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Michael Landau Demonstrates Mobile Banking in Uganda

Question: Can you demonstrate how modern banking technology might help Africans?

 

Michael Landau: Imagine you’re in a village on a Friday night and you get to your village.  It’s now 9:00 and your friend’s grandmother is very sick and you need to call the doctor.  Problem is is that you go to your phone, you got no money left on your phone.  And you look for the guy with a green jacket, yellow jacket to buy the scratch off cards.  You can’t find him anywhere ‘cause he’s already, he’s already gone.  He comes twice a week.  He’s not going to be there ‘til Monday again.  So, currently, you know, you hope your grandmother stays well until Monday morning.  But now, you say, we’re part of the MAP system.  We’re a post bank customer.  We’ve actually got a whole mobile banking application.  So what we’ll do is, the first thing we’ll do is to check the balance on the account.  Now, this system is a live system that operates throughout Uganda but it’s a demonstration so the money is not real money that’s being, it’s not real cash but it’s a real system that’s actually working through Uganda.  So if the cellular service is no good in this room over here, this demonstration won’t work.  But the first thing we do is we got to balance on the account.  So every transaction that we do, you have to check your, we have to get the, we have to put your pin code in.  So we put in our pin code and we’re going to check now, see if we have service, you know, over here.  If we do, we’re going to have a, our balance is going to be able to come through.  And everybody’s going to see how much money I have in my bank account.  You can see, 70,198,000 and change in my bank account.  It’s roughly 2,000 shillings.  It’s roughly $35,000.  So now, we have money in the bank account.  So now, we’re going to top-up the phones.  We go to the buy prepaid and we’re going to put in our pin code.  And then, we’re going to select, you know, kind of the primary bank account ‘cause we can choose different bank accounts that we want to work with.  So we’re going to choose the primary account ‘cause that’s what’s program for now.  And then, we’re going to pick, you see here, the primary savings credit.  But we’re going to pick the primary.  Now, we’re going to select the amount of money, just 2,000 shillings to the dollar.  How many dollars, how many shillings of air time would you like to buy?  5,000 shillings.  Okay, so we’re going to do 5,000 shillings.  And we sell all the, we sell air time for all the companies in Uganda.  So you can choose MTN, UTL, Warid, or Zain.

 

We’re going to go with Zain, formerly CelTel, and now, we’re going to go and buy the 5,000 shillings of air time and, see, Zain air time.  And we got the success.  And now, your balance went down to 193,000.  Now, you got your 5,000 shillings of air time.  So now, we’re going to call the doctor ‘cause, now, the doctor is on his way.  So as we’re waiting for the doctor, why don’t we pay some bills.  Right, the doctor is on his way.  So what we have over here is we have beneficiaries.  The way we have our system set up is that in order for people to pay their school fees, the schools got to be registered on our system.  In order for people to pay their electricity bill, the electricity company has to be on our system.  So I’m going to show you here some of the companies that are going to be registered on our system, that me, as a costumer, I’m going to be able to pay those bills directly from my phone in, when I’m sitting kind of comfortably under my tree in my village, now waiting for the doctor to come.  So I don’t know, again, how much you can see or not.  But the Kampala Junior High School, I’ve got one of my kids in the school, so now I can pay my school fees from my village without needing to go.  And the school fees, and it’s registered for you, personally, to that one, the electrical company, the SACO, the insurance company.  You want to buy a national lottery ticket, which is not set up yet but its all part of the potential for the future.  Or if you’re a member of the Catholic Church and you want to pay your tithes, right, you can set up the Catholic Church.  So now, people can pay their bills directly, which is tied in for them personally.  It’s part of the system that we’re creating.  So now, the doctor comes.  We want to pay the doctor.  So we’re going to pay to you, which is to pay the doctor.  Again, we’re going to put up our code and then we’re going to pay the doctor. 

 

Okay, we’ll give him 10,000 shillings.  So we’ll do a 10,000.  And now, we’re going to put in the number.  The doctor we’ll assume doesn’t have a formal account on our system, meaning he’s not a beneficiary.  He doesn’t have his own code number.  But we’re going to just send to his phone number.  So I’m going to plug in the phone number of an actual account and we’re going to reference, we’re going to put Dr. Big Think.  All right?  He’s a big thinking doctor.  So here, this is the screen that we’re going to be sending.  And now, we’re going to pay.  So now, the doctor will be over there.  And he’s about to give service to your grandmother, and says, I want my money, I want to see that you paid me.  So we’re, he’s, now, going to have a, we’re going to get an approval, in a second, to you, payment successful, Big Think, 10,000 shillings to that amount.  And you saw your balance goes down.  So now, the doctor, I don’t have the other phone with me here but the other phone, for the demonstration, will now get an SMS that he received his 10,000 shillings.  And say, okay, now, I’m going to treat your grandmother.  Okay.  So now, OK, we’re finish.  The doctor leaves.  And I can demonstrate what happens if you put the wrong pin code in, if you put the wrong, if you put the wrong bank account number but it’ll show up invalid pin or it’ll show up invalid bank account.  So, just like if you’re on your, you know, you want to transfer money in America, you send it to the wrong account, you know, you kind of try and get it back.  But if you put in wrong pin code or a non-existing banking number, you got nothing to worry about.  So now, we do a little, do a little statement.  So we’re going to, again, put in our pin codes ‘cause you can’t do any transactions without putting in a pin code.  So now, we’re going to get the statement.  And the statement is going to show that, when it pops up, it’ll show 10,000 for Dr. Big Think, 5,000 for Zain.  And then, we get many statements.  You get the last five.  So it got the 10,000, the 5,000.  And then, you know, yesterday, I demonstrate to somebody with the 1,250 and 35,000.  So the person now can get an update of what it is that he did, you know, kind of on his, on his phone just by sitting in his little village.  So imagine now, all of these transactions would have taken, first of all, you know, kind of took one hour between the doctor coming and doing and paying all your bills and everything.  Current real world in Africa probably have a dead grandmother and a weeks worth of coming and going and moving.

 

Question: Could digital technology help solve the African health crisis?

 

Michael Landau: So it has the potential to completely transform the lives from many different perspectives.  Just to show you a little bit of an advancement, not on the mobile banking but on the mobile health.  Mobile health is a big thing.  Everybody is talking about how do you do mobile health.  So we’ve developed a little program, which is, which will enable, once we have the biometric identification on an individual, we can create a protocol, a registry for that individual so we can keep some basic information about them.  So, as we, so we can do a health summary.  So whatever the protocol, this is just the, this is a template that we created with the gender, the weight, the height, the BMI, and when I’ve got my next appointment, it can also include the blood type reading, including inoculations.  It could include whatever the protocol is that particular country would like to have.  Now, when we do the medical management, so remember, whatever is on the phone can be on appoint to cell device, it can be on a mini computer which communicates.  So this can be kind of in all the, this can be wherever there’s a clinic or wherever there’s a school, you know, this information.  This is just showing the holistic potential of, once we have develop this communication network, that it can be use for money, it can be use for health, it can be use for distributing anything.  So here, what we do is we have this personal information.  You can change your personal information.  Add an appointment.  So you can now kind of record when your appointment is so that the doctor can download or you can put in the doctor’s appointment and it can remind you when you have a doctor’s appointment.  So that way, you don’t miss your doctor’s appointment.  Add a prescription.  So now, you got to your, you need to take some, a new prescription so you can tell, you can add the prescription that you need to take.  In terms of which medication, well, you can add a medication, say, how often you need to take it.  And it can be programmed to remind you to be able to take your medication.  ‘Cause one of the big problems with AIDS drugs and all these different drugs, if you don’t take the medication on time, that you get sicker and the cost involved is just huge.  And the cost involved in creating this sort of system and even giving phones, excuse me, for free to the people who are the recipients of the medication is cheaper, to be able to monitor all of these electronically, using the phones than it is to have the people not take their medication once.  Because suddenly the level of medication and the sickness, etcetera, this is from a donor perspective, it’s much cheaper for them to have a phone with a system like this they can record.  So now, we have, you know, so you have the frequency and the type, etcetera, but then, we can now record the medicine use.  The person, when he takes his medication, it pops up and just record the use.  And there are even medications today that have got, there’s a special electronic coating on the medication that when you take the medication, it can communicate with your phone that you took your medication.  Again, it’s just the world, thank God, today is evolving to be an amazingly brilliant world where technology can really have a massive difference in people’s lives.  And it’s no longer science fiction.  It’s real.  It can really be done.  Just one phone I said bring.  Say, you bring both phones.  And then, also, we have, we’ve developed a little program called the e-doctor.  So you can have a quick diagnosis.  So let’s say somebody is taking, is on an AIDS program, you know, so you can, you know, kind of add a symptom, you can remove a symptom of what the person is sick.  And you can, then, query the symptoms either to a live person at the other end or, this isn’t an operating program.  This is our demo program to show people what we have the potential to be able to create and what the potential is on the system.  And then, we have a healthcare service directory, which means that the phone can be triangulated.  And if you’re looking for the nearest clinic, they don’t have yellow pages.  They don’t have, but now, you know, kind of, you can do it in such a way where the people can, you know, can the phone that can say they need a doctor and it can triangulated, you know, where’s the nearest doctor.  That’s for healthcare.  But the same system can work for, okay, where’s the nearest, you know, where’s the nearest police station, where’s the nearest drugstore, where’s the nearest point-of-sale machine, where somebody can go and get some cash.  So, the potential is huge, of where this can all go.  And because we’re a private sector, we’re driven to make money, we’re driven to make sure this is successful.  We’ll make our money on where, on the financial products.  And we need the assistance of the donors to enable us to provide to the other services in order for us, collectively, to partner with the developing world governments to help them transform the lives of their citizens.   

 

Recorded on: June 15, 2009

The chairman demonstrates how digital technology can improve the lives of Africans.

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A "very massive star" in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy caught the attention of astronomers in the early years of the 2000s: It seemed to be reaching a late-ish chapter in its life story and offered a rare chance to observe the death of a large star in a region low in metallicity. However, by the time scientists had the chance to turn the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Paranal, Chile back around to it in 2019 — it's not a slow-turner, just an in-demand device — it was utterly gone without a trace. But how?

The two leading theories about what happened are that either it's still there, still erupting its way through its death throes, with less luminosity and perhaps obscured by dust, or it just up and collapsed into a black hole without going through a supernova stage. "If true, this would be the first direct detection of such a monster star ending its life in this manner," says Andrew Allan of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, leader of the observation team whose study is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

So, em...

Between astronomers' last look in 2011 and 2019 is a large enough interval of time for something to happen. Not that 2001 (when it was first observed) or 2019 have much meaning, since we're always watching the past out there and the Kinman Dwarf Galaxy is 75 million light years away. We often think of cosmic events as slow-moving phenomena because so often their follow-on effects are massive and unfold to us over time. But things happen just as fast big as small. The number of things that happened in the first 10 millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, for example, is insane.

In any event, the Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is far way, too far for astronomers to directly observe its stars. Their presence can be inferred from spectroscopic signatures — specifically, PHL 293B between 2001 and 2011 consistently featured strong signatures of hydrogen that indicated the presence of a massive "luminous blue variable" (LBV) star about 2.5 times more brilliant than our Sun. Astronomers suspect that some very large stars may spend their final years as LBVs.

Though LBVs are known to experience radical shifts in spectra and brightness, they reliably leave specific traces that help confirm their ongoing presence. In 2019 the hydrogen signatures, and such traces, were gone. Allan says, "It would be highly unusual for such a massive star to disappear without producing a bright supernova explosion."

The Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is one of the most metal-poor galaxies known. Explosive, massive, Wolf-Rayet stars are seldom seen in such environments — NASA refers to such stars as those that "live fast, die hard." Red supergiants are also rare to low Z environments. The now-missing star was looked to as a rare opportunity to observe a massive star's late stages in such an environment.

Celestial sleuthing

In August 2019, the team pointed the four eight-meter telescopes of ESO's ESPRESSO array simultaneously toward the LBV's former location: nothing. They also gave the VLT's X-shooter instrument a shot a few months later: also nothing.

Still pursuing the missing star, the scientists acquired access to older data for comparison to what they already felt they knew. "The ESO Science Archive Facility enabled us to find and use data of the same object obtained in 2002 and 2009," says Andrea Mehner, an ESO staff member who worked on the study. "The comparison of the 2002 high-resolution UVES spectra with our observations obtained in 2019 with ESO's newest high-resolution spectrograph ESPRESSO was especially revealing, from both an astronomical and an instrumentation point of view."

Examination of this data suggested that the LBV may have indeed been winding up to a grand final sometime after 2011.

Team member Jose Groh, also of Trinity College, says "We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local Universe going gently into the night. Our discovery would not have been made without using the powerful ESO 8-meter telescopes, their unique instrumentation, and the prompt access to those capabilities following the recent agreement of Ireland to join ESO."

Combining the 2019 data with contemporaneous Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imagery leaves the authors of the reports with the sense that "the LBV was in an eruptive state at least between 2001 and 2011, which then ended, and may have been followed by a collapse into a massive BH without the production of an SN. This scenario is consistent with the available HST and ground-based photometry."

Or...

A star collapsing into a black hole without a supernova would be a rare event, and that argues against the idea. The paper also notes that we may simply have missed the star's supernova during the eight-year observation gap.

LBVs are known to be highly unstable, so the star dropping to a state of less luminosity or producing a dust cover would be much more in the realm of expected behavior.

Says the paper: "A combination of a slightly reduced luminosity and a thick dusty shell could result in the star being obscured. While the lack of variability between the 2009 and 2019 near-infrared continuum from our X-shooter spectra eliminates the possibility of formation of hot dust (⪆1500 K), mid-infrared observations are necessary to rule out a slowly expanding cooler dust shell."

The authors of the report are pretty confident the star experienced a dramatic eruption after 2011. Beyond that, though:

"Based on our observations and models, we suggest that PHL 293B hosted an LBV with an eruption that ended sometime after 2011. This could have been followed by
(1) a surviving star or
(2) a collapse of the LBV to a BH [black hole] without the production of a bright SN, but possibly with a weak transient."

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