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Axis bank to launch chat bots for more personal banking experience

Axis Bank, India’s third largest private bank, is set to launch intelligent banking chat bots to make mobile banking services more conversational.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The bank tied up with Active Intelligence Pte or Active.ai, a Singapore-based fintech platform, to launch the bots which will enable customers to chat through its mobile banking app and messaging platforms such as Facebook messenger.

“We are enabling new digital technologies to make it easy and simpler for customers to engage with us. Users are moving to an unstructured form of engagement, we want to be where customers are. Active.ai will help us engage with our customers in a conversation — in a personal and contextual manner in the digital space,” said Rajiv Anand, executive director of Retail Banking in Axis Bank, in a press release.

“A new era of personalised banking and commerce is emerging wherein customers can converse with brands and financial institutions in a natural language and through their preferred mode of communication. In the future, customers will just walk to micro branches with voice enabled IoT (Internet of Things) devices to engage with the banks for services,” said Ravi Shankar, CEO and Co-Founder of Active.ai.

According to a Times of India report, chat bots are expected to reduce long-term costs for the bank, as artificial intelligence helps create a wider database on customer needs and on the other hand, customers will find chat bots to be a more hassle-free alternative as compared to bank visits, and phone calls.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 14:30 IST

Marine engineer Santosh Bharadwaj reaches home, thanks Centre for rescue efforts

Santosh Bhardwaj, the marine engineer who was rescued after being held in captivity in Niger delta in Nigeria for over a month, on Thursday expressed gratitude towards Union Government for its efforts to rescue him from the clutches of the pirates.Bhardwaj, who reached his residence in Varanasi on Wednesday, said the pirates took away all their money and belongings.”They took over the ship, we hid but they held the ship captain hostage. Later on the pirates took all our money, and other belongings then held us captive in their hideaway. The Indian Government contributed a lot, especially External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj. The government was in constant touch with the Embassy and our company,” Bhardwaj told ANI. “The pirates basically wanted money, they then contacted the company we worked for and asked for ransom money. We were very scared at first. We didn?t know what to expect but the pirates said they wanted money, and won’t harm us,”he added.Swaraj had yesterday informed that Bhardwaj, who was kidnapped by pirates near Nigeria on March 26, has been rescued. Swaraj took to Twitter and said, “I am extremely happy to inform that Shri Santosh Bhardwaj has been rescued from pirates in Nigeria.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bhardwaj, an engineer in Singapore-based shipping company Transocean Limited, was kidnapped along with four colleagues from different countries when their ship Sampatiki was at sea, around 30 nautical miles off Nigerian capital Lagos.

Australian says he created bitcoin, but some sceptical | Reuters

SYDNEY/LONDON Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright identified himself as the creator of controversial digital currency bitcoin on Monday but experts were divided over whether he really was the elusive person who has gone by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto until now.

Uncovering Nakamoto’s real identity would solve a riddle dating back to the publication of the open source software behind the cryptocurrency in 2008, before its launch a year later.

Bitcoin has since become the world’s most commonly used virtual currency, attracting the interest of banks, speculators, criminals and regulators.

Worth a total of $7 billion at current levels, it fell more than 3 percent on Monday — a normal intraday move for the volatile currency — after the news, to below $440 from around $455, before recovering slightly.

Some online commentators suggested bitcoin’s creator could help resolve a bitter row among the currency’s software developers that threatens its future.

But Wright made no reference to the row in a BBC interview identifying himself as Nakamoto, and as the protocol bitcoin runs on is open-source and cannot be controlled by any one person, it is unclear whether he would be able to influence the way it develops.

“I was the main part of it, other people helped me,” Wright, who is now living in London, told the BBC. “Some people will believe, Some people won’t, and to tell you the truth, I don’t really care,” he said.

Many bitcoiners said Wright had not done enough to definitively prove that he was Nakamoto, who maintained his anonymity throughout his involvement with bitcoin, which he stepped away from in 2011.

But Gavin Andresen, who Nakamoto chose to succeed him, published a blog post in which he described meeting Wright last month and said he is “convinced beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Australian is Nakamoto.

Jon Matonis, a founding director of the Bitcoin Foundation now works as a bitcoin consultant, wrote a blog post on Monday which, like Andresen’s, supported Wright’s claims.

“According to me, the proof is conclusive and I have no doubt that Craig Steven Wright is the person behind the Bitcoin technology, Nakamoto consensus, and the Satoshi Nakamoto name,” Matonis wrote. He and Andresen also confirmed they had been responsible for their respective blog posts to Reuters directly.

LEGACY

Nakamoto’s biggest likely legacy lies well beyond his control. The blockchain technology that underpins the currency could transform the way banks settle transactions, the way that property rights and other vital data are recorded, and provide a way for central banks to issue their own digital currencies.

The BBC reported on Monday that Wright gave some technical proof demonstrating that he had access to blocks of bitcoins known to have been created by bitcoin’s creator.

Researchers believe Nakamoto may be holding up to one million of the more than 15 million bitcoins currently in circulation, which would make the creator worth around $440 million.

In a blog post also dated Monday, Wright posted an example of a signature used by Nakamoto and an explanation of how bitcoin transactions are verified and thanked all those who had supported the project from its inception.

“This incredible community’s passion and intellect and perseverance have taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it,” he wrote.

However he did not state directly that he was Nakamoto. “Satoshi is dead,” he said. “But this is only the beginning.”

Bitcoin expert Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Coin Center, said a new message cryptographically signed using the private key associated with the so-called Genesis block, the first ever “mined” would have been more convincing.

The currency’s “miners” are incentivised to process transactions every 10 minutes by a possible reward of bitcoins (25 currently), which is how new bitcoins are created.

Wright also spoke with The Economist, but declined requests from the magazine to provide further proof that he was Nakamoto. His representatives told Reuters he would not be taking part in more media interviews for the time being. 

“Our conclusion is that Mr Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain,” The Economist said. “Indeed, it may never be possible to establish beyond reasonable doubt who really created bitcoin.”

Hopes that bitcoin would become broadly used helped buoy its price to more than $1,000 in December 2013, when its market capitalisation was $13 billion compared with today’s $7 billion.

Wright told The Economist he would exchange bitcoin he owns slowly to avoid pushing down its price.

HOME RAIDED

In December, police raided Wright’s Sydney home and office after Wired magazine named him as the probable creator of bitcoin and holder of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency. At the time he made no comment.

The treatment of bitcoins for tax purposes in Australia has been the subject of considerable debate. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) ruled in December 2014 that cryptocurrency should be considered an asset, rather than a currency, for capital gains tax purposes.

On Monday, the ATO said it had no comment while police were not immediately available for comment.

If Wright is Nakamoto he “is now the leader of a movement”, said Roberto Capodieci, a Singapore-based entrepreneur working on the blockchain, the technology underlying the currency.

That movement ranges from libertarian enthusiasts to central banks experimenting with digital currencies, all of which pay homage in some way to Nakamoto’s writings.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Wagstaff in Singapore, Matt Siegel in Sydney and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Nick Macfie, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Philippa Fletcher)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Australian says he created bitcoin, but some skeptical | Reuters

SYDNEY/LONDON Australian tech entrepreneur Craig Wright identified himself as the creator of controversial digital currency bitcoin on Monday but experts were divided over whether he really was the elusive person who has gone by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto until now.

Uncovering Nakamoto’s real identity would solve a riddle dating back to the publication of the open source software behind the cryptocurrency in 2008, before its launch a year later.

Bitcoin has since become the world’s most commonly used virtual currency, attracting the interest of banks, speculators, criminals and regulators.

Worth a total of $7 billion at current levels, it fell more than 3 percent on Monday — a normal intraday move for the volatile currency — after the news, to below $440 from around $455, before recovering slightly.

Some online commentators suggested bitcoin’s creator could help resolve a bitter row among the currency’s software developers that threatens its future.

But Wright made no reference to the row in a BBC interview identifying himself as Nakamoto, and as the protocol bitcoin runs on is open-source and cannot be controlled by any one person, it is unclear whether he would be able to influence the way it develops.

“I was the main part of it, other people helped me,” Wright, who is now living in London, told the BBC. “Some people will believe, Some people won’t, and to tell you the truth, I don’t really care,” he said.

Many bitcoiners said Wright had not done enough to definitively prove that he was Nakamoto, who maintained his anonymity throughout his involvement with bitcoin, which he stepped away from in 2011.

But Gavin Andresen, who Nakamoto chose to succeed him, published a blog post in which he described meeting Wright last month and said he is “convinced beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Australian is Nakamoto.

Jon Matonis, a founding director of the Bitcoin Foundation now works as a bitcoin consultant, wrote a blog post on Monday which, like Andresen’s, supported Wright’s claims.

“According to me, the proof is conclusive and I have no doubt that Craig Steven Wright is the person behind the Bitcoin technology, Nakamoto consensus, and the Satoshi Nakamoto name,” Matonis wrote. He and Andresen also confirmed they had been responsible for their respective blog posts to Reuters directly.

LEGACY

Nakamoto’s biggest likely legacy lies well beyond his control. The blockchain technology that underpins the currency could transform the way banks settle transactions, the way that property rights and other vital data are recorded, and provide a way for central banks to issue their own digital currencies.

The BBC reported on Monday that Wright gave some technical proof demonstrating that he had access to blocks of bitcoins known to have been created by bitcoin’s creator.

Researchers believe Nakamoto may be holding up to one million of the more than 15 million bitcoins currently in circulation, which would make the creator worth around $440 million.

In a blog post also dated Monday, Wright posted an example of a signature used by Nakamoto and an explanation of how bitcoin transactions are verified and thanked all those who had supported the project from its inception.

“This incredible community’s passion and intellect and perseverance have taken my small contribution and nurtured it, enhanced it, breathed life into it,” he wrote.

However he did not state directly that he was Nakamoto. “Satoshi is dead,” he said. “But this is only the beginning.”

Bitcoin expert Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Coin Center, said a new message cryptographically signed using the private key associated with the so-called Genesis block, the first ever “mined” would have been more convincing.

The currency’s “miners” are incentivized to process transactions every 10 minutes by a possible reward of bitcoins (25 currently), which is how new bitcoins are created.

Wright also spoke with The Economist, but declined requests from the magazine to provide further proof that he was Nakamoto. His representatives told Reuters he would not be taking part in more media interviews for the time being. 

“Our conclusion is that Mr Wright could well be Mr Nakamoto, but that important questions remain,” The Economist said. “Indeed, it may never be possible to establish beyond reasonable doubt who really created bitcoin.”

Hopes that bitcoin would become broadly used helped buoy its price to more than $1,000 in December 2013, when its market capitalization was $13 billion compared with today’s $7 billion.

Wright told The Economist he would exchange bitcoin he owns slowly to avoid pushing down its price.

HOME RAIDED

In December, police raided Wright’s Sydney home and office after Wired magazine named him as the probable creator of bitcoin and holder of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency. At the time he made no comment.

The treatment of bitcoins for tax purposes in Australia has been the subject of considerable debate. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) ruled in December 2014 that cryptocurrency should be considered an asset, rather than a currency, for capital gains tax purposes.

On Monday, the ATO said it had no comment while police were not immediately available for comment.

If Wright is Nakamoto he “is now the leader of a movement”, said Roberto Capodieci, a Singapore-based entrepreneur working on the blockchain, the technology underlying the currency.

That movement ranges from libertarian enthusiasts to central banks experimenting with digital currencies, all of which pay homage in some way to Nakamoto’s writings.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Wagstaff in Singapore, Matt Siegel in Sydney and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Nick Macfie, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Philippa Fletcher)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Aircel-Maxis scam: Raids by IT-ED reveal Karti Chidambaram amassed huge wealth, built massive empire overseas

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram built a massive empire for himself through investments in real estate and other financial dealings across the world, according to documents recovered in the recent joint raids carried by the Enforcement Directorate and Investigation Wing of Income Tax in relation to the Aircel-Maxis scam.According to a report in The Daily Pioneer, the documents detail his business deals in 14 countries – London, Dubai, South Africa, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, British Virgin Island, France, USA, Switzerland, Greece and Spain​. Karti ​reportedly acquired a huge amount of wealth through his dealings between 2006-2014, when his father P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister and Home Minister.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The investigation agencies are said to be probing the dealings by Karti’s company Advantage Strategic Consulting which was involved in the Aircel-Maxis deal. Most financial transactions were reportedly done by the company’s Singapore-based subsidiary Advantage Strategic Consulting Singapore Pte Ltd. These are said to have been carried out by Advantage after the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006.The investigative teams will contact the 14 other countries for more information, as per the United Nation’s Convention on prevention of money laundering, the report said. I-T and ED officials swooped down on many firms owned by Karti in December 2015, for allegedly laundering black money through his firms in the Aircel-Maxis case. Officials had raided 12 places, including Karti’s Advantage Strategic Ltd (ED) and Vasan Eye Care (I-I) in Chennai.The probe team has sent the information to the Supreme Court which is monitoring the investigation in the Aircel Maxis scam. ED and CBI had said in their chargesheets that the FIPB clearances received by Maxis for the Aircel deal by then Finanace Minister P. Chidambaram was illegal.

Rajnath Singh meets Muslim clerics on ISIS attempt to lure Indians

Amidst increasing attempts by ISIS to lure Indians into its fold, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday held a meeting with top Muslim clerics and sought their cooperation to check the growing tentacles of the dreaded group among Muslim youth.The hour-long meeting, also attended by NSA Ajit Doval and senior Home Ministry officials, apprised the Muslim clerics about activities of the Middle-East terrorist group and its efforts to attract Indian youth to its fold.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Home Minister sought the cooperation of the clerics, who offered all help to the government in this regard, official sources said. The issues that were discussed included misuse of social media, sources of impetus that attract persons, specially youth, to ISIS, the growth of ISIS influence in India’s neighbourhood and the best possible law enforcement response.Those who attended the meeting include Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind’s Maulana Arshad Madani, Maulana Abdul Wahid Hussain Chisti of Ajmer Sharif, Asghar Ali Imam Mehdi of Jamiat Ahle Hadees, Tauqeer Raza Khan, Rafiq Warshiq, Shia leader Maulana Syed Kalbe Jawad Qalbe Jawaid, Kamal Farooqi, Mushafa Faruqi besides others.The need for appropriate welfare schemes for minorities, social media strategies to be followed, especially in the area of information technology were also discussed threadbare.In his remarks, the Home Minister said India’s traditions and family values will overcome such nefarious designs of terrorist groups and that while the traction that ISIS has got in India is extremely limited, and almost insignificant in comparison to other countries, there is a need to keep up vigil on all fronts, and not let down the guard in any manner. This was for the first time that the Home Minister had a meeting with Muslim clerics on the issue of ISIS.Last fortnight, the Home Minister had a meeting with top officials of central intelligence and investigative agencies and police of 13 states and discussed steps to check the growing influence of ISIS among youngsters through social media and other sources.Singh had reviewed the situation arising out of some Indian youths getting attracted towards ISIS on several occasions in the past and how to deal with the challenge. The Home Minister had also said a large number of people and most Muslim organisations in India had come out against both ISIS and other forms of terrorism.According to Indian intelligence agencies, a total of 23 Indians have so far joined the ISIS of whom six were reportedly killed in different incidents in Iraq-Syria. Among the 23 are two absconding members of the banned Indian Mujahideen who had gone from their hideouts in Pakistan.The dead were identified as Athif Vaseem Mohammad (Adilabad, Telangana), Mohammad Umar Subhan (Bengaluru), Maulana Abdul Kadir Sultan Armar (Bhatkal, Karnataka), Saheem Farooque Tanki (Thane), Faiz Masood (Bengaluru) and Mohammad Sajid alias Bada Sajid (Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh).Around 150 Indians are under surveillance for their alleged online links with ISIS. As many as 30 other Indians, who were radicalised by ISIS elements, were prevented from travelling to the conflict zone in the Middle-East.Among those who are currently fighting for ISIS include two youths from Kalyan near Mumbai, an Australia-based Kashmiri, one youth from Telangana, one from Karnataka, one Oman-based Indian and another Singapore-based Indian.Several Indians, who were trying to recruit youths into ISIS, were deported from friendly countries, including the UAE, recently.

3 ISIS sympathisers arrested by NIA after deported from UAE

Three Indian sympathisers of ISIS, who were deported from UAE for allegedly being on a mission to carry out terror attack in India and some other countries, were arrested by NIA on Friday night. Adnan Hussain, who hails from Karnataka, Mohammad Farhan, from Maharashtra, and Sheikh Azhar Al Islam, from Jammu and Kashmir, were arrested by NIA after registering a case here, official sources said. The trio were deported from UAE and they were detained by the NIA upon their arrival in the IGI airport last night. They will be produced in a court on Saturday. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The three suspects along with other unknown associates were allegedly involved in a conspiracy to identify, motivate, radicalise, recruit and train Indian citizens located both in India and other countries for planning and executing terrorist attacks in India and in other friendly countries, sources said. The youths believed to be members of the Abu Dhabi module of the ISIS. On September 15, 2015, the UAE had deported four Indians suspected to have links with ISIS.The UAE had also sent back last year a 37-year-old woman Afsha Jabeen alias Nicky Joseph who was allegedly involving in recruiting youths for ISIS. In January 2015, Salman Mohiuddin of Hyderabad was arrested when he was preparing to board a flight to Dubai on way to Syria via Turkey. According to Indian intelligence agencies, a total of 23 Indians have so far joined the ISIS of whom six were reportedly killed in different incidents in Iraq-Syria.Among the 23 are two absconding members of the banned Indian Mujahideen who had gone from their hideouts in Pakistan. The dead were identified as Athif Vaseem Mohammad (Adilabad, Telangana), Mohammad Umar Subhan (Bengaluru), Maulana Abdul Kadir Sultan Armar (Bhatkal, Karnataka), Saheem Farooque Tanki (Thane), Faiz Masood (Bengaluru) and Mohammad Sajid alias Bada Sajid (Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh).Around 150 Indians are under surveillance for their alleged online links with ISIS.As many as 30 other Indians, who were radicalised by ISIS elements, were prevented from travelling to the conflict zone in the Middle-East. Among those who are currently fighting for ISIS include two youths from Kalyan in the outskirts of Mumbai, an Australia-based Kashmiri, one youth from Telangana, one from Karnataka, one Oman-based Indian and another Singapore-based Indian.

Security agencies capable of dealing with ISIS threat: Rajnath Singh

Amidst the growing attempts by ISIS to lure youths into its fold, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said the security agencies were capable of dealing with any threat posed by the terror group. “We have the capacity to meet any threat. We will face it,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.The Home Minister’s comments came when asked about the ISIS threat in the country. Last week, 14 youths were arrested by the NIA and other security agencies after they allegedly formed a module on the pattern of dreaded ISIS to carry out strikes at vital installations. The simultaneous raids were carried out in five states of Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh where the suspects were arrested. They were part of a group named ‘Janood-ul-Khalifa-e-Hind’ (Army of Caliph of India), a terror group which has almost similar ideologies that of ISIS.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to Indian intelligence agencies, a total of 23 Indians have so far joined the ISIS of which six were reportedly killed in different incidents in Iraq-Syria.Among the 23 are two absconding members of the banned Indian Mujahideen who had gone from their hideouts in Pakistan. The dead were identified as Athif Vaseem Mohammad (Adilabad, Telangana), Mohammad Umar Subhan (Bangalore, Karnataka), Maulana Abdul Kadir Sultan Armar (Bhatkal, Karnataka), Saheem Farooque Tanki (Thane, Maharashtra), Faiz Masood (Bangalore, Karnataka) and Mohammad Sajid alias Bada Sajid (Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh).Around 150 Indians are under surveillance for their alleged online links with ISIS. As many as 30 other Indians, who were radicalised by ISIS elements, were prevented from travelling to the conflict zone in the Middle-East.Among those who are currently fighting for ISIS include two youths from Kalyan in the outskirts of Mumbai, an Australia-based Kashmiri, one youth from Telangana, one from Karnataka, one Oman-based Indian and another Singapore-based Indian.On September 15, 2015, the UAE deported four Indians suspected to have links with ISIS. The UAE had also sent back in September last year a 37-year-old woman Afsha Jabeen alias Nicky Joseph who was allegedly involving in recruiting youths for ISIS.In January 2015, Salman Mohiuddin of Hyderabad was arrested when he was preparing to board a flight to Dubai on way to Syria via Turkey. There have been reports that some elements, who support the ISIS, have posted messages in regional languages, including Hindi and Tamil.