Winds of change: FCPA in a new world

Gaganpreet Singh Puri, Partner, Forensic Services, PwC India

The dawn raids carried out by the Swiss authorities to arrest FIFA officials on corruption charges and the impending move to extradite them to the US signals the arrival of a new era. The way in which this extraordinary operation was conducted in Switzerland brings into focus the seriousness of the US Justice Department in enforcing anti-corruption laws and the emerging trend of international cooperation amongst regulators.

If one were to crystal gaze the actions of the US and Swiss authorities and put them in perspective, a couple of issues emerge and provide a glimpse into the future of enforcement around anti-corruption laws.

International cooperation

Such stringent actions, as seen in the FIFA case, are not decided overnight. They are based on strong leads and evidence collected by law enforcement and other agencies over long periods of time.

Given that the arrests were made by authorities in Zurich pertaining to a case in violation of the US law implies that the evidence collected must have been detailed and convincing to a level that secured international cooperation. This also shows the meticulous planning and coordination which can only result from intensive government-to-government contact and seamless international cooperation. This clearly seems to be an evolving trend in the global fight against bribery and corruption.

Jurisdiction

The FIFA case shows that the US will continue to invest in identifying cases and develop leads when it sees unethical conduct related to the violation of the US law, even though the offences may be global in nature.

Many high profile cases reported in recent times are related to potential bribes made in foreign jurisdictions. These crimes were potentially agreed to and planned in the US and payments are carried out via US banks. This signals an important trend on how the US government views jurisdiction. The fact that the transaction may have a US footprint can trigger US anti-corruption laws.

Personal liberties

The history of enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) shows that bribery and corruption charges can and will be brought against individuals. Actions have been taken in the past not only against individuals directly involved in bribery but also against people charged with governance and control.

As seen in a number of cases, US regulators are not going to hesitate to charge individuals and enforce laws strictly when the situation demands action. Criminal charges have resulted in significant fines, penalties and jail terms, in many cases; and some of these individuals are not US citizens. Clearly, a lot is at stake—personally and professionally—for individuals who can be charged with bribery and corruption.

Lessons for India

The US-Swiss cooperation in this endeavour signals the advent of an era where it will become even more important for Indian companies with a US footprint to be on the right track of US laws on anti-corruption. The fact that detentions or arrests are being made during the visits of executives abroad signifies the seriousness around enforcement.

In the light of what is happening in the global space today, Indian companies and nationals need to be extremely vigilant. The need of the hour is to not only have a state-of-the-art anti-bribery and anti-corruption compliance programme but also to undertake a comprehensive assessment of when and where obligations and liabilities under the FCPA get triggered and what needs to be done to effectively comply with them.

Excerpts of this blogpost were published in the Hindu Business Line article Penalty kick.

Forgotten voices: The world of urban children in India

 

This video provides an introduction to the report prepared by PwC and Save the Children, which takes stock of the issues faced by children living in India's cities. 

Building a better, more inclusive India

 

PwC’s Urban Child Project, in collaboration with Save the Children and its associated NGOs, is an attempt to make the voices of the marginalised urban poor heard. Children from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Srinagar have contributed to our report 'Forgotten voices: The world of urban children in India'.

 

The other side of the urban story

 

PwC’s Urban Child Project, in collaboration with Save the Children and its associated NGOs, is an attempt to make the voices of the marginalised urban poor heard. Children from Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Srinagar have contributed to our report 'Forgotten voices: The world of urban children in India'.

The digital edge in retail

Sudipta Ghosh, Analytics Leader, PwC India

Retailing in Digital-Era

For the second year in a row, PwC India, in collaboration with the Retailers’ Association of India (RAI) launched a retail report on technological implementation titled Retailing in the digital era. It was launched at the Retail Technology Conclave on 18 June 2015 at the Renaissance Convention Centre, Mumbai.

For retail organisations, business challenges usually revolve around important questions such as, who are the most valuable customers and how can they be retained? How must offerings be priced in order to maximise profits? Which customers should be targeted during the next marketing campaign? Which products should be recommended to customers? What should the inventory level be in order for the business to neither go out-of-stock, nor have excess?

Retailers are under increasing pressure due to the ongoing economic uncertainty as well as greater competition and are required to be more responsive to the increasingly demanding customers, suppliers as well as other stakeholders. Our latest report discusses various analytical models that can help them improve business results, increase revenue, lower costs, and improve customer satisfaction while effectively enhancing performance at all levels. Experience and intuition as well as data and analytics need to not only co-exist, but reinforce each other.

The use of analytics has been highly disruptive across retail globally, affecting not only the revenue and cost structures but also shaking up core business and operating models. Our report explores the various analytics practices in retail, demonstrating their major applications through nine frequently used solutions across three different categories- customer experience, marketing and supply chain management.

Join the discussion on my blogpost on LinkedIn.

For detailed insights, please read our report: Retailing in the digital era

A digital blitzkrieg for the banking sector

Vivek Belgavi, Leader, Financial Technology Services, PwC India

The digital battleground has presented banks with a huge opportunity to attract new customers, lower costs, develop new propositions and business models, as also explore customer value to its maximum. To create a digital environment is now a priority for all banks and they need to undergo considerable investment for complete transformation. Leading the bank towards digital transformation implies enhanced user experience through interactive interfaces, advancement in mobile technology, improved digital security, collaborating through social media, channel integration and gaining insights into customer behaviour through digital analytics. Furthermore, fintech companies are setting new standards in innovation, time to market, and customer experience which traditional banks are forced to measure up to.

Digital channels provide banks with a unique opportunity to deliver highly-customised propositions and services to their potential as well as existing customers at relatively lower costs. While these channels provide access to larger public social platforms, the inherent nature of the platform makes communication through these channels personalised and intimate.

It has been observed that digital brings with it the unique opportunity to capture enormous volumes of data in a faster and more efficient manner. The challenge however is to be able to draw timely insights from this data. Banks need to ensure that their data set-up and technology architecture are optimally designed to meet the volume, velocity and variety of data at their disposal. With the proliferation of mobile-based services and the reducing median price of smartphones, the payment industry is on an exponential growth trajectory, further aided by policy, frameworks and guidelines being formalised by the regulator. Innovative and disruptive solutions have made this volume-intensive and low-margin industry a lucrative one. For example, M-Swipe has given an alternative solution to POS machines given by banks, thus increasing the reach of digital payment to traditionally cash only transaction-based services (such as barber shops, kirana stores, etc) in a cost-effective manner. 

The challenges for the industry are also increasing with the proliferation of information, digital transactions and smart devices at an extraordinary rate. This opens up potential loopholes that can be exploited for various kinds of fraud. While certain incidents can be an area of concern, others can destroy key elements of a business and in turn, the brand. While looking beyond enterprise boundaries, there is a need to protect what matters most and ensure that investment is allocated correctly. Moreover, multiple regulations, both global as well as regional, have forced banks to look at increasing their resilience around data management. Regulators are moving from standardised reports-based supervision to seeking access to granular underlying data for assessment of the bank’s risk positions.

The financial services sector is also facing the omnipresent risk of disruptive innovation. The groundbreaking redefinition of the payments space, explosion of technology-driven wealth management or strong emergence of online peer-to-peer lending solutions are all breaching areas which were formerly banking strongholds. Non-bank attackers, ranging from large telecommunications companies to small and nimble technology players, are defining the standards for digital banking. Generally, these non-bankers have a small role in the overall ecosystem of the banking industry and therefore have far lesser overheads while innovating new solutions. Therefore, they have a high pace of innovation and pose a unique question to banks to innovate at lightning speed while meeting regulatory norms.

For detailed insights, download our report here: Banks taking a quantum leap through digital

One year of India's transport

Nitin Gadkari, Transport Minister of India

 

Nitin Gadkari chronicles his tenure as the Transport Minister so far. 

Joining hands to build a better India

Nitin Gadkari, Transport Minister of India

 

Nitin Gadkari speaks about how the government and private investment can together turn the infra picture around.

Making India future-ready

 

Watch leaders from across the world discuss infrastructure and future investments in India.

Moving towards differentiated banking: The evolving bank-fintech ecosystem in India

Shinjini Kumar, Leader, Banking and Capital Markets

Globally, the ‘fintech revolution’ is underway, and is slowly but surely inching towards ‘unbundling’ the bank. While regulators in other countries have largely adopted a wait-and-watch approach towards the fintech disruption; in India, the RBI is attempting to create a space for non-bank and digital companies to compete and collaborate with banks within the differentiated banking framework.

Here are the 10 ways in which I think the fintech-bank ecosystem will play out post-licensing:

1. Universal banks will struggle with complete process revamp, but will focus on digitising the front end

Globally, as well as in India, banks will invest heavily in changing customer perceptions and making front-end technology digital, while continuing with their existing technology largely for back-end processes.

2. E-commerce will shape customer expectations and put pressure on banks to catch up

Consumers are getting used to the high quality of service provided by Indian e-commerce players. Their expectations from the financial sector will be similarly aligned, and they will expect banks to continually improve on convenience.

3. There will be client segmentation at multiple levels

While income predictability will continue to be a key segmentation factor, banks will also start focussing on ‘new customers’, who are unlikely to have steady income streams, but still use technology to power their financial decisions and enhance their life conditions.

4. With greater competition will come greater collaboration

Since customers have multiple financial needs, niche players will look to collaborate with complementary service providers, in order to retain their customers and deliver value for ‘stickiness’.

5. Niche banks may be more transparent and facilitate price discovery

Unlike universal banks, niche banks will not have the ability to cross-subsidise and will need to bring in real value addition to their products, pushing customers to a ‘paid service’ model. This will facilitate price discovery in the market and a more nuanced understanding of customer expectations from banks.

6. The potential for disruption is high

As the market shifts away from rewarding RoE or market capitalisation and moves towards becoming valuation-driven, the potential for fintech companies to disrupt the financial services ecosystem will grow multi-fold.

7. Financial inclusion will be more meaningful under the ‘principal-principal’ collaboration model

The new paradigm under differentiated banking will change the existing ‘principal-agent’ dynamic as the ‘agent’ side acquires greater ability to create products and also greater ‘power’ in the relationship with the ‘principal’. This may finally provide customers with the opportunity to meaningfully access financial services.

8. Banks will be pushed to create real value for customers

It is likely that the fee structure in microcredit and remittance markets will get disrupted and revenues will flatten out quickly. Service providers will then need to think about going beyond servicing the ‘low-value, high-volume’ customer and create real economic value for each customer segment.

9. There will be a steep learning curve in designing efficient risk- and fraud-management techniques

In order to scale up and acquire greater numbers of customers, niche banks will need to move towards identifying consumers digitally and instituting time-efficient, convenient processes. Similarly, fraud management will also need to undergo a radical shift, become less invasive and facilitate faster, smoother transactional experiences, while picking up early warning signs and potential issues to minimise risk.

10. Regulation will need to be differentiated to fit the realities of differentiated banking

The existing guidelines for payments banks and small finance banks are largely drawn from universal bank guidelines. However, differentiated banks will not be able to bear the compliance cost structure of universal banks. As differentiated banks evolve and become more integrated into the formal financial system, regulatory approach may need to similarly evolve and differentiate.

For a more detailed discussion, read my blog on LinkedIn.

The opinions expressed in the blogs are personal.


 

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