Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mobile banking to help 2 billion people by 2020

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Mobile financial services are expected to improve the lives of around 2 billion people in developing countries within a decade and boost economies, a Boston Consulting Group study found.

"Overall, mobile financial services can reduce financial exclusion by 5 percent to 20 percent through 2020 and increase gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 5 percent, with Pakistan, for instance, potentially seeing a 3 percent uplift," the study said.

It added that improved access to finance fostered entrepreneurship, new business creation and new jobs.

The report, released by Norwegian telecom group Telenor on Tuesday, focused on five countries -- Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Serbia -- which represented a broad development range, it said.

Some 72 percent of the population in developing countries are without access to banks or credit cards according to the study.

They manage to work around this by borrowing from friends and family, obtaining short-term credit from employers, forming savings clubs or seeking out moneylenders but these options were often risky, costly and with indeterminate results.

Telecom firms such as Telenor, Vodafone , Orange and MTN have begun investing in mobile payment systems in Asia and Africa that allow consumers to make basic payments for utilities for example but also participate in savings, credit and insurance programmes via mobile phones.

Mobile financial services can also help overcome economic shocks such as natural disasters or unexpected medical emergencies, the study said.

In Kenya, Safaricom's M-Pesa's UAP Insurance insures poor farmers through mobile phones against weather-induced crop failures for example.

Norway's Telenor said it was still early days but that the potential for growth was expected to be huge.

Telenor's EasyPaisa programme in Pakistan started with 2,200 retail outlets in October 2009 and now has 12,600 retailers spread over 650 cities across the country.

It has some 10 million estimated users and the total value of money transfers has reached 17.4 billion Pakistan rupees ($167.2 million).

"We believe that mobile financial services will be one of the key drivers for financial inclusion going forward and thus has the potential to be the most powerful tool for economic and social development in emerging economies," Telenor Chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas said in a statement on Tuesday.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Toyota launched its new updated version of Corolla Altis

Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) has launched an updated version of its Corolla Altis saloon.

The refreshed model now comes with new set of headlamps, refreshed grille and bumper, updated rear lamps. The interiors now feature darker mock wood trim.

The petrol engine has been tweaked and will now deliver 138bhp, 7bhp more than the earlier model.The updated Altis now is equipped with new gearbox options; the 5-speed manual is now replaced by a new 6-speed unit while the top-end automatic version gets a new 7-speed CVT unit. Diesel models will feature the same 6-speed manual gearbox.

The prices of the petrol version have gone up by Rs 15,000-24,000 while the diesel prices have been hiked by Rs 15,000-30,000 depending on model. The Altis petrol is now priced from Rs 10.53 lakh to Rs 14.77 lakh while the diesel variant starts at Rs 11.46 lakh to Rs 14.55 lakh; all prices ex-showroom Delhi.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Renault has confirmed that it's budget SUV the Duster will be launched in the Indian market. The SUV is expected in the second half of next year.

The Duster shares its platform with the Logan (now Verito) saloon. It will feature a 1.5-litre diesel motor which will be updated to deliver 107bhp and will come mated with a six-speed gearbox. Renault recently showcased the Duster at the Buenos Aires Motor Show with upgraded interiors; this should be seen on the Indian-market Duster as well.

Renault has been tightlipped about the Duster as they were targeting an aggressive price tag which required many meetings with suppliers to get parts at the right price. The Duster will be produced at Renault's Chennai plant. The Duster is expected to be priced between Rs 7-8 lakh.

Renault has plans of launching as many as five vehicles in a period of just 15 months. The French car-maker has already launched its flagship; the Fluence last month, the next offering is the Koleos premium SUV that will take on the likes of Honda's CR-V, Mitsubishi’s Outlander and its sibling the Nissan X-Trail. Renault also revealed that it also has plans to manufacture a compact car that will be built on an Alliance platform.

Renault currently has 14 dealerships in India and aims to increase this number to 40 by the end of the year and reach 100 by end of next year.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

American Airlines in talks for 100 Airbus planes

(Reuters) - AMR Corp's (AMR.N) American Airlines, the operator of an all-Boeing (BA.N) jet fleet, is in talks with Airbus (EAD.PA) about buying at least 100 narrow-body planes, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

A decision by the board of AMR, the third-largest U.S. carrier, may come as soon as July, the report said, adding that the jets from Airbus's A320 series would replace less-efficient aircraft such as Boeing 757s and MD-80s.

An A320 has a list price of $85 million, giving a potential American order a value of about $8.5 billion, according to the report.

Representatives of American Airlines and Airbus were not available for comment outside of U.S. business hours.