ICCI Bank to allow withdrawals up to Rs1,000 at merchant outlets

Mumbai: The country’s largest private sector lender ICICI Bank today introduced cash withdrawal facility for customers for withdrawing up to Rs1,000 at point of sale (PoS) terminals, with the option to buy or not buy at merchant outlets, reports PTI.

ICICI is the first lender to offer this facility in the country, the bank said in a release here. At present, cash withdrawal using a plastic card is available only at automated teller machines (ATMs).

The new facility will be available for all ICICI Bank debit card holders who can withdraw up to Rs1,000 a day as per Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines, with or without associated purchase transactions at PoS terminals, the bank said in a statement here today.

Launching the facility, managing director and chief executive Chanda Kochhar said, “ICICI Bank continues to be at the forefront of offering new functionalities and convenience to customers by leveraging technology. The launch of cash withdrawals at PoS terminals will create a new mode of access to financial services, which not only enhances customer service but can also be leveraged for financial inclusion.”

The ability to offer cash is likely to be attractive to merchants, as it means they can reduce the risk and cost associated with managing cash.

ICICI Bank has consolidated assets of over $115 billion as of end September. It has subsidiaries in the insurance space, securities brokerage, mutual funds and private equity. The bank is present in 18 countries.


Recommendations on 2G spectrum prices to be out soon: TRAI

New Delhi: After facing stiff resistance from incumbent operators on linking second generation (2G) spectrum prices with those of third generation (3G), the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today said it would soon submit fresh recommendations on the issue to the government, reports PTI.

"In May 2010 recommendations, we had clearly said we will be apprising the government of results of our study. So the results of the study will be apprised in the course of next few days," TRAI chairman JS Sarma told reporters here.

Last May, TRAI had floated the proposal for linking 2G spectrum prices with 3G radio wave rates. The proposal came after the auction for third-generation (3G) spectrum raked in over Rs67,000 crore for the government.

However, due to stiff opposition from the existing GSM service providers, TRAI had said it would revisit the issue and finalise the proposal.

"This (proposal) is regarding the pricing of spectrum, pricing to be done in future," Mr Sarma said.

TRAI's earlier recommendations included levying a one-time charge on operators holding excess 2G spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz.

It had suggested that every Mhz of spectrum beyond 6.2 should be linked to 3G auction bid and also at the time of renewal of licences.

Leading incumbent operators (especially Bharti and Vodafone) whose licences will come up for renewal over the next few years would have had to pay very high price in case the TRAI proposals would have taken effect.

The regulator was earlier expected to submit its proposal by the end of December 2010.


Indian drug makers get a shot from fast-spreading lifestyle diseases

Therapies for heart disease, diabetes and such ailments, which are spreading fast, are expected to make up about half the pharma market in about 20 years

We, Indians, are not getting any healthier. With people in tier-1, tier-2, and now tier 3 cities increasingly adopting Western lifestyles (eating out, junk food, too many stimulants, lots of work, no exercise, no leisure, money-oriented goals and stress), we are becoming prone to what the pharmaceutical companies refer to—almost lovingly—as ‘lifestyle’ diseases. Among these lifestyle diseases, diabetes and heart trouble are the ones that are likely to get most of us into trouble, with pharmaceutical companies singing all the way to the bank.

Reports suggest that changing demographics, increasing affordability of food and a sedentary lifestyle are key contributing factors to the increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs). So, in short, we are getting richer, but less healthy. Globally, NCDs account for about 60% of all deaths and these are on the increase. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the cumulative economic impact of NCDs on India is estimated at more than $237 billion (about Rs1,066,500 crore) for the 10 years to 2015.

According to a rather grim report from CLSA, an independent brokerage, the spread of diabetes and cardiovascular disease is going to drive growth of new therapies in the Indian pharma market in the next decade. Treatment for chronic diseases, that is long-running ailments such as asthma, diabetes, heart problems, osteoporosis, cancer, and so on, will probably constitute more than half of the Indian pharmaceutical market by 2020! The cardiovascular and diabetes segments will lead growth which, it is estimated, will expand six times by then.

Currently, diabetes affects about 50 million people in India and kills about 4 million people every year (and this is just the official statistic). Recently, the Indian government said it plans to extend the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke to all 650 districts in the country, under the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17).

According to official statistics, more than three million people die due to heart disease every year. Studies indicate that India will have 60% of the world’s heart disease patients this year. A report in the British medical journal The Lancet (special India edition) says that almost 18 million people in India will die of heart problems in 2030.

Once the government declares lifestyle-related diseases notifiable, the statistics that would emerge could be even more shocking. It has already declared cancer as a notifiable disease.

Here is an example of how relevant the disease is to pharma companies in India: While Merck KgaA has discontinued diabetes as a key portfolio in its global pharma business and almost stopped research activities in this area, its Indian arm is planning to launch at least five anti-diabetes products (that is one-third of its total product launches) this year.

CLSA believes that with an improvement in healthcare access and knowledge, people in smaller towns and cities will also begin using drugs to cure these lifestyle-related diseases. The brokerage believes that Sun Pharma, Cadila Healthcare, Torrent Pharma and Cipla are best positioned to take advantage of the changing trends as ‘chronic therapies generate higher revenue’.

Other than the increasing prevalence of these diseases, insurance penetration, medical infrastructure, and income growth (a large contributor) will push market growth.

Anti-infective drugs constitute the largest segment in the Indian pharma market today. Next in line are pain killers, drugs for respiratory, gynecological and dermatological treatment, anti-diabetes, cardiac, and CNS products that have the highest growth.

It is expected that the cardiovascular market will increase at a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 20% over the next two decades. The big players in this market are Sun Pharma, Torrent, Cadila, Unichem, Cipla and Ranbaxy. The largest players (in order) in the oral anti-diabetics market are USV, Sun Pharma, Lupin, Dr Reddy’s, Cadila and Torrent.

(This article is based on secondary research. The report is for information only. None of the stock information, data and company information presented herein constitutes a recommendation or solicitation of any offer to buy or sell any securities. Investors must do their own research and due diligence before acting on any security. Some of the opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and may not necessarily represent those of Moneylife.)



Babubhai Vaghela

6 years ago

Where are we heading for remains a moot question. What is our National Goal remains an unanswered question. Is blind economic growth an end in itself is the question that leaders of this country need to answer.

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