M-Pesa at 10: Africa leads the world in mobile money

Launched by telecommunications group Vodafone/Safaricom in 2007, M-Pesa (“pesa” is Swahili for “money”) has become a way of life for 30 million Africans in 10 countries. More than 80% of Kenyans use the service. The network also enjoys market dominance in Tanzania and Uganda.

The ingeniously simple method of money transfers made via cellphone messaging (SMS) has connected many to formal banking systems and enabled opportunities for small business and informal commerce, as well as played a part in helping to eradicate poverty, particularly in rural areas.

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In 2016, according to Vodafone, M-Pesa was used in six billion transactions. Additionally, research by Digital Frontiers found a 22% drop in female-headed households living in poverty in areas with access to M-Pesa. The same study noted that the source of income for almost 200,000 women in rural areas shifted from the low-income, labour intensive agricultural sector to more prosperous small business creation. The research also showed an increase in saving and investing money through using the M-Pesa network.

M-Pesa transactions are expected to surpass $1.3-billion (R17-billion) in the next three years, according to research by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

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Tracking the growth of the mobile money market in Africa over the last 10 years. (Infographic: CNN)

The future of mobile money markets presents both growth opportunities and challenges. Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore told CNN that the network wanted to focus on developing a better user experience, with an eye on increasing the use of smart device technology in Africa compared to standard text-based mobile technology.

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Windows 10’s strong security will attractive to mobile devices

As enterprises move to Windows 10, and take full advantage of the advanced security features offered in the operating system and in Microsoft Edge, cyber criminals will increasingly look towards the mobile ecosystem for exploits.  Reports Beta news

iPhone smartphone mobile appsThis is according to Fujitsu’s latest report, which believes 2017 will see an even bigger increase in attacks against the mobile world.

“Individuals now have multiple smart devices, many of which hold vast amounts of personal and business data due to modern storage capabilities and, as such, attackers will continue to develop innovative attacks against mobile platforms with mobile ransomware demanding payment for the return or decryption of personal photos,” the report says. “Mobile device management will need to be supplemented by robust security controls, particularly for business devices.”

Besides the mobile world, cyber criminals will also look towards core banking applications for advances and financial gain. Core banking applications became a target last year, Fujitsu says, and after successful attacks on the SWIFT global payment network and a Bangladeshi bank which resulted in a theft of $81 million, attacking them is about to turn into a trend this year.

SWIFT has implemented 16 mandatory controls since the incident, and will reportedly inspect banks for conformance next year, but it still leaves a lot of room for cyber criminals.

“Researchers identified the Odinaff Trojan targeting SWIFT late in 2016 and we expect to see new variants and methods of attack this year,” the report concludes.

India Government launches ‘M-Kavach’ anti-virus & anti-theft

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CertIn) would collect data of the affected computers and mobiles and share it with ISPs and banks.

mkavachThe Ministry of Information and Technology announced on Tuesday an anti-malware and anti-virus solutions in the country for computers and mobile phones. The botnet cleaning and anti-malware analysis centre project will cost Rs 90 crore in the next 5 years, told Sanjay Bahl, Director General, CertIn.

Announcing the Botnet and malware analysis centres, Indian IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “I would like ISPs (Internet Service Provider) to encourage their consumers to come on board, there is a free service available. Come and use it in the event some malware has sneaked in to the system.” He also added “Safety and security is integral. As the Prime Minister said cyber threat is akin to bloodless war. I don’t have slightest doubt cyber security is not only going to be big area of Digital Swachh Bharat but also going to be big area of digital growth, digital employment and digital commerce.”

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CertIn) would collect  data of the affected computers and mobiles and share it with ISPs and banks. These ISPs and the bank will then identify the user and the centre will provide a link with which he can take advantage of this service launched as part of Cyber Swachhta Kendra.

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Are Apps the new magazines? Bloomberg’s doubling down on apps

Forget the mobile web or social platforms: Bloomberg Media’s betting its mobile future on apps.

Starting with its redesigned flagship mobile app, Bloomberg plans to launch several new apps in the coming year with a focus on delivering personalized content to users in a more seamless and controllable fashion than what’s currently available on the mobile web and inside social platforms.

“Apps are the new magazines and newspapers,” said Scott Havens, global head of digital for Bloomberg Media. “I know if I have brand affinity [for a publisher], it’s because I get what I need and I find it a useful part of my daily media diet — that’s the underlying philosophy for the app.”

Six months in the making, the new Bloomberg app has a completely overhauled interface. It replaces the previous app’s pared-down, black-and-white design with more color and imagery. And instead of a “hamburger”-based navigation menu, the new app comes with tabs on the bottom of the screen — similar to the current Facebook app. (This is intentional as Havens said the previous setup wasn’t working that well. “Who better to copy than the biggest platform in the world?” he said.)

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New Bloomberg app.
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Old Bloomberg app.

There are also practical reasons for the new design. The previous version of the app did not do a good job of highlighting Bloomberg’s media and markets content — the new one does. For instance, the media tab curates Bloomberg’s library of on-demand videos, radio streams, podcasts and even its TV channel. On the home tab, Bloomberg also posts markets data as banners at the top of the screen, which users can click on to quickly access the markets page.

The company hopes to double or triple the audience in the coming year. One way the publisher plans to do it is by introducing so-called day-parted content. Within the main tab, users will now get a personalized stream of three to five relevant stories depending on what time of day it is — morning, afternoon or evening — and where they’re accessing the app (users in Europe will get the afternoon diet while U.S. users get the morning feed).

The app was built by Bloomberg’s 20-person mobile apps team, which includes four full-time mobile editors. This group will also work on a new video app that will “rethink” how on-demand video and live video can function in streaming environments, Havens said.

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