May 19, 2020

Straight2Bank: the mobile banking solution driving growth in the developing world

Erik Brenneis, CEO at Vodafone...
4 min
Straight2Bank: the mobile banking solution driving growth in the developing world

Contactless smart cards and mobile payment technologies have quickly become the norm for most of us in the developed world. With a simple tap of your card or scan of your thumbprint, a transaction is securely completed in an instant and on you go. But as the developed world steers further and further away from cash transactions, cash-dominant economies prevail in the developing world.

Dealing exclusively in cash raises a number of issues, which all ultimately boil down to greater risk. Theft, for one, is far easier with everyone carrying bundles of cash, and it then becomes a far more lucrative business for would-be criminals.

For organisations, cash-dependency naturally results in cash flow issues, where they are left unable to send and receive money when needed – a huge hurdle to the financial stability required to push forward and grow. And without a digital identity and transaction trail provided by traditional banking services, ensuring the right payments are made and avoiding fraud become huge challenges.

Not only do these issues damage the success of such organisations, but they also have a direct impact on their employees, and, in some instances, the people they are trying to help.

The empowerment of secure and instant transactions

Tanzania, like many other emerging markets in Africa, is a cash-driven economy. For the businesses and NGOs operating in the country, the issue of cash dependency is very real.

Physically transporting large sums of money from one place to the next, often across Tanzania’s disparate and remote regions, is a risky and time-poor method for organisations, but it has often been the only one.

Recognising the issues faced by countless organisations in cash-dependent nations, Standard Chartered Bank introduced Straight2Bank Wallet to enable electronic transfers without the need for individuals to have a bank account. Leveraging the infrastructure of Vodafone’s widely successful consumer-grade mobile money solution, M-Pesa in Tanzania, Straight2Bank Wallet has empowered organisations with fully secure and instant mobile transactions for the first time.

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In parts of the developing world where bank branch coverage is scarce, but mobile phone penetration is high, Straight2Bank Wallet has made regular and timely payments a reality. And for some organisations the impact of this solution has been revolutionary.

Financial stability never thought possible

Active in 40 countries, Jhpiego is a non-profit health organisation affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University, dedicated to improving the health of women and families in developing countries, mainly through malaria prevention and control, maternal and new-born health, and HIV counselling and testing. As it expanded, the organisation had to consider how best to make payments to its nurses, clinicians and other staff securely and efficiently, some of whom did not hold a bank account.

With Jhpiego’s Tanzanian operations running from its head office in Dar es Salaam, the country’s capital, cash had to be physically transported across vast distances to pay staff their wages and provide the charity’s projects with the required financial support.

Upon its introduction in 2015, Jhpiego was one of the first organisations to benefit from Straight2Bank Wallet. Jhpiego’s finance team now initiates payments to staff and programme beneficiaries using the Straight2Bank Wallet platform, which allows funds to be transferred directly into the recipients’ M-Pesa mobile wallet. No longer subject to the many risks of cash-based transactions, the organisation is enjoying a level of financial stability that it never thought possible, and is providing an improved and more consistent service to its beneficiaries as a result.

Straight2Bank Wallet’s digital ledger has also enabled Jhpiego to maintain an accurate database of registered beneficiaries for the first time, meaning that the organisation no longer experiences errors made during the payment process. The security of this process has been further strengthened by Jhpiego’s innovative use of biometric fingerprint scanners, which ensure that payments are only made to the right people, at the right time.

A greater focus on invaluable work

In parts of the world where access to banking facilities is limited, Straight2Bank Wallet has arrived to transform traditional approaches to banking, and, in doing so, meet a previously unmet need.

By making secure and reliable financial transactions a reality, the solution is ensuring that organisations like Jhpiego can spend more time and effort on the functions that are central to their work - in this case, saving lives.

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Jun 18, 2021

GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud

3 min
VMware has been walking GfK along its path through digital transformation to the cloud for over a decade.

GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.  

In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade. 

“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.

Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.

By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.

One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.

“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.

Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs. 

“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.

The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment. 

The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.

One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.

“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.

“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client. 

“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”

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