South Africans to Access Bank on their Mobile Phones
WIZZIT, a mobile banking provider, allows South African citizens to check their account balances, transfer funds, purchase airtime, and pay utility bills in their mobile phones.
To create a WIZZIT account, one need only subscribe to the service and deposit funds into their account by going to a bank or post office. A WIZZIT account costs roughly one-third less than a traditional bank account. WIZZIT markets its services through a growing team of Wizz Kids, typically unemployed college students who earn a commission through signing people up for the service. Subscribing takes just a few minutes and can be done by punching basic information into a telephone keypad. A recent study of mobile banking among low income individuals in South Africa found that a majority of WIZZIT customers sign up because it is cheaper to use than traditional banking, is also convenient and safe.
SMS to Improve Educational Opportunities
BridgeIT programme is bringing ideas and learning to life for rural children. The programme, part of a unique collaboration that includes the International Youth Foundation, Nokia, Pearson plc, the United Nations Development Programme, and local partners in individual countries, was launched in 2003 in the Philippines under the name text2teach. Through the programme, teachers are able to access an extensive library of science, math, and language videos simply by sending an SMS message via a mobile phone. The message signals a satellite, which delivers digital files to a video recorder connected to a television in the classroom. The technology allows high quality content to be delivered in remote areas at the cost of a cell phone call.
Within one year’s time, the programme has demonstrated improvement in academic performance. The positive impact went beyond the classroom, as the project motivated school officials, parents, and community leaders. Over the last two years, text2teach has benefited more than 122,000 5th and 6th grade students, and trained 920 teachers. Steps are now underway to implement the program in Tanzania, where 20,000 rural and urban primary school boys and girls are expected to benefit, along with 1,000 primary school teachers. BridgeIT Tanzania is being carried out through a partnership between the International Youth Foundation, the Tanzanian Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MOEVT), Forum for African Women Educationalists, Nokia, and Pearson plc.
TSF for Disaster Relief
To meet the communications needs of disaster victims, Telecoms sans Frontieres (TSF), a humanitarian organisation, is able to dispatch telecom experts anywhere in the world within 48 hours of a catastrophe.
TSF teams are equipped to set up a telecommunications center at the heart of a disaster or conflict. The centers provide UN, NGO, and government responders with reliable voice, Internet, fax, and video connections using satellite, WiFi, and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) equipment. With this facility, relief workers can assess local needs and coordinate logistics. After the Asian tsunami, for example, TSF immediately deployed its services in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Indonesia to strengthen relief efforts and to offer the possibility to survivors to contact a loved one abroad to give news and to request personalised assistance. TSF teams, staffed largely by volunteers, generally remain in the area for a month until more permanent satellite and other communications are established. Since its founding in 1998, TSF has sent teams to 45 countries on 55 aid missions. Today, TSF is supported by some of the biggest companies of the telecoms industry. The Vodafone Group Foundation has been actively supporting TSF since 2002.
M-PESA- A New Mobile Payment Service
M-PESA, an innovative mobile payment solution that enables customers to complete simple financial transactions by mobile phon has been launched by eSafaricom, the leading mobile communications provider in Kenya. Developed by Vodafone, the world’s leading mobile telecommunications group, with the pilot in Kenya operated by Safaricom, M-PESA aims at mobile customers who do not have a bank account, typically because they do not have access to a bank or because they do not have sufficient income to justify a bank account. All they need to do is register at an authorised M-PESA Agent by providing their Safaricom mobile number and their identification card. Once registered, customers can:
Put money into their account by depositing cash at a local agent
Send money to other mobile phone users by SMS instruction, even if they are not Safaricom subscribers.
Withdraw cash at local a agent
Buy Safaricom airtime for themselves or other subscribers
Only Safaricom subscribers can send M-PESA, but anyone who can receive an sms can receive money by MPESA. Customers do not need to have a bank account to benefit from M-PESA services.
For more details please refer www.vodafone.com/start/media_relations/news/group_press_releases/2007/safaricom_and_vodafone.html
Wikipedia on Mobile
MobilED audio wiki (http://mobiled.uiah.fi/) has been initiated with the idea of offering Wikipedia’s Encyclopedia content for mobile users. The primary user group are teachers and pupils in schools in places where little access to learning materials.
The first field test of testing the MobilED audio wiki was conducted in one school in South Africa. To access the MobilED audio wiki service, each student group were given a Nokia 3230 smartphone and Nokia Music Stands MD-1 (speaker for the Nokia 3230). The thematic group discussed different aspects of HIV and used the MobilED server with the English Wikipedia content to search information related to their theme. Student groups were free to choose search terms and navigate the system according to their own choice. The content – delivered for them as an audio where a speech synthesiser was reading it – they listen together from a speaker attached to the mobile phone. The results of the information seeking and discussions about the themes were then reported back to each students’home/audiocasting groups. The home groups then discussed the most relevant issues of HIV/AIDS for their own age groups and started to write a script for an audiocast or radio show of their own. The audiocast shows made by the student groups were then made available for the whole school community including all the students, teachers and parents. They were able to listen them with their own mobile phones by sending the group name to the MobilED audio wiki which then made a call back for the sender and played the audio found.
For the next year (starting from April 2007) MobilED will focus on three technology streams- text and voice, MMS and data- in terms of development and piloting and take the pedagogical aspects into account when designing lesson plans.
Kazi560 in Kenya is a job referral service providing job opportunities and access to vital health information through Mobile for Good (M4G), a social franchise. Subscribers to Kazi560, need only to enter the job type they are looking for on their keypad, followed by “on” to receive SMS announcements of openings. The service was commercially launched in 2006, over 60,000 people have secured jobs. Subscribers may also access community news posting and health information related to HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, diabetes, diet, and fitness.
The service was established by OneWorld UK, an international organisation dedicated to alleviating poverty through the creative use of ICTs since 1995, Mobile for Good capitalises on the widespread use of mobile phones to improve the lives of people in the developing world. Mobile for Good is expanding the use of mobiles to e-Governance by deploying services at Transport Ministry, office of the President, and others. Other low-income communities in Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda, and Nepal will soon be following the Kenya model.