Mobile banking and innovation

A few months ago I wrote about the mobile banking solutions I found while travelling in Africa – essentially a series of PayPal-like systems for mobile users. Given the limited nature of financial services in the region, and the overall paucity of infrastructure, these innovations make sense.

But do they make sense in more developed markets? That’s still very unclear.

RBC (Royal Bank of Canada for non-Canadians) recently rolled out a trial for their own mobile banking solution. RBC Mobex is billed as an “innovative payment solution designed for use with your existing mobile phone to make life more convenient for you. Just imagine, you already use your mobile phone to access friends, family, work and play: now you can use it to access your money too. Use it when you don’t have cash in your wallet, there isn’t an ATM nearby or cheques and/or debit / credit cards are not accepted forms of payment.”

The value of such systems comes with scale. Read the rest of this entry »


The Eco-Patent Commons

Back in January, nGenera colleague Derek penned an interesting post on the Eco-Patent Commons, a consortium of large private sector organizations each of whom pledged to release a portfolio of dozens of environmentally focused patents to the public domain. As many of these patents have been lying dormant in the R&D labs of these companies, releasing them to the public as a means of seeing whether outside experts might be able to do something with them carries little risk. But it does mark a departure from the usual process of monetizing unused IP/patents. In fact, given the thrust towards green-tech and environmental sustainability you might question why you’d give up valuable IP in this space, and subsequently one might question the quality/value of these now available patents. Read the rest of this entry »


Serving citizens with the Web 2.0

On the heels of the interesting conversation generated by my colleague Anthony Williams’ post regarding Patient Opinion and it’s interaction with the National Health Service, I thought I’d point to an interesting article by the UK-based National Computing Council on Web 2.0 deployment for local government. Like Anthony, they wonder why many of the most innovative citizen-centric activities happen outside of government, noting innovative examples such as MySociety.org and LGSearch as being at the leading edge of what can be provided to, and crowdsourced with citizens. That said, they also point to a variety of Web 2.0 esque applications being developed by local councils, and while most are rather simple, their final guidelines on the integration and use of tWeb 2.0 tools are is spot-on. See below:

UK National Computing Council guidelines for Web 2.0 deployment
  1. Don’t think about Web 2.0 or e-government as being just about technology. Read the rest of this entry »

Finding God’s Particle

Sometime tomorrow, scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research will switch on their Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and smash sub-atomic particles together in the hopes of finding “God’s Particle,” the missing matter that in theory expains the beginning of time and the Big Bang.

Now aside from being a $5.3 billion, 27-kilometre underground tunnel, the Large Hadron Collider is also a partial product of an innovative and collaborative environment supported by the use of wikis. Not surprising given CERN was home to Tim Berners-Lee and the invention of the Web. The link between the origins of the Web and the wiki are strong, Read the rest of this entry »


Transforming politics: Eric Schmidt, CEO Google

Here’s a very interesting interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt regarding the impact of online tools on political campaigns and the political process. Consistent with Google’s mission of organizing the world’s information, they’re aggregating polling information and hope to provide an interface for voter registration and ultimately online voting.

Eric Schmidt on Transforming Politics

But perhaps more interesting is Schmidt’s remark about our love affair with “the Internet election,” and how it’s evolved since the mid-1990’s. He points to the 1996 election of George Allan (VA) to the US Senate, and its subsequent impact on the Bush (Sr) presidency, as one of the first outcomes affected by the Internet, and briefly delves into what is perhaps the most interesting aspect of online tools related to politics, its ability to upset the entrenched nature of traditional media.