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WeGov

Weekly Readings: Off-Grid

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, April 28 2014

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. Read More

WeGov

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 16 2014

Mark Zuckerberg (Brian Solis)

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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WeGov

The Role of Technology in the Aftermath of Westgate

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 25 2013

An image that spread on social media networks during the Westgate attack (ILRI/Flickr)

“Are all our questions actually going to be answered?” That is the question of questions regarding the Westgate Mall, one of many that Kenyan citizens have posed to their government. Many have voiced their frustration and concern on Twitter. Altogether, they have at least 85 pressing questions which have been aggregated in a crowdsourced Google doc. There might have been more, but the administrator of the doc decided that the 85 questions were “adequate” and closed the doc. One of the most pressing unanswered questions in what the Christian Science Monitor called a “Kenya info blackout” is “Where are the hostages?”

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WeGov

Google Launches Mobile Micropayments in Africa

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 30 2013

A Nairobi matatu (bus) (Wikipedia)

Google just announced the launch of rebranded electronic payment system BebaPay in Kenya, home to the popular and successful mobile money system M-Pesa. With the BebaPay card, Google tackles the notoriously chaotic bus system in Kenya. The BebaPay card standardizes fares and provides riders with receipts, protecting them from unscrupulous conductors charging hiked up fares or not providing change. And it costs consumers next to nothing: the card is free and there are no transaction fees, although cell phone operators can charge to transfer money to the card. With all those perks, many are asking, “What’s the catch?”

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WeGov

Mobile Banking Outpaces Traditional Banking in Kenya

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 24 2013

Screengrab from YouTube Video The Story of M-Pesa

Kenya’s mobile networks last year collectively held more in deposits than the country’s largest bank. The telecoms regulator CCK reported the mobile networks held Sh226 billion ($2.70 billion) in deposits at the end of last year while the largest commercial bank held Sh223 billion ($2.66 billion). The report said the number of mobile money transfer subscribers grew to 21.1 million from 19.3 million in the previous period, a growth of 9.4 percent.

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WeGov

Can Mobile Payments Reduce Corruption and Help Workers in the Developing World?

BY Lisa Goldman and Nick Judd | Thursday, July 12 2012

Photo: Monty.Metzger / Flickr

Back in May, federal officials revealed a sweeping new "digital government" strategy that included an international flavor: technologists coming to the federal government through a fellowship program would work on projects related to an initiative by USAID, the U.S.'s international development agency, to push for more people in the developing world to get paid by mobile phone instead of in cash. In announcements, government officials framed mobile money as a new and innovative solution to some financial problems for people without access to a bank. But mobile money is also an industry that's old enough to have a broad user base in some parts of the world and a few known problems, some of which a USAID-backed pilot program encountered firsthand. Despite these issues, officials are pushing ahead — so let's dig into how, and why. Read More