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Incentivizing Digital Payments 

Government of India has initiated numerous steps to combat the scourge of Corruption and Black Money in the last two and a half years. Demonetization of 500 and 1000 Rs. notes is an important milestone in this endeavour. 
●    The highlights of the proposed incentives scheme are as follows-
●    All consumers and merchants using digital payments shall be eligible
●    There are two levels of incentive amounts available under the scheme:
●    Weekly lucky draw of the transaction IDs generated in that week, the contours of which are being finalized.
●    Quarterly draw for grand prizes.
●    While designing the scheme the focus will be on poor, lower middle class and small businesses.
●    All modes of digital payments- viz. USSD, AEPS, UPI and RuPay Cards- will be eligible.
●    For merchants, transactions made on the POS machines installed at their locations would be considered.
●    The detailed guideline of the scheme shall be unveiled soon. However, it would be ensured that all those who have used digital payment systems after November 8thshall be eligible to participate in the scheme.
●    The scheme would also provide for recognition of State Governments, their Undertakings, Districts and Urban & Rural Local Bodies who innovate for promoting electronic payment in their respective jurisdictions.

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RBI releases fifth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2016-17

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 7 December 2016 released the fifth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2016-17, the first policy review post-demonetisation.
●    The key announcement under the policy was that the policy Repo Rate under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) was kept unchanged at 6.25 percent. 
●    This decision was taken on the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation.
●    Reverse Repo Rate: Consequently, the Reverse Repo Rate under the LAF remains unchanged at 5.75 percent.
●    Marginal standing facility (MSF) Rate: The MSF rate was also kept unchanged at 6.75 percent.
●    Bank Rate: The Bank Rate also stands at 6.75 percent.
●    The policy decision was taken by Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of Reserve Bank of India.
●    In the external sector, India’s merchandise exports rebounded in September and October. After a prolonged fall for 22 months, imports rose in October on the back of a sharp rise in the volume of gold imports and higher payments for POL imports.
●    The level of foreign exchange reserves was 364 billion USD on 2 December 2016.

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RBI eases 2 factor authentication norm for online transactions under Rs. 2000

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 6 December 2016 relaxed the norms for Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA) for online card transactions of up to Rs 2000. 
●    However, only authorised card networks will provide such payment authentication solutions for online CNP (Card Not Present) transactions.
●    Only authorised card networks can provide such payment authentication solutions with participation of card issuing and acquiring banks.
●    Customer consent shall be taken while making this solution available to them.
●    The relaxation for AFA under such solutions shall be applicable for card not present transactions for a maximum value of Rs 2000 per transaction across all merchant categories.
●    Banks and card networks are free to facilitate their customers to set lower per transaction limits.
●    If the transaction limit goes beyond Rs 2000, then the card not present transaction will be processed as per the extant instructions with mandatory AFA; this goes same for the transaction value of below this limit.
●    Banks and card networks will decide the number of such small value transactions in a day, week or month.
●    There will be no change in the existing chargeback process.

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RBI to issue new Rs 50 & Rs 20 currency notes

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 4 December 2016 announced to issue Rs 50 and Rs 20 denomination banknotes. 
●    However, the old Rs 50 and Rs 20 notes will also continue to be legal tender.
●    Features of Rs 50 denomination banknotes:
●    These notes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005 will not have inset letter ‘L’  in both the number panels.
●    It will bear the signature of Dr Urjit R Patel, Governor of Reserve Bank of India.
●    The year of printing that is '2016' will be printed on the reverse of the banknote.
●    The design and security features of these banknotes will be similar to the banknotes.
●    The new Rs 20 denomination currency notes will be printed with inset letter ‘L’ in both the number panels.
●    Features of Rs 50 denomination banknotes:
●    It will bear the signature of Dr Urjit R Patel, Governor of Reserve Bank of India.
●    The year of printing '2016' will be printed on the backside of the banknote.
●    The design and security features of these banknotes will be similar to the old banknotes of Rs 20 with the ascending font of numerals in both the number panels and without intaglio print that was issued earlier in Mahatma Gandhi Series- 2005
 
 

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RBI relaxes cash withdrawal limits to increase deposits

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 28 November 2016 relaxed the cash withdrawal limit from the bank accounts with an aim to spur the deposits.
●    The depositors, who have made the deposits in the current legal tender notes, can now withdraw that amount over and above the weekly limit of Rs 24000.
●    This move comes as a relief for certain depositors who were hesitating to deposit their monies into bank accounts due to the current limits on cash withdrawals from accounts.
●    The Union Government on 8 November 2016 banned the legal tender of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes. 
●    Since then, this demonetisation plan has fetched Rs 8.1 lakh crore in bank accounts. On the other hand, around Rs 34000 crore had been exchanged till date.
●    In terms of total cash withdrawals, around Rs 2.16 lakh crore had been withdrawn as cash till date as per RBI record of 27 November 2016.

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Unaccounted Deposits in Old Notes to attract 50% Tax

A minimum of 50 percent tax may be levied on unexplained bank deposits made using the banned currency notes up to 30 December.
●    However, a higher 90 percent tax and penalty could be imposed if assessees do not declare the unaccounted cash voluntarily.
●    Half of remaining deposits, or 25 percent of the original deposit, will not be allowed to be withdrawn for four years.
●    In case such deposits are not declared and are detected by tax authorities, a total of 90 percent tax and penalty would be charged.
●    The government had given a 50-day window beginning 10 November for either depositing the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in circulation or exchanging them for new currency.
●    While the exchange, which was limited to a maximum of Rs 2,000 per person, has been withdrawn, all old notes without any ceiling can be deposited in bank accounts.

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West Bengal to get up to Rs. 1000 crore from NABARD

West Bengal will get a share of Rs 900 to 1,000 crore out of Rs 21,000 crore additional fund sanctioned by the NABARD for the current rabi sowing season to tide over the cash crisis resulting from demonetisation.
●    National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Chief General Manager A K Raybarman expressed confidence that there would be no scarcity of money with sanctioning of up to Rs 1,000 crore.    
●    State Bank of India CGM P P Sengupta also said the bank would give priority to make cash available in the districts to take care of the farm sector.
●    If demand for cash is reduced by 70 per cent then it will be smooth going in the rabi season despite demonetisation, bankers felt.
●    Last year farm credit demand was some Rs 3 lakh crore in India.
 

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Government ends exchange of old notes

The Union Government on 24 November 2016 decided that from 25 November 2016, the old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will no longer be exchanged at the bank counters. 
●    This will encourage people who are still unbanked, to open new bank accounts.  
●    However, there are some exemptions for certain transactions that will be valid till 15 December 2016.
●    Payments for the transactions under all the exempted categories will now be accepted only through old Rs 500 notes.
●    Payment of school fees up to Rs 2000 per student in Central Government, State Government, Municipality and local body schools.
●    Payment of fees in Central or State Government colleges.
●    Pre-paid mobile top-up to a limit of Rs 500 per top-up.
●    Purchases from Consumer Cooperative Stores of up to Rs 5000 at a time. 
●    Payment of current and arrear dues to utilities will be limited to only water and electricity. 

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Nepal bans new Indian currency notes

Nepal Rastra Bank on Thursday banned the use of India's new currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denomination, terming them "unauthorised and illegal".
●    These two currency notes were issued by the Reserve Bank of India recently after old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination notes were withdrawn.
●    Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has called the new currency notes "unauthorised and illegal".
●    NRB spokesperson Narayan Poudel said these new currency notes are not yet legal in Nepal.
●    Poudel said these notes will be legal in Nepal only when India issues a FEMA notification as per the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
●    India is likely to issue a FEMA notification, allowing people in Nepal and India to possess certain amount of Indian currency.
●    Earlier, a ban was in effect in Nepal till last year against the use of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations notes.

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Rupee drops lowest since Aug 2013

Indian rupee hit its record low level of 68.855 against the US dollar during the intraday trade on Thursday after extending its loses for a fifth consecutive session. 
●    Sentiment in forex market turned highly weak due to consistent selling by foreign investors against the backdrop of demonetisation and renewed concerns over Fed interest rate hike. 
●    The currency opened nearly 22 paise down at 68.78 against dollar on account of buying of American currency by banks and importers. 
●    At 1.10 pm, the local currency was trading 26 paise down at 68.83. 
●    Since demonetisation, rupee has already plunged over 2.5 per cent till date. 
●    The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday fixed the reference rate of the rupee at 68.47 against the US dollar and 72.7844 for the euro. 
●    domestic equity market was also trading in red in afternoon trade tracking mixed global cues. The BSE Senex was trading 137.89 points, or 0.53 per cent down at 25,913.92, while NSE Nifty was down 45.55 points, or 0.57 per cent, down at 7987.75. 


 

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