Commerce – Cycling Fan Thu, 25 Nov 2021 15:04:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Commerce – Cycling Fan 32 32 Student loan repayments are suspended. Here’s how to get the most out of it Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:46 +0000 Millions of student loan borrowers received welcome reprieve last month when President Joe Biden extended the suspension of payments and interest on federal student loans until September 30.

Jill Biden calls for free community college access for COVID-19 economic recovery

The break on payments, which has been in effect since March, was due to expire on January 31. This allowed more than 20 million borrowers to default on their student loans, while interest remained at 0%.

The suspension of payments, known as forbearance, has brought much-needed relief to those torn between staying up to date on their student loans or paying other bills. But for those who can afford it, it’s also an opportunity to set aside savings or pay off a student loan anyway – without the interest adding up.

Tips for paying off credit cards and other debt during the COVID-19 pandemic

This is because forbearance automatically applies to anyone with student loans held by the federal government and will not increase your payments during the break period.

“Student loan forbearance is an opportunity for people to make progress in these areas without derailing the rest of their budgets,” said Bruce McClary, senior vice president of communications for the National Credit Counseling Federation ( NFCC). “It’s also a good time to allocate some extra money to pay off high interest credit cards or signature loans.”

Here’s how to get the most out of your finances while student loan payments are on hold.

Pay off your credit card debt

Tackling credit card debt should be the top priority. Credit cards generally carry high interest rates and can prevent you from getting the most out of your money for things like building an emergency fund and saving for retirement.

The average credit card interest rate is 14.65%, according to Federal Reserve data.

Pair high interest rates with low payments and you could be paying off your credit card for years to come.

Take advantage of this time to pay far more than the minimum on your card balance. This will help you pay off your debt faster and free up credit for other expenses you may need later.

It can also help increase your credit score.

Build up your emergency savings

Creating an emergency fund is never a bad idea. Why? As we have all seen over the past year, life can be unpredictable. So it’s always good to be prepared.

Emergency savings can come in handy during unforeseen events, such as a car accident or the loss of a job. It can also serve as a financial cushion during a transition in uncertain times.

With monthly student loan payments on hold, you can redirect the amount you would have paid for your loans to a savings account to build your emergency fund.

Mark Kantrowitz, a student loan expert, recommends doing this before deciding whether to continue paying off student loans during the forbearance period.

“In addition to covering unforeseen auto repair or home maintenance expenses, it provides you with money to cover living expenses during a period of unemployment,” he said.

Try to save at least three to six months of living expenses.

Saving for retirement

Saving for retirement while paying off debt can be difficult. But with student loans on hold, you can use that time to boost your retirement savings.

If your employer offers a 401 (k) match, start by maximizing your contributions to get the full match. For example, if your business matches contributions up to 6% of your salary, you must contribute at least 6% to your 401 (k) to take full advantage.

“It’s free money, which is hard to beat,” Kantrowitz said.

You can also automate your savings to make regular contributions to your retirement account and set aside extra money you might have after paying other bills.

Consider paying off your student loans anyway

Missed payments are not forgiven. Your loan total will stay the same, so keeping them forborne will extend the repayment period. If you can still afford to make payments now, your loan will be paid off sooner.

“If you’re well positioned with the rest of your financial goals and obligations, you can make quite a bit of progress toward paying off your student loans without accruing interest,” McClary said.

There are exceptions however. For people enrolled in programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or Income-Based Repayment Plans, you should refrain from making additional payments on your loans while they are in forborne. . This is because additional payments may reduce the amount of rebate you will eventually receive.

“It might be a good idea to focus on growing your retirement and investment accounts instead,” said Travis Hornsby, Founder and CEO of Student Loan Planner.

But that’s not all.

Robert Farrington, founder of The College Investor, a personal finance and investing website for millennials, recommends borrowers with income-focused repayment plans make sure they recertify their income by September for s ‘ensure that new payouts reflect the amount they are currently earning.

“This is especially important for people who may have drastically reduced incomes due to the pandemic. If you don’t recertify based on your current income, you could have a much larger loan repayment than you can afford. “, did he declare.

On the other hand, borrowers participating in programs such as the PSLF must ensure that they certify their employment to obtain credit for qualifying work during the entire forbearance period.

Prepare to resume payments

Student loan forgiveness won’t last forever, and when it ends, you should be ready to resume payments.

“Don’t lose sight of when your payment is due,” McClary said. “Set reminders and make sure it’s always on your radar.”

As for borrowers who may not be able to start repaying their loans due to reasons such as prolonged financial hardship, they should explore affordable repayment options a few months before the forbearance ends.

McClary says organizations like the NFCC provide advice on student loan repayment to help borrowers understand which affordable repayment options best suit their situation and how to navigate the application process.

The bottom line

Whether you’re looking to save for retirement, put money aside for financial emergencies, or just cut down on high interest debt, making the most of the student loan repayment break can help you achieve these goals. financial.

“Use this time to grow your emergency savings, pay off other debts, make regular contributions in retirement, and shore up your overall finances,” Hornsby said. The next time there’s a financial storm, you’re well prepared for it. ”

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Currency Experts: Financial Tips We Would Like To Know After College Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:45 +0000

Getting a college degree is an exciting achievement, but it also marks the start of true adulthood, and that comes with a lot of less exciting responsibilities like bills, paying off student loans, and thinking about life. retirement.

It’s easy to avoid the topic altogether, but if you want to feel empowered, try manage and own your finances. By taking the reins, you have the power to change the course of your financial future.

Of course, this can be easier said than done. To get you started, we asked the Bankrate team for some financial advice they wished they could tell each other after graduation.

Here’s a rundown of all the financial tips we wish we had known earlier, so you can get a head start:

What we would like to know after graduating from university:

Take baby steps. They count as progress.

Mary Wisniewski, banking editor and financial technology journalist

Right after graduating from college, I remember hearing some great advice, like saving six months of spending in your emergency fund. At the time, however, it seemed way too overwhelming – I was living on the salary of a junior reporter in Brooklyn. A recession would then strike. The silver appeared to be spandex proof. Since advice seemed elusive at best and impossible at worst, I didn’t bother to open a savings account for a few years.

Looking back, I would tell myself to throw a few dollars in a savings account here and there. Breaking down big tasks into smaller tasks makes financial goals much more achievable. Nowadays, there are a number of mobile apps that can help you as well, including Digit, Dobot, and Qapital. Consider renaming a savings account to something more inspiring, like “the escape fund”.

Live below your means

Bill McGuire, Mortgage Editor

Over the years, then decades, as my income increased, my expenses increased at least as much and maybe a little more. It is a natural thing for most people, but it prevents you from building real wealth.

We bought and sold a total of five houses, even building one from a separate lot from our original house. Each house was larger than the last, until we downsized 30 years later when the children left the nest.

Do we really need a 3,000 square foot house on an acre lot? We enjoyed the property, but there were rooms that I did not visit for several months, as well as vast expanses of space that required constant cleaning and maintenance, all draining wealth. The formal dining room, extra bedroom, etc., we could easily have done without.

The expense does not include the many mortgage refinances as rates have improved. I lost count of the transactions, but each one cost several thousand dollars in fees and expenses for mortgage companies, securities companies, lawyers, etc.

I watched in dismay our property tax bills go up with every house. A tax bill of $ 3,500 per year turned into over $ 15,000 per year for local property taxes. Every dollar spent, a dollar not saved.

Over a 30-year period, long enough to pay off the most popular mortgage term, with each new home, the mortgage extended for another 30 years. I realized that it had been over 20 years since we weren’t much closer to paying off the mortgage than we were at the beginning. It wasn’t until we downsized our current home in a community over 55 that we tamed the mortgage monster and mostly pulled it out with the equity in our last massive home.

If we had stayed in a smaller (very beautiful) house, filled with what we had and put the extra earnings into savings, we would have built a lot more wealth, a lot faster.

Planning for the future

Matthew Goldberg, consumer banking journalist

Plan ahead for the future. This is the biggest financial lesson I would tell myself after graduating from college.

It’s easy to think you’re too young to worry about saving for retirement. Make sure you contribute to your retirement savings – a 401 (k), IRA or both – as soon as you graduate. Keep increasing the percentage of your salary that you contribute to retirement until you really start to notice that it is not part of your take home pay. Also take advantage of employer matching contributions on a 401 (k). This is an important benefit that some employers offer. After that aim to get as close as possible to the year contribution limit as possible. Doing this while you’re young can give your money even more time to grow. Making those decisions early should pay off many years later.

Saving is easier if you start now. It will help you build good habits, have money for emergencies, and save for future goals. In addition, over time you will be able to use the power of composition in a high yield savings account to keep your money growing.

Having the money straight in my 401 (k) from my paycheck has really helped me save for retirement. The automation of the process really works, especially since you don’t miss out on the money that never got into your direct deposit. Splitting a portion of your salary into a savings account is an effective way to save for a emergency fund then for other financial goals.

Let the market work for you

James Royal, senior investment and wealth management journalist

I have to tell myself that the best way to take advantage of my excellent savings capacity is to invest in an S&P 500 index fund and keep adding it monthly. Buying this index fund and adding it regularly are two parts of investing – the “how” and the “what” – that generate great returns over time.

The third element is to control your temper when you see the market going down. It is absolutely crucial to think long term and see a market downturn as a long term opportunity to buy at a discount. You don’t win by investing by scoring fast; you earn by investing for the long term and thinking long term. Not only buying and holding an S&P 500 ETF has beaten almost every investor over a period of years it is also tax efficient and you will not be taxed on your capital gains until you sell the fund.

Let the market work for you as an investor by buying and holding rather than trying to be a trader by timing the dips and the rises.

Learn the ins and outs of your student loans

Lindsay DeMunno, Social Media Producer

I wish someone had told me how loans actually work and how to refinance my loans. When I graduated from university, my private loans were tied to a single lender. At the time, they were divided into four different loans, each with interest rates of 10.4-14.6%. I didn’t know at the time that these interest rates were more than double the average rate of about 5.8%. I ended up paying thousands of dollars in interest for months without even reducing my student loans.

Fortunately, after joining the Bankrate team, I did my research and used their student loan calculator to help me find a lender who could refinance my loans. When I refinanced, I chose a repayment plan that actually worked for me and my budget. Instead of paying the bare minimum on my loans, I can now spend more money on it each month because I actually set a budget for myself. Research average student loan rates, and refinance if you pay a much higher rate.

Start saving for retirement and keep it simple

Lance Davis, Editorial Director

To learn how to save for retirement and start doing it. Time is your best ally for saving for retirement because your investments have more time to grow and weather market fluctuations.

If you earn income, open and contribute to a Roth IRA. You pay taxes on the money before you put it into the account, but the withdrawals are tax free in retirement. That’s good: since you’re just starting out, you’re probably in a lower tax bracket today than you will be decades from now.

When it comes to choosing Roth IRA investments, don’t be intimidated. Forget about day trading or selecting complex individual investments like bitcoin; investing should be as exciting as watching the paint dry. Instead of choosing individual stocks, look at low cost exchange traded funds that follow an entire exchange, such as S&P 500. This way, instead of betting on a sole proprietorship, you spread your risk over several.

If you really want to make it easier on yourself, open a maturity fund. These funds are inexpensive and take your age into account to create a diversified portfolio that balances risk.

Use bank rates retirement planning calculator to get an idea of ​​how much you’ll need to save for your ideal retirement.

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Congress passes $ 900 billion stimulus bill, including $ 600 plus unemployment checks – but leaves out student loan relief Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:45 +0000

Top line


The $ 2.3 trillion monster will now head to President Trump’s office, and he should sign it; in the House, the vote was 359-53 on the Covid-19 relief bill while the Senate voted 91-6.

The bill gives the green light to another round of stimulus checks that could be sent as from next week—This time at a reduced amount of $ 600, instead of the $ 1,200 provided for by the CARES act —To American singles earning $ 75,000 or less (payments gradually eliminate based on annual income, with a threshold of $ 87,000.)

Federal unemployment benefits are extended at a rate of $ 300 per week for 11 weeks, until March 14, although eligible people can continue to receive benefits until April 5.

Congress provided tenants $ 25 billion and extended the federal moratorium on evictions by one month, until the end of January, as millions of Americans facing the loss of their home in the midst of a pandemic.

$ 13 billion in food aid helps fund a 15% increase in SNAP benefits and other programs, while $ 284 billion is earmarked for small businesses to help reduce layoffs under the Workforce Protection program. paychecks; some $ 82 billion is set aside for schools to make building improvements to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and $ 15 billion will go to the airline industry to help bring back around 32,000 workers on leave.

Lawmakers have included billions of dollars for vaccines, testing and tracing: $ 20 billion will go to purchase vaccines, $ 8 billion to distribute vaccines and $ 20 billion to help states test and search for contacts; Congress included wording that would end surprise medical billing, a practice that affects millions of Americans every year.

Key context

Direct payments gradually eliminate at a rate of 5% for American singles with an annual income of $ 75,000 or more until it disappears altogether for those earning $ 87,000. The income threshold is $ 112,000 for heads of household and $ 150,000 for married couples filing jointly. The payments totaled $ 136,000 for heads of households and $ 198,000 for married couples. A family of four can expect to receive $ 2,400 on the bill and over 85% of households will receive payments, according to Washington post.

Large number

5593. This is the number of pages of the first draft of the bill. Lawmakers had just hours to review the legislation ahead of a vote after it was released on Monday.

Chief critic

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized the rushed process. “It’s not enough to just hear what’s in the bill,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) noted on Twitter Monday. “Members of Congress need to see and read the bills we need to vote on. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) Recount CNN’s last-minute push was a “mockery of the law.”


Several provisions were excluded from the Covid relief plan, including corporate liability protections, backed by Republicans, and funding for states and localities, supported by democrats. In particular, the stimulus bill does not extend the freeze on federal student loan payments after January, even as lawmakers were planned before go into overtime. Trump signed an executive order in August extending student loan relief until the end of December and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos extended later the program until the end of January.

Crucial quote

Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin Recount CNBC On Monday, his department was ready to start sending stimulus checks “by the start of next week.”

Surprising fact

The bill would establish two new Smithsonian museums: the American Women’s History Museum and the National Museum of the American Latino. Sen Mike Lee (R-Utah) had blocked legislation to create the two museums earlier this month, arguing that the United States does not need “separate but equal museums.”

Further reading

Mnuchin: Americans should receive money by stimulus check “as early as next week” (Forbes)

Everything you need to know about the second round of Covid-related stimulation checks (Forbes)

Second stimulus control calculator: how much and when will you receive? (Councilor Forbes)

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SBA pushes back threat against businesses that didn’t need PPP loans Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:43 +0000

The Trump administration said companies that took loans over $ 2 million that they did not need under a small business assistance program would be allowed to repay the money without consequences legal proceedings, thereby negating an earlier threat that the government could prosecute them.

New advice published wednesday for the Paycheque Protection Program by the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department also said that companies that have accepted loans of less than $ 2 million will automatically be determined to have done so in good faith, as they are less likely to have access to d ‘other resources.

The guidance comes ahead of Thursday’s deadline that the SBA and Treasury had set for businesses that were not eligible for a PPP loan to return them without penalty and provides more insurance for businesses with smaller loans that don’t. didn’t know if they should keep the money. Some companies have reported loan repayments even though they believe they are eligible amid changing rules and guidelines.

Assuming loans of less than $ 2 million are made in good faith, the SBA will be able to focus its resources on reviewing larger loans given the massive size of the program, the agencies said. More than 4.3 million loans worth nearly $ 535 billion have been approved to date, including nearly 33,900 loans over $ 2 million as of May 8, according to SBA data.

The SBA said it would review all loans over $ 2 million, and potentially others as well, to see if companies have properly certified they are needed. If the SBA determines that a business could not justify the need, the loan will not be canceled – and if the borrower repays it, no further action will be taken, according to the new guidelines.

Last month, following a backlash after large companies rushed in and raised millions from the program – which aimed to throw a lifeline to small businesses that lacked access to capital markets – the Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said borrowers have a criminal responsibility for taking out loans they don’t need.

Borrowers suspected of having defrauded by accepting relief loans are prosecuted. Last week, the Justice Department initiated the program’s first criminal case: it charged two New England businessmen with fraud and alleged their demands falsely claimed they had failed. of employees. Reality TV personality bought diamond jewelry and Rolex watch after taking $ 2 million from program, US prosecutors say noted Wednesday.

President Trump told reporters on Wednesday that companies that improperly took out PPP loans will have “big problems” and “if there are companies that have obtained loans to which they were not entitled, we will them. will continue very seriously “.

The program provides loans of up to $ 10 million to small businesses; these loans can become grants if the proceeds are spent primarily on payroll for two months after receipt. It’s meant to keep employed workers and businesses ready to reopen when state stay-at-home orders are lifted.

After Shake Shack Inc. and the Los Angeles Lakers obtained loans – and then paid them back – at the expense of mom-and-pop operations, the SBA and Treasury issued advice On April 23, companies with “substantial market value and access to capital markets” would be unlikely to qualify. Borrowers had to certify on their applications that “the current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations” of the company.

The new guidelines do not specify how the SBA would determine in its audits whether a borrower had “adequate sources of liquidity” and “lacked an adequate basis for the required certification regarding the necessity of the loan.”

Groups representing both small businesses and lenders praised the new directive, saying they were looking for answers and help to comply with the program. It will be a relief for many who were hesitant to take a loan or were unsure whether they should have taken the money, said Paul Merski of the Independent Community Bankers of America.

“It’s going to relieve that anxiety a lot,” Merski said.

It would have been difficult for the government to prove that a borrower certified in bad faith the need for a loan, said Alan Roth, partner at Winston & Strawn. The new direction is pragmatic given the volume of loans, he added.

“I think the government is trying to take a reasoned approach to this,” Roth said.

The SBA and the Treasury did not disclose how many companies have repaid or canceled loans and for what amounts. State-owned companies said they repaid 61 loans worth $ 411 million on Wednesday evening, according to compiled data by FactSquared.

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Free Hebrew loan helps parents conceive with its fertility loan program Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:43 +0000

For nearly two years, Michael Tarle and April Oldenburg of Emeryville tried to have a child. “We tried the old fashioned way,” Tarle said. “It did not work.”

Then they tried nine rounds of artificial insemination and two IVF treatments. Without success.

“It was a huge struggle for us,” Tarle said.

And the cost too. In 2012 and 2013, he and his wife spent between $ 60,000 and $ 70,000 on all of these procedures, he said, eventually having to borrow from his family and take out high-interest medical loans.

“At this point we were really worried,” Tarle continued. “And we didn’t really know how we were going to continue. “

Then Tarle’s brother suggested the couple visit Hebrew Free Loan, which offers interest-free loans for a variety of needs. At the time, the 123-year-old agency did not have a formal program specifically for fertility procedures, but Tarle received a loan of around $ 15,000 to search for a donor egg.

And it worked. Oldenburg got pregnant in January 2014, and three years after Noah was born, she gave birth to a daughter, Navah, in part thanks to another loan from HFL.

“There is absolutely no doubt,” Tarle said. “Without the free loan in Hebrew, our children would not be here. Former president of Netivot Shalom of Berkeley, he said his whole family is active in the congregation.

The SF-based agency, a founding member of the International Jewish Free Loans Association, has been quietly providing fertility loans since the early 2000s, helping around 75 people and couples since then.

In February, HFL launched the Fertility Loan Program, which helps borrowers afford medical treatments that are not only very expensive, but also do not guarantee pregnancy. Details for Northern Californians interested in applying can be found on the HFL website.

In vitro fertilization can be expensive between $ 12,000 and $ 17,000, and drugs required during the process can add an additional $ 10,000. A donor egg costs around $ 12,000 to $ 20,000. Artificial insemination is a little better at $ 500 to $ 4,000, but in all these cases, few insurers will pay the majority of the costs.

Some have turned to crowdfunding to obtain the necessary funds; in fact, GoFundMe has a madmanll page devoted to how to raise funds for IVF procedures.

With loans of up to $ 20,000, the free Hebrew loan program will potentially help many more people struggling with fertility. The application requires that an individual or at least one spouse be Jewish.

The two couples eager to talk to J. about their experiences with the free Hebrew loan had to go through several procedures before they were successful, which further increased the costs.

Becca and Robert Dawson with their son Jack.

That’s what happened to Martinez’s Becca (Brown) Dawson, who got a loan from HFL so she could freeze her eggs. Another loan a few years later in 2018 for IVF resulted in disappointment when she miscarried, but the loan was enough to try again – and Dawson and her husband Robert now have a son, Jack, who was born last November. .

In total, she borrowed about $ 25,000 over a seven-year period, which covered most of the medical costs. She is currently repaying the second loan.

“The fact that there is an organization in the Jewish community that allows people to do this – something that is really out of sight for a lot of people – it’s like they’re doing a mitzvah,” Dawson said. “I am more than grateful that they have supported me so much.”

The new Hebrew Free Loan program, totaling $ 150,000, was funded by Dana and Gary Shapiro.

Gary Shapiro, former chairman of HFL and longtime board member, said he was inspired to do so after a former borrower brought her baby to a board meeting – a baby born thanks to a loan from HFL.

“My wife and I looked at each other and said, there is no bigger [giving] impact than seeing a new baby born, ”said Shapiro, who is willing to donate more money if needed. “I am proud of the program. And I am privileged to have participated in it.

Although HFL has been providing loans for fertility purposes for years, the organization has been unwilling to go public for fear that demand will exceed resources, said Cindy rogoway, Executive Director of HFL since 2014. Yet people found out through “word of mouth,” she said.

“There was a pattern of people asking for this. We see that more and more people are looking to us for their fertility, ”she said.

Now, thanks to the funding, HFL is able to promote the program.

Rogoway herself knows the subject intimately. Over a decade ago, she and her husband struggled with fertility, eventually turning to an egg donor and surrogate mother. Today, they are the parents of an 11-year-old child.

“Because of the challenges I have been through, this program matters to me on a very personal level,” Rogoway said. “I share my own experience with loan seekers, in the hope that my family’s successful journey to having a child will give them some hope and inspiration for their own journey.”

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In Malaysia, Islamic fintech is used as a catalyst for financial inclusion | Salaam Gateway Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:42 +0000

This article is one of a series sponsored by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

The synergy created by the principles of Islamic finance and fintech will promote financial well-being in Malaysia.

The country has near universal financial inclusion, with 95% of citizens holding bank accounts. But having an electronic account or wallet doesn’t always translate into financial integration. Having meaningful inclusion, which the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) promotes as financial health, or well-being, means having more control over one’s personal finances, from the ability to repay debts to manage a financial shock, achieve financial goals and be able to save for the future.

“There is a movement towards financial health, for financial resilience, control and freedom. Finance is not an end goal, but a means to an end, ”said Jaspreet Singh, head of global innovations and regional technical specialist Asia, UNCDF in Kuala Lumpur.

Over the past two years, UNCDF has worked with government entities and businesses, including the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), to develop digital solutions that strengthen MDEC’s focus areas. These include empowering digitally skilled Malaysians, empowering digitally powered businesses and attracting digital investment.

“While Malaysia has come a long way in terms of inclusion, the poorest 40% (B40), or the rural population, are excluded, even though they have bank accounts. Our work is primarily focused on how solutions can be crafted from a consumer perspective to improve their financial lives, ”added Jaspreet.

The financially excluded

The B40s, around 15 million people, live on less than 4,849 ringgit ($ 1,162) per month, the middle 40% (M40) earn 4,850 to 10,959 ringgit ($ 2,626) and the top 20% ( T20) earn more than 10,960 ringgits per month. , according to a statistics department report. Some 17% of Malaysians are self-employed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven the need for financial well-being, whether among underserved micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in cities struggling to stay afloat, or among Malaysians in rural areas who are excluded in part because of their location.

As a result, Malaysia, through the MDEC, is stepping up efforts to make better use of Islamic fintech, which complements its Vision for Shared Prosperity 2030, launched last year, and emphasizes the digital economy and finance. Islam as key catalysts for development.

“Digital financial inclusion is the availability and equal opportunity to access financial services through digital means. Aligned with its Islamic and inclusive fintech agenda, Malaysia should lead the way in championing the digital financial inclusion agenda infused with a Sharia-compliant proposal, ”said Deputy Finance Minister YB Tuan Mohd Shahar bin Abdullah during Islamic FinTech Week. 2020 in Kuala Lumpur in September.

Financial health challenge

To develop innovative solutions to improve the financial health of the B40, UNCDF Financial innovation laboratory, in partnership with Bank Negara Malaysia (the central bank), MDEC and the MetLife Foundation, launched the B40 challenge in December 2019.

Of the 18 fintechs involved in the Challenge, five are Sharia-compliant: HelloGold, microLEAP, Wakaful, Kasih Rakyat and Madcat World. “With the B40 challenge, we see what the ecosystem needs and how business models are responding to it,” Jaspreet said.

Three of the fintechs will be selected for long-term support from UNCDF to market and expand their offerings.

As part of the Challenge, HelloGold, the world’s first Sharia-compliant gold trading platform, launched a digital financial inclusion platform through asset-based savings and loan products. It required handling money, getting in and out.

“This has become very important because people with low and moderate incomes still want to deal with cash, and not just with bank accounts or digital channels. We need to keep these issues in consideration because people in rural areas may not be very digitally savvy, ”Jaspreet said.

Platforms like microLEAP have brought together microfinance and peer-to-peer (P2P) financing using the murabahah, a Sharia-compliant structure. So far, fintech has supported six conventional microenterprises and 10 Islamic microenterprises, such as a halal confectioner and t-shirt printer in northern Malaysia, which have required funding of between 1,000 ringgit ($ 239) and 50,000 ringgit ($ 11,985).

“It’s more than just ‘Here’s your money.’ We offer free online video training, debt management and counseling, allowing people to learn how to do, for example, basic accounting, ”said Tunku Danny Nasaifuddin Mudzaffar, CEO of microLEAP.

A borrower’s free personal accident insurance helps cover funds for both the borrower and the lender. MicroLEAP aims to raise some 30 million ringgit ($ 7.1 million) through P2P over the next two years.

Social funding

Crowdfunding is another avenue used to strengthen financial inclusion, with platforms appealing to Muslim benevolence and compulsory handouts (zakat). Islamic fintechs like Ethis Ventures Malaysia, an Islamic crowdfunding (ECF) platform, are calling on financial institutions and capital market players to get involved.

“They have social funds, either corporate zakat, or corporate social responsibility (CSR) allowances, so we want to help manage these charitable funds to provide micro-loans through our partners in implementation, ”said Umar Munshi, co-founder of Ethis.

Etthis has launched Qard Hassan, a volunteer lending platform under its Global Sadaqah site, which aims to raise 600,000 ringgit ($ 143,768) in three installments for microfinance loans.

“The key value that is created is that we are helping the lower end of society to be more self-sufficient faster. Because this is a zero interest loan, the responsibility is on their side. They have to pay it back, but at the same time the spirit of Qard Hassan is that it is a caring and altruistic loan, so if hardship arises and a borrower is unable to repay the loan, we have to be able to to amortize this, which is why the source of funds is from charity, ”said Umar.

Due to the financial impact of COVID-19, these loans give businesses a boost, while for businesses there is a visible financial impact and they contribute as a catalyst for lasting change, a Umar added.

“It’s a pilot project, we want to learn the behavior of people when they get a loan, and build more robust technology around the platform and increase the volume. As we get more data and insight, the platform will evolve to be more focused on supporting best practices. We are not microfinance experts, but by working with different partners, the platform will be useful as a tool for microfinance, ”he said.

With UNCDF, MDEC and other sector actors supporting the development of the Islamic fintech ecosystem, the goal of improving the financial health of the B40 will be increasingly achieved in the years to come.

“Achieving these goals will depend significantly on the collaborative efforts of industry players and the fintech community. As Malaysia continues to strengthen and expand its leadership in Islamic finance and fintech, MDEC will continue to galvanize ecosystem partners to shape a healthy and inclusive digital society that can easily access financial services, ”said Surina Shukri, MDEC Executive Director at the Islamic Fintech Dialogue.

“Let’s build together on these continued efforts and strive to make shared prosperity in the digital economy a reality for all. “

© 2020 All rights reserved

This article is one of a series sponsored by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

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Breaking the biosecurity bubble due to a pitch invasion at the world’s largest cricket stadium could have endangered the England tour Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:42 +0000

The invasion of the pitch by a foolish spectator wanting to shake hands with batsman Virat Kohli in the last game session of the first day of the third India-England test in Ahmedabad should have been prevented by police security even in normal times. However, as was the case at the height of the ongoing global Covid-19 infestation when players from the home and touring teams quarantined themselves for a fortnight before the series, the pitch invasion was shocking and could have endangered the remainder of the tour had England team management objected that this was a flagrant violation of the standards stipulated by the ICC for hosting international fixtures during the pandemic.

For the record, there were no land invasions during the ongoing pandemic in another test match elsewhere in the world, whether during the West Indies tour in England last summer or the Indian tour. in Australia last winter or even in the first two tests in Chennai against England earlier this month. There was a near-field invasion during India’s first ODI at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on November 27, 2020, when two spectators rushed in with banners saying “No loan of $ 2 billion for Adani “(an SBI loan for an Adani project in Australia which environmentalists have opposed). Fortunately, as some of the expert commentators present at the SCG on this occasion such as Shane Warne pointed out, no protester approached within two meters of the players (the minimum distance required as stipulated in the social distancing standards for the pandemic) or the tour could have been canceled, citing a violation of the biosafety bubble protocol.

The problem with all the publicity of being the world’s largest cricket stadium is that the lack of security is also completely exposed. Not only is reference made to the silly invasion of the pitch but also the lack of social distancing between the spectators, many of whom were not wearing masks. If the world’s largest cricket stadium with a capacity of 110,000 places limits admission to 55,000, then the obvious rationale would be to distribute spectators so that standards of social distancing can be maintained among those who are not. from the same small circle of family or friends. Instead, going through the telecast, the viewers were all grouped together and most of them were not wearing masks which would have sent all the wrong signals.

Testing, social distancing and frequent hand washing with disinfectant are the three pillars on which the government has built its campaign to stop the spread of Covid-19 over the past 12 months. The rationale is to prevent carriers of Covid-19 (especially asymptomatic) from spreading the infection. The television broadcast of the first day of the third test in Ahmedabad not only gave viewers around the world a glimpse of the world’s largest cricket stadium, but also exposed the lack of world-class security.

Naming the world’s largest cricket stadium after the Prime Minister at the last minute reflects an ad hoc approach, especially when the Press Information Office in its February 22 press release called the venue Sardar Patel Motera stadium while announcing that it was going to be inaugurated by the President of India. There can’t be the same ad hoc approach when it comes to ensuring that the player’s biosecurity bubble isn’t shattered by a silly invasion of the field during play.

The referees (all Indians due to the pandemic) are to be congratulated for disinfecting the ball after England all-rounder Ben Stokes inadvertently applied saliva to it. Likewise, the match organizers and the Ahmedabad police must be arrested for not being professional enough to anticipate the invasion of the pitch and the rupture of the biosecurity bubble, which did not happen during the pandemic in course in no other test match. in any other part of the world.

The Times Of India noted that “the spotlight scared a little for a few seconds, going out for a bit before coming back. The technical glitch, however, did not distract the players. What certainly distracted the players, especially Virat Kohli, was a striker heading straight for the pitch before sprinting to the limit. where he was duly caught and taken away. As the country’s interior minister watched the game, the incident became a matter of grave concern to security officials present.

In this case, however, the real threat stemming from the silly invasion of the field and the bursting of the biosecurity bubble was on the players. The VVIPs, like the Minister of the Interior, would have benefited from more than adequate protection wherever they were seated. The invasion of the field and the rupture of the biosecurity bubble made it clear that there was no adequate protection for the players playing in the middle of the field. This is something that did not happen during the ongoing pandemic in another test match in no other part of the world.

Besides, the use of the expression streaker to describe the person who invaded the field was probably unintentional. According to the dictionary, a streaker “is a person who runs naked in a public place, in particular with the aim of shocking or amusing others”. Reports say the Ahmedabad field intruder was dressed but left his brain behind.

If the Ahmedabad police do not inflict exemplary punishment on the intruder (citing a violation of not only ground rules for spectators, but also stricter Covid-19 standards) and publicize the sanction, they do not will only encourage other viewers to do the same. If the tour is canceled for repeated violations of the biosecurity bubble due to pitch invasions, it will tarnish the image of the world’s largest cricket stadium. The third and fourth tests and the next five T20 matches between the two teams will all take place at the Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium in Ahmedabad.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


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Biden administration extends hiatus on student loan payments by eight months Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:41 +0000

IBL News | new York

In one of his first actions as president, Joe Biden yesterday asked the Education Department to extend a hiatus on federal student loan payments until at least September 30.

In this way, Biden is pursuing a moratorium that began last March as part of a virus relief program. Borrowers owe a collective $ 1.5 trillion. On average, students owe between $ 200 and $ 299 per month, an amount that for many is simply untenable; about one in five borrowers are in default, according to the US Department of Education.

This extension of federal student loans was among the 17 actions President Biden signed on the first day of his term.

Biden’s order did not include the massive debt cancellation that some Democrats have asked him to orchestrate through executive action. He said the action should come from Congress.

The order excludes more than 7 million borrowers whose federal loans are held by private companies or universities.

During his inaugural speech, Biden stressed the need to get children back to school during the pandemic. “We can teach our children in safe schools” he said.

On the other hand, Dr Miguel Cardona, principal of Connecticut public schools, has been confirmed for the post of secretary of education.

Dr Cardona, who has spent two decades of his education career as a teacher in a public school, offers a direct juxtaposition to former Trump administration education secretary Betsy DeVos.

Cardona’s parents are from Porto Rico and were living in public housing when they moved to Connecticut.

Cindy Martre, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, was chosen to serve as Assistant Secretary of Education. She has served as Superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District since 2013. Marten was a teacher for 17 years before being appointed Superintendent.

At these appointments, analysts highlighted the fact that the new First Lady, Dr Jill Biden, is an educator at heart. She is a community college teacher and bestselling author.

His profile on The White House website, posted yesterday, said: “As First Lady, Dr. Biden continues her work for education, military families and the fight against cancer. She is a professor of writing at Northern Virginia Community College.

“Teaching is not just what I do, it’s who I am” she declared.

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LV = makes changes to flexible repayment terms for lifetime mortgages Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:41 +0000

LV = is making changes to the flexible repayment option available for its Drawdown + and Package + lifetime mortgages.

This sees LV = reducing the minimum refund amount to £ 50 and removing the 12 month waiting period, allowing refunds from the first day of the policy.

New Forfait + customers can choose to make an unlimited number of free repayments worth up to 10% of the initial loan advance during each policy year.

New Drawdown + customers also have the option of an unlimited number of repayments representing up to 10% of total loan advances each insurance year without incurring ERC (Early Repayment Charges). This was previously limited to six payments per year with minimum payments of £ 250.

For Lifetime Mortgage Drawdown + policies, the ERC billing period is based on the date of the original loan completion, rather than the date of any other withdrawals made.
The maximum loan available to Drawdown + customers has increased from £ 500,000 to £ 1.5m.

David Stevens, Director of Retirement at LV =, said: “Attitudes towards freeing up equity are changing as more people recognize it as a way to fund retirement and after listening advisers, we have improved our prepayment options to be more competitive and flexible. to the requirements of their customers.

“By introducing these enhancements into our lifetime mortgage products, we will be more responsive to changing customer circumstances, giving them more freedom and choice to control the accumulation of interest on their policies. “

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Indian Connect from Sumatra Tue, 09 Mar 2021 10:57:40 +0000

India’s relationship with Indonesia dates back over three millennia, leading to an enduring cultural bond between the two giants. Whether in political philosophy, culture, cuisine, art forms or language, the ties between the two countries are manifested today in the bewildering diversity of India and Indonesia, offering comfort and familiarity to each other.

Sumatra was the first to welcome Indians several centuries ago. It absorbed the three main religions of India: Hinduism from ancient times, Buddhism in medieval times, and Islam from the 12th century. What is remarkable is that the several waves of Indian influxes to Sumatra at different times in history brought different aspects of Indian culture and civilization from those times.

These influences have left an indelible mark on Sumatran life to this day. Several events, landmarks, milestones, rituals and social mores of Sumatra are a constant reminder of India’s cultural ties and influence in this part of the world.

The three-part series on “Sumatra’s Connect to India” is an attempt to trace the origins of Indian influence from AD 400 to Sumatra and its impact on society. The discussion centers on the manifestation of Indian influence in current life in Sumatra and looks to the future as to how this could be harnessed to forge a lasting economic partnership suited to the geopolitical and economic realities of the 21st century.

For centuries, the island of Sumatra has been continuously affected by outside influences, especially Indian ones. The romanticism and mystique of Sumatra constantly attracted the Indian kingdoms and later immigrants. One cannot help but reflect on the fact that Sumatra was known in ancient times by the Sanskrit names of Suwarnadwīpa (Golden Island) and Suwarnabhūmi (Golden Land) serving as proof of some kind of Indian influence.

The first Indians
The first Indians arrived in east and west Sumatra long before the Christian era in search of trade and wealth. With them, they brought Hinduism.

Later Indian influence in Sumatra and other parts of Southeast Asia coincided with the rise of powerful maritime kingdoms in India such as the Pandyas, Pallavas and Chola dynasties, whose traders visited Sumatra between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD. As their commercial influence spread over Sumatra and other parts of the region, Saivism and other variations of Hinduism and Buddhism also spread.

By this time, the use of Sanskrit and Pali and the influence of Hindu traditions and customs had taken hold in Sumatra. Historical records indicate that in the year 717 AD, a Tamil priest named Wajabodhi introduced the sect of Mahayana Tantric Buddhism to the Malay Kingdom, as evidenced by the temples in the present-day region of Padang and the statue of Adityawarman in Pagarruyung.

During this period, Indian cultural influences became more visible, such as the use of Tamil and Sanskrit on the inscriptions. However, from the 7th century onwards Indian scripts were used more often to write indigenous languages ​​which already contained many words borrowed from Sanskrit and Tamil.

It was around this time that one could sense that the native Indonesians had somehow started to embrace Hinduism and Buddhism.

Influence of Indian kingdoms on Sumatra
Somewhere around this time (6th century) Kalingga became one of the first Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms in Central Java. The might of the Sriwijaya Empire in South Sumatra, a major maritime and commercial kingdom between the 7th and 13th centuries, rested on its strong trade relations with equally powerful maritime kingdoms of India such as the Pallavas, Pandyas and the Cholas.

The word “Sriwijaya” is derived from Sanskrit, which suggests a strong Indian connection.

Several inscriptions in Sumatra, especially those of LobuTua, demonstrate the close trade relationship between the Indian kingdoms and the Sriwajaya Empire in Sumatra.

The inscriptions also describe that the traders Pallava and Cholan kept their booty and trade cargoes obtained from Sumatra in their fortified strongholds guarded by their soldiers and returned them to India.

The Kutai inscriptions on seven stone pillars found in eastern Borneo in 5CE were written in Sanskrit. Copper inscriptions from 860 CE found at Nalanda record the donation of five villages by Palaking to Rajgir and Gaya for the Nalanda Monastery which was built by Sri Balaputradeva of the Shailendra dynasty.

Sriwijaya Empire and Nalanda had close architectural similarities. The moonstone and cement of the damaged walls of Nalanda resembled those found in the Sari and Kalasan temples in Java and Candi Muaro, Jambi in South Sumatra. A visit to the Candi Muaro temple complex will reinforce this sense of this historical cultural bond.

The Sriwijaya Empire had also become a religious and academic center in the region. He adhered to Mahayana Buddhism.

By then, Nalanda had captured the imaginations of Buddhist students in China, Burma, Cambodia and other places. These academics flocked to Nalanda to study theology, arts, humanities, sciences, etc. Buddhist students from China learned Sanskrit and the cultural history of Nalanda at Sriwijaya University in South Sumatra before leaving for Nalanda.

Such academic migrations between Sriwijaya and Nalanda became famous as the Knowledge Route between the two empires and made the University of Sriwajaya famous as a stopping point for Chinese Buddhist pilgrims en route to India, in especially towards Nalanda.


The kings of Sriwijaya even founded monasteries at Negapattam (now Nagappattinam) in south-eastern India. The Chudmani Vihara at Nagapattinam built in 1006 CE by King Sriwijaya Vijaya Mara Vijayatunnga Varman, is possibly the last Buddhist citadel in South India today. Built under the patronage of Rajaraja Chola, around 350 Buddha bronzes have been found dating from the 11th to the 16th century.

Bronze inscriptions in Nalanda, Bihar, reveal that King Balaputradewa of the Sriwijaya Empire, south Sumatra, built the monastery for Sriwijaya students who studied in Nalanda. Indonesian historian Aris Munandar mentions that the monastery had rooms built for Sriwijaya monks.

The Sriwijaya Empire continued to prosper until it was invaded by the Cholas from southern India, around 1025, when the town of Palembang in present-day South Sumatra was seized by the Chola kings.

Indian traders bring Islam to Sumatra
Coinciding with the decline of the Sriwijaya Empire in the 11th century, Islam came to Sumatra through Indian traders from Gujarat, particularly in Aceh and north Sumatra.

The variant of Islam that came to Indonesia from India has been said to be the heterodox mystical sects of Sufism, something which was not entirely foreign to the Javanese ascetics. A parallel could be seen between the Javanese traditions of teacher initiation of discipleship and the Indian Sufi teaching methods.

By the end of the 13th century, the monarch of the kingdom of Samudra in Sumatra had converted to Islam. This fact was recorded by Marco Polo who visited the island in 1292 and the Italian Odoric de Pordenone in 1321.

Indian workers in the plantations of Sumatra
By 1863, Dutch tobacco merchants had succeeded in securing land concessions in North Sumatra to plant high-quality tobacco that was suitable for use as cheroot packaging for European consumers.

They first employed Chinese workers or coolies and built a successful business. Interestingly, the Chinese coolies refused to extend their contracts with Dutch businessmen and instead chose to procure plots of land in Dutch concessions to grow vegetables and raise pigs.

Dutch traders turned to India to bring Indian coolies from Tamilnadu, Kerala and parts of northern India to Sumatra. Although the British imposed strict emigration rules, the Dutch managed to find ways to bring in large numbers of Indian workers from places like Tanjore, Madurai, Salem and Nagapatinamby.

As the Dutch expanded their plantation operations and ventured into palm oil, coconut cultivation, coffee cultivation and areca nut, many Tamil laborers found themselves working in different parts of Sumatra.

They were employed not only for planting work, but also for various auxiliary purposes, such as driving carts and cattle, building roads and ditches, working coffee and other test crops. Their monthly salaries were generally six to seven dollars.

They were often referred to as Klings, a derogatory term for people with black skin, but were highly regarded in Sumatra for their hard work, good work ethic, and honesty. It is estimated that 28,000 Indian workers were employed in all parts of Sumatra in various low-level capacities.

In the early 1900s, several Indians came to East Sumatra, mainly traders and moneylenders (southern Chettiar community), Sikhs from the Punjabi, and Indian Muslims from northern and western India. .

By the 1930s, there were around 5,000 Sikhs from the Punjab in Sumatra, engaged in dairy farming and the sporting goods trade. There were also small Indian merchants called “Bombay” from the central regions of India, who set up shops and outlets for textiles in Sumatra.

Around the same time, the Chinese community succeeded in securing plots of land for agriculture and received credit through their “Kongsi” clan associations in Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere, which gave them a made it possible to set up small businesses on the plantations.
However, Indians could not find such institutional support from Indian diaspora associations in Singapore and Malaysia and therefore became less adventurous, preferring to stick to their traditional vocations and services in Sumatra.

Japanese occupation of Sumatra
When World War I broke out, Indian Sumatrans found themselves divided on both sides of the war. On the one hand, several members of the Indian National Army came from Burma to side with the Japanese. Indian Tamils ​​living in Sumatra have joined forces with INA.

However, in the midst of Indonesia’s freedom struggle, some units of British Indian battalions arrived at Belawan Port in Medan to join forces with the Indonesian militias and youth who were fighting for the country’s freedom.

Most of the Sumatran Indians were eventually conquered by the Indonesian militias, who reminded Indians of their close affinity with the Indonesian people, their cultural ties to Sumatra, and the lure of land ownership to desert the Indonesian side with their weapons.

While Chinese ex-coolies have been able to transform into successful businessmen with the support of diaspora associations in the region, Indian migrants have lived a predictable static life. However, with the opening of the ferry service from Sumatra to Penang in 1976,
Sumatran Indian Tamils ​​were able to forge much closer and stronger ties with the Indian Diaspora in Malaysia and began to set up their own businesses and deepen the cultural bond with Sumatra.

Raghu Gururaj is the Consul General of India in Sumatra who lives in Medan.
The opinions expressed in this article are the property of the author.

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