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Indian consumers still vulnerable to being tricked by illegal loan apps: Report

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Mumbai, April 16 (IANS) One-third of high-confidence customers in India have limited knowledge about their digital loans, and lack understanding on how to detect illegal lending apps, finds a report on Tuesday.

The report by the Fintech Association for Consumer Empowerment (FACE) shares insights from a customer survey conducted between December, 2023 and January, 2024 to systematically understand gaps in users’ approaches and knowledge about Digital Lending Applications (DLAs) in India and drive action to address them.

Almost all customers know the lender’s name, but less than a third know about the key fact statement and grievance redressal mechanism.

Over 57 per cent of respondents reported checking the loan app’s affiliation with NBFC or Bank as the most crucial verification factor, while 55 per cent said they consider reviews and ratings.

Over three-fourths of users noted that they ignore downloads and data-sharing metrics when deciding about lending apps.

“Unscrupulous players hit the very core of the market, that is, customer trust for digital loans, harming customers and damaging the reputation of responsible digital lenders. We note that users are aware of downloading apps from the Play Store and checking the app’s partnership with NBFCs/Banks, ratings, and reviews,” said Sugandh Saxena, CEO at FACE.

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“However, the study informs us about significant gaps in the customer tool kit and behavioural biases, making them vulnerable to being tricked by illegal loan apps. As we work towards a safe loan app ecosystem for customers, the insights from the report will inform our effective actions to focus on aspects that customers overlook and break behavioural disposition,” she added.

Further, the report showed that digital marketing through social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube triggers purchases, followed by word of mouth and product ratings. However, female users showed slightly better awareness of the loan product, the report said.

The Reserve Bank RBI cautions against fraud in the name of KYC updation. It advises against sharing KYC documents or copies of KYC documents with unknown or unidentified individuals or organisations. Earlier, Google suspended or removed over 2,500 fraudulent loan apps from its Play Store between April 2021 and July 2022.

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–IANS

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South Korea to open joint AI research lab in US

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Seoul, May 28 (IANS) South Korea’s science ministry said on Tuesday it will create a joint artificial intelligence (AI) research lab with New York University (NYU) in the US.

The Global AI Frontier Lab will be co-led by two distinguished computer scientists — Cho Kyung-hyun and Yann LeCun — who are both professors at NYU, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT. It will be established at NYU.

Cho is currently a board member of South Korea AI startup Upstage and LeCun is the chief AI scientist at Meta Platforms, reports Yonhap news agency.

The research organisation will invite experts from Seoul and Washington to conduct global-level AI research projects and facilitate cooperation between the two countries.

The Institute of Information & Communications Technology Planning & Evaluation, the ministry arm spearheading the joint AI lab, is set to start recruiting South Korean researchers to conduct studies at the research organisation.

–IANS

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N. Korea says military reconnaissance satellite launch ends in failure

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Seoul, May 28 (IANS) North Korea said on Tuesday that its latest attempt to launch a new rocket carrying a military reconnaissance satellite ended in failure due to the midair explosion of the rocket during the first-stage flight this week.

Vice General Director of North Korea’s National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA) said that the rocket carrying the satellite, the Malligyong-1-1, exploded after it lifted off from the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground on the country’s northwest coast on Monday, Yonhap news agency reported, citing the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The launch came just hours after South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese Premier Li Qiang held a trilateral summit in Seoul and reaffirmed their commitment to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.

“The launch failed due to the air blast of the new-type satellite carrier rocket during the first-stage flight,” the KCNA reported, citing the NATA official.

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A preliminary examination by experts from the North’s launch preparatory committee concluded that the “accident” was attributable to the operational reliability of a new “liquid oxygen plus petroleum” engine, the official said.

The other causes of the failure will also be examined, according to the KCNA.

–IANS

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India-US CEO Forum’s WG7 launch bilateral knowledge-sharing platform for MSMEs, startups

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New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) In a bid to help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and startups integrate better in the global supply chain, the India-US CEO Forum’s Working Group 7 (WG7) on Monday launched the bilateral knowledge-sharing platform between India and the US.

The ‘Nihit Knowledge Platform’ will also boost jobs, said the forum on entrepreneurship, inclusive growth and promoting small businesses, in partnership with United Services Institute (USI) and CyberPeace Foundation.

The event also saw the launch of ‘Prakshepan’, a hackathon for MSMEs and startups with a prize pool and mentorship of over Rs 1 crore.

“The dialogue and the knowledge-sharing platform will enhance the bilateral relationship and unlock trade between India and the US, promoting inclusive growth by empowering startups and integrating MSMEs in the global supply chain and fostering a resilient, innovative, and inclusive economy,” said Subi Chaturvedi, Chief Corporate Affairs and Public Policy Officer, Global Senior Vice President (SVP), InMobi, and Sherpa WG7.

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The ‘Prakshepan’ hackathon will identify, mentor, and accelerate startups that contribute to enhancing the relationship between India and the US.

“This bilateral hackathon will focus on fostering innovation with a strong emphasis on women-led businesses, aiming for 50 per cemt female representation among participants”, said Chaturvedi.

With the aim of improving bilateral trade between India and the US, the forum brings together top businesses from both nations under the guidance of the Ministry of Commerce and the Department of Commerce from India and the US, respectively.

“I believe initiatives and dialogues like this will help foster a better relationship between the two nations, especially in trade and innovation, new and emerging future technologies and startups have a key role to play,” said Mahaveer Singhvi, Joint Secretary (new emerging and strategic technologies division), Ministry of External Affairs.

The event was organised by InMobi, Mastercard and Tata Sons and supported by CyberPeace Foundation, USI and USIBC.

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–IANS

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Build grounds for fair competition in AI-related industries: S. Korea's antitrust regulator

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Seoul, May 27 (IANS) South Korea’s antitrust regulator said on Monday it hosted a conference on artificial intelligence (AI) and competition policy with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The conference, held in Seoul, invited experts to discuss the role of competition in the supply chain of generative AI platforms, according to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC).

Generative AI refers to technologies that create various types of content, including text, images and videos, by learning and analyzing data, reports Yonhap news agency.

“We need to build grounds for fair competition in AI-related industries, so that they maintain innovative growth while preventing unfair practices,” Han Ki-jeong, the chairperson of the FTC, said.

Frederic Jenny, chairman of the OECD’s competition committee, also noted that there needs to be balanced regulation to ensure fair competition in the market while promoting innovation.

The regulator noted the government will aim to roll out antitrust policies to address the rapidly changing trends in the generative AI sector.

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–IANS

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Fintech leaders hail PM Modi on India leading in UPI

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New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Fintech leaders on Monday hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India leading in unified payments interface (UPI), saying that the country’s fintech landscape is now a hotbed for innovation, reflecting the nation’s fearless spirit.

Reacting to PM Modi’s exclusive interaction with IANS, Razorpay COO Rahul Kothari, said, “Today, UPI has become the common and preferred mode of payment for customers”.

“The state of the new normal not only showcases the promising trajectory for India’s digital economy but also talks about the immense trust our citizens have put in digital payments,” Kothari added.

The Prime Minister said that driven by digital public infrastructure (DPI) models like UPI, the country is now leading the global fintech ecosystem and several countries are ready to embrace the ‘India Stack’ solutions to empower the masses.

The UPI platform processed 13,115 crore transactions in FY24, aggregating to nearly Rs 200 lakh crore in value, compared with 8,376 crore transactions worth Rs 139 lakh crore in FY23.

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Lokanath Panda, COO of BLS eServices told IANS that even in the remotest villages, small traders are investing in digital payments for their convenience and efficiency.

“The use of technology is enhancing transparency and fostering inclusivity. India’s UPI now performing a new responsibility that is uniting global partners with India,” he said.

India is home to more than 10,000 fintech companies working in diverse sectors and segments.

As per reports, the third largest globally, India’s fintech ecosystem is poised to reach nearly $70 billion in annual revenue by FY30.

–IANS

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