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Daily Digest Of Tech Policy News And Updates (April 20, 2021)

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Bringing you quick updates on the tech space, policy making and digital rights from India and across the globe.

HDFC Bank CEO Sashidhar Jagdishan writes to staff on tech issues

In a letter to bank employees, HDFC Bank’s CEO Sashidhar Jagdishan said that the bank is working with the regulator to overcome some of technical issues it has been facing over the last few months. The bank has seen a total of 5 technical outages in the last 28 months.

Jagdishan, who took over from Aditya Puri last October, listed the reasons for each of the technical outages.

  • New Mobile Banking app crash in November 2018: there was unprecedented demand to download its new mobile banking app, which caused a crash. Since then the bank has upgraded the mobile app seven times, which has been smooth without any downtime.
  • Mobile Banking app outage in December 2019: A system upgrade patch, or software upgrade, provided by one of the banks’ vendors was faulty, leading to an outage.
  • Outage at Data Centre in November 2020: This was due to third-party human error. The bank has taken several steps to ensure such issues in the future do not occur.
  • Net Banking/Mobile Banking downtime on March 1, 2021: Due to a faulty signature on the HIPS (Host Intrusion prevention software), which led to a slow down on the net-banking and mobile-banking platforms. The issue impacted several global clients of the manufacturer as well.
  • Net Banking/Mobile Banking downtime on March 31, 2020: A hardware component failure in one of the banks’ database servers led to a slow response on the net-banking and mobile-banking platforms for some customers. There was only a small dip in transactions as other customers continued to access digital banking services.

Jagdishan said that the bank has invested heavily in scaling its infrastructure to ensure that any load issues over the next 3 to 5 years is taken care of. “We are also in the process of accelerating our cloud strategy to be on the cutting edge leveraging best in class cloud service providers,” he said. Jagdishan added that the bank has strengthened its data centre monitoring processes and will work on improving the banks’ security protocols.

“While we execute this Technology Transformation agenda, there will sometimes be pain and outages beyond our control. We must doubly resolve to reach out proactively to our customers / stakeholders and explain the path that we are traversing to make their experience with us smoother, faster and better,” Jagdishan said.

Read: HDFC Bank CEO Sashidhar Jagdishan writes to staff on tech issues, says working with regulator to overcome “the current situation” [Money Control]

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Life Insurance Corporation appoints Paytm as gateway provider

The Life Insurance Corporation of India has appointed Paytm to be its new gateway providers, after a bidding content that saw 17 participants. With a new payment gateway, LIC customers will have a variety of payment options to make their premium payments. The insurance giant had sought an end-to-end solution that would take care of premium payments and remittance of collections by its agents.

LIC had sought an end-to-end solution not just for premium payments but for all type of collections including remittance of collections by insurance agents. The mandate also involves automation of some processes.

LIC processes around 8 crore digital transaction and collects around Rs 60,000 crore in premiums through digital payments channels, every year. This portends well for Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s Paytm Payment Gateway business, which will earn a fee for each transaction.

Read: LIC appoints Paytm to handle its e-payments [Times of India]

Bank of England forms joint taskforce on digital currency

The Bank of England has formed a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Taskforce, along with the UK government’s Treasury. The CBDC would be issued by the central bank for use by households and businesses. The Taskforce will coordinate policies among government authorities and will create a strategic plan for the CBDC’s adoption. The BoE will also establish an internal CBDC Unit, which will also engage with central banks around the world on digital currencies, headed by Jon Cunliffe, the BoE Deputy Governor for Financial Stability.

The BoE has created a CBDC Engagement Forum, which will engage senior stakeholders on non-technology aspects, and CBDC Technology Forum, which will work on gathering inputs on the technology aspects of the digital currency. The Taskforce will explore the potential use-cases of a CBDC, its design features and monitor international developments.

“The Government and the Bank of England have not yet made a decision on whether to introduce a CBDC in the UK, and will engage widely with stakeholders on the benefits, risks and practicalities of doing so,” the statement said.

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Read: Bank of England statement on Central Bank Digital Currency [Press Release]

Facebook needs to balance encryption services, says UK Home Secretary

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary of United Kingdom, said that Facebook Inc.’s plan to roll out encryption across all its messaging could jeopardise ongoing work to combat child abuse.

“Offending is continuing, and will continue – these images of children being abused just continue to proliferate, even right now while we are speaking. But the company intends to blind itself to this problem through end-to-end encryption which prevents all access to messaging content,” she said in a speech, during an event organised by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The NSPCC has termed private messaging as “the frontline of child sexual abuse”. It believes that end-to-end encryption would render various scanning tools used by authorities to investigate child abuse crimes. Patel said that while the government supports encryption services, it should be possible in a way to implement end-to-end encryption, “in a way in which is also consistent with public protection and child safety.”

Read: Priti Patel: Facebook encryption plan ‘must not hamper child protection’ [BBC]

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