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Technology and Universal Service

Getting Regulation Right Blog Aspect
Dr Archana Gulati
Published Oct 15, 2013
Updated Sep 03, 2023
I have two pieces of information to share. Both of them are related to technology and  telecom penetration.
The first is the welcome initiative on the part of the  Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in exploring  the possibility of providing SMS-based mobile banking through a single application on all types of handsets.
It is reported that,
“A Technical Committee on Mobile Banking has been set up to “examine the options/alternatives including the feasibility of using encrypted SMS-based funds transfer using an application that can run on any type of handset for expansion of mobile banking in the country,” the central bank said.The panel will conduct an in-depth study of the challenges faced by banks in taking mobile banking forward to the desired level. At the end of July, there were about 70 lakh users of mobile banking, which is currently offered by 78 banks.The panel will also examine “any other optimum solution” that would take mobile banking to every nook and corner of the country, in addition to drawing a road map for implementing the solutions or options recommended.”
With mobile penetration outstripping land lines in India and smart phones becoming affordable, this measure could greatly address the yawning financial inclusion gap in the country. As an interesting aside, the promotion of mobile banking  is identified by the Economist as one possible way to reduce channelization of rural household savings into financially less productive assets such as cows, in India! The article is called Udder People’s Money and makes for interesting reading. Please also see my previous post on mobile VAS.
The second is news about the use of  television and radio channels to transmit cellular signals when systems are pushed beyond capacity as during a disaster. “Mai Hassan, a PhD student has managed to [change] the shape of the wireless signal so she could transmit on channels that use radio or television frequencies. She then had to change the direction of transmission away from the original channel. Instead of using traditional antennas, which transmit signals in all directions , she used smart antennas in mobile phones. Smart antennas transmit signals in a single direction and can steer the beam to any direction. By manipulating the direction of the cellular signals, Hassan was able to transmit calls and texts to a receiver while avoiding any interference with the original radio and televisions signals.”
Please see my previous posts on disaster communications. I am of the view that keeping the public (rather than only official first responders) connected is of critical importance during disasters.