want to request money transfer.
  • Enter the amount and any remarks in the next page.
  • Click on Request.
  • The other party will get a notification in the BHIM app.
  • He/She can then decide to approve the request or deny it.
  • If the other party approves, the money will be transferred to your account and you will get a notification. The transfer will be visible in your as will as the other party’s transaction list.

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Scan & Pay

This is a novel method of making payments. You must have seen that a lot of merchants have a sticker near their point of sale counter with a square containing a graphical code. It is called as QR code or a Quick Response Code. BHIM app also gives the facility to pay by scanning a QR code. This QR code contains UPI ID and other details, including the amount to be transferred in many cases. You can download your own QR code which will be visible in the Profile section.

When you want to make a payment, you will need a code from the beneficiary. The procedure to scan and pay is same as the Send option. The only difference is that instead of selecting the beneficiary from the My Beneficiaries option, you should select the Scan & Pay option. You will have to provide the camera access to BHIM app when prompted. The camera window will open up in BHIM and you can hold it about 5-10 cm from the QR Code provided by the merchant.

The beneficiary may also choose to send you the QR code via email or any other electronic format. You can use the option Pick from Gallery in this case. The app will read the QR Code and fill the beneficiary details accordingly. You will need to follow the same procedure as sending money as detailed earlier.

Note that all the transfers are done from and into your Primary account. You have an option to change primary bank account in the Bank Account list.

Going Digital

With the advent of digital age and better internet penetration, people are using BHIM app more widely and soon you should find its application at many more locations.

In case of queries, do contact me. You can also contact the official twitter handle of UPI and BHIM and they will be more than happy to help you out. The twitter handles are @UPI_NPCI and @NPCI_BHIM.

Sep 182017
 

NPCI stands for National Payments Corporation of India. It is an umbrella corporation which a robust infrastructure for payment and settlement solutions in India. NPCI has been operational since nearly a decade but the awareness levels of the brand as a whole is not as expected.

Recently, NPCI arranged a blogger meet in collaboration with Indiblogger. The intention behind the NPCI Indimeet was to create awareness about NPCI and its various products and service among the blogging community. The bloggers would further spread this to the masses via the digital media. Thanks NPCI for warmly accommodating us at your office and enlightening us about the organisation.

History of NPCI

With the advent of digital age and the foreseen benefits of adopting it, the world started moving its service industry to zeros and ones. Financial sector was among the first industries to adopt it since they were well apprised with the potential increase in reach and ease of serviceability. World over the adoption was quick but the story in India was a quite different.

India had the financial infrastructure for paper based transaction but had to rely on a handful of foreign players for digital transactions. This attracted higher service change and limited the adoption to the “top cream” of consumers. The masses, though unintentionally, were left out. Lack of any standardization resulted in various service level issues including delays in payment processes. These delays later became standards of operation and the overall system had a lag in it.

RBI and promoting banks incorporated NPCI in the year 2008. The objective was financial inclusion of masses into this digital revolution and provide a uniform and a standard business process across all institutions. It has 10 promoting banks, including the biggies of the Indian banking like SBI, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank etc. International banks with India presence like Citibank and HSBC are also among the promoter banks.

Major Achievements

Since it incorporation, NPCI has launched various products and solutions to unify and better the payment infrastructure. NPCI with its products and solutions could be the biggest of India contribution to the world. You could even say that Indians taught the world how to use 0 and now Indians teach them how to transact online.

The government efforts in the digital revolution have helped NPCI in launching superior products like Aadhar enabled payment system. This continues to be the flagship product of NPCI. Their other products include, Bharat interface for Money, also called as BHIM. They have a large portfolio of debit, credit, contact less and prepaid cards under the brand RuPay. Following are few of the various important offerings from NPCI.

RuPay (#FriendsOfRuPay)

Rupay is a term coined by combination of Rupee and Payment. RBI concieved this card payment system to fulfill their vision to offer a domestic, open-loop, multilateral system which will allow all Indian banks and financial institutions in India to participate in electronic payments. One of the objectives of RuPay is to assist India in moving towards “less cash” society.

Under the RuPay banner, NPCI offers cards various debit, credit, prepaid and contactless cards. These cards cater to every need and intends to involve the people from all classes of society. Depending on the card you opt for, Rupay credit cards even allow the holders, access to lounge services, 24/7 Concierge Services and comprehensive insurance. This is in addition to the various offers and schemes available on all the cards.

You can use the RuPay prepaid range of cards to surprise your loved ones or your employees during festival season, and otherwise. The RuPay Global card provides access to various services world over via the tie up with major international partners like Discoverr, Diners Club International etc.

So lets be the #FriendsOfRuPay and opt for a RuPay card with your bank.

More information on the RuPay at their microsite at www.Rupay.co.in . You can also contact them on twitter @RuPay_npci

UPI (#HighOnUPI)

UPI, or the Unified Payment Interface is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application of any participating bank. It facilitates merger of several banking features, seamless fund routing and merchant payments under one hood.

UPI supports pay request and collect request. A Pay Request is a transaction where the initiating customer is pushing funds to the intended beneficiary. A Collect Request is a transaction where the customer is pulling funds from the intended remitter.

What UPI actually did was that it nullified the inter-operability issues arising due to different service level procedures followed by different banks. Pre-UPI era, the remitter and the beneficiary needed to exchange their details which included bank account number, IFSC code, branch etc. The banks would verify the details and the transaction would only be possible after the banks authorised the beneficiary.

While using UPI, the beneficiary need to only exchange his UPI address which could be in a format as simple as nileshgonsalves@upi. UPI also allows requesting money transfer. For example, if I am supposed to receive an amount XXX from a party YYY, I would just have to know the UPI id of that party. Then I could send a payment request to yyy@upi and would receive funds immediately upon acceptance by the remitter.

Note that the UPI id varies based on where it is created. For e.g. a UPI ID created using HDFC would look like xxxxxx@hdfcbank and the one created using Axis bank would look like xxxxx@axisbank. It is required to have a mobile number linked to the account which is used for UPI transactions.

So what are you waiting for. Go ahead and get #HighOnUPI

BHIM (#BHIMKADum)

The NPCI developed the BHIM app to enable the users to make simple, easy and quick payment transactions using Unified Payments Interface (UPI). BHIM is a 24 X 7 payment solution and anyone in possession of a phone number and debit card and use it.

The unique feature of this app is that it is generic. So if you link your HDFC bank account as the primary account to this app, the app home screen will convert to the shades of HDFC bank color scheme. This will make it easier to know which account you are using for transaction.

Along with the regular Send Money and Request Money transactions, you can also transact using QR Code. Whenever you are at a POS terminal, if the merchant has a QR code, you can make payment by scanning the QR code in BHIM app. Your will now need need to confirm and enter the pin to finalise the transaction. BHIM app provides facility to block request for collect from illicit source.

This shows the true power of BHIM or we can say its the #BHIMKADum

For more information on UPI and BHIM visit their microsite at www.Bhimupi.org.in . You can also contact them on twitter @UPI_NPCI and @NPCI_BHIM .

Other Services and Products

For information on their other products and services, click on the logos below.

Conclusion

What we have seen so far is convergence of products and services like in the case of BHIM and UPI. This enables the provision of more efficient and reliable service.

With all these services and products under its umbrella, NPCI aims to facilitate transactions faster than a Pizza delivery.

For more information, visit NPCI at their website www.npci.org.in. You can also tweet them on @NPCI_NPCI

(The logos and graphics used in the post are property of NPCI. The writer intends no misuse or personal gains using these logos. We use them to increase visibility of NPCI and its products portfolio)

Feb 192016
 

 

It was last year that I was duped online by a certain website named Fashionershop.com. The website has ceased existence ever since. This website listed lots of costly products online for a “sale”, and the sale price was unimaginable. A Rs. 4000/- watch for just Rs. 799/-!! Oh how did I fall for that. I got blinded to the fact that this couldn’t be economically possible but the website made tall claims of manufacturer warranty and such. Later I didn’t receive the watch that goes without saying. I check the regular forums online for any complaints about this guy and found a lot of people in my position. I investigated further and found the details of the person who had registered this website and communicated him via multiple email. No response. I even thought of raising a complaint to cyber cell but that would have to be done in Bangalore as the seller was registered in Bangalore.

I finally lost steam. I knew that it could be a waste of resources to pursue this matter further.

The seller happily pocketed Rs. 799/- belonging to me. And I assume various amounts belonging lots of other online shoppers if he has not yet been brought to justice.

The business the seller was doing online was actually not of selling any product. He was actually banking on the fact that even after the scam, given some time, people would forget and leave him alone. For him it was a risk worth taking. His risk paid off.

Present scenario.

A new company called as ringing bells sure does ring some alarm bells. No one knew who they were as opposed to flipkart which started small and rose to fame step by step. Or Amazon for that matter which was already flourishing worldwide and shopaholics in India were praying for its arrival. Ringing Bells was registered in 2015. As a matter of fact, the domain name freedom251.com was registered on 10th February 2016.They do not have any import listings. They do not have any manufacturing plant as yet. They do not have any previous track record. Yet they claim to be able to sell a phone which would be worth about Rs. 2500/- for just Rs. 251/-!! Nothing adds up. They claim that they can reduce manufacturing cost by sourcing parts from India. Well, Samsung, Motorola, LG, HTC, Sony, or for that matter, Micromax didn’t dig deep enough in to the manufacturing industry of India to locate the manufacturers of such parts in India itself. Or the case could be that there aren’t manufacturers in India(which I think is the correct scenario).  Then how is this all possible?

For a start, reports in media point out that the phones used during the launch event were actually some Adcom phones with the brand name covered using cheap whitener. Bells start ringing. Then their website crashes thus pointing towards it being hosted on a cheap hosting account, similar to the one which I use for this blog. The shopping cart doesn’t direct to the payment gateway which means that before the launch; even the testing was not done properly. Then they use the phrase “Economics of Scale” but fail to fully explain how it works because for economics of scale to work, the production cost should come down. But the material cost itself is said to be more than Rs. 1500/- as per few analysts. So if that’s not coming down then their losses will mount in proportion to the economics of scale.

Nothing adds up here.

If I had been the promoter of such company where the business model would not work but I still would want to launch a product with a fanfare, I would actually be thinking on two lines

A . I get enough publicity for this product so that I am able to get orders for about a 10,00,000 phones. Which comes to about 2.5 crore rupees. Put it in a bank for a term of 4 months. Effectively I could get 2.5-3% interest. After 4 months, buy a few re-branded phones, deliver to few customers (say about 100) and then declare manufacturing difficulties or any other excuse which is digestible. Return all the money without interest(I would take care to put a clause in terms and conditions that any refund would be without interest). Everyone is happy. The customers who got a Rs. 3000/- phone for Rs. 251/-(comes to Rs. 3,00,000/-). The other customers got back their money. I got to keep the remaining of interest minus income tax on interest. I could also claim deduction on loss in business which was generated through sale of rs. 3000/-  phone for Rs. 251.

So here we go:

Amount collected = 10,00,000 * 251 = 25,10,00,000

Interest Collected in 4 months(assuming 3 % for the entire period) = +75,30,000

Loss on sale = (3000 – 251) * 100 = 689999

Tax on income = 75,30,000 * 0.3 = -2052000

Refund = 9,99,000 * 251 = 250749000

Miscellaneous expenditures ( Fanfare Launch and website maintenance) = 5,00,000

Leftovers = 4500000(Truly “leftovers” without any “wrong doings” for which the government is currently on watch)

Now that’s Economics of Scale

B. I publicize with so much hype that my website gets million of hit per month. I display one product for few months but prevent booking from going through (only random bookings allowed). People keep on coming hoping that they would finally be able to book (heck they are trying to buy a smartphone for a steal). Meanwhile I sell my webspace for advertisements and start earning. I will try to figure out whether I would want to sell something else for some real money. I can always refund the booking amount fully.

Though this may not be my preferred business model, this might be one line of thinking

No matter what their business model be, they sure got their share of publicity. They are capitalizing on economics of scale in some way or the other.

Couple of day back I was talking with my brother and his friend about getting in to some kind of business. I revealed to him something I had been thinking about for quite some time. India is a country of more than a billion people. If you could get 1 rupee from each of them by some way, now that would be some business. It’s a land of mass scale everything and you just need to know how to capitalize. Some do it by duping but there are always clean ways to do it.

If you could extract(and I mean by fair means) Rs 1000/- from 1000 people per month it would amount to Rs. 10,00,000/- income per months. But it may be a bit difficult since you would need prior exposure of your credibility. So toning it down, if you could extract Rs. 100 from 10000 people per month, again same income and lesser need of credibility but you would need better marketing. Now if you go a notch down and wriggle Rs. 10 from 1,00,000 people per month, again it would earn you same amount but with much larger need of marketing. The person giving out the money would not be polishing his shoe one day, that’s all he is spending. An on an on can the calculation go.

Simple Arithmetic. 1 Billion people* 1 Rs = 1 Billion Rupees.

So a person, who understands this arithmetic and knows how to apply it, may have wasted all his years of education which taught all the complex stuff of life. Gravity is there to live and so are the magnetic waves. Calculus has made life complex for me during exams. And if you are in to the business of making money, you do not need to know all these. These are just the things which are “nice to know”. If you want to start something in the line of business, you need to capitalize on Economics of Scale.

And if you are in India, you have a Billion and a quarter plus opportunities.

Jul 162014
 

Disclaimer : I do not wish to defame any bank in any way as I type this post. I just intend to create awareness amongst the readers about their options. If you own a bank which conducts fair business practices, I am pretty sure yours is not the bank that I mention henceforth.

In one of my previous posts I had tried to elaborate on the various measures we can take while carrying out online transactions to secure our money and our data. That being done, we still handout lots of our support cash to someone we barely know, for safekeeping and growth. That someone are the financial institutions.

But what if these very people whom we trust, breach our trust and leave us with nothing? Time and again we have learnt about large scams with lots of big financial institutions, including banks, collapse due to a huge scam, resulting in the loss of poor mans hard earned money. It makes us shiver and make a beeline to liquidate our assets/savings and keep cash on us. But the prospects of being robbed, force us to trust the lesser of two evil and we stay put with the banks. So who protects us from the treacherous practices of such institutions?

The answer is Banking Ombudsman. It is not another scam devised by the government to fool us. It actually works and has been handing out justice when banks have been dubious in their acts. Let me narrate two episodes.

A few years back, one fine day, I logged on to check my account, and found that the bank which held my savings account had deducted a considerable sum from my account with some unintelligible narration for the transaction. At first, I took it to be some regular deduction which banks always carry out, based on some finely typed clause(maybe font arial 6) in their 20+ page application form. But later as I remembered, the bank “official”, who had been very forthcoming and courteous in his manners while opening the account, had assured me that I wouldn’t be charged anything for the first year. My year was not yet up and I decided to take up the case.

Wearily, I dialed up the toll free customer care number and after minutes of punching in lots of details on the phone for the benefit of the Interactive Voice Recording, I began my wait for the “executive” to answer. The executive was polite and upon investigation, informed me that I had failed to maintain the average quarterly minimum balance as prescribed by them. I informed that I had maintained the balance as was informed while opening up the account and the executive responded that the balance requirement had been increased in previous quarter. I informed that I had not been updated regarding this, to which the executive said that I must have been informed since they had sent emails and SMS to everyone. I was pretty sure I didn’t receive any such mail and asked the executive to file a complain to which I was denied any complaint and told that I was at fault.

I decided to take matters further ahead and send a mail to proper customer care complaint department, then to nodal officer, within a week of each other. I kept on receiving those “ we are reviving your complaint and will get back to you in a weeks time” for three consecutive weeks, every Monday. That’s when I decided to take matters higher. Armed with all the mail trail, and reference number of my telephonic conversation, I sent them one more strong email, while keeping in cc, the Banking Ombudsman.

One point to be noted here. Whenever you are dealing with such firms on phone, ask for the reference number of your current conversation. They are bound to give it and they are bound to keep the recorded voice communication for a certain period of time, by law. They say one wrong word against themselves and the case comes in your hand.

After sending the email, I didn’t expect much since my idea of Banking Ombudsman was some hall, filled with about 20-25 people, one or two computers(intel i386), old creaking fans, lots of papers and files covered with dust and a child laborer in a short pant and a vest, serving tea to all. Little did I know that the office of my imagination was most feared by this financial institutions, in case they were wrong. I didn’t receive any auto response of delayed response the next week. In fact, the next morning I got a message that the deduction had been reverted. And hour later, I got a phone call from the pseudo apologetic customer care executive, regarding the wrong deduction and inconvenience.

Needless to say, I closed the account shortly.

Very recently, my colleague narrated an experience she had faced with the same bank. Early one morning, she woke up to book a ticket for her father in law as he had to  travel to his native place on some urgently matter. She went through all the processes and when the time came for payment, it was declined. She tried multiple times and it was declined all through. Luckily, she managed to book the ticket using some other source. She didn’t investigate initially, but had a suspicion and later called up the customer care to check out the reason. To her shock, she was informed that her card had been blocked since the bank had detected some fraudulent transaction on her account. She demanded why she was not informed regarding this via email or a phone call, to which she got no satisfactory reply. She was very angry at such an irresponsible practice from the bank since it was her salary account, she had forgotten the password, she couldn’t use the debit card and all the options to create a new password were linked to her debit card. Effectively, her money was locked in to her account and she would not be able to use it in case of emergency.

She made a complaint regarding this on the regular email and she got a new card delivered immediately within a day or two.(I guess the bank realized their mistake and wanted to amend, a little to late since my colleague was adamant on getting some kind of apology).

When I heard this, I immediately asked her to go through the proper channels, with banking ombudsman in the loop. Later, from what she told me, banking ombudsman started their own process of investigation from their end and it seemed they didn’t get any proper response. The Ombudsman also kept her informed about the progress of her case.

A couple of days back a very respectable amount was transferred in to her account. She was informed by the bank that this amount was the fine levied by the banking ombudsman on to them which was to be paid to the customer for their wrong doings. Though my colleague, was reluctant to take the compensation, since money was not her concern, I asked her not to feel guilty for someone else’s mistake. The compensation was given to her fair and square and the bank needed to apologies and ensure such incidents don’t happen again.

My belief in the banking ombudsman has increased considerably and my mental vision of its office has changed from some desi babu’s office to a swanky high tech houston mission control.

Here are few details for the mission control and the Banking Ombudaman Scheme 2006.

I just hope my colleague doesn’t find a way to return the money to the wrongful owners….

Dec 142013
 

(Disclaimer : This post is not meant to promote any specific financial institution, but through the text ahead I plan to brief you regarding banking security features which can be used to your advantage. If you belong to the clientele of any of the below financial institution, please use their security features. These are meant for safety of your hard earned money. The list of features is not exhaustive and more details can be obtained from your respective relationship manager at the financial institution)

It is almost everyday that we come across a news wherein someone or the other, or sometimes a group of people have been defrauded by hackers and fraudsters who hack people’s credit cards or bank accounts, transfer the money and do a Houdini. Sends chill down the spine while we make a beeline to check our accounts. Banks have been adding layers upon layers of securities to ensure that online transactions done by you are secure and you do not end up loosing confidence in online transaction, which will be very bad for bank business as they have to maintain resources to serve customers at their branches. Certain security features if you understand and follow, you should be safe.

https://

I personally carry out lot of transactions online. The very first thing I check is whether url for the transaction page starts with https://. The ‘s’ in https denotes layering of http over SSL/TLS(all the communication protocol jargons which we need not fully understand) which ensures security of the website. If you are on a page which asks for your details for any monetary transaction, stop; check; go ahead only if you find https in the address bar.

Which brings me to the next point

Type the web address

If you intend to carry out any transaction(banking/financial/shopping) from any website, type the url yourself. Do not click on any link that might have been sent by some third party sender. It happens a lot of times that you get an email from certain financial institution asking you to click on a link to access their website, and you do not recognize the source of the email, do not click on such links. The display text of the link might be showing a bank address but the link may actually be pointing you to a fake page which might be developed for phishingFake Site

eg. check the picture

when you place the mouse pointer on the any link in the browser, on the bottom left hand side of the browser window you will get the url to which the link directs. Check what’s displayed if you are not sure about the link.

If you have typed the url yourself then you can be sure that any link leading to transactions page from within that site is authentic. But again check for https.

3 digit security code

The initial security feature introduced in credit and debit cards was a three digit security code which had to be punched in while carrying out transaction online.  But over time, fraudsters came up with ways to capture cards details while you carrying out transactions online. Even at point of sale terminals, credit/debit cards details are very much visible to anyone who’s handling the card and it doesn’t take a maths wizard to memorize few combinations of numbers to be used online later. Security features have been enhanced to overcome this. Even still, avoid letting the card out of your sight as the 3 digit code is one of the authenticator for the online transactions.

Virtual Keyboard

Most of the banks provide virtual keyboards. This ensure that key loggers which may have been setup on your computer do not skim your information while you type on your physical keyboard. Use virtual keyboard wherever available.

Transaction Passwords & Debit card matrix

ICICI bank offers the feature of additional password which is required for transactions like fund transfer. For carrying out such transactions on ICICI bank sites, you will need to have a transaction password and will also need to key in 3 sets of double digit numbers out of the grid provided on the back of their debit card. So make sure that you do not show the numbers anyone else

Verified by Visa/Mastercard Secure Code

Any Visa card which is being used for online transaction has to be registered at verified by visa(vbv) website to generate a vbv transaction password. After you enter the visa card details online on the secure https url and press the pay button, the  website redirects to vbv authentication page which asks you to enter either the password or generate a one time authentication password on your registered mobile number. for this the mobile number has to be registered on vbv website. Similar feature has been implemented by mastercard payment gateway. Another security layer to ensure you are performing a secure transaction.

Virtual Cards

Before the implementation of the secure codes and vbv codes, Visa had implemented a feature called as virtual card which still exists. Once the card is registered on vbv website, the user can logon to the the website and create a virtual card of the exact amount for which he needs to transact. The set of numbers for the card will be different in case of each virtual card created and once the transaction is complete, the card is no longer valid. If you have created a card of higher value, the balance gets refunded after a certain short period of time. The limit of exposure in this case is only of the amount for which the card is prepared and only for the duration of the validity of the card. There is a provision to cancel this card if prepared mistakenly or not utilised.

One Time Password

This is a one time password received either on phone or on email while carrying out the transaction. Though one time password, if shared accidently, does not have that much effect, losing your phone will be unsafe. In this conditions if its established that the phone is stolen, its better to get the SIM card blocked.

Credit Card Limit/Enable-Disable

It is common practice now to issue an international credit card to almost everyone applying for a credit card. And though we do not shop on international sites more often, we maintain a risk of being defrauded at international level. HDFC bank has come up with feature reducing the spending limits on the credit card for international usage. The process is very quick. You just need to logon to your HDFC account and on the left hand menu select change international limit. You can also disable the international usage or enable it as per requirement. These change requests are authenticate by one time password sent on mobile and email. So if you are not planning to use your card on international sites, better disable it. Whether other banks have implemented this security feature is yet to be known.

Mobile Application Usage

If you are carrying out the transactions on your smartphone, stop at once and ensure that the application downloaded by you is authentic and the one which is released by that particular financial institute. due to vast number of mobile applications  on store for downloads, its difficult to know which application is the one released by the financial institution and which one if developed out of knowledge of the financial institution. Its always safe to navigate to the download link through the website of the financial institution.

Do not save any id/passwords on mobile in any format on the mobile phone.

General Rules

Do not disclose your personal details on community sharing sites as some of these details are used for resetting passwords. Most important details are dates like birthday/ anniversary, or parents names, place of birth etc. Just think of a situation wherein a bag containing your credit card and your mobile was stolen by someone who knows what you’ve kept in the bags. The person just has to access your social networking profile and crack your password.

All said and done, once in a while do a physical check of your accounts and transactions. Ensure everything is in order. If something found amiss, inform the concerned institution immediately. If you are strictly following these rules, no hacker can defraud you.

Happy Christmas Shopping!!

Sep 162010
 

Sometimes back I had posted about how I extracted benefits from the internet by just signing on one website called mginger. I invested jus rupees 3, and received a discount coupon worth rupees 100!! But this offer had been taken off for some time. Now its back again, and here to stay till 30th September. Meanwhile, other offers continue to be online on this site. So grab the offer before it expires.

Are you planning to buy some stuff with total value of less then 1000 rupees but above 395? The items could be something like a pen drive, flash memory card, compact disks, clothes, books etc.? This is your chance to get minimum of 10% discount, as against the maximum discount schemes run by other shops. A coupon download from mGinger and a product buy made on tradus can get you that.

The mode of operation of mginger is that, once you register, you  start getting smses on your mobile, containing paid advertisements. Each advertisement fetches you 20 paisa. If you refer someone, you get 10 paisa for every advertisement he/she receives on the mobile. There is also a third level, through which you can earn 5 paisa per sms. Once time registration will cost you 2 rupees, and you can select your preferred time and advertising category. You can also stop this service anytime you like. Pay out will only be made after rupees 300 or above are accumulate in your account. It will take ages for that, and the amount is peanuts. But there is a second part to it. And that’s the better part.

Here’s how it works. Go to mginger and register your mobile number following this link. Once registered, you have to select you preferred time and category of the advertisement. Once you start receiving ads, you start accumulating money in your account. And here’s the best part. You can buy a coupon using the money out of that amount, for any of the offer available with mginger at that time. It could be a discount on Dr. Batra clinic charges, or a discount on 21 Fahrenheit pub, or my favorite, a 100 rupees discount coupon on the purchase of rupees 395 and above.

Once you have accumulated at least 1 rupee in your account, go to the coupons section, and select from the many different offers available. Then click on download coupon, and a rupee gets deducted from your wallet on mGinger. The next moment, you receive an SMS giving the coupon code and expiry date!!

The coupons are region specific, depending on the shopping merchants in that area. But any coupon, which can be redeemed online, is available for everyone. Some of the tempting coupons for Mumbai are as follows :

The Jail – Restaurant & Lounge 30% Discount on lunch (food and liquor). Also flat 15 % on dinner on weekdays.
Tradus.in 100 rupees off on purchase of 395 and above
21 Fahrenheit 33% discount on entry fee. Enter at rupees 500 instead of 750
Myntra.com 50% off on customised jersey

And many more for Spa, pubs, stay at luxury hotels, etc. are available on this site.

So why wait. Make the most of it while we live in this e-age.

Aug 032010
 

Disclaimer: The method explained herein to track your stock, should not be used for daily transactions, as the quotes  retrieved from the internet are delayed by couple of minutes.

Many of us have invested our life savings in the stock market. And the giants have already eaten into our savings, after promising us good returns. But we are the only ones to be blamed for our loss, because each time we invested, we were taking a “calculated risk”.

Anyway, this topic is not for crying about our losses. It explains one more way how we can track our stock. We all have created portfolios on sites like moneycontrol or BSE website. But all of this sites require us to login before we can access our portfolio and find out how much we have lost at that point. There are many finance management software, but they might be bit difficult to navigate. One easier way, which avoids login each time, is to create the portfolio in spreadsheet(Oh!! What happened to this good old word, spreadsheet. I still remember Lotus 1-2-3, and the revolution it started. It was a killer application). But we are not going to use Lotus 1-2-3 or even the costly excel program. We will use sun’s office suite, openoffice, and specifically openoffice calc.

We require the latest version of openoffice.org, 3.2.1. For those who do not have it installed on their PC, download it here, and do consider using it, since it is a comprehensive office suite, competing head on with MS office. And best of all, its free to download and distribute. Once installed, you need to download an extension, GetQuote, from its extension repository.Once downloaded, open up Openoffice.org application that you have installed. Go to         Tools—–>Extension Manager. Click Add and select the downloaded file. This will install the extension, and you are all set to create your portfolio on spreadsheet.

Open a new Openoffice.org calc spreadsheet. Check out the short code used on yahoo finance for your stock script. For example Assam Company on Bombay stock exchange is given by ASSAMCO.BO. Jindal Drilling on National Stock exchange is given by, JINDALDRI.NS. So on you can get the stock codes. Now to get a stock quote in a cell, type =GETPRICE(ASSAMCO.BO). Once you press enter, it will immediately connect to yahoo finance and display the live price to you. Same goes for all other scripts.

Your can use your spreadsheet knowledge to format the display in a more presentable way. Check out the screenshot of an example.

image

Though a bit tedious initially, once you have created it, there won’t be any changes required, and no logging in each time you want to see your investments in stock.

 

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