Economic progress hasn’t yet reached Myanmar’s rural children

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The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that while progress has been made in terms of economic growth in Myanmar, life is still difficult for children in remote areas.

A report by the United Nations shows that the government’s reforms and efforts at reconciliation and improving the economy still leave around 2.2 million kids in desperate need of humanitarian help. Most of these children are in the remote areas of the particularly conflict-ridden regions of the country.

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The Many Advantages of Mobile Banking

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Technology and banking are now inextricably linked. Over the last decade, the two have combined to form a new and ever evolving way of doing business in the finance industry, whether personal, business, investing or any kind of fund management.

The term FinTech (financial technology) has emerged as an umbrella word for all sorts of technological advances in banking. It can refer to smartphone Apps that give instant access to bank accounts to websites offering financial advice without high costs or long waits.

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Global Body Looking to Regulate Fintech Sector  

Htet Tayza: Fintech

Htet Tayza examines reports which indicate that a major global financial body is currently deciding whether to regulate the international financial technology (fintech) sector. 

Grappling with fintech 

Figures suggest that in 2014 alone, investment in the global fintech sector increased three-fold from US$4.05 billion to US$12.2 billion. Meanwhile investment in the UK’s fintech industry, recently named the most lucrative in the world in a study commissioned by HM Treasury (the country’s economics ministry), rose by a staggering 35% last year.

Fintech investment is soaring because the industry has huge potential; it has already introduced a number of innovations that have transformed the global finance industry. The most recent fintech revolution is ‘blockchain’ – the open ledger technology which underpins cryptocurrency bitcoin. The Financial Times writes that financial services companies are currently grappling with blockchain. This has caught the attention of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) – an organisation which makes policy recommendations concerning financial regulation to the G20 countries.

Carney’s letter 

Central bankers and finance ministers from the G20 economies recently met in Shanghai. During this gathering, they were issued a letter by FSB head Mark Carney, who also serves as the Governor of the Bank of England. Here, Carney said that the FSB will start to examine whether the fintech industry presents any financial risk to the global financial system, as well as whether it should seek to regulate the sector. Carney further said that the FSB will determine its next steps at some point this month.

Writing in the letter, Carney explained: “A number of technological innovations with potentially transformative implications for the financial system, its intermediaries and users are now receiving close attention… The regulatory framework must ensure that it is able to manage any systemic risks that may arise from technological change without stifling innovation.”

Continuing, Carney wrote: “The FSB is evaluating the potential financial stability implications of emerging financial technology innovation for the financial system as a whole, working with standard setters that are monitoring developments in their respective sectors. We are also working to understand better the potential impacts on financial stability of operational disruption to core financial institutions or infrastructure.”

Balancing regulation 

How would the lucrative global fintech sector be impacted by regulation? Research from Duff & Phelps, a corporate financial adviser, suggested that regulation makes the sector more stable; this was the answer from 40% of executives questioned – up from 30% in 2013. However, UK government figures suggest that productivity in the nation’s financial services industry has fallen significantly since 2009. Philip Booth, Research Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs said that “regulation is one cause of this.”

Elaborating, Booth explained: “With banks required to hold ever-more capital relative to assets [due to UK finance industry regulations], they shrink their assets base. That means weaker lending, less investment and lower productivity.” Therefore, evidence suggests that regulation can be both beneficial and harmful to the global financial industry. The FSB may want to tread cautiously when looking at how to regulate the worldwide fintech market, to ensure that it continues to promote global financial industry growth going forward.

Htet Tayza.

MasterCard Trials New ‘Selfie’ System for Online Purchases  

Selfie: Htet Tayza

MasterCard has decided to trial a radical new payment system for online purchases. Here on the Htet Tayza blog I explain how biometric technologies are altering global financial transactions.

Changing sector 

The financial transactions sector is currently experiencing a period of rapid change. This can somewhat be attributed to the rise of the smartphone. A Mitek survey of 1,004 millennials indicated that 86% execute online purchases or other transactions with their smartphones.

Firms have developed technologies which allow people to pay for purchases with their phones. However most of these innovations depend on passwords. Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions for MasterCard noted that “within most parts of the world, when you do a digital transaction, you use a password, and that’s a big problem because people can’t remember them.”

Selfie pay 

This means that they’ll struggle to complete the transaction. Current forms of online payment also pose something of a security risk. Figures from Aite, a security firm, indicate that 45% of payment card losses are from online transactions. CNBC recently reported that MasterCard has developed a new technology to boost online payment security, by letting users authorise a purchase with a selfie (or a scan of a fingerprint) instead of a password.

The consumer would need to download MasterCard’s Identity Check app to use its selfie payment option. Therefore if you’re purchasing a product which requires identity verification, you’ll get a push notification on your smartphone. You would open the app, hold the phone to your face (similar to if you were taking a selfie) and blink.

The app’s facial recognition technology converts your features into a string of ones and zeros, and that, not your actual picture, is processed. This means that your face is all the password you need to authorise a transaction. The blink prevents criminals from holding up a picture of your face to persuade the Identity Check app to process the payment.

Biometric innovations 

The technology is currently being trialled for two months by more than 200 employees of First Tech Federal Credit Union in the U.S. If this trial and a similar one being held in the Netherlands prove successful, MasterCard will extend usage of the fingerprint and selfie technology first to more banks, than according to Bhalla, “it eventually will be rolled out to everybody.”

It’s worth noting that MasterCard isn’t the only company developing biometric online payment technologies. Apple Pay already lets customers authorise payments with a fingerprint. Visa has developed a technical blueprint which will eventually allow people to use biometrics such a faces, palms and fingerprints for online transactions.

Future of security 

Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst for CreditCards.com said “when your face is your password, you can’t forget it, and it’s much harder to steal than a PIN.” I couldn’t have put it better myself, biometric technologies provide security which PIN and password-based online payment methods can’t compete with. This is why I believe we’ll all soon be using biometric technologies to authorise payments when we shop online.

Htet Tayza.

Technology Developed to Stop Drones in Their Tracks  

Drone: Htet Tayza

A new technology has been developed to stop drones in their tracks as they fly through the sky. On the Htet Tayza blog I ask whether it could come to the aid of frustrated pilots everywhere.

Nuisance tech 

A drone or ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’ (UVA) is an aircraft which can be flown without a pilot on-board. UVAS’s were originally developed during the 2000s by US engineers, who have since gone on to use drones on the battlefield. However drone technology has now moved beyond the theatre of war.

Companies are starting to use them for commercial purposes and it’s now possible to buy drones on the consumer market. The technology has proved a nuisance for aircraft pilots, as they’ve had a number of near misses with drones in recent months. America’s Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) receives roughly 100 complaints per month concerning drones.

Anti-UAV Defence System 

Three British companies have now developed a new technology that could solve the drone problem for pilots everywhere. BT.Com reported that Enterprise Control Systems, Blighter Surveillance Systems and Chess Dynamics have created an ‘Anti-UUAV Defence System,” which can be used to render drones unresponsive to those controlling them from the ground.

The Anti-UAV Defence System relies on radar. The radar detects the drone, then the Defence System uses its thermal imaging camera to provide a visual target. This sends out a high-powered radio signal which jams the drone’s signal, cutting off the operator’s control of the device in just under half a minute. The UAV-Defence System can render a drone inoperable for an unlimited amount of time.

Paul Taylor of Enterprise Control Systems explained the process. He was quoted by the BBC saying: “It’s a radio signal. There are a number of frequency bands that are used by all of the manufacturers. We transmit into those frequencies in the direction of the UAV using a directional antenna. There’s quite a lot of radio power on to the UAV – so much so that it can only hear our AUD’s signal.”

Solving the problem?

This could theoretically stop drones from almost flying into aircraft, yet not everybody is ready to go to these lengths to solve the problem. Whilst the FAA believes that turning to technology is the answer, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority doesn’t. They say that they’re focusing on “educating consumers” rather than turning to such drastic measures at this point.

I’m less interested in how the problem get solved, than by the fact that it’s becoming clear that we need to control the risks presented by drones. This technology is a wonderful innovation which can provide consumers and businesses with sorely needed convenience, but there is a downside to UAV’s that must be addressed in order to utilise them effectively.

Htet Tayza.

What Can You Expect from the Lumia 950?

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On the heels of Windows 10, Microsoft has announced the arrival of its latest smartphone. On the Htet Tayza blog today I ask; what can you expect from the Lumia 950?

Rise and fall 

By the end of the 1990s the word ‘Nokia’ was practically synonymous with the words ‘cell phone.’ However Nokia couldn’t keep up with companies such as Apple and Samsung as they moved into the smartphone market. The brand’s popularity declined, but it was reinvigorated when Nokia joined forces with Microsoft.

The operating system giant bought Nokia and took over its phone business; once iconic Nokia brands such as the ‘Lumia’ are now released through Microsoft. According to Nokia’s website, “Nokia adopted the Windows Phone operating system for smart devices and through their strategic partnership Nokia and Microsoft set about establishing an alternative ecosystem to rival iOS and Android.”

Lumia 950

This strategy has proved highly successful, and since the takeover Microsoft has released a number of well-received Lumia phones e.g. the Lumia 550. Wired has reported that Microsoft has now announced its latest smartphones; the Lumia 950 and the Lumia 950 XL. These devices are particularly significant because they’ll be the first to feature the Windows 10 operating system.

The Lumia 950 boasts a number of innovative features. This includes a 1.8GHz hexacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, a 5.2 inch AMOLED display with a massive 2,640 x 1,440 resolution and 20 megapixel main camera equipped with Zeiss lenses. It’s also equipped with the usual range of LTE, 32GB of storage, 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, NFC connectivity and Bluetooth.

You may also be interested to learn that the Lumia 950 supports MicroSD cards, to provide up to 200 GB of storage and has a listed battery life of 10 hours of video playback.  Furthermore along with the Lumia 950 XL, the Lumia 950 supports Microsoft’s Continuum technology, which basically transforms the device into a mini-PC.

Critical opinion

So what are the critics saying about the Lumia 950? Tech Radar’s early verdict was: “Microsoft has drafted the blueprint for how to build a Windows phone going forward, with Lumia 950 being a serious contender for the iOS and Android faithful.” However Digital Trends wondered whether a “Windows 10 mobile may be too little, too late.”

C.Net titled their review, “they’ll have to do for now,” writing that Microsoft appeared to regulate their smartphone business to an “afterthought” with the release of the Lumia 950. But Fortune argued that “with the release of the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, Microsoft’s mobile operating system can finally do things that iOS and Android can’t.”

Htet Tayza’s verdict

Critical opinion of the Lumia 950 is mixed. Some reviewers believe it heralds Microsoft’s true entry into the smartphone market; others are distinctly unimpressed. I believe that the Lumia 950 is certainly a cutting-edge piece of technology, but it’s no iPhone; it won’t change the world.

Htet Tayza.

New Tesla Features “Bioweapon Defence Mode”

Htet Tayza: Tesla

On the Htet Tayza Blog today I want to discuss the shock announcement made at the recent unveiling of the new Tesla car. Believe it or not, the vehicle features a “bioweapon defence mode.”

Model X

As the world started realising just how detrimental global warming is to the planet, people started to embrace alternative travel options. This includes the electric car and nobody makes better electric cars than Tesla, who have built a global operation on the back of this growing trend. According to Cheat Sheet, Tesla delivered 10,030 cars globally in the first quarter of 2015.

The BBC reported that the firm has now unveiled their latest Tesla car, the “Model X.” It features “falcon wing doors;” double-hinged doors that open upwards. The vehicle also boasts a panoramic windshield that extends overhead, and two electric motors that can travel 250 miles on one charge. Tesla will regularly transmit software upgrades “over the air” to improve the features of the Model X.

Bioweapon defence

These weren’t the only surprising new features of the Model X. The Verge wrote that whilst speaking at the vehicle’s launch event, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed it’s fitted with a “bioweapon defence mode” that’ll provide the car with “medical-grade” air quality.

The system can be accessed through a button, which according to Musk will come in handy “if there’s ever an apocalyptic scenario of some kind.” Apparently all you have to do is push the button and the Model X’s air filter, which is ten times larger than the average car filter, will keep you safe if the world should happen to descend into an apocalypse. Seriously.

This is because according to Tesla, the Model X’s air filter is much stronger than your average car filtration system. They revealed that it’s 300 times better at filtering bacteria, 500 times better at filtering allergens, 700 times better at filtering smog, and 800 times better at filtering viruses. Buy this car and your lungs will love you forever!

Innovation too far?

Musk noted that with the Model X’s biodefence weapon, the firm’s “trying to be a leader in apocalyptic defence scenarios.” Is there really a market for this? Tesla revealed that so far, 25,000 people have pre-ordered the Model X, so maybe there is.

The button’s certainly a nifty little gadget but to me it seems like an innovation too far. A feature which clears smog from your car might prove useful in heavily industrialised cities like Beijing, but how often will those of not living in over-polluted urban centres use it? My guess? Not very often.

Htet Tayza.

The Danger of Taking a Selfie

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New figures have shown that selfies can lead to tragic consequences. This prompted me to discuss selfie etiquette here on the Htet Tayza Blog this week, giving you everything you need to take your snaps without putting yourself in danger.

Pop culture trend 

The ‘selfie’ has become a pop culture tend over the past few years. Rapidly advancing smartphone camera technology has allowed people across the world to take self-snaps more easily than ever before. If you don’t see how such a simple act could become a global phenomenon, just look at the figures.

Statistics gathered by Salon Today indicate that 93 million selfies are taken across the world every day, and selfies now represent 30% of all pictures taken by 18-24 year olds. The act has now become so popular that the word ‘selfie’ has been entered in the Oxford Dictionaries, who named it their most popular word of 2013.

Dangerous act 

Yet a number of news stories have now shown that taking a selfie can be a pretty dangerous act. They can even cause fatalities, as seen recently by the story of a 66 year old Japanese man who fell down stairs and died, whilst attempting to snap a pic of the Taj Mahal.

The Huffington Post reported that new figures have shown just how dangerous it can be to take a selfie. These statistics indicate that 12 people around the world have died as a result of taking selfies so far in 2015, in contrast with eight people who died so far in 2015 due to shark attacks. That’s right, selfies are now more dangerous than sharks!

Selfie tips 

Governments around the world have started responding to the danger selfies pose to their citizens. Russia has launched a campaign to teach people about the perils of the practice. Police officers in the country are planning to hold selfie safety lessons, seriously, in schools across the Federation.

Yet in my opinion, there’s only one thing you need to do when you take a selfie. The reason that this act has caused 12 fatalities in 2015 alone is that the people involved didn’t pay attention to their surroundings when they were taking their selfies. Look around, stay alert and keep your ears open and you should be able to snap your pic in complete safety.

Common sense

So believe it or not, taking a selfie is now more dangerous than encountering a shark, yet it really doesn’t have to be. I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, but if you use a little common sense the next time you take a selfie, you’ll live to take yet another selfie.

Htet Tayza.

Facebook to Introduce ‘Dislike’ Button

Htet Tayza and Social Networking and

Following the Mark Zuckerberg announcement that hit headlines everywhere last week, there’s only one thing I want to talk about on the Htet Tayza Blog today. Yes people it’s finally happening; Facebook has announced that it’s now planning to introduce a ‘dislike’ button!

‘Like’ button 

Believe it or not, Facebook’s now iconic ‘like’ button has actually been around for over half a decade; it was first introduced in 2009, as a Facebook blog post explains, “a single click on the like button will ‘like’ pieces of content on the web and share them on Facebook.”

The button has become so iconic quite frankly because of its popularity; millions of Facebook users click the like button numerous times every single day. The rise of the ‘like’ has prompted numerous calls for the creation of it’s polar opposite, the ‘dislike’ button. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has previously gone on record saying that it’ll never happen.

Dislike button

Now he seems to have changed his mind; according to the BBC Zuckerberg revealed at a recent Q&A in Menlo Park, California, that Facebook is “very close” to sending a dislike button for testing. He said that “today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it (the dislike button), and are very close to shipping a test of it.”

Zuckerberg went on to reveal that the button has been designed to allow users to express empathy and solidarity with other users. Basically it’s a tool that people can use when it’s inappropriate to “like” a post with “sad” content. The tech genius also noted that he didn’t want the dislike feature to become a mechanism through which people would be able to “vote down” other users’ posts.

Trolling tool 

It’s a lofty goal – basically he doesn’t want the dislike button to be used for trolling – but how realistic is this? Mr Zuckerberg seems to have forgotten something; a lot of people like to troll, and they’ll no doubt take advantage of the introduction of the dislike button to troll with abandon.

A man by the name of Charlie Martin summed it up best when he commented on the BBC story quoted above. Martin said that “the ‘dislike’ button is a real can of worms. It could open up a whole new sphere for trolls.” Another commenter, Rushda Khan, said that “I hope the purpose of this is made clear to users. Disliking the post is very different from empathising with the post.”

Disaster waiting to happen 

In other words Zuckerberg’s intentions may have been good, but it looks as though the dislike button is a disaster waiting to happen. The internet is an amazing thing but it does have a dark side, and giving people the ability to specifically express disapproval in an incredibly convenient way, is sure to bring that dark side right out into the open.

Htet Tayza.

What to Expect from the iPad Pro

htet-tayza-ipad-pro

There was only one thing I was ever going to talk about for this week’s Htet Tayza Blog post; the iPad Pro. What can you expect from the recently launched Apple device?

Rise of the iPad

Apple changed the global digital landscape forever back in 2010 when they released the iPad. At the time Steve Jobs, the legendary Apple founder, said that the product and other tablet devices would eventually come to replace the desktop computer. As I previously noted on the Htet Tayza Blog, time vindicated Jobs’ claims.

The iPad revolutionised digital technology. It allowed people to mesh the portability of a smartphone with the functions of a laptop to create a new digital experience. The device has consistently risen in popularity since its launch in 2010. Apple has released six different versions of the iPad and it announced in October 2014 that it had sold 225 million across the world, according to Venture Beat.

iPad Pro 

Wired reported that Apple held a special event last week to unveil its new products to the world. This included the iPhone 6s and the iPad Pro, which current Apple CEO Tim Cook called “the biggest news in iPad since the iPad.” He might be right, as the device is certainly a shift in a different direction, boasting a 12.9 inch screen with a gigantic 5.6 million pixels.

Yet what made headlines was the fact that the iPad Pro has been optimised for use with a stylus, known as the “Apple pencil.” Cook noted that the stylus, designed to offer a responsiveness that makes you feel as though you’re really writing, provides “precision that actually gives you the ability to touch a single pixel.”

Meanwhile, the product has been equipped with Apple’s third generation 64-bit processor, the new A9X chipset. Wired explained that it’s 1.8 times faster than the chip it replaced in earlier versions of the iPad, the A8, lending the device “desktop performance.” The iPad Pro has also been fitted with a four speaker audio system, which apparently has three times the audio power of an iPad Air 2.

Reactions 

Wired lauded the iPad Pro’s Apple pencil,” saying that it “feels like a particular triumph.” The BBC collected other reactions to the release of the iPad Pro. A writer at Verge was surprised by “just how large it is,” whilst the Wall Street Journal wondered “will businesses pay” for a product that’s expected to prove quite pricey.

I’m not quite sure what to make of the iPad Pro just yet. It seems like an interesting product that has made innovative advancements on previous iPad models. Whether it’s “the biggest news in iPad since the iPad” as Tim Cook so boldly claimed, only time will tell.

Htet Tayza.