More evidence of traction

According to a number of press releases today, Bank of America have reached 500 000 subscribers to mobile banking within five months. Amongst others, the story wqs picked up by CNN. I am of the opinion if this was the case with any other product launched by the bank, everybody would hail it as a big success. I looking at Bank of America's mobile banking offering, a number of things struck me:
  • A link to mobile banking can be found on the Bank of America home page. This is an indication that they view mobile banking as mainstream.
  • They have registered a .mobi domain-name ( No sense in doing this, if you don't view it as important.
  • They spend a lot of effort to demonstrate the solution, by making use of the media, special blog pages, videos etc. At least they understood that the public would only respond if told about things... and it seems as if they were right.
Now they just need to improve the offering with more innovative services.

GLD: Gold ETF Inventory is growing


Secure Mobile Banking

The perception still exists that mobile banking transactions in Africa is based on low security SMS technology in the clear. Nothing can be further from the truth. All of the more serious mobile banking security deployments (MTN banking, Celpay, 121Cellmoney, mPESA, MODE) are much higher than most other payment solution. The advantage of the deployments on mobile phones is that you can design extremely secure transactions. This is achieved by making use of the crypto keys that are resident on the SIM card in GSM phones. In our solutions, we employ many innovative designs to ensure very security solutions:

1. All messages are encrypted on the phone using the keys on the SIM with 3DES encryption algorithms. This is application-based encryption - not just carrier encryption.
2. All messages on GSM networks are compressed and then encrypted again using GSM protocols (every message is thus encrypted twice)
3. The PIN entry is accepted by a special program resident on the SIM card (impossible to replace with Trojan horses or Phishing attacks).
4. The PIN is never stored, it is encrypted on the SIM card according to Banking specifications. (As a matter of fact, Fundamo technology was the first to be certified by Mastercard according to PPED specifications for banking transactions)
5. Each payment message is MAC'ed with a special tamper-proof algorithm, that protects against Man-in-the-middle attacks and possible re-playing of messages.

By the way, the biggest transaction value on our solution was a business to business payment of more than US$ 50 000. This will never be possible with SMS's in the clear.

GDrive the next big thing from Google

Google is going to be a web based file storage system. Although Google are tight lipped about it, but there is a buzz that Google will soon release an online hard drive that will let folks store all their personal documents up in the network cloud. Your music, photos, videos, and office documents could be uploaded to Google's hard drive and would then be available on any computer with Internet access.

This is probably the year of Google's most important product launches. Even if they're much rarer than last year, they are strategically important (personalization, universal search, machine translation, the mobile platform, social gadgets).

The idea of mapping the online storage as an external drive is not new and you can already do this with tools like Gmail Drive or services like .Mac or But Google really needs an application for uploading more files at once to Google Docs or Gmail, so the GDrive uploader could be useful to add files to a shared area, directly accessible from all Google services. Now it's difficult to upload files because there are so many different Google services that let you upload different kinds of files (documents, photos, videos etc.)

Google already offers free e-mail and other services where users can store data. In a statement, Google said, "Cloud computing is going mainstream. The apps people use every day, such as e-mail, photo sharing, and word processing, are moving to the Web because it's easier to share and access your data from anywhere when it's online, in one place.

"Storage is an important component of making Web apps fit easily into consumers' and business users' lives. That's why we've always offered a lot of free storage, and it's why we offer paid options for buckets of 'overflow'

Google now can translates to Indian Language

Many of us are already aware of the Google's Translation Tool. A very popular and easy tool which translates contents and websites from English to French, Spanish, Germen, Italian, etc... and vice a versa. Infact it also allows you to set the Google homepage, messages, and buttons to display in your selected language via your Preferences page.

But now using google one can also covert english words to Hindi, Tamil, Telgu, Kannada and Malayalam. This is project under Google Labs, its called the 'Google Indic' Here's the link.

Google Indic Transliteration offers an option for converting Roman characters to the language characters used in Hindi. This lets you type Hindi words phonetically in English script and still have them appear in their correct alphabet.

Do check this out, a very easy way to write content in various Indian Languages. Also if you know more sites which provide similar functionalities please do post them in the comments below.

Happy Translating...

USA: Housing and Recession

How To Make Free Calls to any phone via internet

If you have been looking for a totally free service which allows calling local and international phone via internet... well then i am sure that your seach ends here. is a newly launced website which is under beta testing, this site provides a free service by which you can call any international number via your computer. Also the sound quality is excellent

How it works ? Its very simple... you register at this site via a valid email address, then log in, It then takes you to a webpage with a flash phone dialer (refer the image alongside).. Dial in the number you want to call and connect the call and talk, its really as simple as that. Any Catch ?? Well as of now when the site is under beta testing, it allows you to make maximum 3 calls a day with 3mins maximum (each call). Hope to see them increase this in the future. I would highly recommend you to check this site and its service. Here is the link

And moreover You don't need to install anything. All that is necessary for calls - headset and sufficient bandwidth of your internet connection. Never before the IP-telephony was such simple and accessable.

By the way do post in your views in the comments below.

Research confirming growth in Mobile Banking

Recent research released in South Africa by World Wide Worx, have some very interesting findings about Mobile Banking in South Africa. The advantage of this research is that it has been conducted for the past three years. Clear trends can now be formed comparing the findings of 2005, 2006 and 2007. The results show an explosion in the usage by end-consumers of mobile banking. In this survey the number of respondents that have used mobile banking during 2007 have jumped to 17% (from 8%). In addition the research found that more than 50% of respondents plan to be using mobile banking by 2008.

However, the most interesting result of the research (which also tracks other services delivered via mobile phones) is that mobile banking is by far the mobile service used by older people. According to the research the likelihood of using cellphones for banking services increases with age, in contrast to the usage of other cellphone functions going down as users get older. For instance, urban cellphone users aged from 46 to 55 years are twice as likely to use cellphones for banking as those in the 19 to 24 age group.

I think some analysts might want to take notice of these findings.

FIVN Player 2.51 For Symbian 3rd

FIVN Player uses phone plug-ins to play sound files.It has a lot of functions, settings and it supports many sound formats. Formats that the player tries to check if they can be played are: aac, amr, mid, mp3, mp4, ogg, wav and wma.

FIVN Player supports equaliser, bass booster and stereo widening. Those features are enabled only if the phone supports them.

FIVN Player is based on Nokia S60 (Series 60) 3rd Edition. It has been tested on Nokia 3250, Nokia 5700, Nokia 6110, Nokia E60, Nokia E65 and Nokia N95.

Download FIVN Player v2.51

Get Paid To Share Photos and Images

In one my previous post i had mentioned about a site that shares its revenue with its members who share videos online. Here is an extention to that article.

Would you like to get paid for sharing your photos or images with your friends? Or get paid every time someone views your pics? Or someone clicks on your photos? if yes.. well in that case I have some good news for you. Photrade is a new company in beta which pays all its publishers to publish images all over the web. And getting registed is very easy, just follow the below mentioned steps...

Sign Up (If you have invitation of course as you can’t signup in any other way)
Upload Your Photos
Get the code (Different codes for different type of sites like blogs , forums etc)
Get Paid in PayPal
Basically they pay per CPM so once you have had 1000 views you will get paid (how much you will get depends on the niche of your images as you will add tags for those)

By the way here is a sample of how a photo would look like.. Way to go photrade..

Also if you have some suggestion for the site, do post it as comments and it would be shared..

Quality web icons are now available for free online

If you are into blogging or website development or website designing and have been looking for free icons on the internet, you would know that there are quite a few available online but most of the good ones come for a price. You may find resources to free ones as well but usually the quality is not all that impressive.

Recently Abdylas Tynyshov of the User Interface Icons has floated for free download and usage, varied icons numbering a total of 560. All the icons have the PNG format and they are available in four different sizes such as 24/24 Pixels, 32/32 Pixels, 48/48 Pixels and 80/80 Pixels. As far as the license is concerned, they have been shared under the Creative Commons License. You can get the icons for download from User Interface Icons website.

The icons are all available in the PNG ('ping') format and have a nice transparent background. However the truly unique designs of the icons amount to only 75, the rest 65 are variations of the first 75. Variations include different connotations such as Add/Remove/Edit etc. They can be quite helpful for representing different status of an entity (printer, fax, clock, lock etc.)

Here is the link

How to group chat via Google talk

We all might have used Google's Gtalk and Yahoo messenger many a times. One of the major things which Google Talk lacks is the functionality to have conference or do Group Chats. However this feature is readely available in Yahoo messagener. Well if you thought that there is no way one could have a group caht on are wrong. Infact this group chat feature is provided by google but only through the Google Talk Gadget.

To start a group chat, launch the Google Talk Gadget here, and start a chat with one of your friends. Click on the button at the top of the chat window that says "Group Chat," and then pick the name of the third (or fourth, or fifth...) friend you want to invite from the drop-down menu. They'll receive an invitation to join the group chat. If your friends are using Gmail chat or the downloadable Google Talk client, their invitation will launch the Google Talk Gadget. Try this out..

Qualcomm investing in GSM technology

This was a major announcement last week and quite a surprise to every observer of mobile banking: Qualcomm intends purchasing Firethorn for $210 Million. In looking at this announcement many questions will probably stay unanswered, but it is still good fun to ask them:

1. On what basis did Qualcomm get to a valuation of $210 Million? Firethorn had very little revenue and to all accounts technology that have not yet been proven in robust business environments. The number of subscribers utilising Firethorn technology is so low that this could also not have been the basis of the valuation. Seeing that Qualcomm is a publicly traded company, one would expect some more info being made available rather than the sketchy press release provided last week.

2. How does the major partners of Firethorn feel about the acquisition, and have they been consulted? It is really interesting that Qualcomm (major CDMA and Brew supplier) should purchase a Java based company with some of the major GSM Operators as customers (Verizon and Cingular). Interestingly, neither Verizon nor Cingular are mentioned in the press release (only the banking partners).

3. Qualcomm is currently an investor in Obopay - a direct competitor to Firethorn in terms of their technology and business model. What does this acquisition say about the future of Obopay? Does this mean that Qualcomm has discarded Obopay? Are they thinking of merging the propositions... very difficult. I just have difficulties getting my mind around this.

4. Which investors will gain most from this transaction and how could they have influenced the transaction? Maybe this deal does not have anything to do with the fundamentals of the solution and how this will change the landscape of mobile banking, but rather about more complex economic principles that not all of us can understand.

If I were a Qualcomm shareholder, I would really have felt aggrieved about this transaction, but then, I am not and now I am just frowning...

How to View Orkut scrap as RSS feeds

Orkut from Google is one of the most popular social networking site and is widely used by many all around the world and especially in India. Orkut is quite popular for scrapping which means leaving short messages on your friends scrapbook. Also you could check out your friends scrapbook, albums, videos, etc.. Its one of the best ways of keeping in touch with friends and family. Now we could get one step further you can now view orkut scraps as RSS feeds, ie., read your (or anyones) orkut scrap with out loging in to orkut via a feed reader or a RSS reader (i would recommend Heres how to go about it.

1. Login to your orkut account, then go to your scrapbook.
2. Copy the uid number from the address bar. eg.. If your URL is then 23324521232134466 is your uid.
3. Now to convert this scrapbook to an RSS feed file go
(where instead of xxxxxxxxxxxxx type in your uid... in this case it would be 23324521232134466)
4. Now copy the complete URL ie., ( and subscribe via any of your RSS reader, like, Google reader, Yahoo reader or Feedburner etc.

You could also keep track of others scrapbook by using their uid instead of yours... so sit back and be in touch..
By the way if you find this tip useful do put in your comments below.. or leave me a scrap via orkut

Google now available at gas pump stations

"I’ll have 6 gallons of gas and a Google search please" is what US drivers would soon say at an gas pump station. In a recent announcement made by the internet gaint GOOGLE which said thay will dispense driving directions at thousands of gasoline
pumps across the United States beginning early next month. These internet-connected pumps will feature a color screen which can be touched and used to find landmarks and such.

The device is being made by Gilbarco Veeder-Root Inc. These toys will be used to help tourists locate restaurants, hotels, landmarks, etc.

Drivers will also be able to print out directions to these locations right on their receipt printer. Ads will not be displayed along with maps but station owners will have the option of making deals to have coupons or other promotional material dispensed along with driving directions.

As per Google, the service became of interest to the company because it wanted to make its services available to consumers at times when it is most needed.By the way take look at the picture above, and that’s probably how the pumps will look when all said and done.

Way to go google!!!

Mobile banking in Africa

Fundamo was one of the first companies that demonstrated a working mobile payment solution with the first pilot in conjunction with Boland Bank announced during 2000. Absa Bank launched the first commercial mobile banking solution during 2002 in South Africa. Absa claims that more than 300 000 subscribers have enrolled for the service to date. This early launch have been followed up with launches of different types of solutions from Standard Bank, FNB, Nedcor, Investec and others. Although numbers are not readily available, a rough estimate of more than a million mobile banking subscribers is not far off. This is amazing if one considers the short time that mobile banking has been available.
During the past five years many initiatives were announced and often launched in South Africa. Many large technology companies and smaller ones made announcements and then disappeared again. South African companies that offered mobile banking solutions include Prism, Namitech, Cointel and Paym8. The launch of Wizzit in conjunction with Bank of Athens was so spectacular that they featured on CNN, Financial Mail and many other publications. Citibank and Standard and Chartered played with ideas to use the mobile channel to enter the South African market with a different and exciting angle, but did not implement.
The launch of MTN Banking during 2005 can be considered as the ultimate mobile banking solution with many new angles and an exciting offering. Combining mobile concepts with banking a totally new banking experience was created. Some of the concepts like "a banking starter pack", "pay as you bank" etc. worked well to grow a subscriber base quickly into hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
Today, South Africa is one of the leading examples of successful mobile banking deployments.
With the exception of South Africa and the successful deployments of Celpay in the DRC and Zambia (supported by Fundamo technology), quite a number of other examples of mobile payment and banking solutions exist in Africa. Celpay is one of the first mobile payment solutions deployed in the world and provides advanced payment functionality in countries with little (if any) payment infrastructure. It has been reported that Celpay payments in Zambia now accounts for almost 4% of the GNP.
has turned into a hotbed of mobile payment innovation with one of the mobile operators Glo offering a product called Glomoney since launch. This solution provides mobile payment features on ATM cards from most banks. The solution is supported by one of the ATM switches called Interswitch who is now rolling this out to other banks and talking of providing it also via Celtel. (The solution initially available on special SIM cards, is now also available via a Java client to be downloaded on the phone). Other successful initiatives are from a company called eTranxact whom operates the solution themselves. The same technology is currently in production in Zimbabwe with Kingdom Bank. Flash-me-Cash is a SMS based viral payment mechanism that are claiming to have more than 500 000 subscribers and is based on a structured SMS solution.
Another area in Africa with a number of initiatives under way or in production is Kenya and surrounding countries. A number of banks recently announced mobile banking solutions. A noteworthy example is Consolidated Bank with a USSD mobile banking offering. South African company, Paym8 have deployed their solution since 2005 with Safaricom and is claiming an acceptable take-up. Card payment acquirer, iVeri (a Blue Label company) offers mobile payment functionality in Rwanda. One of the most important initiatives, however is the Vodafone backed mPesa initiative. This technology (developed in London) has been in pilot deployment since early 2006 and was recently placed in production with Vodafone subsidiary Safaricom. mPesa is receiving massive backing from London and is poised to be rolled out to other Vodafone networks (Egypt and possibly South Africa). The technology is SIM based and well designed with good “cash-out” functionality. A recently announced collaboration with Citibank allows for money remittance from London to Kenya.

A North African example is the roll-out of a mobile payment solution in conjunction with VISA in Morocco. The technology utilised was provided by French company Upaid and supported in country by Maroc Telecom and BCP (a bank). Other examples in North Africa are initiatives launched in Egypt and Tunisia.

A perspective on the History

The first mobile banking and payment initiatives was announced during 1999 (the same year that Fundamo deployed their first prototype). The first major deployment was made by a company called Paybox (largely supported financially by Deutsche Bank). The company was founded by two young German’s (Mathias Entemann and Eckart Ortwein) and successfully deployed the solution in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Spain and the UK. At about 2003 more than a million people were registered on Paybox and the company were rated by Gartner as the leader in the field. Unfortunately Deutsche Bank withdraw their financial support and the company had to reorganise quickly. All but the operations in Austria closed down.
Another early starter and also identified as a leader in the field was a Spanish initiative (backed by BBVA and Telephonica), called Mobi Pago. The name was later changed to Mobi Pay and all banks and mobile operators in Spain were invited to join. The product was launched in 2003 and many retailers were acquired to accept the special USSD payment confirmation. Because of the complex shareholding and the constant political challenges of the different owners, the product never fulfilled the promise that it had. With no marketing support and no compelling reason for adoption, this initiative is floundering at the moment.

Many other large players announced initiatives and ran pilots with big fanfare, but never showed traction and all initiatives were ultimately discontinued. Some of the early examples are the famous vending machines at the Helsinki airport supported by a system from Nokia. Siemens made announcements in conjunction with listed and high-flying German e-commerce company, Brokat. Brokat also won the lucrative Vodafone contract in 2002, but crashed soon afterwards when it run out of funds.

(as can be expected) produced a large number of mobile payment start-ups. Of the many, only one survived – Trivnet. Others like Adamtech (with a technically sound solution called Cellpay) and Paytt disappeared after a number of pilots but without any successful production deployments.
Initiatives in Norway, Sweden and France never got traction. France Telecom launched an ambitious product based on a special mobile phone with an integrated card reader. The solution worked well, but never became popular because of the unattractive, special phone that participants needed in order to perform these payments.

Since 2004, mobile banking and payment industry has come of age. Successful deployments with positive business cases and big strategic impact have been seen recently.

Skype now goes mobile, Talk worldwide for Free

Skype have recently partnered with Cellular service provider 3 to promote its skype dedicated phones. So a user will be able to chat or call his Skype contacts for free from this phone.

So You don’t need a computer to make free calls anymore. Use 3 Skypephone instead. It’s a stylish mobile phone that calls, texts and takes pictures like you’d expect it to.

The handset features 3G, 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth with A2DP support and 16MB internal memory with a microSD card expansion slot.

You could also buy this phone online from here.