The school, which is north of Atlanta, has also partnered with Microsoft to establish the lab where these mobile applications are being developed.
The mobile-phone applications, for activities such as receiving funds on a bank account, transferring money to a debit card or getting paid over a mobile phone, will be developed by professors and students at KSU's new incubator, the International Center for Innovation in Technologies. Microsoft is providing $25,000 to create a software development infrastructure, the Mobile Application Development Lab, staff and students will use to develop the mobile phone applications. This is Microsoft's first partnership with a university to develop mobile apps. The lab has already developed a mobile application for Windows Phone 7 and is in the process of developing apps for other platforms.
The apps will be built initially on a Windows platform and transferred to other platforms such as the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android.
"KSU is poised to become a leader in developing mobile technologies for financial transactions," said Donald Amoroso, professor of information systems at KSU and executive director of the International Center for Innovation in Technologies. "The partnerships with TreasureCom and Microsoft will provide Kennesaw State pioneering research and development opportunities in the emerging field of mobile banking technology."
"Kennesaw State will become a case study in how Microsoft can partner with higher education to develop solutions for underserved markets," said Darin Travis, a mobility strategist with Microsoft who works with universities and state and local governments. "The potential for mobile banking is enormous, and Microsoft is building an extensive partner ecosystem. We see promise in leveraging our development platform to create solutions for this industry."
The mobile banking apps KSU will work on will allow cell phone users to receive, send and spend money anywhere, anytime. Advanced applications include using the phone as debit card.
There is huge demand in the U.S. for online payment applications for smart phones, said Solomon Negash, associate professor of information systems in KSU's Coles College of Business and faculty sponsor for the mobile application development Lab, which houses the mobile technology venture. "While some developing countries such as Kenya and the Philippines are advanced in using applications from mobile phones to move money around, the United States lags behind in the use of apps for mobile payments. This venture will put KSU on the map as a leading player in mobile banking applications.
"One reason for the success of mobile money is the burgeoning growth and high penetration rate of mobile phones and another is its ability to increase economic inclusion by reaching out to communities that are normally not served by traditional banks. The potential is huge. Sixty million unbanked and underbanked people in the U.S. are our target." The mobile payments industry is still nascent in the U.S., and demand is expected to skyrocket, Amoroso explained. A recent story in The Wall Street Journal said that as mobile applications have boomed, there is a shortage of engineers with mobile development experience.
TreasureCom, which offers products and services such as branchless banking, bill payments, remittances and prepaid debit cards, already serves markets such as India and Cameroon and is leveraging its partnership with KSU to tap into the U.S. market, said Michael Treasure, president, founder and CEO of TreasureCom. "Banks are serving their customers by using mobile phones to augment existing services, such as funds transfers, and add new services, such as paying for train tickets," Treasure said. "Also, mobile payment methods have been successful in reaching people with no bank accounts or with inadequate banking services."