For Whom The Bell Tolls; It Tolls For Thee

first_imgPerhaps never in the history of Liberia since its founding in 1822 have church bells in the city of Monrovia tolled as they did on April 10, 1918 when a German submarine bombarded Monrovia. Several lives were reported to have been lost as a consequence of the shelling.Prior to the outbreak of World War I, in 1914, Germany was Liberia’s largest trading partner. The Germans even ran a cable station situated at the time at the Coconut Plantations, South Beach. The Germans maintained a small military garrison to protect the station and, until Liberia joined the Allies and declared war against Germany on August 4, 1917 relations between the two nations were at best cordial.But the declaration of war against Germany and the seizure of all German assets in 1918, opened Liberia to retaliation. The Germans, at the time engaged in active submarine warfare, instituted a naval blockade and dispatched a submarine to Monrovia with a list of demands. But being poor and lacking a standing army, navy or air force, there was virtually nothing the Liberian government could do in the face of the ultimatum from the commander of the German submarine to surrender the French cable station as well as all British, French and American nationals in Liberia.The Liberian government naturally refused to accede to the Germans demand and, as a consequence thereof, the bombardment of Monrovia commenced. For the record, Liberia contributed a small number of troops who served in France although they did not see combat. Further, Liberia stands out as perhaps the only country in West Africa whose capital was bombarded by the Germans. All the while during the hours of bombardment, the Church bells continued to toll in response to President Daniel E. Howard’s call to the nation to supplicate for divine intervention.And divine intervention did come hours later with the appearance of an armed allied merchant ship that engaged the submarine in battle throughout the night. By morning according to historical accounts, the threat had receded as both vessels were reported to have left Liberian territorial waters, although it was not clear if both vessels had suffered damage and sunk as a result of their armed engagement. It is also recorded in history that a proposed loan to replace profits lost as a consequence of Liberia’s involvement in the war on the side of the allies was proposed by President Woodrow Wilson but was blocked by the US Senate.But why is all this recount of history relevant, should the question be asked. The answer is because our President , George Manneh Weah, was on hand in Paris to observe, along with other world leaders, the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day that culminated in the signing of the treaty of Versailles at Versailles, France on November 11, 1918. An estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilians lost their lives as a direct result of the war.But more so, the celebrations were meant to commemorate the sacrifice of those who fell as US President Woodrow Wilson declared, “to make the world safe for democracy”.The celebrations were also intended to remind the world of the perils of returning to the past. And as French President Emmanuel Macron stirringly put it, “old demons are resurfacing” meaning in effect that people should never forget the past lest they be condemned to repeat it as George Santayana famously declared.For us in Liberia, having suffered and are still suffering the effects of a brutal and prolonged civil war, the ghosts of the war that consumed over 250,000 lives have still not been laid to rest. Despite the commission of mass atrocities, there had been no accountability for those bearing the greatest responsibility of the war. War criminals have instead been feted and touted as celebrities, living off the blood and tears of the land and riding roughshod over their victims as brokers and wielders of power.Perhaps President George Weah may not be aware of the fact that his presence in France rubbing shoulders with other world leaders gathered to celebrate what was in effect a death blow to the impunity associated with Imperial German adventurism, imposes on him a special obligation to ensure accountability for those accused of committing war and economic crimes in his own country.The protest demonstration in Monrovia yesterday calling for the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia should serve to remind President Weah that Liberia, as a member of the international community does have obligations to which attention is due. Amongst such obligations is that imposed by the need to address issues of gross human rights violations, violations of international humanitarian law, egregious domestic crimes and violations of international human rights law.And so when President Weah travels to France to join other world leaders in celebration of Armistice Day, he should reflect on our own “Armistice” which culminated in the signing of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord on August 18, 2003. By the time the guns were finally silenced 14 years after the first shots were fired, over 250,000 people had been killed with thousands maimed, disfigured, injured or disabled.Their cries for justice continue to ring out loudly and this newspaper finds it troubling and very discomfiting that their cries have not yet found the receptive ears of President Weah. As this newspaper noted in its November 9th editorial, international goodwill towards President Weah’s government could be undermined by his refusal to act on the recommendations of the TRC, calling for the setting up of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia.And time is certainly not on his side as the Bells have already begun to toll. Increasing calls are being made and voices are being raised for accountability to which President Weah can no longer remain impervious. As the English poet John Donne reminds us in his piece, “For whom the bell tolls”, we are all Liberians and are part and parcel of God’s divine plan; so the bell does toll for the sake of all who have ears to hear it.Says John Donne in his classic piece, “Meditation 17, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Why Fintech Startups Need Smart Analytics

first_img Financial technology has been all the rage these days, and there’s no shortage of fintech startups popping up across the globe. However, investments have been slowing down, indicating that the industry is reaching saturation for certain verticals. As such, startups should expect stiff competition.In addition to increasingly fierce competition and possible consolidation in the horizon, many fintech first-timers fail to take data seriously, especially when it comes to the many question marks surrounding the booming industry. One of the elements fintech actors should consider is of course data and its plethora of applications.Writing in a blog post about the importance of analytics, Hagit Ben Shoshan, VP of customer success at digital intelligence platform CoolaData, encourages startups to embrace analytics early on. “Don’t wait until your startup is big to start implementing analytics. Understand your user behavior as early as possible to be better prepared for your next high stage of growth.”Businesses must ensure that they are making smart and guided decisions in order to be competitive. Today, such a level of decision-making is made possible through big data.”Today’s data-driven professional needs the ability to navigate a wide variety of disparate data sources in a self-service environment, and derive insights before making a decision,” notes Sisense CEO Amir Orad in a recent blog post. “Enterprise data tools should empower business units to be data-driven in this sense, rather than retroactively justifying decisions with canned reports,” he added.Indeed, analytics isn’t some buzzword or novelty anymore, and data advocates believe that tech startups must be making data part of their organization’s foundation. Data has proven capable of revealing potential areas of both risk and opportunity that aren’t overtly noticeable.Data’s importance is even more amplified in industries that revolve around numbers such as finance. The large volumes of data that can be tracked and analyzed in fintech should prove a very rich resource that fintech companies would surely benefit from. This need for analytics cuts across verticals.Related: What Fintech Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Big Tech CompaniesHere are five fintech verticals where smart analytics are crucial to success.1. TradingThe emergence of data and machine learning has given rise to robo-advisors where artificial intelligence is used to provide customized investment advice to individual users. Fintech ventures such as Betterment and Wealthfront both leverage analytics in order to track user behavior and improve their customer experiences. Betterment cites how analytics helped it introduce a tax impact preview feature that allows users to see their potentially incurred taxes in advance.Other trading platforms are integrating analytics as well. Recently, CoolaData introduced an integration with the MetaTrader platform that allows brokers to track performance and generate reports quickly. This allows brokers to readily monitor their performance and provide interventions when necessary.Related: 7 Things to Consider Before Launching a Fintech Startup2. InsuranceInsurance has always been a numbers game. Insurers base the price of insurance premiums on actuarial tables. With the explosion of data, insurance companies can now factor in more information in generating their tables. For insurers, implementing smart analytics allows them to be on top of trends.The increased connectivity of smartphones, internet of things devices and cars allows for more data about customers to be gathered and used for risk analyses. For instance, geolocation and telemetry data can be used by auto insurers to identify higher risk motorists. A Deloitte paper sees this use of big data and analytics as good for consumers since pricing would better reflect risk.3. PaymentsPayments is possibly the most competitive fintech segment today. More markets are aspiring towards going cashless, and companies from traditional institutions such as banks, tech giants like Google and Apple, incumbents like PayPal and up-and-coming startups are now competing for relevance. There is much demand for real-time transactions in B2C, B2B and even peer-to-peer segments. Forty-three percent of small- and medium-sized businesses around the world claim that receiving real-time payments is crucial to their organizations.Related: How Fintech and Payments Innovations Will Disrupt Global EcommerceBut, beyond speedy transaction, merchants are actually looking for other potential sources of competitive advantage. Payment providers can offer value-added services such as transaction data reports for use in monitoring market trends and creating spending profiles. Merchants and marketers can use these for marketing campaigns and personalization efforts.4. Real estateReal estate appears to be one of the less talked about verticals in fintech but it is a major vertical nonetheless. Real estate is a $217-trillion industry worldwide, and 75 percent of that is from residential property. New ventures could very well explore this as a blue ocean market for fintech.Like many other industries, analytics has steadily changed the real estate game. It isn’t enough to go by the age-old real estate adages of “location, location, location.” Analytics now allows smarter ways for homebuyers to locate their perfect investments. Services such as Zillow and Trulia have been using information such as census data, property listings, crime statistics and geographic information systems data (GIS) to generate accurate information about properties.Related: Access to Data is Great, but It’s How You Communicate It That Matters5. SecurityFintech is a prime target for cybercriminals due to the nature of the information and assets that it handles. As such, fintech companies must put security at the core of their operations. Use of stolen credit card information still plagues many payment processors and merchants. This year, there has been a 200 percent rise in testing or using card information to purchase cheap items to confirm that they work. There’s even a rise in the use of stolen bank account information to purchase goods and pay bills online.Behavioral analytics play a very large role in fraud detection. Through the combination of analytics, algorithms and artificial intelligence, fraud prevention systems can identify fraudulent behavior with a fair degree of accuracy. These systems can even use historical data from existing consumers to flag unusual activities that are usually attributable to fraud.Moving aheadWhile fintech is still some time away from global breakthrough and dotcom bubbles are a constant threat, the industry enjoys the benefit of data and smart analytics. With that said, fintech can avoid the many pitfalls of other industries thanks to advancements in data collection and the consequent ability to understand consumer behavior. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. 6 min read Register Now » July 7, 2017 Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goalslast_img read more