|Bid||11.35 x 21500|
|Ask||11.36 x 3100|
|Day's Range||11.31 - 11.42|
|52 Week Range||4.99 - 11.51|
|Beta (5Y Monthly)||1.49|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|Ex-Dividend Date||May 19, 2017|
|1y Target Est||8.04|
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- With the speed cryptocurrency is emerging as the Millennial generation’s alternative asset of choice in India, it’s hard to imagine that just two years ago a couple of blockchain pioneers were briefly in police custody.Sathvik Vishwanath and Harish BV, cofounders of a then five-year-old startup, were arrested in late 2018. No, they hadn’t pulled off a shady initial coin offering. Their “crime” was that they put up a kiosk in a mall in Bangalore where customers could swap Bitcoin, Ether or Ripple for cash or vice versa. That was the whole point of Unocoin, their crypto token exchange. But the police were suspicious of the new-fangled “ATM.”A lot has changed since then. Unocoin, which just raised financing from Tesla Inc.-backer Tim Draper’s Draper Associates, is flourishing, together with other Indian blockchain ventures. India’s share of person-to-person virtual-currency trading in Asia has surged to 33%, the same as in China, according to Oslo-based Arcane Research’s analysis of volumes on Paxful and LocalBitcoins, the biggest platforms for transactions in the region. Some of this is no doubt due to the bubbly rise this year in Bitcoin, which recently came within $100 of its all-time high after surpassing $19,000 for the first time since 2017. Even after Thursday’s wobble, prices have still more than doubled this year.But fundamental factors are also at play. Sending money to India in a tokenized form, and thus avoiding hefty bank charges, is becoming an option. Some customers of digital-asset exchanges, probably tech-savvy freelancers, receive tokens at regular intervals as payment for their work and convert them into rupees via their local bank accounts. Families in India are using the same channel to send money to students overseas. Having the world’s largest diaspora — and more than $100 billion in two-way money flows last year — isn’t the only thing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s disastrous ban on 86% of the country’s currency in November 2016 shook Indians’ faith in fiat money. Add the fear of leaving spare cash in banks when three major deposit-taking institutions have crumbled in the past 15 months. No wonder Arcane expects Indian crypto volumes to overtake China’s. The domestic asset management industry is also helping adoption of crypto — by its incompetence. Most large-cap fund managers have struggled to beat their benchmarks, especially in recent years. The Nifty 50 index has returned only about 2% annually in dollar terms over the past decade. Yet, as Bloomberg Intelligence’s Gaurav Patankar and Morgan Barna have shown, lack of performance hasn’t kept managers from pocketing high fees. Disgruntled younger savers are taking note, and dipping their toes in U.S. exchange-traded funds. At 1%, international allocation is still tiny, the Bloomberg Intelligence analysts say, but it’s growing rapidly. Ditto for crypto-investing, even though holding a highly volatile digital asset over the long term isn’t for the faint of heart. Only 600 of Unocoin’s 1.2 million customers have started a systematic buying plan to invest (mostly) in Bitcoin. But 99.5% of them are sitting on profit, and must be bragging about it to their friends. There’s one dampener: regulation. Nobody wants a return to 2018, when the Reserve Bank, the monetary authority, instructed banks not to entertain customers who dealt in virtual currency. The draconian approach nearly strangled India’s blockchain revolution. The action against Unocoin’s kiosk in Bangalore was like the heavy hand of the state crashing down on a kids’ lemonade stand. If folks in India’s technology capital couldn’t pay cash to buy digital tokens, then the asset was effectively being banned nationwide.In hindsight, the founders’ ordeal with the police proved to be a blessing in disguise. Young entrepreneurs joined together, went to the Supreme Court in New Delhi and got the RBI’s direction to banks declared unconstitutional. That was in March. Already, the exchange has seen a fivefold jump in trading, averaging $150,000 a day, from $30,000 before the court’s verdict. Of late, trading is much higher, thanks to the rally in Bitcoin prices. Larger bourses such as CoinDCX were witnessing daily volumes of almost $700,000, when I last checked.The players are urging the government to bring digital assets under the existing money-laundering law, which will give the industry legitimacy. The next step would be to regulate the tokens as money or securities, depending on their use. Read About: The End of Banking as We Know ItIndia’s phlegmatic bureaucracy may wonder if this is all a craze. Perhaps not. It isn’t even unique to Indian Millennial and Generation Z consumers. Wringing the global banking industry dry of its exorbitant fees, and putting more purchasing power in people's hands after the Covid-19 pandemic, will be a worldwide goal. In their study titled, “What We Must Do to Rebuild,” Deutsche Bank AG economists are advising companies and policy makers to design alternatives to credit cards and “remove middleman fees.” In the short run, conventional fintech will help, but in the longer term, major economies will all do this by replacing cash with their own central bank digital currencies. That’s when older consumers will join in. If they don’t, they’ll get get stuck, and not just figuratively. Automatically triggered crypto “smart contracts“ will make it possible for self-driving cars to switch lanes faster than others. Commuters will be continuously paying one another in official digital currencies — or in stablecoins like Facebook Inc.’s proposed Libra, private tokens whose values are fixed against fiat money.The Indian Millennials have read the tea leaves right. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve officials discussed at their Nov. 4-5 meeting providing more guidance on their bond-buying strategy “fairly soon,” though they didn’t see a need for immediate adjustments.Events since the gathering have continued to keep the case for action in the spotlight, even if officials have declined to clearly signal it is in the cards next month. The economy is enduring surging Covid-19 infection rates and the Trump administration last week declined to extend several Fed emergency lending facilities that the central bank publicly lobbied to keep on the books.“Many participants judged that the Committee might want to enhance its guidance for asset purchases fairly soon,” according to meeting minutes published Wednesday by the Fed.In addition, “most participants judged that the guidance for asset purchases should imply that increases in the Committee’s securities holdings would taper and cease sometime before the Committee would begin to raise the target range for the federal funds rate,” the minutes showed. The Fed’s next scheduled meeting is Dec. 15-16.As well as the resurgence of the pandemic, reduced odds of another large fiscal relief package have weighed on the economic outlook and raised expectations that the Fed will take further action to support the economy, as has the whittling down of the Fed’s emergency lending firepower.“Moves by Treasury to limit their lending powers at year end are a particular concern. Treasury could be pulling support when the economy needs it most and the Fed will have to fill the void,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. “They have to be concerned about the aftershocks of Covid on bankruptcies, defaults and overall financial market stability.”Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Nov. 19 announced he would allow five of the central bank’s emergency lending facilities to expire at the end of the year and asked that funds backing the programs be returned to the Treasury. The Fed pushed back in a rare public disagreement, issuing a statement that it preferred the programs remain in place because of the backstop role they played before Chair Jerome Powell relented the following day, agreeing to return the money. Similar arguments surfaced in the minutes.‘Important Roles’Several officials at the meeting “emphasized the important roles” the lending programs played “in restoring financial market confidence and supporting financial stability” and “noted that these facilities were still serving as an important backstop in financial markets,” according to the minutes.Treasuries gained ground following the release of the minutes, with longer-dated securities outperforming. The 5-to-30-year yield curve flattened, but remained steeper on the day.The U.S. central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to nearly zero in March at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and ramped up crisis-era bond-buying programs to pump liquidity into the financial system and keep a lid on longer-term interest rates.Officials have signaled they will probably hold rates near zero through the end of 2023.The Fed is currently buying U.S. Treasury and mortgage-backed securities at a combined pace of about $120 billion per month, with purchases spread out evenly across maturities.But the record of the Nov. 4-5 meeting didn’t give any indications that officials would necessarily seek to modify the parameters of the bond-buying program at their December meeting.Not Immediate“While participants judged that immediate adjustments to the pace and composition of asset purchases were not necessary, they recognized that circumstances could shift to warrant such adjustments,” the minutes said. “Accordingly, participants saw the ongoing careful consideration of potential next steps for enhancing the Committee’s guidance for its asset purchases as appropriate.”Data published Wednesday by the Labor Department showed a growing number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance over the last two weeks while a separate Commerce Department report revealed a drop in household income last month, underscoring the tenuous position of the economy ahead of the winter season.“At least as of three weeks ago, the committee was more focused on nailing down forward guidance on asset purchases and there didn’t seem to be urgency to provide more accommodation,” Brett Ryan, a senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, said.But that was “before we had the news from the Treasury,” Ryan said. “If financial conditions began to deteriorate, that would be a trigger“ for the Fed to do more, he said.(Updates with analyst reaction in sixth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The coronavirus pandemic has hit women worldwide with job losses and closures of childcare centers. Yet a surprising bright spot is emerging: India’s $200 billion technology services industry, where new rules are expected to provide female workers with a broad swath of flexible work arrangements and fresh employment opportunities.On the outskirts of New Delhi, Teena Likhari, 45, quit her job running operations for the Indian back office of a Silicon Valley company in 2018 because of a family medical emergency. Looking to rejoin this year, she expected a market stunted by lockdowns. Instead, the pandemic had made work-from-home mainstream in her industry, which had long shunned the practice.Not only did the operations manager quickly land a job with Indian outsourcer WNS Global Services, but working from her home in the city of Gurgaon, she began overseeing a 100-member team in the city of Pune about 900 miles away.Likhari is one of the early beneficiaries of India’s decision to lift decades-old restrictions on remote work in back office firms because of the pandemic. The tech services industry -- one of the country’s most important financially -- can now allow employees to shift from traditional offices to work-from-anywhere arrangements, permanently if needed. Indian women, who have often had to sacrifice for their husbands’ careers or other commitments at home, have much to gain from the policy change.“Even a year ago, an operations leader working remotely would’ve been unimaginable,” said Likhari, who has seen scores of women quit work after childbirth, marriage or when a family member fell ill. “The change will allow so many career women like me to do what we do from home, it’s a game changer.”India’s large numbers of English-speaking graduates and cheaper costs relative to the West have spawned a sprawling industry that’s often called the world’s back office because of its global reach. The broad outsourcing sector, which includes technology services in addition to business processes, employs about 4.5 million people. Foreign banks from Deutsche Bank AG to Barclays Plc run wholly owned centers handling everything from global payrolls to technology infrastructure maintenance for themselves and customers. Local outsourcers Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. and WNS offer everything from data analytics to support on financial and accounting processes to international clients.The pandemic has changed workplaces globally but the new norms are particularly significant in India. Social conventions that required women to move to their husband’s locations or stay with family in small towns, or simply be available inside the home to care for elders and children have shut out millions of qualified female workers. Greater flexibility and the opportunity to work from anywhere would give them choices they’ve never had before.Also, India’s old rules - originally designed to prevent misuse of leased telecom lines - had prevented permanent work from home arrangements in back offices. But the pandemic pushed the government to remove decades-old reporting obligations, such as those requiring companies to provide office network diagrams in order to get international communication circuit allocations. The changes opened the door for people to work from home on a long-term basis.A huge segment of working women in India, particularly the less privileged, have faced many of the same problems that have beset their global counterparts during the pandemic as they’ve had to juggle childcare, online schooling and office work from home, forcing some to drop out. Millions of female rural workers and daily wage earners lost jobs because they can’t work from home. Yet, the changes in the technology services industry show just how deeply the pandemic is forcing Indian companies to reimagine workplaces.Companies like WNS, which caters to the likes of Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., Tesco Plc and Avon Products Inc., are envisaging a hybrid office and home model, satellite offices in small cities and a blend of full-time employees and gig workers. “We’ll see work going to people rather than people going to work,” said Keshav Murugesh, group chief executive officer of WNS which employs 43,000 workers globally, nearly 30,000 of them in India. “With flexible hours or selected work days, over 100 million Indian women with secondary degrees, could potentially find employment,” he said.Mumbai-headquartered Tata Consultancy, closing in on half a million workers, has already committed to a “25-by-25” strategy -- by 2025, only 25% of its workforce will be working inside an office at any one time.“Given time and location flexibility, less women will quit after having children,” said N.G. Subramaniam, chief operating officer of Tata Consultancy, Asia’s largest outsourcer with $22 billion in annual revenue. “More women will stay in the workforce, more will reach senior leadership levels.”A third of India’s technology services labor force comprises women, already a better gender ratio than most other industries in the country, Nasscom, the industry trade association says. Work from home opportunities in back offices may now offer more opportunities to qualified women in small towns who aren’t allowed to migrate to bigger cities for work.Most of the back office outsourcing centers are located in sprawling campuses within big cities like Bangalore or New Delhi. Barclays, for instance, has over 20,000 workers providing technology solutions globally and UBS Group AG has 6,000 employees, about a third of them in Mumbai alone. Deutsche Bank employs 11,500, nearly half of whom are in the neighboring city of Pune. Most of these workers have been operating from home during the pandemic. India had one of the world’s strictest lockdowns this year. “There is so much talent in smaller cities that has been untapped so far,” said Madhavi Lall, head of human resources at Deutsche Bank India. “Flexible work arrangements would certainly bring that talent to the fore, especially women who find it difficult to migrate or shift their base.”The pandemic has pushed discussions on future work models and strategies, especially with regard to arrangements like staggering employee shifts, rotating days or weeks of in-office presence, she said. And that along with the change in India’s government rules will enable more women to join the workforce.While India is evolving, cultural norms need to progress further, said Debjani Ghosh, president of Nasscom. Added flexibility could certainly improve women’s participation in the workforce. But it could also increase pressure to simultaneously deliver on the home front.“If work-from-anywhere has to succeed,’ Ghosh said, “the mindset that women have to work as well as single-handedly manage the home has to change.”(adds details on lockdown)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.