RBI launches “Innovation Hub” for Financial Inclusion

On August 6, 2020, the Reserve Bank of India launched “Innovation Hub” for ideation and incubation of new capabilities that can be leveraged to deepen financial inclusion.

About Innovation Hub

The hub is being launched to promote the start ups in the country. It will help in ideation and incubation of new capabilities. This will in turn help to deepen financial inclusion in the country and promote efficient banking services.

The hub is to act as a centre to create viable and innovative financial products. This will provide the following benefits

  • The hub will help achieve efficient banking
  • Business continuity in times of emergency
  • Strengthening consumer protection

The RBI has recently taken several similar initiatives to encourage responsible innovation. One such recent initiative is the “Regulatory Sandbox”.

Regulatory Sandbox

A Regulatory Sandbox refers to live testing of new products and services in a controlled regulatory environment where the regulators may permit regulatory relaxations to limit purpose of testing. This framework will act as a boost for the financial technology startups that are looking to innovate. The main aim of the sandbox is to foster responsible innovation in financial services, bring benefits to consumer and promote efficiency.

Norms

RBI will launch Sandbox for the entities that meet the criteria of minimum net worth of Rs 25 lakh. The entity should either be a company registered in the country or banks licensed to operate in India.

Background

According to NITI Aayog, 1 trillion USD worth Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) will be digitally disbursed by 2029. Also, India is one of the fastest growing fintech markets in the world.

The Indian Fintech ecosystem attracts 6 billion USD investments globally since 2014. The Fintech companies use technologies to provide payments, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending. Therefore, to protect consumers and safeguard their interests, there is a need to regulate and supervise fintech firms. Also, there is need to bring in new fintech products to keep up the competition in the world.

Facts Box: First Snow Leopard Conservation Centre of India

The Uttarakhand State Government is to develop India’s first Snow Leopard Conservation centre of India. The centre is to be developed by the Uttarakhand forest department and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Highlights

The main aim of the centre is to conserve and restore Himalayan ecosystems. It also aims to conserve elusive snow leopards and other endangered Himalayan species.

Concerns

A number of snow leopards have been spotted in the districts of Pithoragarh and Uttarkashi. However, the actual figures are unknown. So far, the state government has concluded that there are 86 snow leopards in the state.

There is a need to identify areas where the snow leopards are being spotted. This can be achieved with the help of forest department and cooperation from local people and military forces.

Benefits

The step is to promote winter tourism in the state. The state is also in the process of developing six city forests to expand the green area in the cities. This is to be achieved in city forests in Kumaon region, four in hilly districts and two in plains.

Snow Leopard in India

The first National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment was launched on International Snow Leopard Day (October 23, 2019). The survey was conducted in the states/UTs of Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh. The launch also marked the inaugural of 4th Steering Committee meeting of GSLEP Programme

GSLEP Programme

GSLEP Programme is Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme. It is an inter-governmental alliance of all 12 snow leopard range countries. This includes China, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.

The programme mainly focuses on the need of awareness and understanding the value of snow leopard in an ecosystem. It is organised by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

About Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard region in India contributes to 5% of the global snow leopard region. They are classified as Vulnerable in IUCN list and has been included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Conservation Efforts in India

India had launched Project Snow Leopard to promote inclusive approach that involves local communities.

Secure Himalaya is another project being operated in India to conserve Snow Leopard. It is funded by the Global Environment Facility-United Nations Development Programme. The programme is now being operated in four states/UTs namely Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and Uttarakhand.