Citizens' Issues
'Smartphones: 30 percent of time spent on communication'
A new global report released by Ericsson on Thursday claims that 30 percent of time spent by users on all smartphone apps is on communication.
 
As per the report, though smartphones have a wide range of functions such as entertainment, games and photography, communication continues to be the dominant activity with users spending time on communicating through voice, instant messaging, voice over internet protocol (such as Skype), emails and social networking.
 
"We found that 40-50 percent of data consumption for communication apps uses mobile broadband, whereas the corresponding figure for video is just 20 percent," says Swetleena Swain, senior advisor at Ericsson ConsumerLab.
 
The report also claims that culture and language influence communication patterns and the adoption of communication apps.
 
Smartphone users in Britain and the US make more voice calls while the Japanese and South Koreans prefer to text message and use locally-developed communication apps.
 
"Typically, the US apps are designed for an English-speaking audience, so it's not surprising that these are predominant in English-speaking countries," says Swain.
 
According to the report, Indian users spend aroung 47 percent of their smartphone-usage time in communication including voice calls with utility and productivity tools claiming 14 percent of the time. Entertainment and gaming follows close behind with 11 percent and 10 percent respectively.
 
While voice calls account for 21 percent of the total time spent on communication, voice call over Internal and instant messaging (IM) accounts for 66 percent of the total time. Social networking comes in third with 11 percent followed by Email which accounts for just 2 percent.
 
WhatsApp Messenger was the most used of all IM apps followed by HIke, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and WeChat.
 
The report titles Ericsson ConsumerLab was released after conducting a global consumer research programme based on interviews with 1,00,000 individuals, in more than 40 countries and 15 megacities.

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Monetary stance of advanced economies may impact markets: RBI
India's apex bank on Thursday said the foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) inflows might be impacted by the spill-over effect from the monetary policy stance in advanced economies.
 
"While foreign portfolio flows to India have been strong during the past year, unexpected changes in AEs monetary policy may lead to slowdown, reversal of such flows with implications for segments of financial markets," the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its financial stability report (FSR) for June 2015.
 
Data with the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) showed a whopping increase of 437 percent in the total investment inflows last fiscal which stood at Rs.277,461 crore from Rs.51,649 crore in 2013-14.
 
The FPIs invested Rs.111,333 crore in equity and Rs.166,127 crore in debt markets during 2014-15.
 
"India is though better prepared to deal with the volatility, as compared to previous episodes," the report said.
 
The RBI has been building up its foreign reserves to counter any future financial shocks and slide in rupee value like the one which was witnessed in 2008 and June 2013.
 
India's foreign exchange reserves stood at $354.28 billion for the week ended June 12.
 
The report cited threats from a possible Greek debt default and uncertainty over the timing of rate increases by the US Federal Reserves.
 
At present, parleys are continuing to resolve the Greek debt crisis as the deadline for Greece to make debt payments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is scheduled for June 30. 
 
The RBI is also cautious about the US Fed's stand that the rate hike might take place later in the year. 
 
With higher interest rates in the US, the FPIs are expected to be led away from the emerging markets such as India.
 
The report pointed out significant improvements in the macroeconomic environment and economic performance is expected to be better.
 
On the banking sector, the apex bank noted that concerns remain over the continued weakness in asset quality indicated by the rising trend in stressed advances ratio of scheduled commercial banks (SCBs), especially of public sector banks (PSBs). 
 
"Macro stress tests suggest that current deterioration in the asset quality of SCBs may continue for a few more quarters, and PSBs may have to bolster their provisions for credit risk from present levels, to meet the ‘expected losses’ if macroeconomic environment were to deteriorate," the report elaborated.
 
The bank stressed on the need to focus more on the agricultural insurance sector in the wake of frequent episodes of weather related calamities and their impact, particularly on small and marginal farmers. 
 
"There is a need to harmonise the regulation of physical commodities market and strengthening the linkages between the derivatives markets and physical (cash) markets, mainly in agricultural commodities," the report added.

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ICICI Bank reduces base rate; others expected to follow
Days after the government urged banks to cut interest rates in line with the apex bank's earlier monetary policy easing, the country's leading private sector lender ICICI Bank on Thursday announced a reduction of 0.05 percent in its base rate.
 
According to the bank, the reduction in the "ICICI Bank Base Rate" (I-Base) will come into effect from Friday June 26. 
 
"The revised rate will be 9.70 percent per annum as against 9.75 percent at present. With effect from July 1, 2010, interest rates on new loans and advances, including consumer loans, are determined with reference to I-Base," the bank was quoted in statement. 
 
During April major lending firms had reduced home loan rates after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had asked them to transmit the benefit of past policy rate-cuts to consumers.
 
The reserve bank and the government are concerned that the three repurchase rate cuts in January, March and June have not been transmitted by banks to consumers.
 
The RBI has reduced the repo rate, at which it lends to commercial banks, by 0.75 percent in three trenches.
 
The repurchase rate is the interest commercial banks pay for borrowing money from the central bank to meet short-term fund requirements. The reverse repurchase rate is the interest central bank pays when surplus short-term funds are parked with it by commercial banks.
 
Currently, the repurchase rate and reserve repurchase rate have been maintained at 7.5 percent and 6.5 percent respectively.
 
Commercial banks have been reluctant to lower their base rates, or minimum lending rates, citing high cost of deposits.
 
Another major reason for banks' reluctance stems from the fact that most of them are burdened by enormous non-performing assets (NPAs) in the form of bad loans to finance infrastructure projects.
 
On June 12, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley meet with bank chiefs and discussed the transmission of rate cuts by the lenders.
 
Jaitley expressed hope that banks will be able to further lower lending rates following a series of rate cuts
 
State Bank of India (SBI) has lowered its base rate by 30 basis points this year, it's base rate stands at 9.70 percent.

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