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The year 2019 will be  a busy and exciting year, as key new technologies begin finding their way into real, useful applications. The smartphone will still be our central tech device by the end of next year, but as augmented reality and wearables progress, we’ll sense more and more that a new paradigm in personal computing is around the corner. That will be helped along by enabling technologies such as 5G networks, which will be stretching far and wide by the end of 2020. And, artificial intelligence will become infused in all kinds of products, allowing gadgets and services to subtly begin to anticipate our wants. The smartphone will still be our central tech device by the end of next year, but as augmented reality and wearables progress, we’ll sense more and more that a new paradigm in personal computing is around the corner. Technologies like self-driving vehicles and robot assistants are under development. Soon, these and the other exciting technologies described below will go mainstream, changing the world in the process: 1) Voice Assistants: Thanks to the power of artificial intelligence (AI), voice assistants will grow increasingly helpful. Voice assistants are making a significant impact in markets across the globe, and some observers expect that in the future we will communicate with technology through voice rather than text. 2) Augmented and Virtual reality: Advances in Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR), all of which can be summarized in R+, will continue to be at the forefront of attention during 2019 with some fascinating new practical applications for industries 3) Blockchain Technology:  In 2019, to the delight of organizations, Blockchain is going to bring the first enterprise...

Financial Inclusion is a state where financial services are delivered by a range of providers, mostly the private sector, to reach everyone who could use them. Specifically, it means a financial system that serves as many people as possible in a country. In recent time, financial Inclusion has assumed a critical development policy priority in many countries, particularly in developing economies. (cbn.gov.ng). Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way- (worldbank.org). With the aim to “make financial services accessible at affordable costs to all individuals and businesses, irrespective of net worth and size respectively”, financial inclusion is important for the development of any economy. It means that people who have better access to financial services through traditional, bank accounts and digital payments have greater control over their money, and their savings, securing business loans, insurance and are better prepared for financial emergencies.  Also, this would provide the possibilities for the creation of a large depository of savings, investable funds, investment and therefore global wealth generation. In other words, access to financial services, that are well suited for low-income earners promote enormous capital accumulation, credit creation and investment boom. Over the years, the government and monetary authorities have introduced varying policies aimed at deepening financial inclusion within the economy. The policies ranged from various institutional involvements such as the establishment of community and microfinance banks to specific policies and programs designed to facilitate access of the financially excluded to formal financial services. The...

As customers’ financial behaviors evolve to include digital banking and financial technologies—like peer-to-peer payment, virtual currency, mobile payments and mobile wallets—tokenization is one of the most important new technologies merchants can leverage to stand in the way of cybercriminal access to customer payment information. What is Tokenization? It is recommended that consumers use a paper shredder to destroy bank account statements, checkbook registers, tax forms, payment receipts and similar documents that include sensitive data because any account number reflected on the document that wasn’t destroyed beyond recognition could be used fraudulently. Similarly, when a shopper buys something online, they are required to divulge confidential and sensitive information, such as their address and ATM card info. Giving out this information online is risky since it may be stolen and used fraudulently. Much like a paper shredder renders account information meaningless so that it’s made nearly impossible to re-assemble, repurpose or identify, the same theory applies to tokenization—through technology. Basically, tokenization is the process of replacing sensitive data with unique identification symbols that capture all the vital information about the data without compromising its security. The algorithmically generated number used to replace the sensitive data is called a token. How It Works Typical consumer credit/debit (ATM) cards come with names, 16-digit personal account numbers (PANs), expiration dates and security codes — any of which can be "tokenized." When a merchant swipes a customer's credit card, the PAN is automatically replaced with a randomly generated alphanumeric ID (“token”). The original PAN never enters the merchant's payment system; only the token ID does. The merchant can use this special token ID to keep records of the customer....

Recent technology advancements have pointed us in the direction of linking our DNA to everything we do. Biometrics technology is already working its way into our daily lives; from smartphone “touch ID” to cars that unlock with your handprint. It is no surprise then that many financial institutions and governments have already embraced biometric authentication as the standard for verifying the identity of customers opening accounts, requesting services, and making payments. There will be 770 million biometric authentication apps downloaded annually by 2019 (according to Juniper’s research).  Payment services are increasingly taking advantage of biometrics to improve security and convenience by eliminating the need for users to enter passwords or use other cumbersome manual authentication methods. Thanks to companies like Apple and Samsung, many banks are already allowing touch ID to authorize payments and money transfers, and some banks in Europe are allowing ATM withdrawals with the same fingerprint authorization (no card or PIN required). And vendors could certainly benefit from using the technology to authorize payments and cut down on fraud. Biometrics are unique human physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, that can be used for automated authentication. Their growing use in payment solutions is driven largely by increase of touch ID hardware in mobile phones, although they can also be incorporated into other devices such as ATMs and payment terminals. Benefits of Biometrics As Means Of Payment. They free users from having to remember and enter multiple passwords: many of us have memorized more than 5 different passwords for different platforms.  Some users may have as many as 200 online accounts, each requiring secure controls over access. Biometrics eliminates this as only...

Africa is far behind in terms of provision of financial services for its bulging population, and it needs to urgently deliver a robust financial infrastructure that enables prosperity for the people.  For almost a decade, the global community and national governments have made concerted efforts to expand financial inclusion—creating a financial system that wors for all and opens the doors to greater stability and equitable progress. The progress towards financial inclusion in East Africa is evident. In Kenya and Tanzania, it is easier than ever to access financial services with only a mobile phone. But it is far different in West Africa, where the slower pace of development of mobile money has meant limited financial inclusion for some of the poorest communities on the continent. Although the root cause of this predicament is multifaceted, new thinking and innovation in financial services, which includes the provision of appropriate financing instruments targeted at this group of the population, has become critical these past years. It is clear that the main impediments to financial inclusion in Africa are the high cost of opening and maintaining formal bank accounts, the long distances to bank branches and the daunting list of personal information that banks require to support applications to open an account. Sometimes, the erratic nature of Central Bank financial policies and regulations also discourages people from engaging with formal financial institutions. These constraints have stimulated a high level of demand for alternatives to the traditional banking and financing system.   Mobile Phones to the Rescue While mobile phones are quickly becoming more affordable, digital financial solutions that are tailored to very poor and remote communities are urgently...

THE ABC OF BIG DATA The phrase ‘Big Data’ has in recent times become a popular jargon. It has been used, overused and used incorrectly that it is difficult to decipher what it really means. In this post, we shall be demystifying Big data and seeing why it is considered one of the most promising technologies of the decade. Big data refers to the massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large it is difficult to process using traditional techniques. So Big Data is just what it sounds like – a whole lot of data. Social media, online books, videos, music and all kinds of information have all added to the staggering amount of data that is available, as more of this information have become digitized. All these data can then be analyzed, and value can be gotten from it. Categories of Big Data Big Data may be well-organized, unorganized or semi-organized. Based on the data form in which it is stored, the data is categorized into three forms: Structured Data – Data accessed, processed, and stored in a fixed format or form is called as structured data. The example of this data form is a table ‘Student’ storing different fields for the different students containing the data in rows and columns. Unstructured Data – Data without any structure or a specific form is called as unstructured data. It becomes difficult to process and manage unstructured data. Examples of unstructured data may be data sources with images, text, videos, etc. Semi-structured Data – This kind of data contains the combination of both structured and unstructured data. It has a structured form...

As customers’ financial behaviors evolve to include digital banking and financial technologies—like peer-to-peer payment, virtual currency, mobile payments and mobile wallets—tokenization is one of the most important new technologies merchants can leverage to stand in the way of cybercriminal access to customer payment information. What is Tokenization? It is recommended that consumers use a paper shredder to destroy bank account statements, checkbook registers, tax forms, payment receipts and similar documents that include sensitive data because any account number reflected on the document that wasn’t destroyed beyond recognition could be used fraudulently. Similarly, when a shopper buys something online, they are required to divulge confidential and sensitive information, such as their address and ATM card info.  Giving out this information online is risky since it may be stolen and used fraudulently. Much like a paper shredder renders account information meaningless so that it’s made nearly impossible to re-assemble, repurpose or identify, the same theory applies to tokenization—through technology. Basically, tokenization is the process of replacing sensitive data with unique identification symbols that capture all the vital information about the data without compromising its security. The algorithmically generated number used to replace the sensitive data is called a token. How It Works Typical consumer credit/debit (ATM) cards come with names, 16-digit personal account numbers (PANs), expiration dates and security codes — any of which can be "tokenized." When a merchant swipes a customer's credit card, the PAN is automatically replaced with a randomly generated alphanumeric ID (“token”). The original PAN never enters the merchant's payment system; only the token ID does. The merchant can use this special token ID to keep records of the...

By 2030 one in five people will be African. Africa will account for more than half (54%) of the 2.4 billion global population growth in coming decades. The United Nations predicts that between 2015 and 2050, Africa will add 1.3 billion people, more than doubling its current population of 1.2 billion. Combine the continent’s soaring population with technology, improvements in infrastructure, health and education, and Africa could be the next century’s economic growth powerhouse. Africa has had a sporadic growth in Technology through the development from spears and arrows from trees, to the discovery of machines and software to making life better. Even in this evolution of Africa in Science and Technology, research still shows that Africa portrays a gap in Technology compared to the rest of the technology inclined world, due to the myopia on the part of its Government to recognize the value and need for science and technology in its country’s development. As Africa transitions from the margins to the mainstream of the global economy, technology is playing an increasingly significant role. According to the IMF’s 2014 World Economic Outlook report, of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, six will be from Africa. Past Technological Achievements Despite suffering through the era of horrific system of slavery, countless contributions to the fields of science and technology was made by early Africans. The first evidence of tools used by African ancestors is interred in valleys across Sub-Saharan Africa. There is no doubt that tech and innovation can play a big role in making some countries richer than others. About half the differences in GDP per person between countries are due...

Over the years  Artificial Intelligence (AI) has evolved into a sophisticated and elaborate tool that is at times almost indistinguishable from the human being. It helps to handle a lot of time-consuming and mundane, repetitive stuff that workers are often forced to do instead of something more valuable. (See here for what you need to know about AI). Al intelligence is enabling businesses to work smarter and faster, doing more with significantly less. As technology and society continue to advance, more organisations are looking for powerful, sophisticated solutions that will improve and streamline operations. AI can provide smoother, instantly reacting service, which can improve itself and at the same time gather valuable insights from the interactions with the customers. Here are 5 areas AI is currently thriving: Customer Service (Chatbots) Chatbots are always on, delivering smart and flexible analytics through conversations on mobile devices using standard messaging tools and voice-activated interfaces. it is some form of automated AI that begins these conversations. As these AI chat bots can understand natural language, i.e. human conversation, they can readily assist customers in finding out what they need to know. This dramatically reduces the time to collect data for all business users, thereby accelerating the pace of business and streamlines the way analysts use their time.   Security As cyber-attacks increase in frequency and more sophisticated tools are used to breach cyber defences, human operators are no longer enough. Top firms across the world are investing heavily in cybersecurity to ensure their data is protected. Real-time threat detection, mitigation, and ideally, prevention, are what’s needed for businesses – and AI can deliver. Using machine learning algorithms...

Although the term “blockchain” has really grown in popular imagination in the last few years, the technology itself is just 10 years old, given that it was first conceptualized in 2008. Blockchain is the basis of the Bitcoin protocol. (see here for our post on the ABC of blockchain). Interestingly, although blockchain is one of the most discussed topics in recent times, a vast amount of people within the industries that stand to benefit most from blockchain are also completely uninformed about it. This is amazing since blockchain technology has the potential to completely revolutionize industries like healthcare and insurance. Another industry that blockchain stands to benefit enormously is finance. This incredible new technology stands to benefit the industry by saving them enormous amounts of money by streamlining their processes. Why Blockchain in Financial Services? Many of the industry’s processes are overdue for an upgrade or in some cases complete replacement to withstand new volumes, hacks and security threats. Blockchain is far more impregnable and recoverable as no centralised version of this information exists.   Transfers facilitated by central authorities such as banks have not changed in the last 150 years! An international transfer can still take as long as five days to settle, entailing risks like credit risk, exchange rate risk etc., and the industry needs to reduce heavy transaction fees and transaction times. Blockchain can make these transfers visible securely immediately, which other technology cannot.   In the future, people are going to make a lot of smaller payments. That’s going to increase economic activity. That, in principle, makes a larger pie with lower fees, higher volumes and a demand for...