Face Authentication Technology for submission of Digital Life Certificates for pensioners

A Milestone development to enhance “Ease of Living” of Pensioners through Use of Face Authentication Technology for submission of Digital Life Certificates (Press release 20 Oct 2022)


With a view to enhance Ease of Living of pensioners, Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Portal (DoPPW), engaged with NIC, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) and UIDAI to develop a Face Authentication technology-based system based on UIDAI Aadhaar software for submission of digital life certificate by the Pensioners/Family Pensioners. As per this facility, the identity of a person will be established through Face Authentication technique and it is possible to submit Life Certificate from any Android based smart phone. Dr. Union Minister of State (IC) Ministry of Science and Technology; Minister of State (IC) Ministry of Earth Science; MoS of Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions Dr Jitendra Singh launched this facility on 29.11.2021.



Submission of Digital Life Certificates through face authentication technique is a breakthrough technology which has reduced Pensioners’ dependence on external bio-metric devices and has made the process more accessible and affordable, thus ensuring ease of living for all the Pensioners/Family Pensioners. In addition, by using this digital mode for Life Certificate submission, pensioners can now submit their Life Certificates from the comfort of their homes.

The Department has also started a major campaign under Special Campaign for Disposal of Pending Matters (SCDPM 2.0) in which pensioners aged 80 years and above may submit their Life Certificates from 1st October every year to avoid the rush at banks. All Pensioners’ Associations across the country have been educated in the use of the Face Authentication Technology through online as well as physical trainings imparted by the department from time to time, in a phased manner, so as reach out to all Associations. The Pensioners’ Associations assist pensioners by visiting their homes and holding camps for enabling submission of Life Certificates using the Face Authentication Technology. Recently, Shri V Srinivas, Secretary (DoPPW) visited the office of the NF Railway pensioners’ Association at Guwahati on 14th October, 2022 as part of SCDPM 2.0 where he interacted with pensioners and large number of Digital Life Certificates were generated using Face Authentication Technology.



The department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare is making endeavors to enhance adoption of Face Authentication as best practices in digital innovation under SCDPM 2.0 to enable pensioners to use this technology at a larger scale.

Steps for opening/ updating the NPS account using Driving License issued in DigiLocker

Central Record Keeping Agencies (CRAs) of PFRDA have become Digi Locker Partner Organizations to provide Subscriber Centric online Services


Building a Pensioned Society enabled through Digi Locker

Press Release Posted Date:- Oct 18, 2022


Central Record Keeping Agencies (CRAs) of Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) have become Digi Locker Partner Organizations to provide Subscriber Centric online Services .

As a tribute to 75 Years of India’s Independence Day Celebration and to commemorate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, PFRDA is providing following additional features through Digi Locker:

1. Account opening using Driving License (DL) through Digi Locker
2. Updation of existing address using DL through Digi Locker


The facility can be availed by prospective subscribers opening their accounts with Protean CRA and existing subscribers of Protean CRA for updating their address.

Digi Locker is a key initiative under Digital India, the Government of India flagship program with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and a pensioned Society. Digi Locker embraces Digital India’s vision areas of providing the Citizens a shareable private digital space with a consent framework and making all documents/certificates digitally available and accessible at ease. The number of Registered Users of Digi Locker are nearly 13 cr and 5.60 billion issued documents under various Categories viz Central/ State Governments, Banking & Insurance, Education, Health etc.

Another step towards Ease of Doing Business-Overseas investment rules and regulations notified

In line with the amendment in the Foreign Exchange Management Act 2015, Outward Investments Rules have been framed by the Government of India in consultation with the Reserve Bank. Presently, the overseas investment by a person resident in India is governed by the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Any Foreign Security) Regulations, 2004 and the Foreign Exchange Management (Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable Property Outside India) Regulations, 2015.

The Government of India in consultation with the Reserve Bank undertook a comprehensive exercise to simplify these regulations. Draft Foreign Exchange Management (Overseas Investment) Rules and draft Foreign Exchange Management (Overseas Investment) Regulations were also put in the public domain for consultations. Extant regulations pertaining to Overseas Investments and Acquisition and Transfer of Immovable Property Outside India have been subsumed within these rules and regulations.

In view of the evolving needs of businesses in India, in an increasingly integrated global market, there is need of Indian corporates to be part of global value chain. The revised regulatory framework for overseas investment provides for simplification of the existing framework for overseas investment and has been aligned with the current business and economic dynamics. Clarity on Overseas Direct Investment and Overseas Portfolio Investment has been brought in and various overseas investment related transactions that were earlier under approval route are now under automatic route, significantly enhancing “Ease of Doing Business”.

Overseas Investment Rules and Regulations, 2022 can be accessed at:

https://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2022/238239.pdf

https://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2022/238242.pdf

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Press Release dated 22 Aug 2022

Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2022-23 (Series II) – Issue Price (Subscription open August 22-26, 2022 with Settlement date August 30, 2022)

In terms of Government of India Notification No.4(6)-B(W&M)/2022 dated June 15, 2022, Sovereign Gold Bonds 2022-23 (Series II) will be opened for subscription during the period August 22-26, 2022 with Settlement date August 30, 2022. The issue price of the Bond during the subscription period shall be Rs 5,197 (Rupees five thousand one hundred ninety seven only) per gram, as also published by RBI in their Press Release dated August 19, 2022.          

Government of India in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India has decided to allow discount of Rs 50 (Rupees Fifty only) per gram from the issue price to those investors who apply online and the payment is made through digital mode. For such investors the issue price of Gold Bond will be Rs 5,147 (Rupees five thousand one hundred forty seven only) per gram of gold.

 Press Release 22 Aug 2022

Jan Samarth Portal available on 24/7 basis (Press release 19 July 2022)

Jan Samarth Portal available on 24/7 basis


Jan Samarth Portal presently hosts loans under 13 credit linked Government Schemes

The Government launched “Jan Samarth” Portal on 6th June 2022. This was stated by Union Minister of State for Finance Dr Bhagwat Kisanrao Karad in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.

Giving more details, the Minister stated that the salient features of the “Jan Samarth” Portal are as under:



1. It connects all stakeholders like beneficiaries, financial institutions, Central/State Government Agencies, & Nodal Agencies on a common platform.


2. Applicant can initially access 13 schemes through a single platform.


3.Intuitive guidance to applicants for checking subsidy eligibility.


4. Auto recommendation of the best suitable scheme for beneficiary.


5.Digital approval of loan application based on digital verifications.


6.Beneficiary can track real time status of their loan application.


The Minister further stated that the use of “Jan Samarth” Portal by applicants will ease the loan application and disbursement process as the applicant can upload his application and the rule engine for approval of the applications is inbuilt. This will save time and effort as applicant can apply for a loan on the portal which is available on 24/7 basis.

The portal presently hosts loans under 13 credit linked Government Schemes catering to youth, students, entrepreneurs and farmers viz. Education Loans, Agriculture Loans, Business Activity Loans, and Livelihood Loans, the Minister stated.

Any applicant/beneficiary can register, check eligibility under various Government Schemes and apply for digital loan approval through Jan Samarth Portal, the Minister stated.

Disruptions & Opportunities in the Financial Sector (RBI updates 17th June 2022)

Disruptions & Opportunities in the Financial Sector
(Address by Shri Shaktikanta Das, Governor, Reserve Bank of India – June 17, 2022 – Delivered at the Financial Express Modern BFSI Summit in Mumbai)

It is my pleasure to be here amongst such a distinguished gathering to deliver the inaugural address at the Financial Express Modern BFSI Summit. The theme of my address “Disruptions & Opportunities in the Financial Sector’ will resonate in the current context of technological innovations and fast evolving business models in the financial sector.

2. The impact of Covid-19 pandemic, the recent geo-political crisis and the all-pervasive technological innovations sweeping across economies are challenging the traditional financial intermediation processes. In my address today, I would like to focus more on the banking and the financial services space. I propose to share my thoughts on possible implications of technology on the financial services industry.

The Changing Paradigm of Banking

3. The edifice of growth and development in modern economies is built on the foundation of a vibrant, resilient and well-functioning financial sector. The core functions of the financial sector in an economy, viz. intermediation, asset price discovery, risk transfer and payments are globally undergoing a process of transformation. This is primarily driven by technological advancements. The Indian financial sector has also been a part of this churning and is adopting and propelling these transformations.

4. Over the past few years, the business of banking has witnessed a shift from traditional branch banking to digital banking. This paradigm shift has been possible due to innovations in information technology (IT), growth in mobile and internet connectivity, market-based financial intermediation, and the advent of Fintech. Financial service providers are now devising new products and services and are adopting new business models for reaching out to the target customers.

5. Improvements in technology have also enhanced the cause of financial inclusion and tech-enabled public goods delivery. Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) through the digital mode is among the best examples of tech-enabled public goods delivery. Digital-mobile-anywhere-anytime banking is becoming the order of the day. The indigenously developed Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Aadhaar Enabled Payment Service (AePS) have become the backbone of our retail payments system.

6. Alongside these advancements, the Reserve Bank’s regulatory approach has been realigned to support and foster such innovations. The regulatory guidelines for account aggregators and peer-to-peer lending operators are indicative of a proactive regulatory approach. An enabling framework for Regulatory Sandbox has been in place for last three years. The Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) has also been set up by the RBI to catalyse innovations in the Fintech sector. We are now moving towards the introduction of a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Technology as a Disruptor – Opportunities and challenges

7. With the advent of new technologies, we are witnessing a new era of disruption. Given the growing role of technology, data and network effects, there is a feeling among the banks that having an ethos of a technology company, while offering banking services, is the need of the hour. This is an area of opportunity for the banks; but there are associated challenges which need to be mitigated. Greater attention needs to be given to building customers’ trust by (i) offering products and services appropriate and fit for customer’s needs and circumstances; (ii) ensuring robust security controls, reliable and efficient delivery of services, transparency of terms and conditions to customers; and (iii) by handling customer grievances satisfactorily and building necessary awareness among customers. All of these aspects need to be factored in when financial institutions introduce or enhance technology driven products and services.

8. Talking about opportunities, it would be relevant to note that what we have seen until now could be just the tip of the iceberg. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to determine the creditworthiness of clients for small ticket loans by analyzing data from a wide range of traditional and non-traditional data sources, has the potential to enhance access to credit for marginalized customers. Here also it would be necessary to understand the associated risks and mitigate them suitably through various safeguards and precautions. Risks relating to cyber security, software development, limitations in transaction capacity, privacy of customer data, and data security need to be factored in. The methodology of algorithms underpinning digital financial services has to be clear, transparent, explainable and free from exclusionary biases. The credit scoring models using innovative techniques can be useful but they should be subject to a robust model governance framework. Comprehensive assessment of risks has also to be undertaken while planning to move to cloud with customer sensitive data.

9. In all these digital initiatives, the plan should also factor in those sets of customers who may not be digitally savvy and who may want to engage physically with the bank. It is, therefore, crucial that while driving various tech-enabled initiatives, the existing systems and processes do not see frequent disruptions and non-availability. We have already seen instances of the damage that disruptions in technology systems can bring and the reputation risk they carry for financial entities. A casual approach to handling technology issues even as basic as wrongful deletion of a single system file or inadequate care in patch updating often lead to financial and operational losses.

10. The IT systems and platforms are also exposed to obsolescence and require frequent upgradation. This calls for adequate investment in IT infrastructure by all financial sector entities. This is one of the important focus areas of RBI’s supervision of its regulated entities, especially the Banks and the NBFCs.

11. It has also to be recognised that human resource can turn out to be the weakest link in technology enabled financial services. There is thus a vital need for ongoing training and skill building programmes.

12. At end of the day, the bottomline is how technology improves the financial system in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, resolving bottlenecks in economic functions and provide value addition to the customers.

Collaboration between Finance and Technology Firms

13. Large technology companies (BigTech) which have entered into provision of financial services could potentially be another source of disruption to the financial system. As you would be aware, such companies, whether from e-commerce, social media and search engine platforms, ride hailing and similar businesses have started to offer financial services in a big way on their own or on behalf of others. These companies have an enormous amount of customer data which has helped them to offer tailored financial services to entities and individuals lacking credit history or collateral. Even the banks and other lenders are sometimes utilising platforms provided by fintech companies in their internal processes for credit risk assessment. Such large scale use of new methodologies in credit risk assessment can create systemic concerns like over-leverage, inadequate credit assessment, etc. Authorities and regulators have to strike a fine balance between enabling innovation and preventing systemic risks.

14. The big techs also pose concerns related to competition, data protection, data sharing and operational resilience of critical services in situations where Banks and NBFCs utilise the services of big tech companies. These concerns can also materialise in sectors other than financial services. The provision of financial services through the digital channel, including lending through online platforms and mobile apps, have brought in issues relating to unfair practices, data privacy, documentation, transparency, conduct, breach of licensing conditions, etc. The Reserve Bank will soon issue suitable guidelines and measures to make the digital lending ecosystem safe and sound while enhancing customer protection and encouraging innovation.

What kind of Regulation and Supervision?

15. The need for FinTech regulation emanates from the challenges they pose to the financial system and the new risks they carry. These risks have a bearing on overall financial stability and market integrity.

16. The approach to regulation of FinTech could be by way of Activity Based Regulation wherein similar activities are treated similarly, regardless of the legal status or nature of the entity undertaking the activity. It could also be Entity Based Regulation which requires that regulations are applied to licensed entities or groups that engage in similar and specified activities, such as deposit taking, payment facilitation, lending, and securities underwriting, etc. The approach could also be an Outcome Based Regulation by setting out some basic, common and technology or business model-neutral outcomes that entities must ensure.

17. India has traditionally followed a hybrid form of regulation that combines Activity and Entity Based regulation. As a principle, the RBI has been applying comprehensive regulatory, supervisory and oversight requirements to various segments of financial sector in its domain to create an enabling ecosystem for such activities to grow in an orderly fashion. The underlying theme has always been to maintain financial stability. Going forward, the RBI will continue to finetune its regulatory and supervisory measures keeping in mind the evolving dynamics of the financial sector.

Does Regulation require collaboration with different Regulators?

18. When it comes to technology, it may transcend regulatory or national boundaries. The most relevant example in this case would be the blockchain technology. Different blockchain platforms cannot be limited to a regulator or a nation. Another example can be the case of De-centralised Finance (DeFi) in which financial applications are processed on a blockchain with limited or no involvement of centralised intermediaries. DeFi poses unique challenges to regulators as its anonymity, lack of a centralised governance body, and legal uncertainties can make the traditional approach to regulation ineffective. There is, therefore, a case for a globally coordinated regulatory approach and inter-regulatory co-ordination to enable comprehensive assessment of such activities and mitigation of their risks.

Some recent initiatives of the RBI

19. I would now like to focus on certain supervisory steps taken by the RBI recently to deal with the emerging challenges from fintech. In the specific area of cyber security, the RBI has recently conducted Phishing Simulation exercises for select Supervised Entities (SEs) to assess their email security standards and cyber security preparedness. We have also initiated the process of conducting Cyber Reconnaissance exercises this year. This will provide pre-emptive information on the cybersecurity risk vectors of SEs. Besides, Cyber Drills which are conducted periodically are being further enhanced in terms of coverage and periodicity.

20. The increasing use of technology and digital services has led to more incidents of digital frauds and customer dissatisfaction. The recommendations of the RBI Working Group on digital lending in this area are under examination for issuance of guidelines.

21. In the context of customer service, another area which is engaging the attention of the RBI is the harsh recovery methods used by certain lenders, without having adequate checks and controls over their recovery agents. We have received complaints of customers being contacted by recovery agents at odd hours, even past midnight. There are also complaints of recovery agents using foul language. Such kind of actions by recovery agents are unacceptable and pose reputational risk for the financial entities themselves. We have taken serious note of such instances and will not hesitate to take stringent action in cases where regulated entities are involved. Such complaints against unregulated entities will have to be taken up with appropriate law enforcement agencies.

22. We have recently set up of a Committee for Review of Customer Service Standards in the RBI Regulated Entities (REs) which would inter alia review the emerging and evolving needs of the customer service landscape, especially in the context of evolving digital financial products and their distribution, and suggest measures for strengthening the overall consumer protection framework.

Governance and Risk Management

23. I have often spoken about the importance of good corporate governance in banks and financial institutions. A good governance structure will have to be supported by effective risk management and compliance functions. The cost of compliance to rules and regulations should be perceived as an investment, as inadequacy in this regard can prove to be highly costly. Compliance culture should ensure adherence to not only laws, rules and regulations, but also integrity, ethics and codes of conduct.

24. The Global Financial Crisis was preceded by a wave of financial innovations related to securitisation and other innovative financial instruments. These allowed the financial system to grow at a pace that was beyond its capacity to manage, especially from the point of view of the connected risks. Given such past experience, prudence demands that introduction of innovations in the financial system should be done responsibly and in a calibrated manner, taking into account the capacity of financial entities to manage potential risks. It goes without saying that innovations which provide opportunities through high risk taking need to be managed by sound corporate governance and risk management practices within the financial institutions. The senior management and internal control mechanisms in financial institutions should also ensure that their IT systems are robust and transparent, and not open to manipulation that may camouflage the true state of affairs in the organisation.

Conclusion

25. Let me conclude by saying that we are in the midst of a technological revolution in the sphere of financial services. Technology and Innovation per se are neither destructive nor constructive. It is the use cases that present the responsible or irresponsible sides of any particular innovation or technology. Reserve Bank shall continue with its approach where innovations which provide benefits to society are encouraged without compromising the stability of the financial system.

26. The trend of technology driven changes in the financial services sector will continue in the future. Participants and players in this sector will have to strive hard to remain relevant in the ever changing economic environment by continuously improving the quality of their governance; reworking their business strategies and business models; designing products and services with the customer in mind; ensuring operational resilience and risk management; and focussing on more efficient products and services by leveraging on technology. The possibilities are immense only if we are ready to embrace them while meeting the challenges!

Thank you.

Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2022-23 : Insurance date & features (Press release dated 16 June 2022)

The Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds in tranches as per the calendar specified below:

The Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGBs) will be sold through Scheduled Commercial banks(except Small Finance Banks and Payment Banks), Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL),Clearing Corporation of India Limited (CCIL), designated post offices, and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India Limited and Bombay Stock Exchange Limited.The features of the Bond are as under:

Income Tax Department aims to spread tax literacy among children through games, puzzles and comics (MOF updates 12 June 2022)

Moving beyond text based literature, awareness seminars and workshops, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has adopted a novel approach to spread tax literacy through ‘learn by play’ methods.  CBDT has brought out products to introduce concepts related to taxation, often perceived to be complicated, to high school students through board Games, puzzles and comics. 

Kick-starting this initiative, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched a series of communication and outreach products aimed at spreading financial and tax awareness at the Closing Ceremony of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav Iconic Week in Panaji, Goa on Saturday evening. She termed the next 25 years as Amrit Kaal, and said youth would play a major role in shaping the new India. Smt. Sitharaman also distributed the first sets of the games to select school students present at the event. 

The novel products brought out by the CBDT are as follows : 


Snakes, Ladders and Taxes :  This board game introduces good and bad habits in respect of tax events and financial transactions. The game is simple, intuitive and educational with good habits being rewarded through ladders and bad habits penalized by snakes.

Building India :   This collaborative game introduces the concept of importance of paying taxes through the use of 50 memory cards based on infrastructure and social projects.  The game aims to convey the message that taxation is collaborative in nature and not competitive. 

India Gate – 3D Puzzle :  This game consists of 30 pieces, each containing information about various terms and concepts related to taxation.  The pieces when connected together will build a 3-dimensional structure of India Gate conveying the message that taxes build India. 


Digital Comic Books – Income Tax Department has collaborated with Lot Pot Comics to spread awareness about concepts of income and taxation among children and young adults. The messages are given by the immensely popular cartoon characters of Motu-Patlu, through their bone tickling dialogues. 
 
These products will be initially distributed to schools through the network of Income Tax offices spread across India.  A proposal to distribute these games through bookstores is also being worked out.

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Press Release dated 12 June 2022

Creating wealth through markets

DIPAM to organise Conference on “Creating wealth through markets” as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav Celebrations of Ministry of Finance tomorrow


Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman to join the Conference from Bengaluru

Conference is being organised on a mega scale in 75 cities, covering all States and UTs

In celebrations of “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM)”, Department of Investment & Public Asset Management (DIPAM) is organinsing a Conference on the theme “Creating Wealth through Market” as an iconic event in 75 cities across the country on tomorrow starting at 04:00 PM. This initiative aims to educate, encourage and empower people in 75 cities across India about investments and creating wealth as well as on the steps taken by the Government for ensuring financial growth of the citizens.

Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman will join the conference from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

Union Minister of State for Finance Dr Bhagwat Kisanrao Karad will participate in the Conference from Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

The inaugural address will be followed by a session at the local venue in 75 cities with eminent speakers comprising of Financial Experts / Professionals / Bankers / Influencers etc. The event will feature discussions on broad topics such as:

  1. Growth of Indian Capital Markets in the past 75 years.
  2. Women as rising Independent Investors.
  3. Role of Government and other Market Players in improving Market Confidence.
  4. Financial Literacy- a road to financial wellbeing.
  5. Future of Indian capital markets i.e. Amrit Kaal

 “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” is being celebrated in the country in commemoration of 75 years of independence of India, and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements. It’s a celebration of our collective achievements as a 75-year-old independent country with a legacy of 5000+ years of ancient history. The celebration rests on five pillars outlined by the Prime Minister i.e. Freedom Struggle, Ideas at 75, Achievements at 75, Actions at 75 and Resolves at 75 as guiding force for moving forward, keeping dreams and duties as inspiration. The Mahotsav will be celebrated as Jan-Utsav in the spirit of Jan-Bhagidari.

True to the pan-India essence of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, DIPAM will conduct the programme in all major Indian languages in 75 cities for better and easier acceptability among the people. Reflecting its extensive reach, the Programme covers all geographical areas of the country from Ladakh to Lakshdweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and no area of the country is left out of its ambit.

For more details, CLICK HERE.

Ministry of Finance Press Release dated 09th June 2022