Author: Taposh Ghosh

Richard H. Thaler, one of the founding fathers of “nudge” theory, which has helped boost British tax receipts and encouraged smokers to become vapers, has been awarded the 2017 Nobel prize for economics, for his contributions to behavioral economics.

Richard H. Thaler co-wrote a bestselling book on the nudge concept, read by politicians around the world and soon had them embracing the notion that people can be influenced by prompts – such as changing the wording of tax demands – to alter their behavior.

The Nobel committee said the 72-year-old, has provided a “more realistic analysis of how people think and behave when making economic decisions.” When asked what he planned to do with his 9-million Krona (£840,000) prize money, Thaler joked that he intended to spend it “as irrationally as possible”, in a nod to his work showing how people’s choices on economic matters are not always rational.

The US academic, who is a professor at the University of Chicago, has previously suggested that Brexit could be an example of behavioral economics in action. He argued British voters chose an economically irrational route when considering the options put in front of them by social elites and the mainstream media.

In 2008, Thaler co-wrote the global bestselling book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness’ with the US professor Cass Sunstein, which brought the theory to wider attention. He was an adviser on the creation of the “nudge unit” at the heart of Whitehall, initiated as a pet project by David Cameron in the earliest days of his premiership from 2010 in the coalition government.

The Nobel committee credited Thaler for developing the theory of mental accounting, explaining how people simplify financial decision-making by creating separate accounts in their minds, focusing on the narrow impact of each individual decision rather than its overall effect. He also showed how aversion to losses can explain why people value the same item more highly when they own it than when they don’t, a phenomenon called the endowment effect.

Thaler’s theoretical and experimental research on fairness has also been influential. He showed how consumers’ fairness concerns may stop firms from raising prices in periods of high demand, but not in times of rising costs. Thaler and his colleagues devised the dictator game, an experimental tool that has been used in numerous studies to measure attitudes to fairness in different groups of people around the world.

Thaler had also shed new light on the old observation that New Year’s resolutions can be hard to keep. He showed how to analyze self-control problems using a planner-doer model, which is similar to the frameworks psychologists and neuroscientists now use to describe the internal tension between long-term planning and short-term doing. Succumbing to short-term temptation is an important reason why our plans to save for old age, or make healthier lifestyle choices, often fail.

In total, Richard Thaler’s contributions have built a bridge between the economic and psychological analyses of individual decision-making. His empirical findings and theoretical insights have been instrumental in creating the new and rapidly expanding field of behavioral economics, which has had a profound impact on many areas of economic research and policy.

The Steve Jobs Theater at Apple’s new headquarter in Cupertino saw the unveiling of the latest batch of iPhones on Tuesday at the Apple Keynote event. Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced three new iPhones and made it clear that its premiere product is still very much evolving. The star of the show, the iPhone X (pronounced iPhone 10), was claimed by Tim Cook as “the future of smartphones”, being a platform for augmented reality, a tool for powerful computing, and a screen for everything. The event also brought with it the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, a brand new Apple Watch, upgrades to Apple TV, and a host of other features coming to the Apple ecosystem this fall.

iPhone X

The iPhone X, as expected by the leaks, comes with an all-screen, edge-to-edge Super Retina display. It has lost the iconic Home Button to make room for the OLED display that fills out the phone. This is also Apple’s most durable phone yet, made from surgical-grade stainless steel. The X uses a new 3D scanning system, called Face ID, that unlocks your phone display using facial recognition. There is also a new A11 Bionic processor that is more powerful than the previous generation chip, support for wireless charging, and a new animated emoji feature for messaging. The cameras are also upgraded, with dual 12-megapixel rear cameras with dual optical image stabilization, and an improved front camera that supports portrait mode. On the battery front, Apple says that the iPhone X will last up to two hours longer than the iPhone 7. The iPhone X starts pre-orders on October 27, for $999 and up.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Along with the iPhone X, Apple also announced the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Those phones are a more pedestrian upgrade to the iPhone 7, adding a new glass back (for wireless charging), a more powerful A11 Bionic processor, improved cameras, and a True Tone display, among other smaller improvements. It is a nice upgrade to the iPhone 7, but it kind of feels more like a 7S than a true successor like the iPhone X does. The iPhone 8 starts at $699 for a 64GB model, while the iPhone 8 Plus will start at $799 (also for 64GB), although both phones will also have a 256GB model for $849 and $949, respectively. Preorders begin on September 15, with the new devices set to ship September 22.

Apple Watch Series 3

The Apple Watch Series 3 is the latest version of Apple’s wearable, and it comes with a huge addition: LTE connectivity, which means it will now work independently of your phone. Apple says it will work with the same phone number that your iPhone has, and calls, iMessages, and music streaming will just integrate seamlessly. There has been no major upgrade from the design end, with a new red dot on the digital crown visually changing things up, while the device itself is slightly thicker than the Series 2 model. The Series 3 is also faster than before, with a new W2 chip that also improves battery life. Apple says the device will last up to 18 hours and will be out on September 22, starting at $329 for the non-cellular version, and $399 for the cellular-equipped model.

Apple TV 4K

As the name may suggest, the Apple TV 4K is an Apple TV that adds support for 4K video. Along with the boosted resolution, the Apple TV 4K supports HDR video, too. The Apple TV 4K is compatible with both the HDR10 and Dolby Vision specifications, and will be able to play back 4K HDR content. To go with the new Apple TV 4K, the iTunes Store will also be selling movies and TV shows in 4K and HDR for the same price as HD content, with no charge to upgrade titles that you already own. The Apple TV 4K will cost $179 when it ships on September 22.

Uber, the troubled ride-hailing company’s attempt to replace deposed CEO, Travis Kalanick has not gone according to how they would have expected. The company is trying to regain its lost reputation following a reign defined by highflying growth and a toxic brand of corporate machismo.

To restore credibility to customers and – perhaps more importantly – with potential employees in a tight marketplace for talent, Uber started its search for a female CEO, but in the wake of Kalanick’s departure, some A-list female executives have made it clear they are not interested in the role.

Indeed, after a comprehensive nationwide search that involved profusely scouring through binders full of women across corporate America, the company has come up short. There are no women left on its current shortlist, which is down to three CEO candidates, according to people familiar with the head-hunt, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter freely.

Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, was a top pick for the role, but she is not interested in the job. Neither is Susan Wojcicki, Chief of Google-owned YouTube. General Motors’ Chief Executive, Mary Barra and EasyJet’s CEO, Carolyn McCall, were also reportedly approached, but nothing panned out. Last week, HP Chief Executive, Meg Whitman also conspicuously took herself out of the running with a post on Twitter.

While it is still unclear who will become Uber’s next boss, the board expects to decide by August. The position is now likely to be filled by a white man, possibly one that hails from one of the most old school of American industries. Outgoing GE Chairman Jeffrey R. Immelt is likely among the top candidates. The names of the other two are still unknown.


Tech giant Google has repeatedly failed to make its mark in the social media scene with its Google+, Buzz and Wave flops, so it considered buying the teen sensation app, Snapchat. The search giant reportedly held informal talks with Snapchat and floated an offer of $30 billion in 2016 before Snapchat went public last year, according to Business Insider’s Alex Heath. The offer was apparently an open secret inside Snap, and was on the table after the IPO, too.

But Snapchat’s adamantly independent CEO Evan Spiegel has shown no interest in selling his multi-billion-dollar company to Google or anyone else. The decision comes despite the startup’s market cap slipping to around $15 billion after soaring as high as $30 billion when its IPO launched in March.

It is unclear how formal the discussions were, but Snapchat and Google have long been close. Informal discussions between companies are frequent in the tech world, especially surrounding major events, like an initial public offering or a large round of fundraising.

Moreover, Google’s growth-stage investment fund CapitalG ended up investing in Snap after the 2016 talks went nowhere. The organizations have long been in each other’s good books. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was an adviser to Spiegel, Snapchat runs Google’s office software suite and has also committed to spending $2 billion on Google Cloud hosting over the next five years.

Also, joining forces could be beneficial to both companies. The acquisition would help Google get a top social property to make up for its flops. It could also obtain data about people’s social graphs, where they spend time and what topics they care about, allowing Google to improve its ad targeting and measurement.

Snapchat would gain a deep-pocketed parent that could provide the additional capital needed to make necessary acquisitions and build out its R&D-heavy augmented reality technology. Machine vision and image recognition algorithms from Google Search could unlock information about what is in everyone’s Snaps. Google’s advertising expertise and connections could also boost Snap’s ad revenue. Together, they could also align their Google Glass and Snapchat Spectacles hardware efforts to build a powerful but appealing AR device.

However, Google’s open, engineering-driven culture could clash head-on with Snap’s secretive, design-driven culture. The 27-year-old Spiegel would ultimately decide whether to sell Snapchat or not, and people close to the company say he is fiercely independent and has shown no serious interest in selling the company. Furthermore, he is widely considered to be a visionary, contrarian CEO who values running his company in Southern California, outside of the Silicon Valley bubble where Google’s parent Alphabet is headquartered.

Bangladesh’s Mobile Financial Services (MFS) have seen significant fluctuations in its number of users over the last three months. In April of this year, the number of active MFS accounts was 2.55 crore, which dropped to 2.14 crore in May. However, it later increased to 2.74 crore in June. That means, despite the 41 lac dip in the number of active accounts in May, it rose by 60 lac in June. This information was found in the latest statistics published by Bangladesh Bank about MFS.

Industry specialists say that the Bangladesh Bank has recently taken some regulatory steps to stop illegal transfer of remittances and prevent fraudulent activities in the country through the use of MFS. Due to this reason, the active number of accounts hit a 27% drop in May. But during June, which also coincided with the month of Ramadan, 11 lac new accounts were opened to facilitate the seasonal increase in financial transactions. Discounts of up to 20% on purchases offered by various MFS providers encouraged many users to open new accounts.

BKash Head of Corporate Affairs, Shamsuddin Haider mentioned in an interview that the number of active MFS accounts experience a surge every year; this year was no exception. Earlier, several active accounts had been closed in connection with remittance or fraud, the effects of which can be seen in the May statistics.

To prevent illegal withdrawals through MFS, Bangladesh Bank reduced the transaction limit of MFS in January last year to avert remittances coming in illegally. According to the new rules, an MFS account can now be used to withdraw amounts up to a maximum of Tk 10,000 in a day, which was Tk 25,000 previously. Experts believe that this reduction in withdrawal limit might be contributing to the increase in the number of active accounts.

According to Bangladesh Bank statistics, MFS, daily transactions in June exceeded Tk 1,000 crore on average. The average daily transaction in May and April were Tk 844 crore and BDT 834 crore respectively. In June, the total financial transaction through MFS was Tk 30,000 crore, which was Tk 26,000 crore in May.

In addition to the active accounts, the number of MFS accounts registered in June increased by 11 lac to 5 crore 37 lac in total. At the same time, the increase in the payment of salaries of workers through mobile phones rose 59%. In June, Tk 666 crore worth of wages were paid using MFS, which was Tk 419 crore in the previous month.

If you were asked to leave your house today without your wallet and rely solely on your mobile phone and credit cards to carry out all your day-long transactions, you would probably deem the task as impossible, that is, if you are staying in Bangladesh. Given our heavy reliance on cash-based transactions, a day without the use of paper money might seem unimaginable at this point, but elsewhere around the world, a cashless revolution is already underway.
Recent statistics predict that there will be more than 4.8 billion individuals using a mobile phone by the end of 2016. Another report noted that 39% of all mobile users in the U.S. had made a mobile payment in 2015. This is up from 14% in 2014 and by estimations will be in the 70% range by 2017 according to the US Federal Reserve report on Mobile Financial Services. Globally, mobile payment transaction volumes grew by 42% to reach 26.9 million in 2016, up from 18.9 million in 2015, Future Market Insights (FMI) revealed. This volume represents nearly $768 billion worth of transactions, up from $549 billion last year.


While the world is still debating the replacement of cash, there is already an audacious economic phenomenon happening in China. Almost everyone in major Chinese cities is using a smartphone to pay for just about everything. At restaurants, patrons can either use WeChat or Alipay — the two smartphone payment options — before bringing up cash as a third, remote possibility. Equally startling is just how quickly the transition took place. Only three years ago this would be unimaginable, because everyone was still using cash.
Today, it is impossible to maneuver in Chinese cities without a mobile wallet. High end brands to local street vendors, all have QR-codes placed on their counters, which upon being scanned using your cell phone conveniently allows you to flawlessly make your transaction. Such services are rendering traditional bank properties such as ATMs useless.
The secret to such an exponential outburst in the use of mobile payments is two-fold. The mobile payment companies are able to provide their services frugally, partly by allowing smaller vendors to make use of a simple printout of a QR code or their phone, instead of an expensive card reader. Secondly, a back-end system that stores a record of user accounts, removes the need to communicate with the banks which further drives down costs. But not all is merry, as such inbound systems can make life difficult for tourists and business travelers, who might be unwilling to open a separate e-wallet just for transactions in China.

Despite introduction of newer mediums, we still rely entirely on large intermediaries, such as banks, to facilitate most of our transactions. Overall, they have done a good job fulfilling their function. However, there are problems that stem from old business models clashing with new technology. Inherent to the old model is centralization, which is buckling under its own weight.
In 2009, Bitcoin was anonymously released in the wake of one of the largest financial shocks in history. It is a digital cryptocurrency that is not regulated or issued by any government or private entity. Although it has very little intrinsic value and was originally worth pennies on the dollar, there is major interest in its underlying blockchain technology due to its decentralized and pseudonymous nature.
Bitcoin can be purchased through an online exchange using traditional currency, either whole or in fractions. A digital wallet is needed in order to safely store the Bitcoin due to the possibility of online exchanges being hacked. Private wallets allow users to store Bitcoin and safely create backups on a smartphone or offline.
Bitcoin was the world’s strongest currency in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, outperforming even gold. The upward trend continued in 2015 and 2016. It is currently priced around $250 per Bitcoin, according to Bitcoin’s purpose is to establish trust and allow transactions across a global ledger, specifically with no need for a third party. Trust is established through peer-to-peer collaboration and cryptography rather than a singular authority figure. While Bitcoin’s true potential is yet to be identified on a massive scale, the cryptocurrency just might be the perfect payment medium for borderless digital natives.

The business model for traditional financial institutions, such as banks have experienced very insignificant changes entering the 21st century, with the adoption of 24/7 online banking being one of the more crucial ones. But in this era, if the banks do not take the initiative of disrupting themselves, someone else is going to enter the space and do this job for them. The insurgence of tech giants such as Google, Apple, PayPal, and so on, into the payment arena is a warning for traditional financial institutions to rethink their slow-paced business models, if they wish to survive through the upcoming decades.
To take complete advantage of the digital revolution, the banks must provide a comprehensive digital platform for all possible financial services. This has to reflect throughout the entire organization, from front-end commercial activities to back-end technology and operations. If banks fail to provide their account holders with a mobile payment gateway, linked back to their accounts, they will slowly start losing customers to new entrants such as Android Pay or Apple Pay. Peer-to-peer lending and Insuretchs have already started gaining popularity in the West and in China, which will further reduce the functionality of traditional financial institutions.


Many might argue that claims for a cashless future are fitting for developed nations, but preposterous and unimaginable for countries such as ours. But India’s recent demonetization juggernaut just might have pushed started its own cashless revolution.
India’s demonetization initiative included removing 86% of its currency from circulation without having an adequate supply of new notes ready to take their place. This proves that India is more reliant on cash than almost any other country on earth. Suddenly, hundreds of millions of people were left without the means to engage economically, to buy the things they wanted and needed. A myriad of businesses were left without a readily available mechanism to receive payment for their goods, to buy supplies, or pay their staff.
But this surprise demonetization also did something else: it pushed millions of new users onto the country’s digital economic grid by virtual fiat. Prime Minister Modi’s demonetization initiative has been a boon for India’s e-payment providers. Paytm reported a three-time surge in new users – tacking on over 14 million new accounts in November 2016 alone. While Oxigen Wallet’s daily average users increased by 167% since demonetization began.
However, experts suggest that the sudden invalidation of some denominations of the rupee almost overnight, is responsible for such a sharp boost to digital payments, with the population having no other alternative. But not everyone country make the leap as such structural changes are heavily reliant upon infrastructural developments. Countries such as Bangladesh and India still have poor internet connectivity and not everyone uses a smartphone. Even in Bangladesh, mobile financial services such as bKash and Rocket have failed to popularize its platforms as payment mediums for day-to-day transactions. Thus it can be said that cash is not going obsolete anytime soon in the developing nations of the world.

The consequences of ownership of big football clubs have been changing the sport’s landscape for a number of years now. The money that comes in with names such as Sheikh Mansour and Nasser Al-Khelaifi have redefined how mediocre clubs can be transformed into super clubs in a mere number of years, taking the elites of the game by the horns.

Back in 2014, both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) were heavily punished by UEFA under Financial Fair Play (FFP) guidelines. The FFP laws were introduced 7 years back to prevent clubs from spending more than they actually earned. But in 2015, the rules were revised, to take into consideration concerns that the system preserved the status quo, with smaller clubs unable to speculate in the hope of success.

But Neymar’s transfer saga is a whole new financial juggernaut, which has made fans and experts speculate the effectiveness of the FFP laws. On Thursday, PSG broke the world record for a player transfer, set in the previous year by Manchester United paying £89.3m for Paul Pogba, by obtaining Neymar for a ridiculous £198m. PSG was desperate enough for the Brazilian’s signature that they went on to match his release clause set by Barcelona; an amount set so high, that it is meant to act as a deterrent for potential offers. To put the absurdity of the amount into perspective – UN has member states with GDPs lesser than the amount being paid.

As of June 2017, PSG is expected to have a net valuation of $841m (£642m), according to Forbes. So, here comes the important question; how can PSG afford a transfer deal valued at one-third its entire valuation?

The secret to the trade lies in how FFP accounting allows for transfer fees to be paid over the length of the player’s contract, which gives clubs a bit of wriggle room. The revised rules also allow owners to spend an additional €30m (£26.8m) of their own money over a rolling three‑year period. PSG may opt to sell three or four players at £50m a time during the next couple of years. The Spanish press have also claimed that the deal could be carried out in a more roundabout way.

Mundo Deportivo, the Spanish sports newspaper, has reported that Neymar may have already agreed to become an ambassador for Qatar’s World Cup and that the fee for this might be around £200m. In that case Neymar could have been able to turn up at the offices of La Liga and buy out his own release clause, which might seem a bit too convenient, but in that case the club will directly not be involved.

So, what does all this mean for the sport? The entire transaction will undoubtedly accelerate the rhythm of this already inflation-stricken transfer market. At this rate, Cristiano Ronaldo’s then record fee feels like a steal by Real Madrid. The Brazilian playmaker’s presence in Spain was so crucial to the sport that even La Liga tried to intervene at the final hour and prevent the transfer as the league is expected to lose viewership over the player’s departure.

Where does Neymar and his future plans fit into this transfer saga? Till now, Neymar was deemed as the rightful heir to the Catalonian side after Messi’s eventual demise in upcoming years. He was one-third of perhaps the best attacking trio in the history of the game. He was Barcelona’s promised prince, yet all this time he was looming under Messi’s shadows. Despite being reported to earn £537,000 per week after tax at PSG, perhaps Neymar’s biggest motivation to leave Barcelona is to have a team of his own, one which will be structured to fit around the way he plays, one which will have him at the center of it all. But will he be able to deliver upon the gargantuan belief which has been placed upon his potential? Will he be able to take the very team he had decimated single-handedly last season to top of European glory? The coming years will tell.

The two-and-a-half-month shipment blockage in the port of Chittagong is causing the RMG sector to wait for prolonged periods for its raw materials to be discharged. The owners are having to pay extra charges for container and ship rent, as a result. On the other hand, exports are also not being sent in time. Ships are also being forced to leave without the containers, something, which has never happened before.

BGMEA leaders have expressed concern at the press conference organized by the Garment Manufacturers’ Association BGMEA on Monday, to discuss the complexity in shipping of imported goods and the overall situation of the garment sector. BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman read out a written statement at the press conference. The meeting was held at the BGMEA Bhaban in the city’s Karwan Bazar and was attended among others by the organization’s vice-president Faruk Hasan, Mohammad Nasheer and others.

BGMEA leaders expressed fears that if the present situation continues, the foreign buyers will be unable to buy the clothes in a timely manner. And if this is the case, buyers can shift orders to places such India, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Myanmar.

BGMEA president said that the association is trying hard to keep the garment industry alive and the Chittagong Port crisis is making things extremely difficult for the sector. He insisted that BGMEA has been making claims to bring in the equipment needed to increase the capacity of Chittagong Port since 2004 and to purchase and build adequate jetties and yards. Apart from this, the shipping minister, parliamentary committee and the chairman of the port authority have been requested to take appropriate actions at different times. But no improvement has been witnessed so far.

The need for equipment to move the containers at Chittagong port is 299, but there are only 87 active machines at the port. There is a need for 895 devices for cargo handling, but currently, there are 285. BGMEA president offered a number of proposals to keep the port operational. Among them the most significant were repair of broken gantry cranes, purchasing or hiring of additional equipment by the government to solve the crisis, completion of taxing process of FCL containers and distribution with one working day, starting the construction of Patenga terminal, giving priority to the container carriers, giving priority to the container, building new LCL shades etc.

Mobile Financial Services (MFS) such as bKash and Rocket have been empowering the general mass with mobile banking services, including fund transfers for a number of years now. Despite the huge acceptability of the services, the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) have claimed that cell phone operators have incurred losses of Tk 850 crore over the last 5 years in providing the services. The association has stated that operators are no longer willing to offer these services free of cost. For each transaction they demand charges ranging from Tk 1.5 to 2.

AMTOB has sent a letter regarding the issue to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). The letter says that the operators receive a charge only when payments are completed through the services, and not when the customer checks their balance or makes bill payments.


MFS service providers bKash and Rocket have said that such charges will increase costs for the mass and will discourage them from using the services. To resolve the issue, Bangladesh Bank held a meeting on Tuesday with the representatives from BTRC, MFS service providers, cell phone operators and other relevant agencies participating, with governor Falze Kabir leading the session, says a report published in the Daily Prothom Alo.

Currently, Tk 1.85 is charged per 100-Taka worth of transactions, of which 77% goes to the agent, 7% to operators and the remaining 16% is received by the service provider. But most agents charge the customers Tk 2 per 100 Taka.

BKash logo

AMTOB has claimed that 86% of all USSD transactions are conducted free of cost, which resulted in operators losing around BDT 847.60 crores in revenues between 2011 and 2016. This also caused BTRC to earn Tk 55 crore less from the sector.

Statistics by operators show that USSD data transfers from MFS have increased from 38 lacs to 8 crores 56 lacs within just two years. Despite the 12-time increase USSD data usage, the earning from the service has remained the same. During the same period, short messages sent using USSD has also increased from 5 lacs to 80 lacs.

Rocket Logo

Bangladesh Bank statistics show that there are over 5 crore 37 lacs MFS accounts in the country, of which 2 crores 74 lacs are actively used, which are used for transactions worth Tk 1,000 crores on average every day.

Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore organizes a Lifestyle Health Seminar on “Empowering You with a Healthy Head Start” at a local hotel in Dhaka on July 29, 2017.

Dr. Tan Chong Hiok, Senior Consultant, Cardiology & Dr. Alvin Hong, Senior Consultant, Neurosurgery from Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore were the main speaker at the event. They highlighted on Facts & Alternate Facts about Heart Diseases and Neck & Back pain consecutively.

Mr. Anthony Lim, Regional Head of Parkway Hospitals Singapore Pte Ltd & Mr. Zahid Khan, Director, Dhaka Office, Parkway Hospitals Singapore Pte Ltd was also present in the seminar. While Mr. Zahid Khan, Director of Parkway Hospitals Dhaka office conveyed vote of thanks end of the session.  The main objective of the seminar aims to update the audience with better treatment modality and aids to undergo for the appropriate medical options.

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