Archive for October 11th, 2017

Economic Policy and the Need for Humility

October 11, 2017

Nice and much needed speech by Yves Mersch of ECB:


Quiz: How much do you know about the history of slavery in India?

October 11, 2017

Interesting quiz in Indian Express.

Fared badly at this!

Opportune time for collaboration in blockchain technology between Andhra Pradesh and Singapore ….

October 11, 2017

As banks in India struggle with NPAs etc, other country banks are looking at opportunities here.

In this interesting speech, Ravi Menon of  Monetary Authority of Singapore pitches for collaboration between S’pore and Andhra Pradesh. More importantly, how banks of Singapore could provide blockchain technology solutions for the new AP State:

I am delighted to be here in Andhra Pradesh – the land of the Tiruppati temple, Carnatic music, Kuchipudi dance, and of course, the charming sea town of Vishakapatnam.  I am grateful to Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu for his kind invitation to speak at this conference.

Andhra Pradesh and Singapore share in common a modern outlook. 

  • We both believe in the value of innovation for economic growth and harnessing the power of technology for the common good.
  • That Andhra Pradesh is organising a global conference on the topic of blockchains shows its progressive nature.
  • It is also a tribute to the vision of Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who has inspired an IT revolution in Andhra Pradesh.

Little wonder that Andhra Pradesh and Singapore have forged good relations and have been working closely together.

  • The Andhra Pradesh government has appointed a Singapore consortium to develop the new capital city of Amaravati.
  • The Andhra Pradesh government and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) signed a FinTech cooperation agreement in October last year.
  • A delegation of more than 10 FinTech startups from Singapore attended the FinTech Valley Vizag Spring Conference in March this year.

He talks about blockchain tech and how it takes us from a centralised structure to a decentralised one. He points Singapore is open to using blockchain technology:

Project Ubin is a good example of such collaboration as well as challenging the status quo.

The problem statement is this: 

  • In a real-time gross settlement payment system, transactions typically go through a single trusted party, often the central bank.
  • The challenge MAS posed itself was: can we create a more efficient inter-bank payment and settlement system without MAS acting as the trusted party?

This began Project Ubin – a collaborative effort among MAS, the Singapore Exchange, ten banks, six technology companies, and six academic institutions. 

  • Over the course of the project, more than 150 people were trained in DLT.

Phase 1 of Project Ubin successfully demonstrated that banks are able to transact with one another on an Ethereum-based prototype without going through the MAS.

  • MAS issued a digital representation of the Singapore Dollar – a central bank digital currency – and placed it on the distributed ledger for domestic inter-bank settlement.

Phase 2 of Project Ubin – just recently concluded – successfully produced three software models that achieved decentralised netting of payments in a manner that preserved transactional privacy.

The next step in Project Ubin is to extend the application to cross-border payment and settlement. 

  • Cross-border payments today rely on a correspondent banking network. 
  • Banks hold balances with one another and settlement occurs through the adjustment of these relative balances.
  • There is counterparty risk, liquidity is split, and reconciliation is a major pain point.
  • In cases where multiple correspondent banks are involved, transactions may take days and at high cost to customers.

We are therefore exploring how Project Ubin can be linked up with other central bank DLT projects to facilitate cross-border payments.

  • If successful, it will help bring about significant improvements in efficiency, cost, speed, and risk management.
  • The grand vision is a DLT-based settlement system that paves the way for 24/7 operations and allows cross-border transactions to be settled instantly.

Fascinating. When most authorities are sweating over the blockchain tech and bitcoins, here is someone taking a different view.

In the end he pitches S’pore services to AP government issues:

DLT is a natural platform for collaboration.

  • With the strong trade flows between Singapore and India, there are good opportunities for FinTechs and financial institutions in Singapore and Andhra Pradesh to collaborate.
  • We can explore how our customs and trade platforms can be linked up to facilitate exchange of trade documents and advance the digitalisation of trade.
  • Our banks can work together on new models of cross-border payments to improve settlement time, allow for round the clock operations, and reduce settlement risk.

This is an opportune time for DLT collaboration, and more broadly FinTech collaboration, between Andhra Pradesh and Singapore.  I look forward to seeing FinTechs in Singapore developing solutions for use cases in Andhra Pradesh that will create value and opportunity for the people of this up-and-coming state.

Interesting space to watch out…

Pothole deaths and pothole on Mumbai airport runway delays flight ..

October 11, 2017

As Indian polity and some experts keeps blowing trumpets over shining economy, fastest growing economy, digital giant and what not, the reality for common man is stark.    It is amazing how we are unable to build a kilometer of all weather road in most top cities of the country and make these world beating claims!

Today morning Times of India Bangalore mentions another death in the city due to avoiding potholes. This is the 3rd death in 7 days. It is hardly new as this is common for India’s technology capital.

Financial capital is not far away in the matter either. So much so, the pothole in the financial capital moved from road to the airport runway! We have similar news from political capital.

There have been 10000 deaths due to potholes between 2014 and 2016.  There are more details in this government report.

One could go on and on. And as we can see we have similar experiences across different governments. So one cannot blame one over the other and that is also not the purpose of the post.

The sheer apathy & purposeless is shocking and no words and sympathy are enough. How can we be so bad at building roads? Why do they keep going down after one spell of rain? It is hardly the case that cities like Mumbai and Bangalore receive random unseen rains and little can be done. It is an annual affair.

This year most of the top cities were flooded one after the other posing enormous problems about our totally random so called development. The ecological balance of most cities has been totally eroded and we are sitting on time bombs which keep exploding every now and then.

And yet all these trumpets?

The serious target for all our governments going ahead is neither GDP nor inflation. It is avoiding deaths due to avoiding potholes. For a long time we are being told that so many kilometres of roads have been built which is higher than previous government, and hence this government has a better track record on roads. This is like saying we just build schools and do not care for education inside.

We should now also ask questions over quality and maintenance of roads. It is such a tragedy…

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