INQ: The FB phone

While this advertising platform is sound for a launch commercial, it has zero value in the near future as social networking is a generic concept—any phone brand can employ it

On face value (quite literally), INQ Mobile seems to have come up with the right idea for its 3G-enabled phones. Imagine launching a cell phone at this point, in the Indian market, when there are more phone brands than jihadis in POK.
 
Their communication strategy is simple: forget talk-time, forget signal clarity, forget keeping in touch with family, forget packages. In fact, forget talking, which is the key use of a phone. (Sir Alexander Graham Bell must be buzzing with furious ring tones in his grave). They are targeting the new gen that’s 24x7 glued to social networking sites. ‘The Facebook’ generation, so to speak.
 
In one sense, this is the right idea. The FB gen is the one that constitutes a huge segment for high-end phones. And this ad platform is something they’ll immediately connect with. Also, this tack provides the communication some degree of distinctiveness and style. The commercial is set in a film/ad shoot location. The director is getting ready for the next shot. One female model is seen communicating with fellow models on Facebook. A male model is seen blissfully snoring away, as another male colleague shoots his picture and uploads it on FB.

And this sets off a chain of social smiles. So good time pass. All communication done without opening the mouth and bothering the film’s director. And yes, the commercial is shot pretty stylishly.
 
Two big problems: One, Facebook is not a unique feature on INQ’s cell phones, so the brand isn’t creating a unique, long-term identity out here. So while the advertising platform is sound for a launch commercial, it has zero value in the near future as social networking is a generic concept, any phone brand can employ it.

In fact, large, cash-rich brands like Nokia can own it with a huge advertising blitzkrieg. Two, the creative rendition of the thought is poor as well. It’s great to be stylish in the execution, but if there’s no big idea going around, the brand recall will be very poor. Models yapping away on FB at a film shoot can hardly be termed a ‘surprising solution’.  
 
Net-net: The INQ brand managers will have to quickly return to the drawing board and do two things: (A) Come up with a stupendous creative idea to milk out social networking before the rivals move in. (B) Think of a solid, unique, long-term communication concept. And INQ it before the brand ends up as just another phone in a hugely crowded category.

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World Bank clears $407 million loan for two projects

The Bank said although India has a well-developed banking system, and there has been significant progress in banking reforms, a significant portion of its billion-plus population has only limited or no access to financial services

The World Bank (WB) will provide a $407-million loan for two projects to promote microfinance and strengthening statistical base, reports PTI.

"The WB approved two projects worth $407 million to India, consisting of a $300-million credit/loan for scaling up the Sustainable and Responsible Microfinance Project and a $107-million loan to strengthen statistical data base," the Bank said in a release on Thursday.

The funding to the microfinance project will be used by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) for on-lending to microfinance institutions, the Bank said.

Funding to microfinance institutions is designed to enhance their financial strength and help them leverage private commercial funds for lending larger amounts to the under-served, it added. The project will help establish a microfinance information platform, promote adherence to a code of conduct for microfinance institutions, and enable their capacity building and monitoring capabilities.

The Bank said although India has a well-developed banking system, and there has been significant progress in banking reforms, a significant portion of its billion-plus population has only limited or no access to financial services.

The $200-million loan for the microfinance project is from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). It has a 25-year maturity, which includes a 14.5-year grace period. The rest, $100 million, is a credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm. It carries a 0.75% service fee, a 10-year grace period, and a maturity of 35 years.

The $107-million loan for strengthening statistical data base comes from the IBRD and has a 30-year maturity including a 5-year grace period.

On this loan, the Bank said that India’s rapid economic and social transformation over the past decade has brought to the fore a need for better and timely statistical information.

The Bank also said the loan would support an institutional and policy-based reform of the government for strengthening state statistical systems within a national policy framework.

It further said the country's rapid economic growth, private investments, increased role of states and effects of the global economic crisis—which India is weathering successfully—have renewed demands for more accurate statistical information.
 

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MFIs can't bring financial inclusion due to high lending cost: RBI official

“When the financial inclusion happens, banks will replace microfinance institutions. Then microfinance institutions will take the role of money lenders,” RBI deputy governor KC Chakrabarty said

Microfinance institutions (MFIs) will not be able to bring financial inclusion as their cost of lending is high, a top Reserve Bank of India (RBI) official said, reports PTI.

"Microfinance institutions will not be able to bring financial inclusion. Their cost of lending is high," RBI deputy governor K C Chakrabarty told reporters in Mumbai on the sidelines of the inauguration of Bank of India's mobile-based remittance facility for urban financial inclusion.

"The definition of financial inclusion is providing access to appropriate financial products and services to the most vulnerable group of the society in a fair, transparent and cost-effective manner by the mainstream financial institutions," he said.

When banks reach that level, the competition will bring down the cost, he said.

"When the financial inclusion happens, banks will replace microfinance institutions. Then microfinance institutions will take the role of money lenders," he added.

The Customer Service Committee under former Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chief M Damodaran will oversee the banks' dealings with customers, he said.

"How fair and transparent the products and pricing are, how the banks provide them to the customers, whether the bank has a system to address the customer complaints, how they deal with the customers, what are the legal and regulatory changes necessary, how the bank's ombudsman is working, all these things will be examined by a high-level committee under the chairmanship of former SEBI chief M Damodaran," he said.

Both the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) and the RBI do rate the banks, but internally, he said.

"We have internal rating and on the basis of that, we will advise banks about the modifications, changes and improvement they have to bring. But we will not make these ratings public," he said.

The deputy governor on Thursday inaugurated Bank of India's (BoI) mobile-based remittance facility through business correspondence for urban financial inclusion.

Bank of India plans to open seven lakh accounts for the unbanked urban poor, the bank's chairman and managing director, Alok Misra, said.

"Using the facility of mobile-based remittance facility through business correspondence, people can send money to their relatives over mobile and can receive the money in every nook and corner of the country," he said.

BoI plans to include one crore un-banked people in its fold and will reach out to about 30,000 villages in the next three years, he said.
 

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