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First step in right direction: Rahul Gandhi on Centre's financial package

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi welcomed the financial package announced by the Centre on Thursday, saying it was the first step in the right direction.

The comments come after the government unveiled a Rs 1.70-lakh-crore economic package involving free food grain and cooking gas to the poor for the next three months, one-time doles to women and poor senior citizens, higher wages to workers and measures to boost liquidity of employees, as it looked to contain the impact of unprecedented nationwide lockdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"The Govt announcement today of a financial assistance package, is the first step in the right direction," Gandhi tweeted.

"India owes a debt to its farmers, daily wage earners, labourers, women & the elderly who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown."

Coronavirus impact | Moody’s Analytics cautions about millions of job losses in coming weeks

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Things will get worse, indicates the latest report by Moody’s Analytics on the economic shock of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Millions of job losses are likely in the coming weeks, particularly for households that live paycheque to paycheque,” Moody's Analytics' Chief Economist Mark Zandi said.

“COVID-19 has created a worldwide economic tsunami. The global economy is engulfed in a serious downturn. The virus has caused significant parts of the Asian and now European and US economies to all but shut down. More financial pain is quickly coming as layoffs mount, businesses curtail investment, and retirement nest eggs evaporate,” he added.

In January Moody’s Analytics expected global real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2.6 percent in 2020, which they now expect to fall by 0.4 percent. For China, in particular, GDP decline is expected by 27 percent at an annualised rate in Q1.

On the jobs front, businesses in the United States have laid-off workers and initial claims for unemployment insurance spiked to 280,000 in the second week of March compared to 210,000 in the week prior. US claims of 240,000 per week are consistent with no job growth, it noted.

“Central banks have responded aggressively but are running out of room to maneuver as interest rates hit the zero lower bound. The onus is now on governments to quickly provide substantial financial support to hard-pressed households and businesses. How much economic damage COVID-19 ultimately does will depend on the trajectory of the virus—and how governments respond,” Zandi added.

A massive and mounting monetary and fiscal policy response will limit the economic damage in the US compared with much of the rest of the world, and Moody’s Analytics expects US lawmakers to provide $1.65 trillion in discretionary fiscal stimulus.

The Bank of England recently low­ered rates to the zero lower bound and the European Central Bank has maintained neg­ative rates since the crisis. Germany and the UK are implementing large fiscal stimulus packages, but the rest of Europe has little fiscal space to respond.

“Euro zone real GDP is expected to decline by nearly 3 percent in 2020,” it said, adding that emerging economies will be hammered given the collapse in oil and other commodity prices.

“Our baseline outlook for the global economy is increasingly pessimistic. Still, given how quickly events are moving and the high degree of uncertainty around the virus’ path, it may not be pessimistic enough,” Zandi added.

The report identifies three ‘critical unknowns’ that are crucial to understand and respond to the problem — the trajectory of the virus, the policy response, and what other problems may develop due to the extraordinary pressure on the economy and financial system.

“Our baseline outlook also depends on credit markets functioning reasonably well, albeit with significant support from the Federal Reserve. Liquidity in credit markets has become increasingly impaired, including the repo and commercial paper markets. If liquidity dries up, and short-term funding markets effectively close to large corporates that issue short-term debt and financial institutions that raise funds necessary for their own lending, the impact on the economy will be severe and immediate,” he added.

The high level of corporate debt is another threat, Zandi noted, adding that there are many large multinationals with strong balance sheets and little debt, but there are also many highly leveraged companies that will likely face a Hobson’s choice: make their debt payments in a timely way or cut payrolls and investment.

“Either way the economy will suffer. We assume these financial fault lines are not severe or persistent enough to materially weaken the economy. However, this is an increasingly tough assumption to make,” he stated.

As oil prices drop, India fills its strategic petroleum reserves: Report

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As crude oil prices hit fresh lows, India is building its strategic petroleum reserves of 5.33 million metric tons (MMT).

Around half of this capacity is full, a source told the paper. The total capacity is expected to meet the country’s requirements for about 9.5 days. However, with the coronavirus outbreak restricting the movement of men and material, the stock could last much longer. This stock will be in addition to the 64.5 days stock that domestic refiners typically maintain.

India recently purchased crude oil worth Rs 690 crore, an official told Hindustan Times.

“Average price of the contracted quantity of crude is around $30 per barrel,” another official told the publication. This is much lower than India’s average crude oil purchase price of $69.88 per barrel in 2018-19.

The report added that the government approved the construction of facilities at Chandikhol in Odisha (4 MMT) and Padur in Karnataka (2.5 MMT), which will provide additional crude oil storage for 11.57 days.

The government might also purchase oil from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, the report added.

“Talks are on with Saudi Arabia and we are awaiting a final nod from Riyadh,” the second official said.

India, which imports over 80 percent of its oil requirement, is trying to boost its capacity as it prepares to keep vehicles running during the coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the story.

Coronavirus pandemic | BofA cuts March quarter growth forecast to 4%

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Wall Street brokerage Bank of America Securities has cut its March quarter growth forecast by 30 bps to 4 per cent, amid coronavirus pandemic-driven shutdowns and expects a cut in key benchmark rates on or before the April 3 monetary policy review. The brokerage expects the pandemic-driven lockdowns to run through mid-April, crippling economic activities across the value-chain.

The agency also pegged down FY20 growth forecast to 4.7 per cent and FY21 to 5.1 per cent, respectively, assuming a 2.2 per cent global growth.

But if the global economy falls into a recession, the domestic economy is likely to fall further to 4.4 per cent in FY21, it warned.

The brokerage has also lowered its forecast for the June quarter (first quarter of 2020-21) by a sharper 80 bps to 4 per cent citing the pandemic impact on economic activities even as the government is taking measures to contain the spread of the deadly virus that has killed close to 8,000 people globally.

Back home, the country has so far been comparatively secure but the government and health authorities are expecting an implosion of the pandemic in the country over the next week.

The pandemic has already taken the lives of three people in the country and left hundreds in home and hospital quarantines.

“We cut our real growth forecast by 30 bps to 4 per cent for the March quarter and by 80 bps to 4 per cent in the June quarter on rising Covid-19-related shutdowns,” BofA Securities said in a note on Wednesday.

Its India economists Indranil Sen Gupta and Aastha Gudwani said their India Activity Indicator continues to point to a long bottom.

While growth has improved to 4.3 per cent in January from 3.5 per cent in December 2019, it is still below the 4.4 per cent printed in October-November.

Four of the seven components have improved in January from December, they said and warned that "although we had called that the worst is over after the November dataprints, the Covid-19-related shutdowns will likely pull down activity further".

Expecting an inter-MPC meeting rate cut of 25 bps before or at the scheduled April 3 review, they forecast two more repo cuts of 25 bps each in June and October, and said this is needed as high real lending rate is exerting a drag on growth.

The brokerage also blamed the rising real lending rates as the main villain delaying the fragile recovery.

On the rate cuts, they expect RBI to cut rates by 25 bps before/on April 3 as the US Fed has done so by a whopping 150 bps. The RBI will likely cut again in June with inflation set to fall to its 2-6 per cent mandate and the March quarter growth coming down to 4 per cent.

An October rate cut is likely as base effects and weak demand is expected to drag inflation down to 2.5 per cent in the first half of FY21, the note said.

Yes Bank crisis | Cabinet may consider draft restructuring scheme on March 13

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The Cabinet is likely to consider Yes Bank's draft restructuring scheme on March 13, CNBC-TV18 reported.

Earlier this month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government expects the reconstruction plan to come into effect by April 3. She said the Reserve bank of India (RBI) would submit a report detailing the reasons that led to the failure of Yes Bank and the associated regulatory gaps.

Meanwhile, reports earlier on March 12 suggest that the central bank has tapped investors like Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, DMart owner Radhakishan Damani, and PremjiInvest to be a part of the rescue consortium for the Yes Bank.

The RBI's rescue plan for Yes Bank involves an initial capital infusion to prevent a relapse once the bank's month-long moratorium ends on April 3.

Troubled private sector lender Yes Bank's board was superseded by the RBI on March 5 and a moratorium was imposed for a 30-day period ending April 3.

The RBI capped withdrawals from the bank at Rs 50,000, with certain exemptions in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Fuel prices: Petrol sells at Rs 70.29 in Delhi, diesel at Rs 63.01

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Fuel prices on March 11 were left unchanged, after six successive days of rate cuts. This, even as oil prices slipped by over 22 percent on March 9 after the failure of an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia on the subject of an output cut.

In the national capital, petrol and diesel are available at Rs 70.29 a litre and Rs 63.01 a litre respectively.

Meanwhile, a litre of petrol in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata costs Rs 75.99, Rs 73.02 and Rs 72.98 as on March 11. Diesel prices in these cities are at Rs 65.97, Rs 66.48 and Rs 65.34 respectively.

In Bengaluru and Gurugram, petrol prices stood at Rs 72.70 per litre and Rs 70.76 per litre respectively while a litre of diesel costs Rs 65.16 and Rs 62.69.

Fuel prices on March 11 were left unchanged, after six successive days of rate cuts. This, even as oil prices slipped by over 22 percent on March 9 after the failure of an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia on the subject of an output cut.

In the national capital, petrol and diesel are available at Rs 70.29 a litre and Rs 63.01 a litre respectively.

Meanwhile, a litre of petrol in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata costs Rs 75.99, Rs 73.02 and Rs 72.98 as on March 11. Diesel prices in these cities are at Rs 65.97, Rs 66.48 and Rs 65.34 respectively.

In Bengaluru and Gurugram, petrol prices stood at Rs 72.70 per litre and Rs 70.76 per litre respectively while a litre of diesel costs Rs 65.16 and Rs 62.69.

Coronavirus outbreak: "What happens to my degree?" ask Indian students in affected nations

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Pradeep Rao (name changed) knows he is lucky. The second-year MBBS student at Hebei University in China was among the Indian students who returned home in January after the impact of the deadly coronavirus outbreak became public.

But now a month later, Rao is again worried. He doesn't know when he can go back to the university and complete his degree. With every passing day, he fears about a delay.  While he is back home in Vijaywada, there is no clarity on when he would be able to resume classes at the university.

"There was a holiday for the Chinese New Year which has now been extended. I did receive a message from the university that 'we will meet soon'. However, when is the question,” says Rao over the phone from his hometown Vijaywada.

While several Indian students from China are in India since they were on a new year break, a few were left back since they were either finishing a course or had internships.

Since then the outbreak seems to have slowed down in China, and is now spreading fast in countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan, for students there is little respite.

Considering that March/April is when one semester ends and students break for the summers, suspension of classes across affected regions is a matter of concern.

What happens to students in China?

As far as China is concerned, several Indian students are part of the quarantine facility in China. Those students who have returned to India are unclear about when the academic session will start. But the situation is not as grim as it looks.

Universities are fast catching on to the online education system to ensure that classes are continued, at least partially.

Rao told Moneycontrol that his university started offering online classes for certain modules from March 2 onwards.

Medical courses are the most popular in China. Almost 85 percent of the Indian students studying in China are enrolled into MBBS and allied programmes.

The most popular institutes in China among Indians are Hebei University, Shihezi University, Shanghai University and Qingdao University.

Classes have been suspended across universities in China till further notice from the government. A direct impact would be that the academic calendar would get stretched.

This is because for courses like MBBS, large portion of the course programme involves practical training. This cannot be replaced by distance education. Overseas education firms are of the view that semester-end breaks would also be cancelled or cut short to make up for lost time.

Moneycontrol sent an email to all the institutes mentioned above seeking clarity on the academic situation, but did not receive any response.

Adarsh Khandelwal, co-founder of Study Abroad consulting firm said that China has responded admirably to the coronavirus outbreak and attempted to contain the casualties and infections in every possible manner.

“The overseas students studying at universities have been sent home. Thereby, students presently studying there have been affected with a likely extension in the duration of completion of their study programs. Universities are exploring options to strengthen qualitative online teaching in an attempt to fulfill their commitment to the students,” he added.

Sarvanan Krishnan, another Indian student from Tamil Nadu studying microbiology in Hong Kong said that there is no communication from either the government or the institutes on who are the persons affected and for how long classes will be suspended.

"We interact with everyone from the librarian to the canteen supervisor to the head professor. Shouldn't there be clarity on if there any suspected carriers of the virus. Also, why not give a tentative deadline to help us understand when classes will resume," he added.

His college friend Avantika Bansal was lucky. She was part of an exchange-programme of a Singapore-based institute, in China and Italy. However, this was immediately cancelled when COVID-19 started to spread and Bansal was able to leave on time. This module that was missed due to cancellation of the exchange programme could be taken in some other country.

How will this impact China as an education destination?

Khandelwal said that China is a highly preferred and acclaimed education hub for international students. There will be an impact on the foreign student inflow into China ahead of the peak season of March/April when students typically choose their study destination abroad.

“The coronavirus outbreak is likely to have a deterrent effect, especially since the choice of destination for studying overseas is strongly impacted by concerns regarding safety of the students,” explained Khandelwal/

Among those who have applied, there seems to be some uncertainty. A Mumbai-based education consultant said that there are parents who want to withdraw applications sent to Chinese universities.

“We have asked individuals to wait till April before taking a decision to withdraw applications made for studying in China,” he added.

What about other countries?

Among the affected regions of COVID-19, Italy is another popular education destination for students. An estimated 4,500 Indians are studying across various programmes in Italy with programmes like design, architecture and fine arts among the most common fields of study.

Srividya Shankar who is pursuing an architecture course from a leading institute in Pavia, Italy received news that classes have been suspended due to a possible infection in the region.

However, she is now in a fix as Shankar is not sure whether to return to her hometown Chennai or stay back.

“We don’t know how long the suspension of lectures would continue. Flights to India from here (one-way) are upwards of Rs 28,000. I am not too sure what to do,” she said.

Other institutes like Sapienza University of Rome has suspended classes for one particular course. This was after a student’s father tested positive.

In an emailed response to Moneycontrol, the university said that it is implementing the protective measures issued by the Italian Health Authorities against the COVID-19. To date, it said that the competent authorities have not suspended services and educational activities.

However from March 2, 2020, until further notice from competent authorities, Regione Lazio Health Department has suspended, as a precautionary measure, all the lectures/lessons of the Informatics Bachelors Programme (year one).

“One of the students enrolled in the course belongs to the family who is currently under observation at the Spallanzani Hospital in Rome. The educational activities will continue at a later time following specific procedures that will be communicated to the students. The course’s lecture room has been already sanitized,” said the university in a response.

Exchange programmes are either being deferred or cancelled. The National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the Singapore Management University (SMU) have suspended student exchanges to universities in Italy, due to the rise in COVID-19 cases there.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak comes right ahead of the new academic year, a drastic change is expected in the way study destinations are chosen. COVID-19 nations are expected to fall out of the top 10 list of preferred countries.

Among other countries, Japan, Iran and South Korea are popular destinations for student exchange programmes of South-East and European institutes. Due to the outbreak of the disease, these programmes have been deferred since this is considered 'non-essential travel'.

Coronavirus outbreak | Global insurers to be hit by claims, financial market volatilities: Moody’s

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Bad times are in store for the insurance sector as more nations fall prey to the coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak. Rating agency Moody’s sees a direct impact on global insurance companies due to a rise in claims and an indirect whiplash due to financial market fluctuations.

India's General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC) has an exposure to the global reinsurance market. So, any major impact on the reinsurance and insurance market globally will affect GIC Re's books.

“We currently expect these indirect effects to have a more material financial impact on the sector. Mortality levels would need to rise significantly to trigger a substantial rise in claims for life insurers. We foresee no significant impact from claims on mainstream non-life players,” Moody's said in a recent report.

Second order effects to cause greatest financial impact

The Coronavirus outbreak may trigger an economic slowdown and those fears are making financial markets increasingly volatile. Moody's sees an increasing likelihood of a global recession as long as the virus remains uncontained.

"Significant deterioration in equity markets and widening credit spreads, along with even lower interest rates, will weigh on insurers' profitability, capitalisation and business volumes," it stated.

Fears of additional cases being detected has been weighing on Indian financial markets. Benchmark indices ended in the red for the seventh consecutive session on March 2 as concerns over coronavirus continued to weigh on investor sentiment.

D-Street witnessed one of the most volatile sessions in the recent past on March 2, a swing of around 1,000-points, that wiped out most gains made on the Sensex.

Global reinsurers' pandemic exposure is significant at very high severity levels

Global reinsurers have benefited from a significant growth in China and the rest of Asia. However, the Moody’s report said their exposure to the region is still moderate relative to their overall portfolios. It foresees little impact on the reinsurance space given the "absence of significant international spread of the coronavirus and high mortality."

P&C commercial lines exposure is limited

Moody’s does not expect a significant rise in claims for commercial line insurers, although some sub-sectors, such as contingency business, may be affected. "Business interruption claims will be limited as these policies commonly exclude outbreaks of infectious disease, and pay only if physical damage occurs." it explained.

Trade credit insurers face rising claims due to economic slowdown
A slower consumer spending and negative pressure on China's goods and services sectors will likely lead to higher credit insurance claims. Moody’s expects a greater impact on these insurers' capitalisation and profitability in the event of a significant global economic slowdown. When it comes to India, it lists sectors like electronic goods, pharmaceuticals and automobile that have been hit due to a near shutdown of goods and component supply from China since January.

Explained: Post-Brexit, here's how getting a UK work visa will change

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Are you an Indian holding a Phd in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) discipline? If so, getting a United Kingdom visa could become easier for you starting next year. That is because, even if your salary is below the minimum threshold set by the UK government in a proposed new regime, there are a few concessions.

These concessions will make you eligible for immigration under new rules that will kick-in from January 1, 2021.

This is one of the many new regulations that the UK government has proposed in its attempt to attract talent after exiting the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020. Following this, a new set of rules will come into place which would end free movement of people.

The UK government will introduce an Immigration Bill to bring in a firm and fair points-based system to attract high-skilled workers.

Until now, migrants including those from India, were employed in high-skilled jobs like the ones in the IT sector and low-skilled jobs like those in construction, fast-food chains and grocery stores. The UK government's attempt is to mandate employers to hire locally for low-skilled jobs.

The total number of work visas granted (tier two) touched an all-time high of 1.1 lakh in 2019. Of these, over half were granted to Indians.

At 57,199, India was the top source for tier two or skilled work visas given to migrants in 2019. This was a 3 percent increase over 2018.

In February, the UK government said it is taking a phased approach to ensure smooth delivery of this new system and to allow sufficient time for everyone to adapt.

The new system

Taking guidance from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report published in January, a minimum of 70 points will be required to be eligible to live and work in the UK.

MAC has recommended a reduction in the general salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600. This means, even if you are paid a minimum of £25,600, you will be eligible for the relevant points.

The points-based system will provide simple, effective and flexible arrangements for skilled workers from around the world to come to the UK through an employer-led system.

Earlier, employers could decide who would be eligible to migrate depending on skill requirements. However, the UK government has said that they are taking back this power to decide on offering work visas to migrants.

In the new system, all applicants, both EU and non-EU citizens, will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, that the job offer is at the required skill level and that they speak English.

A minimum B1 level of English would be necessary. In simple terms, a migrant should be able to effectively communicate in English including work-related matters, describing situations and writing simple and coherent text.

The B1 level also indicates that an individual will be able to 'cope' with most of the situations that would arise from work-related trips in the region, including conversing with strangers, asking for directions and addressing a meeting, among others.

In addition to this, if the applicant earns more than the minimum salary threshold, then the individual would be eligible to make an application. However, if they earn less than the required minimum salary threshold (not less than £20,480), the applicant will be eligible if they are highly skilled or have a relevant PhD for the job.

Each category has a set points system. For instance, while a salary of £25,600 or above would entitle a candidate to 20 points, job in a shortage occupation will be equivalent to 20 points. Speaking English is mandatory and would be equal to 10 points.

How will this work?

For example, a university researcher in a STEM subject wishing to come to the UK on a salary of £22,000, (which is below the general minimum salary threshold), he or she may still be able to enter if they have a relevant PhD in a STEM subject.

Likewise, a nurse wishing to come to the UK on a salary of £22,000 would still be able to enter the UK on the basis that the individual would be working in a shortage occupation, provided it continues to be designated in shortage by the MAC.

A list of the stills in shortage will be published by MAC. It is likely that professions like nurse, coder, data mining and technology-linked engineering will be high in demand due to shortage of local talent.

Some points could be tradable. The UK government has said that migrants will still be awarded points for holding a relevant PhD or if the occupation is in shortage, which they will be able to trade against a salary lower than the ‘going rate’ or the minimum threshold.

A STEM PhD would mean that a candidate could be eligible even if they are paid 20 percent lower than the minimum requirement.

The UK Home Office will continue to refine the system and may also include attributes that can be ‘traded’ against a lower salary. For example, this might include a greater range of qualification levels or other factors such as age or experience studying in the UK.

The MAC report said that about 70 percent of European Economic Area (EEA) resident citizens arriving in the UK since 2004 would be found ineligible for either a skilled-work, family or tier four visa.

Your insurer just wants to 'keep in touch'

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It's a Saturday morning, and you get a Whatsapp message. Is it your partner or friends asking about weekend plans? Oh, it's your insurance company!

Bharti AXA General Insurance announced on February 26 that it has started delivering policies and renewal premium to its customers through the instant messaging platform.

The insurer joins a list of companies like ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, Future Generali India Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance and Aditya Birla Health Insurance among others to offer products and services to customers.

In July 2019, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant had said that WhatsApp had 400 million active users in India. For insurers this seems like a golden opportunity, considering that insurance policies are a 'push' product in India where customers need to be nudged to buy it.

Indians are hooked to WhatsApp for personal and professional communication with workplace colleagues. Banks and mutual funds have also jumped on to the bandwagon, offering services on the messaging platform. So why will insurers back off?

Not only policy documents are being sent over WhatsApp, but customers are also allowed to submit claim documents and pictorial evidence for motor claims over these chats. For insurers, 'cross-selling' is the biggest opportunity on chat platforms.

The heads of sales at a Mumbai-based insurer told Moneycontrol that ever since a majority of users opted for the telecom regulator's 'Do Not Disturb' or DND service, it has been tough to contact customers to sell relevant products. Though insurers also experimented with Facebook and Twitter to contact customers, companies tasted little success.

WhatsApp does not have such DND service to bar promotional messages. The platform usually displays it as a 'business account' if it is registered that way. This is being used as a sales advantage. If the policyholder clicks on a link, insurers would get access to offering products and services on the chat platform.

WhatsApp is different. Young professionals in the age group of 25-30 years, who are the main target segment of insurance companies, are prolific users which also lessens the chances of them missing the message.

A study by smartphone brand Vivo and Cybermedia Research in December 2019 showed that an average Indian spent 1/3rd of their waking hours (the time a person is awake) on their phone, which translated to 1,800 hours a year.

With a high likelihood of a prospective customer rejecting insurers' calls by tracing identity details from apps like Truecaller, using WhatsApp has now become the top choice for companies.

However, just like the multiple pesky calls you would keep blocking on your smartphone, WhatsApp calls from sales-persons could soon become a reality. It could get worse if you are added to random WhatsApp groups for 'cross-selling' and promotional offers.

Why just insurers? Other financial services firms have already started using WhatsApp. These entities could soon be joined by real estate firms, retailers, food delivery apps and even the infamous eyewear brands who are ready to make the switch to chat platforms. It could be easy to ignore multiple text messages sent to lure customers. But over chat, this would be tough to miss.

But what about the dangers of over-use of technology?

While companies claim that all service requests and policy documents are encrypted, a smartphone being hacked is not uncommon. In fact, even Amazon's Jeff Bezos fell prey to a situation after private texts and pictures were leaked.

The young Indian is technologically savvy, but since they consume a lot of content on their smartphones, there are potential threats of data theft by hackers. Merely clicking on an unknown link could give access to your phone to third-party users who could then also control the device.

Insurance companies in India are yet to address these concerns. Also, within services offered on instant messaging platforms, there is no clarity on which set of insurance employees are able to access your personal data shared over chats.

For older customers, there are other challenges. Someone who has just started using WhatsApp at the age of 50 could find it a challenge to navigate the application. Here if a policy document or claim intimation would be over this messaging app, chances are that the customer could be unable to access it. A few incorrect steps would either lead to a wrong policy purchase or even rejection of a claim.

Physical services of insurance are still available. But if the idea is to make the process simpler and faster, it should be accessible to all.

Keeping in touch is a good practice. But when it comes to persistent insurance salespersons, maintaining a safe distance looks like a better option at least on WhatsApp.

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