Nokia and Union Bank begin mobile payment services rollout

The service will leverage 3,000 UBI bank branches, 2,500 ATMs and Nokia’s retail network

Union Bank of India (UBI) together with Nokia, today announced the commercial launch of a service called 'Union Bank Money powered by Nokia' across India, starting with the National Capital Region. The service is already available to consumers in Gurgaon, and will soon go live in Delhi, Faridabad and Noida, said a release from the company.

This will be followed by a nationwide rollout over the next few months. The service specifically targets users who do not have a bank account today, by providing access to financial services through their mobile phones, to drive financial inclusion. For customers in the 'no-frills' category, the turnover will have an annual ceiling and the prepaid card will have a balance ceiling as per Reserve Bank of India guidelines.

Other customers, who complete KYC compliance norms at the bank, can use the product without any restriction on turnover. The service will enable consumers to transfer money to other individuals, withdraw cash from 'Business Correspondents' cash-out outlets (registered Nokia stores) and ATMs, pay utility bills as well as recharge prepaid SIM cards (top-ups) by using their mobile devices, eliminating the need for intermediaries.

Today, it is estimated that more than 50% of Indians do not have access to a bank account, and it is further estimated that 90% of the 600,000 plus villages in the country do not have a bank branch, according to UBI.

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ING Investment Management to launch ‘multi-manager’ scheme

This fund will attempt to invest across selected best-of-breed funds from different asset management companies

ING Investment Management India today said that it is launching its ING Optimix Financial Planning Fund (an open-ended fund-of-funds scheme) aimed at "simplifying investing" in mutual funds.

This fund will invest across selected best-of-breed funds from different asset management companies in one fund.

In addition, investors can invest in four different asset classes-liquid funds, debt funds, equity funds and gold ETFs (exchange traded funds) while getting the flexibility to choose from four convenient plans that cater to different risk tolerance levels investors may have, said the company in a press release.

"Mutual fund investing today has become complex and stressful. Investors need to choose from thousands of funds, closely track their performance, take decisions to retain or change funds, attract tax liability if funds are changed before 12 months and finally, reconcile all these holdings at the end of the year. ING IM's unique Multi Manager Fund of Funds capability simplifies all of this in an instant," said ING Investment Management India's MD & CEO, Navin Suri.

"ING has been offering multi-manager funds in India since 2006 and already manages close to Rs 347 crore from a wide base of nearly 30,000 investors," he said.

Investors can choose from four risk profiles-'cautious', 'conservative', 'prudent' and 'aggressive'-each offering a different mix of asset classes.

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National Insurance Co’s FY11 premium income up 32%

Premium income has increased to Rs6,115 crore for the fiscal ended 31 March 2011  from Rs4,625 crore in the previous year

National Insurance Company said today that it has clocked a 32.32% growth in its total premium income to Rs6,115 crore in 2010-11, with major business coming from the health and motor segments.

"Our premium income has increased to Rs6,115 crore for the fiscal ended March 31, 2011, from Rs4,625 crore in the previous year," National Insurance CMD NSR Chandraprasad told PTI.

The company has added new customers, which resulted in the record new business premium income during the fiscal. "During the fiscal we have earned new business premium worth Rs1,490 crore, which is a record level. Health and motor insurance segments saw the maximum number of additions," he said.

When asked if the company's solvency margin is adequate to support the proposed increase in provisioning requirement for motor insurance covers, Mr Chandraprasad said that National Insurance is "well capitalised".

"We do not need any capital infusion at present. Although the hike in provisioning would impact the balance sheets of insurers, our solvency margin is already good," he added.

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