Sources of Remittances

When thinking about about money remittance solutions, it is important to consider the different sources of remittances money. The mechanism utilised by the payer to trigger the transaction could have major implications on a number of factors of a remittance transaction. Some of the implications can be:
  • The degree of conformance to banking regulation
  • The involvement of third parties and their role
  • Risk and fraud considerations
  • The liability profile of the operator and/or the payer
  • And of course as always the cost associated with performing the transactions
The different mechanisms that can be employed in triggering a remittance payment are the following:
  • Cash (typically via an Agent)
  • Bank account (usually via the Internet)
  • Credit card (or other cards) (via the Internet)
  • A mobile wallet via a mobile phone
One should consider the registration process, the confirmation, the dispute mechanisms and reversals or refunds for each of these different mechanisms when designing money remittance solutions.

Thoughts on Mobile Banking business cases

I was close to some of the early projects that launched the first Internet banking services in South Africa during the middle of the nineties. None of them had any business cases. Banks deployed these services because it was unthinkable to have a bank without allowing clients to access their bank accounts via the Internet. Today all Internet banking divisions have solid revenue targets and (in most cases) good ROI business cases.

However, things have changed. It is now impossible to deploy products without a solid business case and strategic motivation of why it must be done. Mobile banking initiatives are often subjected to such requirements and this frequently delay decisions, but seldom stop them. It is thus important to think about the business cases for mobile banking. While each initiative differs in terms of investment, potential penetration and impact on financial metrics, it is possible to categorise the business benefits in three categories:

  • Direct revenue benefits exist and is usually one or a combination of the following (transaction fees, monthly subscription fees, commission on goods sold, differential on interest and others - like interchange fees). It is my experience that these should generate revenue of at least $1 per month in order to build a revenue-based business model.
  • Cost savings should also be considered. The different benefits that can be achieved by the deployment of mobile banking are savings on less complex business processes, cutting banking staff out of the process and savings on capital expenses.
  • Many indirect benefits exist. Some can be quantified, while it is difficult to do it with others. I have seen some of the following actually happen during mobile banking deployments and I believe it is important to include them in business cases too.Mobile banking increase stickiness, brand loyalty and impulse buying without a doubt. Enough measurements exist to back this up. I have seen large increases in voice ARPU for instance if mobile banking is depl0yed by mobile operators. One should also not ignore defensive imperatives in markets where other players have launched mobile banking.

Money remittance and mobile payments meet

I stumbled on a very interesting website from a money remittance perspective. Mondato (Read more here). The company provides a mechanism to compare money remittance options from one country to another. As is stated on their website, "We offer a consumer search function to enable people to find options for money transfer...". No doubt, the intention is to provide services in the money remittance space.

Now click on the newsletters in the bottom left hand corner. The company provides a regular newsletter with well researched information. Some of the topics:
  • Android and Mobile Value Transfer
  • Hey, that phone owes me $50
  • Opportunity assessment: Mobile financial services market
  • Obopay and the evolution of global, mobile money
It seems that people that provide information to assist workers to find cheaper mechanisms to remit money are extremely interested in mobile payments...

Dell is all set to dethrone the Macbook Air

Apple's MacBook Air weighing 3 pounds and measuring 0.16 inch is the thinnest laptop in the world but very soon Dell would have a product to compete it. Well you already have Lenovo's ThinkPad X300 in the race and now Dell is soon gonna join.

Dell might soon launch its Macbook Air killer the 'adamo' laptop in JAN 2009 during the international CES which is the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow.

Its also belived that laptop will be starting at $1500 which is $300 less than base model of Mac Book Air. The price for Lenovo ThinkPad ranges between $2,550 to just under $3,000.

Mac Book Air base model is priced at $1,799 and goes up to $3100 based on the configuration.Dell's 'adamo' Laptop will also come with optional Sleek external HDD.

Stay tuned to for more updates

Make calls to USA absolutely free via internet

This new service which began from 25th Dec 2008 could be really a valubale christmas gift to people around the globe. You can call anyone in the United States from almost any part of the globe that too totally free.

So whats the catch? Well none.. All you need is an good internet connection and and mic/headphone. Its basically a ad-supported web service. Unregistered users can make calls of up to two minutes and registered user ( registeration is also free) can make unlimited calls of up to 15 minutes.

Most important, the service works domestically within US and all over the world. That means you can call the United States free from any cybercafe or Internet-enabled computer virtually anywhere.

Heres how you make a call.
1. Visit
2. Enter the tellephone/mobile phone number to call
3. Hit "FreeCall now"
4. Enter a verification code as displayed on the site
4. Wait for 10sec while the ads are displayed
5. Then hit "Press to call" and speak on the microphone

Have Fun...

Wishing All AskWiki Readers Happy New Year.

India and Pakistan military weapon comparison

With current tension mounting between India and Pakistan, a possibility of war cannot be totally ruled out. While India government keeps all its options open and Pakistan' building up military presence at the border, the tension is only building up.

Here is a quick overview of the military capabilities of Pakistan and the military capabilities of India along with a comparison chart at the bottom.

The missiles developed by Pakistan are:
Abdali-I (BRBM)
Ghaznavi (SRBM)
Ghauri (missile) (MRBM)
Ghauri-II (MRBM)
Ghauri-III (Close ICBM)
Hatf-I/IA (BRBM)
Shaheen missile (MRBM)
Shaheen-II (IRBM)
Shaheen-III (IRBM)
Babur_missile (Cruise Missile)
Ra'ad (Air Launched Cruise Missile)

Nuclear-Capable Missiles in Pakistan
Est. Range: 80 km
Est. Payload: 500 kg
Est. Launch Weight: 1500 kg
Propulsion: Single-stage, Solid propellant
Comments: Mobile platform. Status: flight-tested.

(Tarmuk) (Chinese M-11)
Est. Range: 300 km
Est. Payload: 500 kg
Est. Launch Weight: N/A
Propulsion: Two-stage, Solid propellant
Comments: Mobile platform. Status: flight-tested.

Est. Range: 1000 km
Est. Payload: 700 kg
Est. Launch Weight: 16,000 kg
Propulsion: Single-stage, liquid propellant
Comments: Mobile platform. Status: flight-teste

The missiles developed by India are:
Ballistic Missile
Prithvi-I, II

Cruise Missile (Land Attack)

Anti-Aircraft Missile

Anti-Missile Missile

Here's a quick weapon comparison - India and Pakistan

Remember Martin Luther King once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Please do share your views / comments below

Worlds most powerful non-nuclear bombs

The top two most powerfull bombs are with the Russians and United States of America

1. MOAB or the The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (nicknamed Mother Of All Bombs) is developed for the United States military.

Weighing in at 21,000 pounds, the MOAB is packed with some 18,000 pounds of a gelled slurry of ammonium nitrate and powdered aluminum that is detonated by a highly explosive booster.

It is satellite guided. It was successfully field test at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida on March 11, 2003

2. Aviation Thermobaric Bomb or Vaccum bomb (nicknamed Father Of All Bombs) is reportedly four times more powerful than the U.S. military's GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb. This was developed by the Russian Air Force.

It was successfully field-tested in the late evening of September 11, 2007.

Heres a News report from Russian Media "Russia Today" during the Vaccum bomb test in Russia.


libmokoui2 (+Python bindings) in Diablo Extras

For the next version of gPodder, I plan to have a better suited user interface for the tablets. For this, I needed a finger-scrolling replacement of GTK+'s ScrolledWindow. libmokoui2 provides just that, and it's now available in Diablo Extras.

The package is based on Ubuntu's libmokoui2 source package, but I have removed the doc package and the Vala bindings, because you can read the docs on your computer or online, and I didn't want to mess with Vala (yet).

It also did not build on Chinook, maybe someone can have a look at the build logs? It's working fine on Diablo, though. Example code in Python is also available.

Implications of HUB deployments

With so much talk about the deployment of mobile remittance hubs (Read here, here and here), I think it is important to consider some of the implications of establishing these "hubs". The migration from a one-to-one then many-to-one and ultimately many-to-many creates a lot of additional complexities previously not visible. Deploying one-to-one mobile remittance solutions are difficult enough, yet I have seen many solution providers already talking about their many-to-many remittance solutions.

Some of the difficulties that must be considered (and solved) in this regard are:

  • Financial risk because of non-availability of funds, also because exposures may not be as visible or tools to take action if the system is exposed may not exist.
  • Lost transactions and thus the need for reconciliation, with all the added complexities when dealing with many nodes.
  • The challenges associated with the routing of clearing transactions between different systems (that work in different ways) and the need for different message-protocols or convergence.
  • The contractual and commercial complexities in working with different parties with different needs and expectations.
  • The implications of failed or disputed transactions (both in terms of business process and customer support)

I am sure all of these (and others that I can't think of right now) will be solved, but it will take baby steps first and dedication and hard work.

Fake Credit Card Factory

Mobile banking and payments, in some ways, are about changing a physical world of payment instruments into a virtual world. The need to issue physical payment instruments (like credit cards) will ultimately be replaced by digital tokens stored on a device carried by individuals. The mobile phone is this device for now.

A virtual, digital token, held by a subscriber and secured by a private key is of course much more secure than a physical token. It is much more difficult to copy and to re-produce, while it is (at the same time) much more easy to cancel and to re-issue.

It is within this frame of mind that I find articles about the manufacturing of fraudulent card of interest. One such case was recently uncovered in South Africa (Read more here.) According to this article, the sophistication of the fake credit card factory was quite high. How many fake credit cards are in circulation in the physical world? And, will banks tell us, knowing that it could lead to a major breakdown in trust?

Cross border payments

With more and more cross border payment mechanisms being deployed, most of these electronic solutions, one should be aware of the implications. Mobile payments are being touted as the catalyst to ensure that more people can participate in electronic transfers in multiple currencies. A more efficient and less expensive mechanism will definitely lead to bigger volumes in both transactions and value. Cash based (and illegal transactions) should reduce as subscribers start to experience the benefits of electronic transactions.

This would lead to an increase in monitory flows across borders.

What I have found interesting in thinking about this future, is the secondary impact that this will have on the macro-economy. I am not an expert in economics, but I feel it would be interesting (and prudent) to build some economic models to look at the following impacts of an increase in exchange rate based transactions:

  • The impact on exchange rate movements and market dynamics that can influence these indexes. I am sure that a more competitive and transparent market would look to different behaviour in terms of how exchange rates behave.
  • I am also sure that higher volumes of remittances and transactions that can respond to changes much faster, will have a marked impact on local economies. On the one hand this could potentially stimulate individual economies, but I am sure, will also react to instability and political shenanigans much more quickly.
  • The impact on and the effect that this much more dynamic financial world would have on regulatory dispensations would be interesting. One thing is for sure, it would become much more difficult to control financial behavior by means of direct interventions.

Mobile banking and Remittances

Since the time that the GSMA announce their MMT (Mobile Money Transfer) program and Western Union established their mobile remittance division (able steered by Matt), many mobile-based remittance projects were launched. Some were more successful than others, yet the majority have not yet been deployed. Some of these projects are faced with very complex problems and challenges to make it work.

In order to stay focussed, it may be of interest to look at the primary reason for Mobile-based remittances - define the objectves (without limiting ongoing innovation). I am of the opinion that mobile-phone based money remittances intend meeting the following objectives:
  • To eliminate (or at a minimum reduce) cash as this is the most costly element in the remittance ecosystem. Mobile remittance systems should always keep this in mind. While understanding the cultural, practical and social implications, the aim should always be to have as little as possible cash in the system.
  • To increase the speed of fulfilling a remittance transaction (to clear it immediately). This objective can be achieved by making use of the phone as a tetrminating device.
  • To increase the auditability and legality of money remittance systems
  • To empower poor subscribers to become more financially inclusive. The objective is to ensure that money received via this system is put to good use. It would be great if these systems could assist poor people to budget better and to be able to have more direct control over their finsncisl ditution.

Remote-control Vagalume via a web server

I am using Vagalume to listen to on my N800 that is hooked up to the stereo. During that time, I'm sitting at my lappy doing random things. When a song I don't like comes up, I have to get up and hit the "skip" button. Not anymore! Enter ""...

This little Python script sets up a little HTTP server on port 8242 (that's "VAGA" if you type it on your mobile phone), receives song changes from Vagalume and can carry out basic operations like play, skip, ban, love, etc..

How to use? Copy it to your tablet, install python2.5 and python2.5-dbus and start it in background (with "python2.5 &"). Then, point your browser to http://yourtabletshostname:8242/ (a good time to set up Avahi correctly, so you can use "tabletname.local"). You can now see the currently-playing song and remote-control Vagalume via HTTP over your Wifi-Style connection!

Oh, and here's the link to download the script:

If people love this, I could enhance this a bit and put a GUI around it and create a Maemo package.

gPodder 0.14.0 in Maemo Extras

Just released gPodder 0.14.0 today, packaged it for Maemo and promoted it to Maemo Extras. Highlights: Improved the responsiveness of the UI, so gPodder does not freeze so often. Also: The "Never download" button in the new episodes dialog might come in handy. Please report all bugs you encounter, so we have a chance of fixing them! Waiting for your feedback. -- Thomas

gPodder, Where Are Thou?

People have started asking when the new gPodder version for Maemo will appear. Installing Scratchbox is tedious, and I've re-installed a few weeks ago. A new release should be out soon, and I'll be rolling a new Maemo package then. And we have fixed some annoyances in the new version...

First, you complained about us having hardcoded the download folder to /media/mmc2/. Well, gPodder still uses this as the default download folder, but you can now simply move this folder from the SD card to your the external card (mmc1), to your home folder (/home/user) or even to an attached USB key (you can do this with a special USB female adapter). So, when you want to download podcasts to the exchangeable SD card on your N810 (or the external card on your N800), you can do so now :)

Another problem that people did not like was the fact that gPodder stored its settings and subscriptions on the SD card. This means that the Nokia Backup application didn't backup these things. So, the new version stores its settings in the user's home folder. This means that Nokia Backup and Restore should take care of you gPodder settings and subscriptions :)

All this awesomeness (or rather "less uglyness than before") will get to you with the release of 0.14.0, which should hopefully be out this coming week.

You won't get the sexy, human-readable folder names just yet. We have to work out some issues with the patches, but we are currently working on it. In the mean time (this also works with the current version!), you can set the "experimental_file_naming" advanced configuration option to "True" in order to get at least good file names (good for episodes that do not have ID3 tags).

Also, please don't hesistate to report any bugs and feature requests for gPodder to, so we can help you and you have a better podcasting experience on your Tablet.

Another plug: Try Panucci with your podcasts if you have not already done so.

Us Treasury & FED : Total money - Masse monétaire totale


Maemopad+ with search function

It has gotten quiet around Maemopad+ lately, but there are some nice features in SVN that should be released with the next release, most notably: a search entry in the toolbar that will highlight matching memos.

This will come in handy for users that use the checklist feature for all kinds of lists (Someday/Maybe, Ideas, TODOs, shopping lists, etc.). Obviously the search feature won't work on the contents of sketch notes, but text memos and checklists work fine.

What are you missing in Maemopad+ that would make you much more productive with it?