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Posts in category 'Financial'

25 March 2009

Pay by cellphone? Sounds great. So why don’t we do it?

OboPay
Fast Company’s Chris Dannen reflects on why Americans don’t use mobile banking.

Obopay is an payment system that works on your cell phone–kind of like a mobile PayPal. The service is cheap, easy to use, and fantastically convenient. Not only that, it’s well-backed; today Nokia [NOK] announced it would funnel an additional $70 million into the startup in exchange for a minority stake in the company. So why isn’t everyone using this thing? […]

It’s no fault of the concept; mobile payments have exploded in popularity in Africa and other developing regions. Obopay itself operates in both Indian and American markets; in India, they’ve garnered a strong customer base. In the U.S., not so much. Why won’t Americans get with it?”

Read full story

6 March 2009

The user experience of money: how interaction design can help

UX money
Alexa Andrzejewski of Adaptive Path reflects on the user experience of money:

For anyone designing for consumer finance — banking, investing, billpay, money management tools, insurance providers or any business selling “savings” as a value proposition (as a consultant, I’ve learned a lot through having had opportunities to touch all of these areas) — here are some design principles you can employ to make saving a little easier for us all:

– Create perceptions that motivate.
– Make the abstract concrete.
– Equip the mind to control the flesh.
– Architect complex choices carefully.

Not sure it is enough to address people’s deep distrust towards financial institutions in the current financial crisis.

Read full story

1 March 2009

KashKlash booklet now online

KashKlash
After the project, the collaborative website, the game, now also the booklet.

KashKlash is an open forum and web project focusing on alternative economies in a post-money future. What will such a world look like? How will the concept of value be measured? What concepts will shape the formal and informal economies? Bright thinkers from around the world came together online to discuss, debate and ideate in this innovative and exciting project.

KashKlash is a collaborative project between Heather Moore of Vodafone, Experientia and a group of independent visionaries. The project started with four bright and innovative provocateurs, Nicolas Nova, Joshua Klein, Bruce Sterling, and Régine Debatty, and as the debate gathered steam, contributions, comments, flickr photos and twitter streams rolled in from more than 50 additional participants to shape and envision possible futures.

Download booklet (pdf)

1 March 2009

Ethan Zuckerman on mobile news and mobile currency in Africa

Ethan Zuckerman
Ethan Zuckerman, a multifaceted thinker whose work focuses on the impact of technology in developing countries, and a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, was interviewed on Ideas Project, the Nokia site that explores “where technology and communications may be taking us”.

Information will be used as money (transcript)
Ethan Zuckerman, who specializes in the implementation of transformative technological innovations in developing countries, observes how a system for transferring money in Uganda has anticipated a trend in the use information such as cell phone credits as a viable currency for day to day transactions. These alternative payment systems will be mediated by phone companies and anyone who is in the business of turning money into information.

Shedding new light on Kenyan violence (transcript on same page)
Ethan Zuckerman describes a project called Ushahidi, a project which resulted from the elections in Kenya, that allows anyone around the world to gather reports by mobile phone, email and the web – and map them.

Mobile reporting deepens global narratives (transcript on same page)
If we don’t have reporters in Gomah, but we do have a lot of connected citizens in Gomah, how do we take advantage of that? How do we take advantage of their ability to witness and report, and how do we knit that together into narratives that tell us something we didn’t know previously?

Related:
Money transfer service wows Kenya
Ethan Zuckerman article on m-banking in Africa
Industry report on the future of mobile banking

23 February 2009

Open source and mobile banking

cgap
After coming home from the Mobile World Congress, Mark Pickens, a microfinance analyst with CGAP’s Technology Program, asks why, when he can load any software he want onto his PC, he can’t do the same with his phone. Better yet, why can’t poor people?

“I’d love to see a boom of cheap m-banking software, designed by people who know how poor people want to use their phones. Although lower-income, non-Western users make up 80% of the world’s new mobile consumers, the guys in Finland, Sweden and South Korea still decide how people’s phones look and feel. But for how long? I’m interested, because I expect usability to be one key in how fast poor people are willing to adopt mobile-based financial services (which CGAP believes can blow open the frontier for access to finance for the poor).”

Read full story

17 February 2009

Rethinking banking for the twenty-first century

Center for Future Banking
MIT Media Lab has set up a Center for Future Banking. I guess they have some work to do.

“Researchers at the Center for Future Banking, in collaboration with Bank of America, will explore how emerging technologies and insights into human behavior can transform the customers’ experience and elevate the role of the bank in their financial lives. We seek to invent new ways to anticipate the needs and desires of customers down to the level of the individual, to put every customer in total control of his or her own financial futures, to rethink the experience of customer-bank interaction as virtual and physical reality become increasingly intertwined, and finally to leverage the unique position of a bank to make people’s lives simpler and more fulfilling.

The Center brings together disciplines ranging from behavioral economics, to computer science, to urban design in order to take a truly holistic approach to imagining and realizing new possibilities in banking. Its research will span a wide range of physical and social scales, from one-on-one interactions with customers, to new modes of global transactions.

AT&T Associate Professor Deb Roy, chair of MIT’s academic program in Media Arts and Sciences and a pioneer in cognitive modeling, communication theory, and human-machine interaction, serves as the Center’s founding director and principal investigator. He is joined by a multidisciplinary team of researchers and students with a passion for invention—a team that is not only developing new ideas for the banking industry, but also building and testing working prototypes.”

Make sure to also check out the somewhat hidden Macro Trends section.

9 February 2009

Dan Ariely on a new type of economy

Dan Ariely
IdeasProject, an excellent Nokia site, interviewed behavioural economist, MIT Media Lab contributor and best-selling author Dan Ariely.

He said that web technologies like remote cameras can enable individuals to bypass traditional financial systems and engage directly in transactions like mortgages and business loans. Assuming we can created a mechanism to establish trust and legal guarantees he sees the potential for the rapid emergence of a new type of economy.

Ariely also outlined the requirements that are necessary to facilitate remote access financial transactions including a good technology for reputation, guarantees and legal language.

Dan Ariely is the author of the best-selling book, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, (HarperCollins).

Watch video
Read transcript

Also new on IdeasProject is an interview with Third World entrepreneurship advocate Iqbal Quadir talking about mobile phone banking and global communication opportunities.

If you want more background, check Quadir’s talk at TED 2008 and a reportage about his work in Bangladesh.

27 January 2009

Two Experientia/Vodafone workshops at the upcoming LIFT conference

LIFT 2009
Experientia, in collaboration with the Vodafone User Experience team, is running two workshops on 25 February at the upcoming LIFT conference to present the results of two recent projects and explore their impact.

KashKlash: exchanging the future

Join us for a workshop to explore alternative methods of exchange. The focus is on a possible future ecosystem – in a new world where today’s ageing, less useful and even dangerous financial systems are replaced by (or mixed with) more disruptive innovations and exchanges. Imagine yourself deprived of all of today’s financial resources. Maybe you’re a refugee or stateless. Yet you still have your handset and laptop and Internet and a broadband cellphone connection….

This is one of the provocations posed on KashKlash , an open forum and web project focusing on alternative economies in a post-money future. What will such a world look like? How will the concept of value be measured? What concepts will shape the formal and informal economies? Bright thinkers from around the world came together to discuss, debate and ideate in this innovative and exciting project.

KashKlash is a collaborative project between Heather Moore of Vodafone, Irene Cassarino, Mark Vanderbeeken and Michele Visciola of Experientia and a group of independent visionaries. The project started with four bright and innovative provocateurs, Nicolas Nova, Joshua Klein, Bruce Sterling, and Régine Debatty, and as the debate gathered steam, contributions, comments, flickr photos and twitter streams rolled in from more than 50 additional participants to shape and envision possible futures.

Intrigued? We are looking forward to exchanging ideas with you. See you at the workshop!

Lifestream – Visualizing my data
Explorations of large quantity information visualization

Current technologies allow people to capture, warehouse and retrieve vast amounts of data; more information than we can comprehend as individuals – more than we will ever need. As we move through our days, generating text messages, phone calls, photos, documents, and their inherent metadata, we are not conscious of the cloud of information that we create and carry with us.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded by more information than we can process, it is tempting to entrust this information to computers to store and organise for us. It is tempting to think that the more we store, the safer our memories and important ideas are. We let paradigms that are logical for computers govern the way our personal data is organised and accessed, at the expense of more human forms of interaction.

This workshop explores new paradigms to overcome the defects of current visualization methods. How can interfaces support traditional ways of coping with large amounts of information? How best can we facilitate such cognitive processes such as forgetting and constructing memories? Can our data be presented to us in such a way that it accrues layers of meaning, enhances nostalgia about our past, keeps us in contact with the present, while aiding us in thinking ahead? How can we design information patterns to make visible the connections, patterns and coincidences in our lives, remind us of favourite memories and moments, and allow all that is no longer relevant to fall away like dust.

The workshop by Willem Boijens, Vodafone, and Jan-Christoph Zoels, Experientia will introduce insights and examples of information visualizations, engage the participants in interactive exercises and team discussions.

I might want to add that the original concepts on both projects stem from Willem Boijens (Vodafone) as well, who was also the driving force in making sure that these projects would be presented at the LIFT conference.

A third workshop might be added still. More soon.

3 January 2009

M-banking and economic development

m-banking
Jonathan Donner of Microsoft Research India and Camilo Andres Tellez of the London School of Economics and Political Science have together written a paper on mobile banking and economic development that just got published in the December issue of the Asian Journal of Communication.

Abstract:

Around the globe, various initiatives use the mobile phone to provide financial services to those without access to traditional banks. Yet relatively little scholarly research explores the use of these m-banking/m-payments systems. This paper calls attention to this gap in the research literature, emphasizing the need for research focusing on the context(s) of m-banking/m-payments use.

Presenting illustrative data from exploratory work with small enterprises in urban India, it argues that contextual research is a critical input to effective “adoption” or “impact” research.

Further, it suggests that the challenges of linking studies of use to those of adoption and impact reflect established dynamics within the Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD) research community.

The paper identifies three crosscutting themes from the broader literature—amplification vs. change, simultaneous causality, and a multi-dimensional definition of trust—each of which can offer increased theoretical clarity to future research on m-banking/m-payments systems.

Read paper (preprint version)
Read review

20 December 2008

Watch the video – Mobile Banking for Poor People: Pioneer Perspectives

cgap
Last week, the World Bank’s CGAP hosted a roundtable and webinar on the important topic of how mobile phone banking can deliver a range of financial services to poor people and change lives for the better (see also this blog post).

If you missed the presentations, or if you’d like to hear them again, you can now access the archived presentations and video.

Presentations: Building Agent Networks & Creating Regulatory Space

Video: Introduction and Sessions 1 & 2 and Session 3 (requires RealPlayer)

Introduction by Elizabeth Littlefield, CEO of CGAP

Session 1: Driving mass market customer usage
Moderator: Kabir Kumar (CGAP); Panelists: Brian Richardson (WIZZIT, South Africa), Bold Magvan (XacBank, Mongolia)

Session 2: Buildng a viable, motivated network of agents
Moderator: Mark Pickens (CGAP); Panelists: Nick Hughes (Vodafone Group), Sam Kamiti (Equity Bank, Kenya), Carl Johan Rosenquist (c/o Maldives Monetary Authority)

Session 3: Creating and taking advantage of regulatory space
Moderator: Tim Lyman (CGAP); Panelists: Rizza Maniego-Eala (Globe Telecom, Philippines), Abbas Sikander (Tameer Bank, Pakistan)

Here’s a great write-up of the sessions from Patrick Philippe Meier at Tufts.

13 December 2008

New institute to explore how world’s poor use technology to spend, store and save money

Kenya banking
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded UC Irvine a $1.7 million grant to create a new research institute focused on the growing use of mobile technology in providing banking and financial services to people in developing countries.

The Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion will be the first to explore how the world’s poorest people spend, store and save money. The institute will study how these habits are affected by the emerging mobile banking industry, known as “m-banking,” which could make financial services and the security they provide available to millions of poor people for the first time.

It also will fund research in developing countries, host conferences and provide scholarships to those who conduct such research. An archive on the emerging m-banking industry for use by researchers in the U.S. and around the world also is being planned. […]

UCI anthropologist Bill Maurer will serve as the institute’s founding director. He is widely known for his research on the anthropology of money, finance, law and property.

The institute officially launched Thursday, Sept. 18, at the beginning of the “Everyday Digital Money” workshop, that Putting People First reported on earlier.

Read full story

28 November 2008

“Patenting will be seen as a limitation of human rights”

KashKlash
“Patenting will be seen as a limitation of human rights.”

“There are no cheaters ’cause in my system cheating is the most positive activity.”

“Faulty residents are charged with negligence and sent to live in ‘financially active’ communities.”

“[The will be] a never-ending variety of new richness values that makes the informal economy supremely superior to the current nonsensical cash culture.”

These are some quotes of people completing the anonymous KashKlash questionnaire. You can see all the results here.

KashKlash (see also here) is a lively public domain platform where you can debate future scenarios for economic and cultural exchange. Beyond today’s financial turmoil, what new systems might appear? Global/local, tangible/intangible, digital/physical? On the KashKlash site, you can explore potential worlds where traditional financial transactions have disappeared, blended, or mutated into unexpected forms. Understand the near future, and help shape it!

The questionnaire is still open and it takes five minutes to compile. Please fill it out.

And if you are a Facebooker, you can also go here.

20 November 2008

Why digital research is important in tough financial times

eDigitalResearch
Michelle Fuller, Director at eDigitalResearch, writes in the Financial Times on the user experience of online banking:

With the banking sector moving towards consolidation, it is crucial that customers are understood, reacted to and rewarded for their loyalty. With the UK office of national statistics estimating that almost half of the UK population is now banking online, the role of the website in the customer journey has never been more important to financiers.

Our best advice is for banks to follow the examples set by some of the big online giants who we monitor. When looking at several of our top-rated commercial online retailers, their sites are well optimised, regularly updated and contain clear content and strong usability.

Read full story

(via Usability News)

2 November 2008

Everyday Digital Money workshop at UC Irvine

Everyday Digital Money
The Department of Anthropology at the University of California at Irvine recently organised a workshop on innovation in digital money, entitled Everyday Digital Money.

The workshop examined this emerging, complex, and unevenly distributed landscape of digital money innovation from cultural, psychological, legal, artistic, technological, and industrial perspectives, in order to identify key topics for future research within and across disciplines; such as:

  • M-banking, m-payment, and electronic remittance systems
  • Design tradeoffs; e.g., security/accountability vs. accessibility/empowerment
  • Financial literacies and numeracies
  • Regulatory conflicts and opportunities
  • Formal and informal experimentation with new electronic moneys
  • Connections to physical and virtual mobilities

The workshop blog contains a lot of materials, including the presentation abstracts of each of the sessions:

Some papers and presentation slides are available on various websites, including

Further browsing unearthed additional resources such as:

8 September 2008

Intel navigating future moneyscapes

Jo
Digital technology is changing the everyday forms and experience of money. Cheryl Miller reports on the Research@Intel blog how field research by Intel’s People & Practices Research team identified key themes and opportunities for technological innovation.

The researchers presented their findings at the Day Zero press event for the Fall IDF conference.

They also created Navigating Future Moneyscapes, a comic-like scenario and personas to help convey their findings about the emerging global landscape digital money.

One size does not fit all

  • Monetary literacies: There is no single or “best” practice with which to locate money in daily life, and the changing financial landscape requires on-going reassessment and skill development.
  • Currency wrangling: People juggle public and private money forms (cash, credit and debit cards, loyalty points, airline miles, etc.) and create their own earmarked subdivisions.

People use money socially

  • Relational banking: People consume financial services, but also produce them in the form of loans, donations, and partnerships with family, friends, and valued groups.
  • Expressive consumption: Not just what we buy, but how we buy it, is an important part of constructing our individual, cultural, regional, and political identities.

The project seems to be quite related to another Intel initiative, with MA students in the Design Interactions Department at the Royal College of Art exploring the future of money when it disappears as a physical currency.

5 June 2008

A better ATM experience from Wells Fargo

Enter your PIN
Holger Struppek (a design director at Hot Studio and former senior interaction designer at Pentagram Design) shares on his Physical Interface (!) blog some design insights that went into Wells Fargo’s touchscreen ATM interface–a product freed from a major hardware-imposed restriction of the past.

“Wells Fargo hired Pentagram in the fall of 2005 to begin work on a new user interface for their ATMs. Wells Fargo was in the process of upgrading their ATMs with touchscreen monitors. This was a relatively slow process, since there are about 7,000 ATMs in the field, and any upgrades are expensive. But with the vast majority to be converted during 2007, this was the perfect time to create a fresh UI that would fully utilize the touchscreen capability.”

Read full story

(via Thinking & Making)

29 May 2008

ZIBA Design president on authenticity

Sohrab Vossoughi
Sohrab Vossoughi, founder and president of ZIBA Design, has published an article in Business Week on authenticity, with examples from the Umpqua Bank, Starbucks, and the Anthropologie clothing chain.

“Consumers seek meaning and a brand they can trust. They are busy at work on Web 2.0 platforms creating ways to cut through the noise in search of products and services that resonate with integrity and transparency; in a word, authenticity. That quest for authenticity is a call to action for any company intending to be relevant in the 21st century.”

“As the marketplace has shifted, so too must design. A single, beautifully designed product is nothing more than a beautiful object without the focused intent of a company that has taken the time to understand three things: the deep-seated desires of its customers, its own DNA, and the sweet spot where the two overlap.””

Read full story

9 May 2008

Paper is passe for tech-savvy South Koreans

Gifticon
Reuters report on mobile coupons and gifts in South Korea:

oung, tech-savvy South Koreans are making coupon clipping a thing of the past and turning to their mobile phones instead.

Some of the fastest-growing mobile phone services in the country let retailers send discount coupons and users send gift certificates for anything from lattes to movie tickets through their handsets.

The merchandise vouchers have a barcode embedded in the message. Users show the coupon on the screen and retailers scan the barcode to apply the discount. […]

SK Telecom rolled out a service a little more than a year ago called a “gifticon” that allows users to send gift vouchers for items such as convenience store merchandise and pizzas via mobile phones. The sender is billed for the cost of the goods.

Read full story

3 May 2008

CHI 2008: a selection on mobile banking

CHI 2008 proceedings
Here is my selection on mobile banking related papers presented at CHI 2008.

(Papers are linked to their pdf downloads, if available.)

From meiwaku to tokushita!: lessons for digital money design from Japan [abstract]
Authors: Scott Mainwaring (Intel Research), Wendy March (Intel Research) and Bill Maurer (UC Irvine)
Abstract: Based on ethnographically-inspired research in Japan, we report on people’s experiences using digital money payment systems that use Sony’s FeliCa near-field communication smartcard technology. As an example of ubiquitous computing in the here and now, the adoption of digital money is found to be messy and contingent, shot through with cultural and social factors that do not hinder this adoption but rather constitute its specific character. Adoption is strongly tied to Japanese conceptions of the aesthetic and moral virtue of smooth flow and avoidance of commotion, as well as the excitement at winning something for nothing. Implications for design of mobile payment systems stress the need to produce open-ended platforms that can serve as the vehicle for multiple meanings and experiences without foreclosing such possibilities in the name of efficiency.

Human-Currency Interaction: learning from virtual currency use in China [abstract]
Authors: Yang Wang (UC Irvine) and Scott D. Mainwaring (Intel Research)
Abstract: What happens when the domains of HCI design and money intersect? This paper presents analyses from an ethnographic study of virtual currency use in China to discuss implications for game design, and HCI design more broadly. We found that how virtual currency is perceived, obtained, and spent can critically shape gamers’ behavior and experience. Virtual and real currencies can interact in complex ways that promote, extend, and/or interfere with the value and character of game worlds. Bringing money into HCI design heightens existing issues of realness, trust, and fairness, and thus presents new challenges and opportunities for user experience innovation.

UbiPay: conducting everyday payments with Minimum User Involvement [abstract]
Authors: Vili Lehdonvirta (Helsinki Institute for Information Technology), Hayuru Soma (Waseda University), Hitoshi Ito (Waseda University), Hiroaki Kimura (Waseda University) and Tatsuo Nakajima (Waseda University)
Abstract: As services embedded into public spaces become increasingly transparent, one peripheral aspect of use continues to demand explicit user attention: payment. UbiPay is a system that carries out small everyday payments in a way that minimises user involvement by choosing an interaction method based on context information. The aim is to make paying like breathing: something we are only peripherally aware of unless we exert our resources beyond the usual. This has powerful implications for business and design.

10 April 2008

MIT Media Lab and Bank of America announce Center for Future Banking

Future of banking
The MIT Media Laboratory and Bank of America today announced the creation of the Center for Future Banking, a five-year collaboration to which Bank of America has committed $3-5 million annually.

The new research center, which will be located at the Media Lab on the MIT campus, will […] explore new ideas in banking by inventing technologies that reveal and leverage insights across a wide range of physical and social scales, from one-on-one customer interactions to global transactions. Researchers will address such questions as:”“How can every customer be empowered with the knowledge and tools to take better control of their financial futures?” “How will banking interactions evolve as a customer’s physical and virtual worlds become completely intertwined?” and “How will social networks and mobile platforms transform customers’ banking experiences, making it easier, more convenient, and better integrated with their daily lives?”. […]

Professor Deb Roy, Chair of MIT’s academic program in Media Arts and Sciences and a pioneer in cognitive modeling, communication theory, and human-machine interaction, will serve as the Center’s Founding Director and Principal Investigator. “The Center sets the stage for potentially path-breaking research that will tap into core Media Lab capabilities and extend them in exciting new directions,” says Roy. “We will create a focus of intellectual energy that brings together researchers with radically different perspectives, including behavioral economists, social scientists, computer scientists, psychologists, designers, and others who share a passion for innovative thinking. It’s a recipe for producing unexpected new ideas that will trigger significant innovations in the world of banking.”

Read full story

(via a thousand tomorrows)