Bo­ral boosted by boom­ing Aus­tralian in­fra­struc­ture build­ing

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Foreign News -

NEw DELHI: Al­pha­bet Inc’s Google said it is part­ner­ing with a hand­ful of In­dian banks to bring quick loans to the masses, as it aims to woo tens of mil­lions of new in­ter­net users in the coun­try to its dig­i­tal pay­ments ser­vices.

At an an­nual Google event in New Delhi, Cae­sar Sen­gupta, the vice-pres­i­dent of Google’s Next Bil­lion Users ini­tia­tive and its Pay­ments said the move would make bank­ing ser­vices ac­ces­si­ble to tens of mil­lions of In­di­ans.

Google launched pay­ments app Tez, mean­ing fast in Hindi, in India last year in­te­grat­ing it with the state-backed uni­fied pay­ments in­ter­face (UPI) as it sought to gain a foothold in the South Asian na­tion’s dig­i­tal pay­ments space which, ac­cord­ing to Credit Suisse, will grow five-fold to US$1 tril­lion by 2023.

On Tues­day, Google re­branded the app as Google Pay and said it was part­ner­ing with four In­dian banks, Fed­eral Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Ko­tak Mahin­dra Bank – to pro­vide in­stant loans to the app’s users.

“We’re talk­ing to a lot of banks, we’re com­pletely open with who we work with in terms of bank­ing part­ners,” Sen­gupta said in an in­ter­view on the side­lines of the event.

“Banks bring their fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­i­ties, their un­der­stand­ing of the user, their cus­tomers. We bring our user ex­pe­ri­ence, our abil­ity to make com­plex pro­cesses ex­tremely sim­ple and very fast.”

Google’s am­bi­tions could po­ten­tially pose a chal­lenge for home­grown Paytm, backed by Japan’s SoftBank and China’s Alibaba and US con­glom­er­ate Berk­shire Hath­away .

Paytm’s founder Vi­jay Shekhar Sharma and its par­ent One97 Com­mu­ni­ca­tions run a pay­ments bank and the pay­ments firm also plans to ex­pand to sell­ing fi­nan­cial prod­ucts such as in­sur­ance and mu­tual funds in India – the world’s fastest grow­ing in­ter­net ser­vic- es mar­ket.

Sen­gupta said Google was open to col­lab­o­rat­ing with other In­dian pay­ments firms.

“We are huge of fans in­ter­op­er­abil­ity ... when a prod­uct like Tez does well it cre­ates more value in the net­work for every­one,” he said.

Tez has over 22 mil­lion monthly ac­tive users, ac­cord­ing to Google.

Sen­gupta said Google also ex­pects the KaiOS mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem, in which the com­pany has in­vested US$22mil, to do well in Africa and parts of South-East Asia.

KaiOS is a low-cost phone op­er­at­ing sys­tem which, among oth­ers, has been used by In­dian bil­lion­aire Mukesh Am­bani to sell his Jio tele­com ven­ture’s low-cost in­ter­net en­abled phones. “Coun­tries like India, which are mo­bile first have so many peo­ple com­ing on­line for the first time, just gen­er­ate an in­cred­i­ble amount of op­por­tu­nity for in­no­va­tion,” Sen­gupta said. — Reuters SyD­NEy: Aus­tralia’s largest build­ing ma­te­ri­als sup­plier Bo­ral Ltd posted a record an­nual profit on Wed­nes­day, thanks to earn­ings from a new divi­sion in the United States and an in­fra­struc­ture boom off­set­ting Aus­tralia’s cool­ing home mar­ket.

In the first full year since it bought US fly­ash maker Head­wa­ters, net profit to June 30 rose 38% to A$473mil (US$346mil), slightly ahead of an­a­lyst ex­pec­ta­tions, giv­ing its shares their best day in more than nine years.

In its largest mar­ket, Aus­tralia, Bo­ral posted dou­ble-digit gains in rev­enue for con­crete and as­phalt, its big­gest earn­ers, as drought con­di­tions that have hurt farm­ers meant good go­ing on huge road­mak­ing projects along the east coast.

The re­sult un­der­scored how the com­pany’s ex­po­sure across the build­ing sec­tor, from ren­o­va­tion sup­plies like roof­ing to pour­ing con­crete at free­ways, has in­su­lated it from a down­turn in home con­struc­tion.

“Vol­umes from com­mer­cial, in­fra­struc­ture and ma­jor projects ac­tiv­ity, and mar­gin im­prove­ments are ex­pected to more than off­set the im­pacts of a mod­er­at­ing res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion sec­tor,” Bo­ral chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mike Kane said.

Bo­ral’s do­mes­tic earn­ings of A$370.4mil were 6% above Gold­man Sachs’ fore­cast, push­ing its shares up more than 10% to a four-month high and help­ing the broader mar­ket rise 0.5%. — Reuters

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