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.

Finance

Globe introduces financial care program for postpaid subscribers

A safety net for postpaid customers during these trying times

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financial care

During these difficult times, managing finances is a must especially with the troubled economy the country faces. In light of this, Globe has launched a financial care program to help postpaid customers manage their subscription plans while staying connected.

The financial care program caters to the individual needs of Globe Postpaid, Platinum, and Broadband subscribers, taking into account the financial situation of each individual. After an assessment, Globe may offer subscribers the option to lower their plan, disconnect their account temporarily, or transfer ownership.

Postpaid subscribers may apply for the program by heading to the Account Requests section of the GlobeOne app. Alternatively, they may fill out this form available on Globe’s website. Once they have applied, a Globe representative will get in touch to discuss the possible options for the subscriber.

Installment program

The telco is also offering further financial assistance for those who have already paid their installment through the Globe Installment Program. Installments are also available for subscribers with temporarily disconnected accounts.

They may also call 214 toll-free from any Globe mobile number for other financial alternatives.

Having a financial care program is godsent for Globe customers who have been weathering the tough times. This is true for those hit hard by the typhoons and flooding in Luzon. For those who wish to donate — especially to victims of Typhoon Ulysses — they may do so here.

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Enterprise

Everything you need to know about Alibaba’s finance spinoff

It’ll be the world’s largest IPO

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Photo by David Dvořáček on Unsplash

Chinese financial technology giant Ant Group is all set to raise US$ 34 billion via an IPO (Initial Public Offering). The company’s share will be listed in Hong Kong as well as Shanghai. While IPO’s are a common sight, this one’s going to be a record-breaker. It’ll be the largest IPO on record, ever.

The company’s filing shows it has priced each share for US$ 10.30, giving it a market value of US$ 310 billion. Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, raised almost US$ 30 billion last year. But today, data is considered the new oil and recent technology listings has proven this. Ant’s sister company Alibaba raised US$ 25 billion in 2014 when the company got listed on NYSE.

So, the most important question remains, why is Ant Group so valuable? We’ll take a deep-dive to understand the company’s operations, investments, and strategic advantages that have earned it the high valuation today.

How was the Ant Group formed?

We’ve all heard of Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce company. Founded by Jack Ma, it revolutionized shopping in Mainland China forever. At the heart of this change was Alipay, a system designed to bridge the lack of trust between buyers and sellers. Even though it started functioning in 2004 as a complimentary service to Alibaba, executives realized it had much more potential and could be used outside of the e-commerce website’s umbrella.

In 2011, Alibaba spun-off Alipay into a new company that was called Zhejiang Alibaba E-Commerce Company. The name was soon changed to Ant Financial, followed by Ant Group in the coming years.

Today, Alipay has more than 700 million monthly users, and they’re just in China. On the other hand, PayPal has almost 350 million users globally. In fact, Ant Group reported revenue of US$ 17.7 billion in the first nine months of 2020, a whopping 43 percent raise over the same period in 2019.

The Coronavirus pandemic has turbocharged usage as people have turned to digital payments and e-commerce as a way of maintaining social distance.

Alipay is practically a bank

It may sound impossible, but Alipay is actually a bank without a single physical branch. It offers payment services between customers and merchants and extends loans, insurance, investment options, and more. If you want to survive in China, you can do it without any cash.

Smartphone, QR code payments

Everyone relies on their smartphone for payments, and the country has replaced plastic cards or cash in favor of QR codes. And, Alipay also ensures you don’t have to go anywhere else for your daily needs. Groceries? Alipay. Parking charges? Alipay. Flight tickets? Alipay. The answer to everything is just one app. While WeChat’s Super App model has gotten everyone’s attention, Ant Group capitalized by understanding it’s users on a more personal level.

This has been a common way of paying in China for a while. If you saw the 2018 version of popular teen drama Meteor Garden which was set in China, it was fairly noticeable that store transactions were made via QR code.

The app has access to everyone’s purchase trends, and being a payment layer, it has access to an unimaginable amount of data. Using this, it cross-sells and upsells high-value financial products, directly improving engagement and clocking consistent growth.

Instead of relying on a conventional bank, Alipay is much more convenient, faster, and accessible for the ordinary Chinese.

CreditTech

Ant Group’s most important division has to be CreditTech. It provides quick or instant credit lines to consumers and small businesses. Ant is the largest digital microfinance service provider in China and is viewed as a perfect way to infuse liquidity at the grassroots level. A conventional bank doesn’t possess the technology or the reach that Alipay can provide.

Hence, Ant Group works in tandem with banks and extends simplified financial services to everyone. The Chinese giant works with over 100 banks, and all loans are then securitized at the institutional level.

Services for everyone

Ideally, if you want a loan, you’ll have to apply in a bank, submit collaterals, negotiate the interest rate, and receive the sum. This is a lengthy and slow process that needs higher standards of due diligence. Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of people don’t have access to loans and are not included in the formal banking system.

Ant Group helps bridge this gap. With Alipay, you can maintain a digital wallet on the go, pay anyone within a second, and use other financial services within the app. Based on your spending, income, and lifestyle, the algorithm can understand you at a personal level. These data points can then be used to determine whether you’re eligible for a loan or credit line.

Instead of relying on conventional modes of applying for a loan, most users are prompted with pre-approved offers that are already made, keeping the individual in mind. It takes the platform just a few minutes to approve an application, and money is disbursed almost instantly.

The investment division of the company is called InvestTech and makes it easy for anyone to join up. Choose from a host of options like mutual funds and grow your money in the same app where you usually spend it. Similarly, it has also bridged the insurance industry within the app, and experts claim it could be the largest online insurance services platform in China in terms of premiums generated.

China loves Alipay, what about others?

Currently, 95 percent of Ant’s revenues come from Mainland China. Alibaba has already made massive international bets in markets like India, Indonesia, Thailand, and more.

Alipay supports 27 currencies and works with many international financial institutions to ensure cross-border payments for Chinese traveling overseas and facilitate the international purchase on Alibaba.

It has already won a virtual banking license in Hong Kong and is applying for one in Singapore. Cooperation and partnerships are already functional in Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand.

However, international expansion doesn’t look very promising at the moment because of the ongoing anti-China sentiments. The US has clamped down on Chinese technology companies like Huawei and ByteDance due to security concerns. If the world is worried about data collection via a short-video streaming app, will it be open to a Chinese company whose primary business is based on data collection?

India is a lucrative market, and Alibaba has tried to replicate the same model via its investment in super app Paytm. Indo-China relations have also radically deteriorated in recent months, and Chinese app developers have faced the consequences. Although Alibaba investments remain relatively stable in the country, new growth opportunities are bleak.

We live in a global economy today, and protectionism isn’t exactly helping anyone. However, with the boom in data, the risk has also increased manifold, and countries have to be on the lookout. In the case of Ant Group, their future within Mainland China looks very prosperous.

The most valuable unicorn on the planet is likely to make its hotly anticipated debut on Shanghai’s STAR Market and Hong Kong’s stock market on November 5, two days after the US election.

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Apps

Grab introduces new cashless payment through Cash-in With Driver

A new way to go cashless!

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Because of the pandemic, Grab’s GrabCar service has adopted cashless payments only. With more people still opting for cash for their commutes, Grab pushes a new feature to make their service safe and reliable — Cash-in with Driver.

This feature allows commuters to use GrabCar by paying cash through the driver. All you have to do is activate your GrabPay wallet during the ride, pay cash to the driver, and receive your change back on your GrabPay wallet.

Grab hopes the new feature allows more commuters to switch gradually towards a cashless lifestyle, and enjoy GrabPay benefits. For instance, there’s GrabRewards points that can be used for certain deals, promos, save on Grab transactions, and make seamless cashless payments across GrabPay’s partners.

Cash-in with Driver will be available on GrabCar 2-seater and 4-seater in Metro Manila. For Cebu and Pampanga, it will be available in GrabBayanihan Car and GrabCar 2-seater. Additionally, it’s expected to come soon on GrabTaxi.

The new feature will fully roll out by November 2020. Simply update your Grab app to the latest version, and you can start embracing a cashless lifestyle. Learn more about Cash-in with Driver via this link.

SEE ALSO: Going Cashless: Make payments, transfer funds all on your phone

Watch our how to use GrabPay video

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