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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Airbus' H160 Helicopter Saves Pilots From Their Own Mistakes

If the pilot ever loses their bearings, a double-tap to the yoke automatically returns the helicopter to a stable, controlled attitude.
Source: Wired

The Messy, Malodorous Mystery of Marin's Dead 60-Foot Whale

It’s the third reported stranding in the Bay Area in a week. The average here for an entire year is five to seven. So what’s going on?
Source: Wired

Suzanne Ciani's New LP Wraps You in Quadraphonic Surround Sound

A new recording by synthesizer artist Suzanne Ciani is being released on a long-forgotten analog surround-sound format.
Source: Wired

Obama's US Digital Service Survives Trump–Quietly

Team created in 2014 to make the government more tech-friendly soldiers on, helping agencies work more efficiently and save money.
Source: Wired

Xiaomi's Mi 8 is the best iPhone X recreation yet – CNET

The new Android phone from China will feature infrared cameras for face unlocking and gesture controls. Sounds familiar? You betcha.
Source: CNET

Nigeria’s Piggybank.ng raises $1.1M, announces group investment product

Seeking to tap into Africa’s informal savings groups the Nigerian investment startup Piggybank.ng closed $1.1M in seed funding and announced a new product — Smart Target, which offers a more secure and higher return option for Esusu or Ajo group savings clubs common across West Africa.

The financing was led with a $1 million commitment from LeadPath Nigeria, with Village Capital and Ventures Platform contributing $50,000 each.

Founded in 2016, Piggybank.ng offers online savings plans — primarily to low and middle income Nigerians — for deposits of small amounts on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis. There are no upfront fees.

Savers earn interest rates of between 6 to 10 percent, depending on the type and duration of investment, Piggybank.ng’s Somto Ifezue told TechCrunch in Lagos with co-founders Odunayo Eweniyi and Joshua Chibueze.

Users need an account with one of PiggyBank.ng’s bank partners to use the products. The startup generates returns for small-scale savers (primarily) through investment in Nigerian government securities, such as bonds and treasury bills.

PiggyBank.ng generates revenue through asset management and from the float its balances generate at partner banks.

The startup looks to grow clients across younger Nigerians and the country’s informal saving groups.

“The market that we are trying to serve is largely the millennial market, though we do not exclude anyone,” said Eweniyi, the company’s chief operating officer. The venture also looks to meet a demand in Nigeria for accessible investment options, citing a survey they conducted indicating that as a top priority for people with discretionary income.

“Piggybank offers savings, but our vision is not just savings, but to become a holistic platform — a financial warehouse — where other financial providers can plug in their services for PiggyBank users,” said Eweniyi. She cited banks, investment houses, insurance, and pension funds as possible partners.

The company currently has 53,000 registered users — 60 percent of whom are Nigerian Millennials — who have saved in excess of $5M since 2016, according to a release.

PiggyBank.ng will use its $1.1M in new seed funding for “license acquisition and product development.”

The startup has taken preliminary steps to launch in other African countries (Kenya in particular) but could not offer exact details.

Groups will be able to choose savings options and goals through PiggyBank.ng’s app and receive automated disbursement of returns across their individual bank accounts, according to COO Eweniyi .

As for how the company assures savers it won’t become another Ponzi scheme, Piggybank.ng and its lead investor point to the startup’s pending banking license with Nigeria’s Central Bank. The company is in the process of acquiring a micro-finance banking license, something LeadPath Nigeria founder Olumide Soyombo confirmed on a call with TechCrunch. He also pointed to Piggybank’s client balances being held with registered banks, which are protected under Nigeria’s own FDIC type banking insurance.

Soyombo will take a role on Piggybank.ng’s board and he’d like to see them open up new options for individuals to input money on the platform. “The agent network business is a huge play we plan to go into. They’ve basically become like human ATMs,” Soyombo said. He referenced Nigerian digital payment company Paga and Safaricom’s M-Pesa with large agent network stations where clients can fund digital accounts with cash.

While digital payments products have caught on in certain parts of Africa, E-Trade type citizen investment platforms have yet to emerge at any scale.

Soyombo doesn’t see Piggybank.ng moving from fixed income investments to equities just yet. “Maybe down the line stocks could be an interesting play, but not right now. People are currently looking for a more risk free place to e-tail,” he said.

Soyombo believes Piggybank.ng has the potential to become an acquisition target.

“They usually only happen in our market with two main players: banks and telcos,” he said. “The banks have been slow to try new things in this savings space. Piggybank is coming in…and filling a particular need, so they are in a very acquisitive space.”


Source: TechCrunch

Spotify CEO tries to clear up handling of R. Kelly controversy – CNET

The new policy wasn’t about punishing one individual, Daniel Ek says.
Source: CNET

Google launches a Q&A app for neighborhood communities in India

Google is increasing its focus on India after it released a new social app that’s aimed at building neighborhood communities within cities in the country.

The company’s ‘Next Billion’ team in charge of emerging markets has dedicated significant resources to India. Its initiatives include data-friendly versions of YouTube and other popular services, its Tez mobile payment app, a food delivery service and a national WiFi network initiative. Now it is adding one more to the list with the release of Neighbourly, a Q&A app for sharing local knowledge.

The basic goal is to give local communities an outlet to seek answers to practical questions about local life, routine and more. Google believes that an increase in urban migration, short-term leasing and busy lives has changed the dynamic of local communities and made it harder to share information quite so easily.

“Life happens close to home, in order the of a 1-2km radius, and local questions come up all the time. But as cities get bigger and bigger, we’re finding that these local questions are getting hard to use — word of mouth used to be key,” Josh Woodward, a product manager within the Next Billion initiative, explained to TechCrunch.

“We built neighborly as a way to connect you with your neighborhood, ask questions, share expertise and stay up to date in a safe way,” he added.

This idea is nothing new, of course. Already in India, WhatsApp — which counts 200 million users in the country — has a range of community groups, but the big issue is discovery since new users have to be added to the group directly.

The new Google app is much like Jelly, the question and answer service from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone that was ultimately bought by Pinterest, but with localized tweaks. A beta version of the app is initially available in Mumbai, but users located in other areas can join a waitlist pending expansion.

Questions and answers are handled via swipeable cards — who knew Tinder’s design would reach neighborhood community apps in India — while the app uses GPS to add a user into their neighborhood right from sign-up.

Woodward said Google is employing ranking and personalization technology which, over time, will match users with the kind of questions they can answer or have shown an interest in. For now, the service is app-based with a read-only mobile web version.

Google’s local tweaks to make the app easy to use include voice-based entry for questions, which covers a range of India’s non-English languages, and a series of prompts that pop up when a user decides to post a question to help them start.

The company has looked at safety issues, and made it easy to flag content which is unsuitable. Once flagged, Woodward confirmed the content is passed to a local content moderator who asses whether it is “neighborly.”

In terms of safety, users sign up using a first name only, there is no private messaging or phone number requirement, and individual profile photos cannot be copied via screenshot and don’t expand when clicked to prevent being stolen. That taps into concern women have about their photos being abused, an issue that Facebook has taken measures against in India, too.

In fact, at sign-up, Google asks users to agree to a ‘contract’ — “I will respect my neighbors” — before letting them into the app. But still, you’d imagine that the laws of the internet will mean that some people will misuse the service.

Profile pages do, however, display badges earned by answering questions — both an incentive and a display of trust, according to Woodward — while users can follow, and be followed, to keep with certain users and their content.

Google tested the app on thousands of users over a period of about a month to get the mechanics right. Woodward said that 30-50 percent of questions were answered within five minutes, which bodes well but discovery looks like being the key issue. That was ultimately the downfall of Jelly, albeit that both apps serve very different audiences and purposes.

Further down the line, Woodward said that Google could add business accounts and integrate other Google services into Neighbourly, but for now the sink-or-swim challenge is to make an impact.

The launch of Neighbourly comes the same day that Google launched Files Go in China. In doing so, the search giant gave a glimpse at its new strategy for China, which involves opportunistic product launches, relationships and strategic investments.


Source: TechCrunch

Apple Watch rainbow-pride face celebrates inclusion – CNET

Ahead of WWDC next week, reports show there’ll be a new Apple Watch face that’s very colourful.
Source: CNET

Uber talking driverless-car partnership with Waymo – CNET

This is the same company that was suing Uber a few months ago for $1.8 billion.
Source: CNET

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