Finance

Imported devices could get more expensive thanks to customs duty hike

iPhones to get even costlier!

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The Indian government has decided to hike customs duty on imported mobile phones from 15 to 20 percent in a move designed to protect local manufacturing. The higher tariffs take effect from April 1.

The move, which will make imported devices more expensive, follows less than two months after the country raised the import duty from 10 percent to 15 percent. The new hike comes amid the nations annual Budget Session when the coming year’s finances are declared. This move will affect Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Pixel lineups the most. Luckily, we shouldn’t be seeing any price hike on the iPhone SE because it is assembled in India.

Apple has been trying to assemble its devices in India but has always found itself in some bureaucratic hurdle. Apple has been negotiating with the Indian government for lower tariffs on certain components, but the increased duties are still not in its favor.

The increase on import duties is designed to promote local manufacturing. The moves taken by the government to ensure local sourcing have started paying off though; multiple companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, OPPO, and BlackBerry have started making and assembling phones in India to avoid the high import duty and also further gain the benefits the government has to offer under the “Make in India” scheme. The fact that the phones are sourced in India is often a point of emphasis for these companies and another marketing point to the consumer.

A senior industry executive told the Economic Times that smartphone makers may decide to absorb a part of the duty increase because Apple had increased iPhone prices by an average 3.5 percent in December after the government had raised import duties by five percent.

Last year, Apple supplier Wistron started producing iPhone SE models in India.

Around 75 percent of all cellphones sold in India were assembled in the country in 2017, said Tarun Pathak, an analyst at Counterpoint Research to CNN.

Apps

BPI Foundation’s Breakthrough app teaches personal finance through a digital board game

Your financial choices can either save you or break you!

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BPI Foundation, the social responsibility arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, launched its first interactive mobile game. Called Breakthrough: The Financial Choices We Make, the game aims to educate more Filipinos about personal finance in an entertaining manner. For brevity, we’ll be calling the game Breakthrough from hereon.

You can sharpen your financial awareness, understanding, and judgment — from basic to complex financial concepts. Saving, budgeting, insurance, debt management, investments, and retirement planning; your financial choices can either save you or break you.

Walkthrough

Breakthrough utilizes a board game set up like Monopoly, but instead of humans, you’re going against AI opponents. Players roll the dice which travels around the digital board landing on a corresponding tile.

Each tile presents common life events where a player’s decision can affect their score. There’s an opportunity to save, go on vacation, invest in stocks, or purchase insurance. You can even experience mishaps beyond your control like getting scammed, phished, or having emergencies such as car breakdown and home damage.

Overall, you can either amass or lose wealth depending on the path you decide to take. Whoever has the most assets, investments, coins, and highest net worth wins the game.

App development

The development of the app is the Foundation’s response to the World Bank’s study recommending the use of edutainment as a form of teaching financial concepts to the public, as stated by BPI Foundation Executive Director Owen Cammayo.

Apart from the board game, the app included a Financial Wellness journal, quizzes, and tips for players. Moving forward, the BPI Foundations plans to use the app in future runs of financial education webinars and other Foundation activities.

Moreover, the game is planning to scale up, further improving and expanding the gameplay. The Foundation, together with its partner Taktyl Studios, is working on allowing multi-player options, too. Breakthrough is now available on the App Store and Google’s Play Store.

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Finance

Carl Pei’s Nothing intends to raise $1.5 million from the community

A relatively new form of crowdfunding

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Carl Pei’s Nothing has invited users to invest in the company, asking them to get involved in developing the company and its products. In simpler terms, this format of crowdfunding entitles you to equity and not a product.

Nothing will allow its community to invest a total of $1.5 million at the same valuation as their Series A funding with Google Ventures (now called GV).  Nothing will also appoint one of the community members on its board. Furthermore, investors will have access to a private community and get exclusive insights into its functioning.

Nothing is trying to carve an IPO-like (Initial Public Offering) format wherein an individual can become a part of its journey. It’s significantly difficult for an individual to invest in a start-up because the up-front cost is too high, and the industry is closed-off for retail investors. Carl Pei is trying to bypass the shortcomings of the current norm and create a new niche.

“We want you to create that future together with us. Not just cheering from the sidelines, but front and center from the very start,” Nothing’s website says.

The London-headquartered company plans to make a pair of wireless headphones and smart consumer gadgets. Apart from GV, Nothing has also raised an additional US$ 7 million from popular names like Kunal Shah of Cred, YouTuber Casey Neistat, Kevin Lin of Twitch, Steve Huffman of Reddit, and Tony Fadell, the inventor of the iPod.

Nothing has also acquired Essential – the company founded by Andy Rubin, the co-founder of Android Inc. Essential tried to make a mark in the smartphone segment but couldn’t succeed.

Pre-registrations are already open, and the campaign shall go live on March 2 at 10 AM GMT.

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Finance

Mastercard will start accepting cryptocurrencies this year

No word on what cryptos yet

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Because of the recent rise of Dogecoin, cryptocurrencies are once again in the spotlight. Despite their seesawing popularity throughout the years, the digital currency is here to stay. Thankfully, larger financial firms are starting to accept the new currency into their gallery of services. Today, Mastercard has announced that it will accept some cryptocurrencies going forward.

As reported by Reuters, Mastercard will start accepting select currencies into its network later this year. Even without the recent announcement, the company already takes the digital currency, albeit indirectly. This time, the card company will fully support it going forward.

Unfortunately, Mastercard has not announced when the support is coming. The company has also neglected to share which cryptocurrencies will come to Mastercard. Most likely, it will support the most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Given its popularity, the company might even support the latest craze, Dogecoin.

Recently, Dogecoin raised its value drastically because of Reddit’s recent blitz against the stock market. Random cryptocurrencies and stocks suddenly experienced massive surges in the past few weeks.

In other cryptocurrency-related news, Elon Musk’s Tesla has also started accepting cryptocurrencies as a mode of payment. The billionaire has also invested US$ 1.5 billion in Bitcoin, marking a huge investment in the currency.

SEE ALSO: Mastercard is the 30th SEA Games app payment provider

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