Design of Mobile Banking Application
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Published: Thu, 01 Mar 2018
Mobile banking is the topic of today as internet banking was a few years ago.  Globally millions of people already use mobile devices to do their banking transactions. Mobile phones as a device with high security standards and direct connections, allows customers to access a wide range of services throughout the world. This is due to the success of the mobile and internet banking which the mobile device brings both banking channels together as a compact and highly personal channel to make mobile banking a reality.  The mobile device also presents new opportunities in payment structure thereby formulating an easy means for transacting payments through the innovative combination of mobile technology.
Mobile devices have greater reach all around the world especially in developing nations with lower knowledge of its existence. At the same time they provide a fast and effective way for customers to send money to dependants in other countries or location.
As it is said, Mobile banking is big news in Africa which started out in countries as South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria where mobile phone users especially in the urban areas traded minutes by sending credits to their relatives in villages in order to communicate with them when the need arises. But then these transactions took up an increased trend by building awareness for Mobile banking deriving various mobile banking platforms such as the SMS, WAP etc. 
In West Africa, there are concerns on how this can be implemented and how the customers would embrace such technology. This will be discussed further in chapter 2 and 5. The mobile banking transaction consists of three main components and these are:
- The User – Customers who make use of the application
- The Device – Mobile handset, PDA etc
- The Mobile Network Operator (MNO) – These can be Financial Institutions, Mobile service provider or combination of both.
The user can request for the service using a mobile device which connects the client application and the MNO through a wireless network, GPRS etc. 
The mobile phone has become an invasive device which has fewer disadvantages than most technologies. The answer to this can be said based on its penetration in poor economies (Africa in particular) and a customer’s demand for the use of telecommunication. With a mobile phone, people can be reachable and have a secure mobile device in the palm of their hands to easily get information anytime they desire which makes communication easy.
The Mobile Network Operator may also be classified as a server supplier which serves as a link between the mobile user and the mobile phone in transacting data. 
Mobile banking offers the prospect of increasing the efficiency of payment systems and also expanding the access to financial services. These objectives may be in tension based on financial integrity or consumer protection.  Mobile banking has also had its criticisms, one being security. The fact still remains that there are measures in place to tackle such risks involved especially in terms of fraud or money laundry. 
The mobile banking services have expanded in Africa cutting across East, West and the southern region of Africa. In Kenya today, a customer can send money via mobile using the Short Message Services (SMS) mobile banking platform. 
It has been spoken about the potential expansion for mobile banking as its awareness builds around Africa and how it could lower the cost of banking and build a customer-banker relationship. 
In implementing a mobile banking structure, there are varieties of mobile banking platforms such as short Message Service (SMS), Mobile web (WAP) and Mobile Client application (J2ME, BREW etc.) and so on. Each Mobile banking platform has its strengths and weaknesses which in effect is important to identify, for this will enhance further development in its future prospect and be appropriate for financial services. 
SCOPE AND PURPOSE
The scope of this project is to implement a mobile client based application using Java application (J2ME) and then determine how effective and secure it will be to a society and users. Questions may be asked why mobile client application. This is because it is at the moment known to be the quickest and easiest way of transacting data on the mobile device in any given time. There should be mobile network coverage for the application to function.
Mobile client application also known to be standalone mobile application is most suitable to implement for a complex financial transaction. A basic requirement for mobile client application platform to be implemented is that of the software been required to be downloaded on the mobile device before it could be used, though further requirements will be needed to support the development environment (J2ME) to function on the device. 
The J2ME client application connects to a server through the wireless enabled device or GPRS which allow customers gain access their bank statements and also perform other banking transactions such as money transfers, pay bills etc. With the support of Nokia Ltd, developers have easy access to development tools by opening an online community for developers focused in developing applications based on J2ME. 
Therefore the scope highlights a broad view of the project in implementing a mobile banking application using J2ME – Java 2 application. The hardware devices to be used are – a Mobile device and a PC /Laptop. The software tools used are Sun Java Wireless Toolkit 2.5.2 for CLDC, NetBeans IDE 6.8, MySQL server, Apache web server, Edit Plus 3, Notepad etc.
The purpose of this project is to design and implement a mobile banking application demonstrating its benefits and tackling flaws encountered in its implementation, thereby creating an awareness of the banking platforms which best ensures a safe and secure means of transacting data in West Africa. Therefore i embark on implementing the project and then demonstrate how it will function.
AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The project is aimed at implementing a mobile banking application to develop its technology and then demonstrate how it could be beneficial to developing countries and financial institutions as mobile payment system is one of the biggest hits in Africa. This will enable mobile network operators who connect to the everyday reality of the customers, diversify in what is known as a growing market and also implement security measures to ensure a safe and secure mobile banking transaction.
The objectives of this project that has been formulated to aid the implementation and success of the project are:
- To investigate current Mobile banking platforms, methods and technologies used in West Africa and how effective and productive it has been to the countries/nations. This was carried out with the aid of Journals, articles and information from the internet and media.
- To investigate and determine the benefits, threats, and weaknesses of implementing a mobile banking application in West African region.
- To investigate on the security breaches in existence and measures to be taken into consideration when implementing the application due to a high risk of data exposure in that region.
- To derive techniques to be used to implement the application on a mobile device.
- To design, test and implement a secure mobile client application to make easy access to customers checking their account balances through Mobile Java enabled devices etc
BACKGROUND OF THE PROJECT (OVERVIEW)
Literature Review – (Chapter 2)
This chapter will analyze, investigate and discuss views on the methods involved in implementing a mobile client application in West Africa and how this can be implemented. Various challenges that may disrupt the implementation will be discussed thereby formulating a means of solving its challenges and how to improve the current situation.
The author will also address general questions arising from exploration of countries in West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana in particular) and how this will be solved.
Structure of Mobile Banking – (Chapter 3)
This chapter will explain the structure, meaning and various types of mobile banking in existence. With a clear structure in place, the project will encompass methods and steps to ensure a successful implementation of mobile banking platforms in West Africa.
Mobile Banking Implementation – (Chapter 4)
This chapter critically examines the implementation process involved in deriving a method that can be implemented, steps to be taken into consideration and testing of the application. The various steps taken will be derived from Unified Software Development Process (USDP). USDP is a generic process for the UML and will apply the iterative lifecycle model of USDP.  
Project Conclusion and Recommendation – (Chapter 5)
The final chapter will encapsulate the previous chapters and the author will discuss on further development to ensure the progress of the project, future improvement in the system designed and how it will be beneficial to the case study chosen. The conclusion will talk about the state at which the project was completed and what more can be implemented.
LITERATURE REVIEW AND PROBLEM DEFINITION
This Literature review is about addressing general questions arising from exploration of countries in the West African region in particular. As i mentioned earlier in the previous chapter, one of the objectives of this project is to investigate the use of mobile banking in West Africa, and then determine which mobile banking platform best suites the economies and masses by further expanding the view based on its availability, accessibility, affordability and security.  In carrying out my research, i limited my search on few West African countries to accommodate the time limit and information given in completing this project.
There are 15 countries in West Africa; but in my research i will engage on using a sample size (limiting my search to two countries – Nigeria and Ghana), whereby i will analyze and investigate the development of mobile banking and its effect caused in the implementation in those countries. 
This will enable a fair view recommendation in my conclusion thereby concluding on which mobile platform can best be applied. Both countries (Nigeria & Ghana) have active Mobile banking initiatives currently implemented; but as low and middle income countries respectively, they come from different starting points and face different issues. As such, they help to frame the particular questions which are focused to derive a result in the implementation of Mobile banking in West Africa. These few questions are:
- What is happening to mobile banking in these developing countries, and is it likely to lead to greater accessibility and affordability?
- Will Mobile banking in West Africa develop spontaneously and will there be an enablement required for it to function effectively?
- What are the measures in place (if any) to ensure a fast and secure means of mobile banking.
- Are financial institutions aware of Mobile banking in Nigeria and Ghana and what mobile banking platforms have been applied?
- What benefit does Mobile banking contribute to the economy and how will the customers embrace such technology?
In this project, various investigations are carried out to identify the elements of an environment in adopting Mobile banking methods which would maximize the likelihood of access to financial services and how it will expand greatly in West Africa. Because of its restricted time and focus, the project was designed to be exploratory, rather than definitive (seeking to understand what was happening in both countries mentioned above) and in the process develop an approach towards market development and awareness of which could be of wider value across the continent. The project comprised the following elements: Investigation on existing mobile banking platforms used as mentioned earlier and the different approaches adopted in different Countries.
In my research, i realized that mobile banking platforms follow a wide range of mobile application expansion in West Africa where so many banks are embarking on the system. This was because of the success of new mobile devices manufactured to provide excellent characteristics with larger processing power, large amount of memory, enabled Java programming and GPRS/GPS service.
Furthermore, mobile network operators in the Western region of Africa adopted 2.5G network, which uses GPRS as an information bearer. With the expansion of 3G networks, it has made mobile banking more productive. These type of networks enable greater amount of data to be transmitted between the client and server applications using much secure and stable connectivity.  With the adoption of the 2G network, WAP was implemented and due to disadvantages in terms of security and availability, the development of the mobile client application was introduced. WAP mobile application was useful for less powerful mobile devices.  Taking a look at other West African countries like Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Niger etc. in which they know little about mobile banking, with an awareness and banks adopting mobile banking platforms, these nations will adopt mobile banking platforms.
The vast major countries in West Africa in which mobile banking is implemented are Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and few others. 
In carrying out my analysis on the growth and implementation of mobile banking in West Africa, i looked at developing countries in that region and examined how effective mobile banking can be. In my research, i sampled two countries – Nigeria and Ghana and examined all aspects relating to the project topic.
RESEARCH ON MOBILE BANKING IN NIGERIA AND GHANA
The growth of Mobile banking in Nigeria started in 2006 beginning with the SMS system of banking which is widely common and still practiced. The WAP and Mobile client application system started in 2008 and ever since has been expanding in technology. Internet banking is one of the mobile banking systems that had a low penetration rate in Nigeria due to poor internet facilities and a high cost of acquiring internet service (Table 2.1).
Globa Com – a Mobile Network Operator (MNO) uses the SMS system of banking in collaboration using some banks in the country.
According to the official of Globa Com, in which he stated that Glo Mobile banking subscribers will soon have access to paying bills and other utility bills on their mobile with a collaboration with several financial organizations. This proves the growth and expansion on Mobile banking in Nigeria and the rest of West Africa. As at 2008, the internet banking system had a 6% penetration rate in a population of 140million in Nigeria. In regards to mobile banking, its penetration rate is close to 50% with a prospect for more expansion as analyzed below. 
One may ask why a large difference between both banking systems. This is due to low infrastructure and technology in satellite transmission across West Africa.
In Ghana, There are measures to ensure the wide spread of Mobile banking services for commercial banks have been advised to introduce mobile banking platforms to enable its customers in carrying out banking services even outside the banking premises which was the only way to transfer funds, check balances etc. 
Mobile banking service penetration
As analyzed above in table 2.1, mobile banking services has penetrated in both countries compared to internet banking which has very low penetration. For Mobile client applications to be implemented, a mobile device with GPRS, WAP enabled and java compatibility should be used. These applications implement secure API and web service technology.
Mobile banking features on a mobile phone have been provided to users in which it is secure and easy to use. This concept is a competitive advantage on the market of mobile phone manufacturers in which competitive advantage is the possibility of success. 
Emmanuel Okoegwale stated in his report that offshore transfer of WAP mobile banking was a disaster based on an internet-based technology applied to the mobile which was a slow, unreliable and costly system for customers in Nigeria with poor coverage, handset limitation and inadequate customer awareness to the system. At the moment, the SMS system of banking is dominant for mobile banking transaction. 
With the standardization of the 3rd generation mobile communication systems in 2000, technology became a vital impart in the world of mobile banking. In 2000, 2.5G – 2.75G network increased the data transmission. Then, the 3G network system which transmits wideband TDMA and CDMA, voice and high bit-rate data and portable units. There are speculations of the 4th generation mobile communication systems called the 4G to be implemented in 2010. The current mobile technology used in Ghana and Nigeria are:
- SMS (The â€œrequest – replyâ€? text application)
- WAP (Web application)
- J2ME (Java application)
Short Message Service
The Short Message Service system involves a user and a Mobile Network Operator exchanging text messages through a secure encrypted channel. But first, the user needs to be registered with the bank to receive the facility. Once registered by the bank, the user will be advised a text will be sent to him to confirm the registration. The service will then be registered and the user would be able to receive text alert once in a while especially when a transaction has taken place in the customer’s account. The structure of a secure SMS system is therefore highlighted below.
An SMS System of banking
With the SMS system, the user can request for his current balance by (requesting) sending a text to a bank message code and then get a response. The message code helps to identify the user and then recognise his request, in which it will initiate a response (sending his current balance). The disadvantage of SMS system of banking is that scammers send SMS messages identifying themselves as the bank, and also request for further bank details from the user such as PIN number, account number etc. This fraud has made the SMS system of banking insecure. This method is still experienced in Nigeria and Ghana respectively as i was able to identify that as a challenge.
Another disadvantage is the user cannot store his credit card information on the mobile devices to pay a bill due to poor mobile infrastructure in place in West Africa. Also, no payment history can be derived from the mobile device when using an SMS system of banking.
WAP (Web Application)
The WAP system uses an internet browser on a mobile device. The user accesses his account from the bank’s website. This is similar to internet banking practiced on a PC or laptop. A major constrain in the WAP system is old mobile handsets have no built-in mobile browser, therefore restricting users in using such method.
In Ghana and Nigeria, most mobile handset users use sophisticated handsets with GPRS, 3G and wireless enabled. Few banks such as Diamond, Intercontinental, Bank PHP and Ghanaian Commercial bank have adopted this method of banking, but yet to completely introduce it to all their customers. This is due to the long wait and procedure their customers have to take in registering for the facility. Some banks have created a special web page which will be suitable for their customers to register on their mobile screens.
Mobile browsers are vulnerable to the same security risk been experienced in internet banking. However, there are differences in terms of safer means of transacting data on a mobile device than on the PC or laptop. This is because as at June 2009,[21a] creators of Trojan horses viruses and other types have not fully focused on the mobile market; though viruses still affect mobile devices, but it is not as rampant as the PC or laptop.
J2ME (Java Application)
J2ME is classified as an application used to implement a mobile client application. This application needs to be downloaded and installed on a mobile device which is java enabled, and then linked directly to a server. The application is said to require an effort to install, but it is known to becoming popular around the world. This is because it is faster than logging into the web browser to access a bank’s website. With further development in its technology, its user interface will be much easier to navigate.[21a]
Applications as this are highly secure due to its implementation and information designed to function with a security algorithm, whereby all banks use different security algorithms.
The disadvantage in using this method is programs downloaded on a mobile device can be stored and if not signed or logged out, it could be vulnerable to security risk. This can be tackled by introducing a timeout system method when implementing the code.[21a]
There are various network connectivity used in mobile transmission.
Mobile device users communicate using wireless networks anywhere at any given time. Mobile devices can be connected as well at any place and at anytime to the wireless network. Wireless network connectivity are regulated by frequencies. The user receives wireless network connection on his mobile on the frequency and wavelength of the antenna. Signal problems may occur based on the blocking and reflection of large buildings, the size of wavelength may be too small and the distance of the wireless antennas (mast) may be too far. This has been further tackled in developed nations, but West African countries still experience these problems. Signals can take many different paths and may case delay (3-12 micro seconds). 
The effects of low or no signals in West Africa are based on short and long term fading of the signals. The short – term fading can be classified as buildings, hills, trees etc., while the long term fading can be said to be the distance between the sender and the receiver, for it may change when the user moves to a different coverage area.
Mobile devices come in different ranges, shapes and sizes. This is why mobile developers cannot system the same mobile platforms for another mobile device. For example, mobile applications developed to function on a Nokia handset will not function on a Windows Mobile/ Windows CE handset, though some applications may function on handsets manufactured by different companies. An example is the snake game on a Nokia and Sony Ericsson handset. This is due to the specification in both devices which will be further explained. Also, these devices are manufactured by different companies using different techniques. Mobile devices are categorised into:
Microsoft PDA and Smart phones
These devices use a mobile 5 and 2003 pocket edition platform to function. Types of devices in these categories are XDA, SPV-M, MDA, I-MATE, HTC S623 etc.
Nokia and Sony Ericsson Devices
These devices use a Symbian platform to function. Types of devices in these categories are P900, N series, W series, 9300 communicator etc.
RIM – Blackberry Device
The blackberry device is a unique kind of device, for it has its unique platform and for such features (such as push e-mails) to function, it will need to register with RIM company, and then be connected to the blackberry enterprise server (BES). With other devices such the HTC device you can download the outlook e-mail feature from the mobile web.
Palm Smart phones
The palm device also uses Microsoft mobile 5 platforms along with the palm Operating System (OS) platform. Devices in this category are Treo 600, Treo 650, Centro, Palm pre etc.
Microsoft PDA phones, smart phones are also manufactured by Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Palm and other mobile companies. These devices have similar functions which are:
- They have the push e-mail function
- You can create, edit and read on the device using applications such as word, powerpoint, spreadsheets etc.
There are differences between using a blackberry device and other devices. As mentioned earlier, the blackberry device is a unique kind and this has made its devices more demanding and competitive in the mobile market.
Analysing these mobile devices in terms of usage in Nigeria and Ghana, most people are so focus driven when new kinds of mobile handsets are introduced into the market. They look forward to having one without the knowledge of its features or technology.
The mobile platforms in use are listed and some are explained below:
- Symbian platform
- Palm OS platform
- Java platform
- RIM (Blackberry) platform
- Windows Mobile platform
- Linux platform
The name Symbian was derived based on Microsoft’s domination in the mobile market, therefore making four mobile companies ( Ericsson, Panasonic, Motorola and Nokia) along with the development team of Psion (a UK based company) form a new company called Symbian. The Symbian platform was also called EPOS.
Symbian is known to be an open source operating system (OS) specifically designed for mobile devices and smart phones with frameworks, libraries and user interface originally developed by the company – Symbian LTD. [29b]
The Symbian platform is specifically engineered to handle error (which is similar to Java) and uses the concept of a server rather than traditional device drivers. The Symbian platform uses an SDK development environment. Figure 2.3 shows the architecture of the Symbian platform.
Java was developed as a language for embedded programming of washing machine, microwaves etc. In 2000, Java language became sophisticated with large classes supporting desktop like application and requiring memory resources and significant processing.
The growth of mobile devices reached the critical mass which made Sun re-launch a smaller version of their SDK called J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition). J2ME now retains integration with larger SDK’ Sun like Palm OS and Symbian platforms. The architecture of J2ME (as shown in figure 2.3) was further partitioned into the virtual machines, configurations and profiles(as shown on figure 2.4).
The J2ME also has support for OTA provisioning. Java ME technology was created in order to handle the constraints connected with building applications for small devices.
The Palm was launched as a software house developing handwriting recognition software for some manufacturer’s handheld. In 2001, palm split to become two companies, one responsible for development of operating systems and the other PDAs.
Palm functions with a single -tasking third -party kernel which was developed by KADAK. It has a real-time operating system which is able to handle hardware interruption while task switching.
EVALUATION AND FINDINGS
A search was carried out to analyse the current Mobile banking Structure in West Africa and what banking strategies have been implemented to ensure customers have a safe and secure means of Mobile banking.
Before implementing a Mobile client application, such evaluations should be carried out by using SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, this will enable me carryout a proper implementation of Mobile banking in West Africa.
In achieving my findings, I carried out various objectives which are listed below:
- I carried out a search to analyse the current Mobile banking Structure existing in West Africa and how effective, accessible and affordable it has been to the economies or nations. This was carried out with the aid of Journals, Articles and information from the internet and media.
Results: The mobile banking platforms in existence are SMS, WAP and Mobile client application.
- An evaluation of my findings from my literature search was carried out to determine the benefits, threats, and the weaknesses of implementing a mobile banking application in West African region.
Results: The benefits are greater expansion in banking facility and the economy at large.
Security measures were derived when implementing the application due to a high risk of data protection in that region.
- What techniques were introduced in current mobile banking platforms?
Results: Techniques derived to implement the application on a mobile device are SMS alert system, banking advertisement and customer-to-bank relationship.
ANALYSIS AND INVESTIGATION
Analysis and investigation are issues that may arise when implementing a mobile banking platform. To investigate the above given aim and objectives, i’ll be using a range of resources, like books, journals, but the main source of my information will be the Internet; resources from news websites, white papers and government publications etc. thereby providing an up-to-date information to carryout my research. This method was adopted due to constrains in distance and information from West African countries.
According to Sola fanawopo(2008) on the growth in mobile banking services in Nigeria, he stated that â€œsome of the transactions that can be conducted with Glo Mobile banking include – checking balances, viewing of the last five transactions on account. He also stated Glo Mobile (Owner by Globa Com) subscribers can transfer money from one account to another within the same bank. Emmanuel Okoegwale in an article went further to elaborate on when Nigeria started using Mobile banking system which he said started by transaction based activities whereby customers were notified through the SMS system of banking in respect to the recent banking transactions done on their account.
With the recent penetration of internet and Java enabled mobile devices, Nigerian banks deployed full fledged banking through mobile device with various means of services made available, but this was made possible in the bank. The internet being a channel to mobile banking had penetration rate of 6 percent (%) in a population of 140million,with mobile technology been close to 50 percent (%) penetration with prospect for growth.( see table 2.1) 
The banking sector in Ghana has witnessed a significant amount of transformation in the adoption of banking which also known in Ghana as â€˜m-banking’.
According to Daniel Nonor’s report on mobile banking in Ghana, he said â€œsubscribers to the facility in Ghana still account for a tiny percentage of the banking public, but fast gaining groundsâ€?. He went further to explain the use of advanced mobile phones and services by Ghanaians who have embraced the mobile technology. 
One of Ghanaian’s top banks – â€˜Ghana Commercial bank’ GCB is yet to introduce the mobile client system of banking to their customers in 2010. 
MTN ( one of West African’s mobile service operators launched mobile banking in Ghana called MTN Mobile Money which will allow customers pay for utility services, transfer money and other banking services. For this to function, customers will have to register with authorized mobile money agents or partnership banks. 
Ivatury and Mas (2008) predicted that poor people in developing countries are more likely to use mobile phones in undertaking financial transactions. 
However, there exists poor internet connectivity in most countries in West Af
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