Monday, November 15, 2010

Orange Launches Orange Money in Kenya

Orange Kenya in partnership with Equity Bank unveiled their money transfer service last week to their customers. The service is mapped to a bank account to allow Orange subscribers access to financial services using their mobile phones. Orange money is different from the other mobile money transfer services in Kenya, combining money transfer and mobile banking to provide a richer banking experience for its customers.

The Orange money service in Kenya is currently hosted on Equity bank's mobile banking platform, giving customers the convenience that comes with a bank account.

The difference between Orange Money and the other money transfer services:
Orange money provides the following services, on top of its money transfer feature that supports money deposits, sending money and withdrawing money through your bank account using your mobile phone.
  • Making purchases
  • Paying bills
  • Managing Payrolls
  • Repaying Loans
  • Mini Statements
  • Stock Prices
  • Forex Rates
  • Full bank Statements
  • New Cheque Books
  • Stopping Cheques
  • Stopping a Card
Benefits of Orange Money:
  • Convenience: You can directly access your bank account from your phone and can send money to any mobile phone network and any bank using your phone.
  • Security: Unlike the traditional mobile money transfer solutions you can store unlimited amounts of money and your funds have deposit protection. Transactions are subjected to the processes and procedures of a bank.
  • Time Efficient: Currently you incur a cost to move money from a bank account to a traditional mobile money transfer system, after which you have to pay additionally for sending money. Time and effort is also required to deposit money via agents into a traditional mobile money transfer system. However, with Orange Money, you transact your bank account using your phone, thereby saving time and energy.
  • Rich Functionality: Since real bank accounts are transacted using the phone as an access channel, limits are higher than traditional mobile money transfer solutions. To protect customer interests, we have set the current limit at Sh. 100,000. You can also minimize errors of transactions by using the phonebook lookup to access the receiver’s details.
  • Easy Registration: If you have an existing Equity account, you do not need to open a new one to access Orange Money – you can just link your existing account to Orange Money. If you are a new customer, then the registration process is quick and easy – you just fill a one page form, either provide two photos or have an agent take your photo. Your application will be sent to a central processing centre and once successful you will receive an SMS with your 5-digit PIN.
This convergence of Orange Kenya and Equity Bank seeks to tap into the unbanked Kenyan population by extending financial services through mobile phones that have a higher penetration rate in rural Kenya. The service is a first of its kind in Africa and it has already been launched in 5 other African countries. It will be rolled out in 19 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Google Will Buy Java

The ongoing face off between Oracle and Google over the use of Java on the Android operating system seems to be making headlines, with many christening Oracle as an evil organization. If you may recall, Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems earlier this year, taking over control of Sun's hardware and software divisions. This acquisition was not well embraced by many including the Java developer community and partners, as well as some of Sun's top engineers that left the company recently, including Jon Gosling, the father of Java.

Oracle's major interest in the acquisition was Sun's much coveted hardware line that boasts of a powerful SPARC processor architecture and their advanced server technology. Oracle specializes in database management systems and ERP software, a clear indication that Sun's hardware products fit perfectly in their core line of business.

So why then, did Oracle sue Google for patent infringement over the use of Java on the Android operating system ? Sun's software line consists of several UNIX systems including the stable Sun Solaris operating system, and many open source platforms like the Java platform. Many of their software products are free and open source, hence they don't really make a lot of money. The Java platform is patented under the GNU General Public License Version 2 (GPL v2), which has some restrictions on using patents. Some of these patents are licensed to Sun, and Oracle claims that Google infringed on them without a license.

Since Oracle does not seem to advocate for open source development and does not seem to care about the fate of the Java language, they will find it easier to hold Google at ransom and indirectly force them to buy Java at a very high cost, or share revenues derived from the Android platform. Google will most likely opt for the latter because the Android platform is performing pretty well. Eric Schmidt, Google CEO stated earlier that Android could easily net a cool $10 billion in annual revenue. Google would therefore not be willing to share revenue with Oracle over the next ten years.

So what will Oracle achieve ? Oracle, in the end will kill two birds with one stone. Sell off Java at a hefty price, while retaining Sun's hardware division which was their major interest in Sun Microsystems.

Larry Elison is a smart businessman. I wonder why Google didn't see this coming and acquire Sun and take control of Java, than have it sold to them at ransom !