KIGF ONLINE DISCUSSIONS DAY 4: FINTECH ECOSYSTEM IN KENYA

Written by Mwara Gichanga

Kenya’s financial sector is on the brink of yet another sweeping revolution that will define the playing field in the next decades to come: financial technology.

Fintech, as it is increasingly being referred to, is taking the industry by storm, causing a major disruption becoming a trailblazer and redefining the financial sector in the nationally, region and globally.

In this day of fast paced technological innovations, disruption is the new norm: Uber, Pesalink and M-PESA are all good examples of what technology can do to reconfigure the way we live.

Eric and Francis both agree that the Kenyan Business Environment is certainly conducive for Fintech as Disruption as it turns out, is as much a form of social evolution as it is of technological improvements, internet penetration levels are really high compared to other African states which gives Kenya a great advantage for mobile money transfer.

Banks incorporating FinTech to their solutions

The Banking sector is  actually at the fore front of integrating financial technology into their systems, with the introduction of Pesalink which is a money transfer service from a local Kenya Shillings bank account to another local Kenya Shillings bank account in real-time. It is a collaboration between all local banks who are members of the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) and is managed by Integrated Payment Services Limited (IPSL) which is a subsidiary of KBA. PesaLink is real-time, available 24/7 and you can transfer from as low as KES 10 to as high as KES. 999,999. It is also safe since it eliminates the use of cash as a mode of payment.

With this high rate of adoption of digital financing in Kenya is considered among the highest in Africa. Kenya is now recognized as the home of mobile money, reaping the benefits that come along with it.

But with this subsequent growth, risk is invertible and questions have to be asked especially those that enable and frame policy that will foster growth in this sector.

A new law needs to be enacted yesterday to enable Africa’s first virtual bank to be born in Kenya. Not Nigeria. Not South Africa. This is the birth place of Mpesa for crying out loud! Where we account for 10% of all global mobile money transactions! Yet we have a policy and regulatory regime that is still steeped in the physical cash economy.

 

We need to consolidate our gains by opening up the policy and regulatory framework to make it easy and fast to move to the next phase of this Fintech Innovation.’’ AliHussein

Will block chain technology affect the market?

The transformation of the financial services industry is top-of-mind for everyone in the field and blockchain might be the hottest topic in the rapidly changing world of Fintech. But how can this technology really help financial firms? This report from World Economic Forum takes a pragmatic approach to answering this question.

https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-financial-infrastructure-an-ambitious-look-at-how-blockchain-can-reshape-financial-services

 

Concerns over bitcoin and its underlying technology

Crypto currencies such as bitcoin have started being hyped by block chain enthusiasts. However, the moment CBK will recognise it, its true effect will be seen. Francis Monyango

Similar sentiments were shared by Eric Mwangi who argued that in every conversation it is said that “Bitcoin is here and will change everything”. He continued to explain that what all those Crypto-pundits fail to remember or read about is at the beginning of the dot.com boom there were Netscape, Yahoo, AOL, Lycos Alsta Vista etc. the outcome yielded different winners: Amazon Google, Salesforce etc.

Again, as with dot.com there is something the larger public don’t understand. While the media mulls over Bitcoin and and gives credence to a slew of people proclaiming a “decentralised network that no one will own” to a naive public and convincing them to dump millions into “ICO”, there is something else happening. Consider FAAMG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google) do you think it’s a coincidence they are major deployments for many Blockchain networks?

As with previous games the winners are already taking in massive rewards because they are already hooked into an existing IT and Banking Infrastructure. Currently investments are only flowing into Blockchain infrastructure that must be enterprise grade. Same as the Internet didn’t make IT departments irrelevant, Blockchain will not replace IT departments. What will change is the speed and types of skillset needed in it. There will be no immediate shift to everything Blockchain – there will be long periods of co-existing and integration with existing IT systems. However Blockchain will lead to a strong surge in cloud adoption.

The consequence of Blockchain among consumers will be most felt in Infrastructure were developments relating to Identity, Privacy and Security are taking shape.

 

 

 

Highlights: Facebook Open house Ke

Written by Mwara Gichanga

As the world’s biggest social network, Facebook has held a contentious place in the ongoing debate about what role social media is playing in how information is spread around the world today. The norm is that more conversations has moved online and with that a lot of hateful, ugly and false information as well. Facebook has therefore taken responsibility to counter attack content that is unwarranted by creating a platform dubbed hard questions to encourage community reporting so as help the platform  flag down such content.

Facebook in conjunction with The Kenya ICT Action Network(KICTANET) brought the conversation home by organizing an open house at Villa Rossa Kempisnski Nairobi, to spark conversation about Facebook’s role in reporting and flagging down content that is considered hate speech and one that is false and incites violence, especially now that Kenya is approaching the elections. With the hashtag of event agreedupon through public participation #OpenHouseKE

The event saw the CS of ICT Joe Mucheru joining in on this critical conversations as questions on what his ministry is doing to cub the issues of cyberbullying and fake news, the CS was careful to point out the importance on person online responsibility and further encouraging that action starts with the mwananchi taking initiative on reporting on such cases on social media platforms like Facebook, giving an example of Mutahi Ngunyi’s Youtube channel which the CS thinks should be taken down as it crosses the line of freedom of expression and hate speech.

Ebele OkobiHead of Public Policy in Africa highlighted the importance of community reporting, as Facebook has 2 billion users and only a fraction of that population report cases of , Ebele continued by explaining that FB content regulation is global, there are no rules for specific countriestherefore the company announced a new plan to add 3,000 more people to its operations  to the additional 4,500 to be able to screen for harmful videos and other posts so as to respond to them more quickly in the future.

One of the more prominent question at the open house was issues of context and intent measure when it comes to what content gets pulled down and Ebele explained that figuring out what constitutes hate speech and what should be removed is the largest challenge Facebook faces. Sometimes it’s appallingly obvious when hate speech is just that and there sometimes, there isn’t a clear consensus because the words themselves are ambiguous, the intent behind them is unknown or the context around them is unclear.  So, in order to figure out what actually is hate speech, the company looks at context and intent before taking action and works with growing public policy support together with the community to establish the ever evolving intent in content.

Facebook is working with local groups in Kenya such as Article 19, calling the working group Trust Flags to pick out serial reporters and also help Facebook understand context.

On Fakes News Ebele spoke on media houses and bloggers working on ethical credibility on news or information shared and their responsibility to the  public by promoting education  on news literacy.

The issues were too broad to cover at the limited time at the open house but as pointed out by Grace Githiaga a co-convener at KICTANET the conversation still continues on the KICTANET mailing list, so that the public is able interact with Facebook and have a deeper know how on applying the laws that govern us offline do the same online.

 

 

 

Cyber-bullying: Highlights of KIGF 2017 Online discussions

Article written by Mwara Gichanga

As the online discussions carried on throughout the week, online/cyber-bullying also came up as point of discussion especially in this digital era where most conversations have moved from offline to online platforms.

To grasp the gravity of the issues concerning online bullying we must first understand what it is.

Ronald Ojino described Cyber-bullying as any form of bullying which takes place online and is available on a range of platforms including new interactive apps, games consoles, social networks etc. where most young people spend their time.

What are the Trends?

Statistics show that 87% of today’s youth have witnessed cyberbullying (mcfeeintel security) and nearly 69% have experienced it, 41% of that being Girls while 28% Boys (cyber-bullying research centre)

‘’ In regards to online bullying neither us nor our children are safe. There have recently been deaths directly attributable to cyber bullying where a lady committed suicide and online crime waves like the Blue Whale Challenge.’’ Rosemary Koech

One of the now evolving trends of cyber bullying is the term dimmed ‘Revenge Porn’ and Francis explained it as when a victims private information in form of images or conversations are exposed to the public through social media platforms after a disagreement. An example is Kimindiri and Roshanara Ebrahim. In the case of Roshanara Ebrahim V Ashley Kenya Limited & 3 others (2016), the High Court found that her ex-boyfriend had breached her right to privacy under Article 31 (c). For the breach, the court asked him to pay Ksh. 1 million.

Challenges tackling the offense?

In regards to capacity there is need to invest heavily in cybercrime units in the police force and generally have operations digitized so that our forces are equipped to deal with the new frontier for crime.

One of the main challenges in tackling the offense are finding the main perpetrators, like in instances of mass cyber bullying where stories go viral in various channels, it may be impossible to even know the person who originally posted.’’ Rosemary Koech

 

What should be done to address this offense?

Kenya Information and Communication Act CAP 411A has not addressed cyber-bullying as an offense, perhaps it’s time the Kenyan government considers revising the statute books to legislate against cyber-bullying to encourage a conducive environment for all online user. Once the section is amended, agencies such as the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and the Kenya Police should take the lead in creating awareness about cyber-bullying and how to respond to it.

Mildred, Rosemary and Ronald suggested that Charity begins at home and so does bullying. Bullies are created, not born, so the family situation also needs to be addressed. Parents and teachers should have access to tools that can be used to monitor their children’s online activities.

Working with social media platforms such as Facebook to able to flag down abusive/ victimizing content from users, is also a way to stop cyberbullying content/language at its source.

 

Open issues to be addressed.

Is bullying gloried in Kenyan TV shows and songs?

Should criminal law be used to curb cyber bullying?

This is Internet censorship through the back door

Article Written by Mr. John Walubengo.

Last week, the Communications Authority of Kenya published draft regulations on the use of social media for political messaging in collaboration with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

The regulations have two components – one on bulk SMS and the other specifically for social media use within the context of political messaging.

The regulations on bulk SMS are actually the second edition. The first edition was gazetted as we went to the polls in 2013 in a clear effort to avoid a repeat of the post-election violence we witnessed after the 2007 general elections.

Bulk SMS involves content service providers (CSP) who buy airtime in bulk from mobile operators in order to resell it to clients, such as political parties, which may wish to send out thousands of SMS or audio messages to their supporters.

LANGUAGE RESTRICTIONS

Such mass messages may pose a threat to public order, depending on their intent and construction. The proposed regulations are therefore an attempt to curb or contain such political messages before they cause harm to public order. Section 5.3 says:

Political Messages shall not contain offensive, abusive, insulting, misleading, confusing, obscene or profane language.

And section 5.4 emphasizes this further as:

Political Messages shall not contain inciting, threatening or discriminatory language that may, or is intended to, expose an individual or group of individuals to violence, hatred, hostility, discrimination or ridicule on the basis of ethnicity, tribe, race, color, religion, gender, disability or otherwise

Essentially, CPS and mobile operators are obligated to vet political messages to ensure they meet the regulatory expectations above or they would be held liable by both commissions for failing to curb purportedly dangerous messages.

There is nothing very new in the revised bulk SMS regulation except for section 6.2, which now restricts the time for sending out political bulk messages to between 8:00am and 6pm. In addition, section 7.0 also restricts the languages that can be used to only English or Kiswahili.

The time and language restrictions are likely to be contentious, since they betray the inability of our security agencies to take care of us at night as well their inability to decipher all or some of the 42 languages spoken in Kenya.

Either way, the two commissions seem to realise that most political messaging is happening outside the control of mobile operators – through social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and Twitter, and hence the addition of a whole page dedicated to controlling social media messaging.

INITIATING THE HATRED

Whereas the clauses may be well-intentioned, there are issues of conflict with constitutional provisions for freedom of expression, as well as the capacity to enforce the regulations. For example, section 2.2 under social media regulations says:

All comments shall be polite, truthful and respectful.

So who will judge what is polite, truthful or respectful? Last time I checked, politicians, particularly in Kenya, are not particularly polite, truthful or respectful and nothing has been done to them.

So how come we are now more interested in those blogging about it, but not those initiating the hatred? Section 2.3 makes it worse by saying:

It shall be the responsibility of the Administrator of the social media platform to moderate and control the content and discussions generated on their platform

Now, how on earth is the administrator supposed to do this? Some social media platforms contain thousands of users and it is just not feasible to control what the users say – unless you censor every post before it pops up on the social

media platform.

This basically makes you a State gatekeeper without the benefit of the huge budgets enjoyed by the many commissions and state agencies charged with the duty of ensuring a cohesive society.

TRIBAL VENOM

In any case, even if the administrators had the time, money and resources to police the blogosphere, they would realise most sites support encrypted and anonymous posts that make it virtually impossible to identify culprits.

In other cases, culprits have no problem being identified since they live comfortably abroad, where censorship laws are less oppressive and more in favor of freedom of expression.

For sure, the Kenyan blogosphere is full of hate and tribal venom that need to be toned down. But we must be careful not to adopt regulations that would set a precedent that may take us down the memory lane of the Nyayo-era oppressive regime.

A better approach to hate speech and incitement online should be reviewed in light of Article 19’s practical guide to dealing with such cases using their six-part test.

Remember, these regulations, if adopted, will apply beyond the election period, when the threat to public order would no longer apply. What chilling effect would they have on freedom of expression and association?

This article was first published on the Nation Media Website . Mr Walubengo is a KICTANet associate and a lecturer at Multimedia University of Kenya, Faculty of Computing and IT. Email: jwalubengo@mmu.ac.ke, Twitter: @jwalu

The Kenya ICT Action Network is a Multi-stakeholder platform for people and institutions interested and involded in ICT policy and regulation. The network aims to act as a catalyst for reform in the ICT sector in support of the national aim of ICT enabled growth and development.

KIGF 2017: Highlights of Day 1 online discussions

The pre-KIGF online discussions started on 22nd July with day one on questions about Internet Shutdowns. Internet shutdown is one of the methods of Information Controls. Technical experts have defined it as “intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information.”

This topic comes at a critical time where both politicians and Internet users heavily depend on the Internet in accessing and disseminating information. The discussions focused on whether it is possible for the Governments to order and carry out an Internet Shutdown during the elections period and how it should be carried out. Andrew Alston and Mercy referred to the constitutions pointing out the rights to access information which should only be limited when provided by law.

On the possibility of a successful Internet shutdown, listers asked on the capacity of service providers to distinguish between social media and other contents as this would determine whether an Intended shutdown could be fractional or wholesome.

In the case of mobile providers this differentiation capability may well exist and it could be a fairly simple process.  In the case of a wholesale provider who believes that packets are packets and does not get involved in what content is inside those packets, it becomes a very different story. Andrew Alston.

Mercy Mutemi argued that politicians from different divides benefit from information reach to citizens as they use the Internet for campaigns and in spreading propaganda. They would therefore focus on providing alternative information rather than throttling access.

Anticipating shutdowns

Earlier, there were discussions on the KICTANet list on whether it was right for the community to anticipate a shutdown as it would only normalize Internet shutdowns by governments. Grace Mutungu mentioned a possibility of at least a partial Internet shutdown considering that African incumbent governments gave expositions on the ground that the shut downs were to maintain public order.

I think we need to know what government officials mean by ‘things getting out of hand.’

I find shutting down the internet or social media to be such a ‘scapegoat move’ in the sense that it does not address why elements in the state do not feel like part of the social fabric that forms the nation their in. The fact that people in government quarters have been heard mentioning it means it is something they have thought of at some point. It would have been better if they concentrated in creating a nation state where there is little fear of inter-ethnic electoral violence. Francis Monyango

Assurance from the Government

The KICTAnet community also called for government Institutions to assure the public that there are no plans to carry out an Internet shut down.

I attended the National Election Conference which was hosted by IEBC earlier this month. Dr. Wangusi was a panelist in one of the sessions and I asked him to assure Kenyans that there would be no censorship or interruption of communication on the day of elections. He stated that there would be no such interruption. He also stated that election results would be transmitted on a VPN which would see that they do not touch on the bandwidth we would use on the day. Deborah Wanjugu.

Going by the above contribution and the assurance of the Kenya Films and classification Board during the KIGF, so far we have two government institutions have relieved the public of the doubt of interfering with free and open internet access during the elections.

Will it affect the elections?

Questions about the use of technology in this year’s elections have come up every time there is an issue about the transparency of the elections. Listers asked whether an Internet shutdown would interfere with the transmission of results or would provide for loopholes for fair elections. In addition, John Walubengo asked whether it would be possible for the parties to shut down the elections result transmission network to achieve the above objective. We will only get these answers after the elections.

The elections will be carried out manually, and the results announced at the constituency levels. This means that both the mainstream and online media can do their own tallying based on these announcements. However, it is the IEBC’s role to declare the results. Three main service providers will be used to transmit the results to decongest the network and ensure fast transmission.

Maintaining Public Order During Internet Shutdown

Image Credit.

Written by Victoria, from the Bloggers Association of Kenya.

Imagine waking up one day and turning on your computer but you cannot get access to the internet; no browsing, no news, no videos, no internet games, no online chat forums, no social media access. Everything online has been locked out in an instant.

Our world relies heavily on the internet. From communicating with each other to having easy access to a wide variety of knowledge, it is hard to tell what we would do without the internet even for a day.

If the internet was to shut down, the first and most noticeable change will be the huge communication issues. Recently, when a popular communications service provider in Kenya shut down for close to 24 hours, the country was out of a major communication platform. Nevertheless, due to the access to other communication service providers, people were able to communicate with each other.

Imagine a situation where we will not be able to communicate with each other when no service providers can be accessed. We can forget about even having cell phone reception since the cables and satellites that support our wireless phone services will not be able to operate without the internet. We also will not be able to send and receive emails and social media. This would mean the end of easy access to fast-paced information and knowledge.

With just the touch of your screen, we can find out what is happening in other parts of the country from occasional events to even the weather just because of internet access. With no internet, we will have to rely on antenna radio and broadcast television. This would be challenging since most people have transitioned to digital television.

When the internet is shut down, even temporarily, it is viewed as very suspicious activity on the government’s part, especially during an electoral year.

There is a real fear of Internet Shutdowns during this election period (either complete or partial). There seems to be doublespeak from the government (the Cabinet Secretary and Communications Authority of Kenya giving contradicting statements). The basis of the shutdown could be brought about by public order justification for instance: to maintain public order as well as initiatives such as National Cohesion and Integration Commission’s gadgets to monitor hate mongers.

If the internet shuts down during the Election Day, transmission of results would definitely be affected and the said Virtual Private Network (VPN) set to be used to transmit tallied votes could equally be compromised. At a National Election Conference hosted by IEBC in early June, Dr Wangusi, a panellist in one of the sessions, assured Kenyans that there would be no censorship or interruption of communication on the day of elections. He also clarified that election results would be transmitted on a VPN which would see that they do not touch on the bandwidth Kenyans would use on the day.

An Internet shutdown is not the right way to maintain public order. This is because, if the internet went out, it would cause panic in the country. People would start looting, burning things down, and having no regard for local authority. The lack of information when the internet is down will force the government to turn to the martial law to restore order. This would include the local police being replaced by the army as well as new rules like curfews being implemented. This is, therefore, detrimental to a country’s economy.

However, it would be nearly impossible for a government to shut down the entire Internet. Some people in the public have access to a wide range of tools such as VPNs that can easily be used to circumvent any blocks put to deny them access to the Internet in case of an internet shutdown. There are, therefore, too many paths into and out of the country using these VPNs, which have independent providers. The providers who would have to be intimidated for a countrywide shutdown to be executed.

Written by Victoria, from http://bake.or.ke

KESIG 2017: Highlights of Day 3

Written by Samuel Muchiri, KESIG 2017 participant.

If man was left to their own nature it would be very chaotic hence laws are necessary to regulate human affairs and the internet is no exception to this as it was explained by Victor Kapiyo during introduction to legal issues that emanate from this space. There are no universally agreed laws in governing the internet as it is border less, has multi-stakeholder environment and needs cooperation.

Privacy of information is aligned by one’s perception of how private they regard it to be. Gathering of this information by government and businesses has become an area that has led to development of legislation around it. Individual’s information has become a commodity to trade with and hence selling customer’s data is a lucrative business.

Globally both self-regulation and regulation through authorities has become an accepted way of managing data protection. Cyber-crime has been a major threat to this as rise in heinous acts like phishing of user data.

Another new trend being implemented by governments is internet shutdown (an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable to a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information)as explained by Grace Bomu. Justification for this has been from managing national crises during general elections, national examination, insecurity issues etc.

There are various channels used to participate and contribute in this environment. During the Internet Policy engagement session facilitated by Liz Orembo, participants listed the various platforms they have used to engage in ICT policies These include: parliament, KICTANet and public institutions through their call for public participation. Organization like ICANN, ISOC, DIPLO, KICTANet facilitate training into various domains and also offer fellowships to those who apply for this. These forums have provided growth and development of policy through their open and inclusive approach .

“For one to be in the internet economy one has to start with a domain” Abdalla C.E.O of Kenic stated as delved into explaining the business case behind domain and their genesis. gTLD eg .com, .net and ccTLD .ke for Kenya .tz for Tanzania are regard as top level domains followed by third level domains e.g.  .go.ke, sc.ke. A new development was introduction of 2nd level domains that go live from the 23rd July, 2017. This creates an opportunity for domain registrars to gain more revenue channels but also invite cyber squatters (buys a domain and seats on it) into the space.

As passionately put by Gbenga Sessan of Paradigm Initiative the Internet to us was once a thing of wonder – we take it lightly that we send and receive message at press of a button while international postal mail took 3months to get to its destination. We’ve moved from the wonder of access to utilization of internet in health, education, businesses, etc. The real focus of policy should be how to plug Africa’s talent gap with Internet opportunities.

KESIG 2017: Highlights of Day 2

Written by Samuel Muchiri, KESIG 2017 participant.

Internet stakeholders are major contributors to the development and governance of Internet. They were termed as entities that use the internet as was defined by Mwendwa Kivuva of Afrnic. Internet governance categorizes them into 5 or 6 groups that is the government, civil society, business community, technical community, academia and arguably as it was highly debated media.

From a much narrower perspective we also looked at actors who shape and manage the Internet. Some of the major organizations that came out from this discussion are IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) that help set technical standards, RIR’s (Regional Internet Registry) that help distribute internet protocol resource around the world etc.

The Internet model is characterized by an open and free accessible process in development of technical standards and development of policy – the course of action starts from end user e.g. engineers to organization that approve these decisions e.g. ICANN, IETEF.  Forward thinking governments have been involved in these processes although some have come through a learning process into embracing multistakeholderism in which these organizations support.

The development of internet has gone through major milestones in Kenya from the use of satellite communication to undersea fiber optic cables. From use of international channels of connectivity to localization of traffic through Kenyan internet exchange point. From high transit prices of up to $2000 per MB to $4per MB and all this have been Progress within the last 8years. Development of Technical standards have not been left behind either and as put by Kevin Chege of ISOC “open standards enable permission-less innovations e.g. YouTube”

Internet governance (IG) in our country has crossed major hurdles just like the development of Internet. IG was first brought about by technical vs human right contention that arose as was explained by Alice Munyua of Africa Union during her presentation on history of Internet governance. Internet was initially meant for government in and through transitional government National Rainbow Coalition – multistakeholderism was achieved. First government body was established to deal with this and hence the launch of Communications Authority of Kenya. Multistakeholder brought with it challenges and some of them were; it was viewed as a tedious and expensive process, stand-off between government vs civil society and non-governmental organizations, it is hard for government to control internet.

Other challenges that Internet  brought with it that are becoming increasingly had to manage is Cyber-crime which has constantly become a potent issue to deal with. According to 2016 Africa Cyber Security report published by SERIANU crime in Kenya had soared to $ 175 million in 2016. As William Makatiani explained that a typical cyber-criminal in Kenya take their time in surveying their environment and destroy evidence behind their acts hence it become hard for persecution. Emerging reasons for this insecurity were that we do not know ourselves, our enemies, hackers are getting smarter and also that we don’t learn from our mistakes.

“it is important to understand how internet works for us to be able to discuss about internet governance” (AliceMunyua)

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum (KIGF) 2017 Summary

Image Credit

Written by Victoria, from the Bloggers Association of Kenya.

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum celebrated 10 years of internet governance in the country. The forum always focuses on bringing in new voices and ideas from individuals who understand ICT globally and in Kenya making processes, to ensure the debates and discussions held are consistent and continuous. The KIGF week held a Youth Internet Governance Forum for the first time as well as the School of Internet Governance.

The first discussion held at the forum focused on Technology Use in the upcoming elections. The role and contribution of technology in the elections were the main topics of the discussion. Citizens expect elections to be transparent and accountable. The use of technology in elections ensures these are achieved. In the upcoming general elections, Chris Musandu of IEBC clarified that the election process was semi-electronic since the method of casting a vote is purely manual. The electoral process cannot fully depend on technology which only complements this process making it free and fair.

The issue of fake news or alternative news was also a topic in the use of technology in elections discussions. People who run these platforms earn a living from it. Therefore, stopping this news from spreading can be challenging. However, an individual who propagates alternative news and is charged for this offence faces a 1 million Kenyan Shillings fine or a five-year jail term.

The second topic of discussion was on enhancing cyber security in Kenya. Cyber threats have become rampant over the years. The threats can face any individual including government entities. Most individuals in the ICT industry face challenges pertaining to cyber threats but prefer to face them alone without telling others. This should otherwise be avoided and the knowledge and information learnt should be shared with other concerned parties. Concerned parties in the ICT sector should work more on collaboration since individuals who disseminate cyber threats are increasing and there needs to be collaboration and togetherness to fight these threats.

However, today, people are targeting customers instead of the system. This is a form of social engineering, which uses fear and urgency to get information from customers.

The case of online bullying was also mentioned. This particular subtopic focused on protecting children from online content that is harmful to them from online games, online betting to being targeted on their social media platforms. This includes gaming channels like the previous ‘Blue Whale’ that led to the death of a teenager in Kenya. Education and awareness on online use are therefore important to not only the children but also the teacher, parents and guardians because it is everyone’s responsibility to protect them.

The next topic of discussion was on how to safeguard free speech and privacy online, especially, in the electoral context. How many times have we heard or read about the hate speech and online defamation particularly targeted at politicians this year? Are there laws and regulations that bind the use of these words? We all need to be responsible while using online platforms. The public should also be well informed on what hate speech is and how they pose a threat to the country considering the fact that freedom of expression and free speech are constitutional. The election is a very competitive contest where individuals are seeking power, how they communicate on online platforms should be well monitored if they are propagating any certain threats.

Information controls was the final topic of discussion for the day. The question about who is responsible for Internet control was raised. Freedom is not absolute and everyone is responsible for enjoying these freedoms because when we choose to publish or tweet we have chosen to share our opinions.

The government assured us that there would be no internet shut down during the upcoming elections. It was pointed out that, an internet shutdown would lead to the loss of investor confidence to a country besides the loss of revenue, which is measured to a country’s GDP.

There are many harmful websites on the internet and we cannot be able to have control to all of them. Therefore, we have to be responsible to ensure we always use the freedom we have online to achieve the best in aspects. There also need to be trust within the government and the people, because if we are not truthful, there will not be any trust. There is also a place for everyone in the ICT ecosystem and we should all be involved in keeping it safe for everyone.

The Kenya Internet Governance Forum was a success. It was not just a social event but also an informative event full of discussions from the panel and the audience alike.

Written by Victoria, from http://bake.or.ke

The Growth of Fintech Ecosystem in Kenya

Image Credit

Written by Victoria, from the Bloggers Association of Kenya.

Kenya is the birthplace of some of the most revolutionary FinTech ideas. The FinTech ecosystem is fast growing in the country.

Investopedia defines the term ‘FinTech’ as, ‘a portmanteau of financial technology that describes an emerging financial services sector in the 21st century. Originally, the term applied to technology applied to the back-end of established consumer and trade financial institutions. Since the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the term has expanded to include any technological innovation in the financial sector, including innovations in financial literacy and education, retail banking, investment and even crypto-currencies like bitcoin.’

These are discussions held online concerning the Kenya Internet Governance Forum by Kenya ICT Action Network on the topic ‘FinTech Ecosystems in Kenya’.

Fintech seems to be technical but because we are all involved in it one way or another, we definitely have lessons and opinions on what needs to be done.

Is the business environment in Kenya conducive for FinTech business?

Our internet penetration levels are high compared other African states. Keeping in mind how mobile money has also picked up, there is definitely a conducive environment for FinTech.

A new law needs to be enacted to enable Africa’s first virtual bank to be born in Kenya. Kenya is the birthplace of Mpesa. Where we account for 10% of all global mobile money transactions. Yet we have a policy and regulatory regime that is still steeped in the physical cash economy.

Today, we do not visit banks anymore, we do not line up at Kenya Power; Nairobi Water or other utilities to pay our bills; we do not send money via Rift Valley Express, Coast Bus or Posta; we even pay our taxes virtually and we use Uber to travel within the city. We only need to simply use Mpesa or Pesalink to pay for these services.

However, the Kenyan FinTech environment needed to make it conducive is simply archaic from a regulatory point of view. For example, getting a mobile wallet approved by the regulator is somewhat a long process.

We need to consolidate our gains by opening up the policy and regulatory framework to make it easy and fast to move to the next phase of this Fintech Innovation.

Kenya should, therefore, have an enabling policy environment or framework that will foster growth in this sector because what we are currently doing is playing in the periphery.

Disruption is as much a form of social evolution as it is of technological improvements. We are all evolving socially and/or otherwise.

What is the experience of companies scaling & deploying FinTech to other countries in the region?

Collaboration in the FinTech industry unlocks digital growth because Fintech innovation opens up new opportunities. FinTech has helped drive tremendous advances across the financial services ecosystem through reshaping the status quo in a complex and highly regulated industry. Fintech companies are delivering more tailored, convenient and affordable solutions for underserved populations and communities.

Neither start-ups nor traditional financial institutions will be able to independently provide the range of specialised products and services that are needed to address the increasingly fragmented financial lives of 21st-century individuals and businesses.

In order to effectively navigate an increasingly complex financial system and meet changing customer expectations, companies today must build upon and extend their own unique areas of expertise by pursuing opportunities to partner. 

However, with collaboration, new customer expectations are drawing traditional institutions out of their comfort zones; the ability to scale remains a challenge for FinTech start-ups and the global economy is in a constant state of uncertainty.

Fintech startups should remember, successful partnerships put the customer first.

Have banks finally caught on FinTech with their solutions?

Banks have not really caught up but they are trying to blend their products with technological solutions. This wake-up call may have occurred when interest rates were capped. It is however quite clear banks will lead to this new product and not the FinTechs as much touted.

Kenyan banks seem to be playing a catch-up game to Mpesa in the area of mobile banking with their innovative product Pesalink. Banks are actually not charging any transaction costs, unlike Mpesa, when you transfer money between accounts in the same bank. One can even buy more M-AKIBA bonds on PesaLink than when you use Mpesa.

How will bitcoins & blockchain technology affect the market?

Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have started being hyped by block chain enthusiasts. However, when CBK will recognise it, it’s true effect will be seen.

The transformation of the financial services industry is top-of-mind for everyone in the field and blockchain might be the hottest topic in the rapidly changing world of Fintech. Nevertheless, how can this technology really help financial firms? A report from World Economic Forum takes a pragmatic approach to highlight more on this question.

When you converse with people in the Bitcoin community, there is only one thing mentioned – as was during the dot.com era, “Bitcoin is here and will change everything“. What all those Crypto-pundits fail to remember or read about is, at the beginning of the dot.com boom there was Netscape, Yahoo, AOL, Lycos, Alsta, Vista among others. The outcome yielded different top players: Amazon, Google and Salesforce.

Again, as with the dot.com era, the larger public does not clearly understand what is happening. While the media mulls over Bitcoin and gives credence to a slew of people proclaiming a “decentralised network that no one will own” to a naive public and convince them to dump millions into “ICO”, there is something else happening. Considering Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, do you think it’s a coincidence they are major deployments for many block chain networks?

As with previous players, the winners are already taking in massive rewards because they are already hooked into an existing Information Technology and Banking Infrastructure. Currently, investments are only flowing into blockchain infrastructure that must be enterprise grade. This is similar to when the Internet did not make IT departments irrelevant and blockchain will not replace IT departments. What will change is the speed and types of skillset needed in it. There will be no immediate shift to everything block chain – there will be long periods of co-existing and integration with existing IT systems. However, block chain will lead to a strong surge in cloud adoption.

The consequence of block chain among consumers will be most felt in Infrastructure were developments relating to Identity, Privacy and Security are taking shape.

Bitcoin, therefore, does not have a fur fetching future

Written by Victoria, from http://bake.or.ke