We have not worked on mobile money in Myanmar. But now that mobile penetration is quite high, time is ripe for mobile financial services. Here is a description of the challenges: The biggest challenge for anyone in this business is the distribution network. Myanmar is such a big country. We’re now in about 70% of townships around the country – to get around and actually see where our outlets are, it’s a lot of travel.
Rather unusual topic in terms of this blog. But we do work on privacy, competition and marginalization in different technological contexts. Privacy is deeply connected to information disclosure, which is one of the primary modalities of gaining trust. So when I was asked to speak on this subject to a group of young diplomats from developing countries by the Chair of the Elections Commission, I said yes. The Department of Elections which is under the new Elections Commission is widely seen as an effective and credible organization trusted by the citizens.
When talking about the preconditions for the success of the Internet, I have talked about the need to develop an an ecosystem, with trust as one element. These issues were also explored in the work on e commerce. The Chinese solution to the problem of trust in virtual transactions is quite interesting. Almost makes one wish we had enough time to monitor Chinese developments in Chinese. The ubiquity of counterfeits points to a serious problem in China today: an absence of good faith.
Even when one disagrees with a speaker, one can learn from the engagement. I enjoyed myself at the talk given by Futurist Gerd Leonhard at ITU Telecom World, partly because I was actively engaging his stream of consciousness by tweeting. One thing I agreed fully with was his emphasis on trust: As the tweet said: “If you are in ICT Business & don’t have trust, you will be out of business in 5 yrs. Futurist at #ituworld” This caused me to dig through some old writing. Here is what wrote back in 1999 in a UNESCO publication: The overall environment of a society has an impact on how its members approach electronic commerce.
These were framing comments I made at the Panel discussion on “Regulatory challenges arising from the new mobile ecosystem,” GSMA Public Policy Forum at the Mobile Asia Expo 2013, Shanghai, 27 June 2013. The keywords are ecosystem and regulatory. It is widely recognized that the emerging Internet-centric communication system is far more complex than the old voice-centric one and that many more actors are involved, beyond the telecom operators, their vendors, regulators and policy makers. In particular, content and applications providers play an increasingly important role. Unfortunately, they are not represented on this panel, a shortcoming that I hope will be remedied in future episodes of what has to be a continuing conversation.
With the commencement of work on the privacy aspects of big data in 2013, I found myself going back to a line of research and teaching I had thought of in the past tense. In terms of citations as recorded by Scholar.Google, a privacy piece from 1997 is still occupying 2nd place. So it was not too much of a stretch to respond to a request from the organizers of the 2013 Cyber Security Summit in Colombo on 25th June 2013. The overview piece is not that dependent on slides, so the slideset is quite small.
In the 13 years I lived in the US, I saw the postal service change. It was a horrible, rude bureaucracy when I moved there; and I saw the reengineering at work in the last few years. Counter staff were actually trained to smile and be nice to customers (and those who could not be converted, were sent to back offices where they could “go postal”). You stood in a line, staff would come up to the line with handheld devices to serve customers with minor needs such as a sheet of stamps, shortening the line for people with complex problems that had to be dealt with at the counter. They started selling wrapping paper and tape and creating spaces for people to wrap gifts according to USPS rules.