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AppDate: BBM gets an iOS and Android overhaul

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In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights the new BBM for iOS and Android, KaChing expanding its cashless parking service, Opera Apps Club, Value Forest search and the new Powerpuff Girls game.

New BBM for iOS and Android

BlackBerry’s latest BBM version for iOS and Android now allows users to have more control of the messages sent. For example, one can retract images and messages should they be sent to the wrong person, users can also control the amount of time content is available for their contacts to view and they can even set how long they want their location made visible. In addition, the BBM interface has been redesigned to make chats easier to view and functions easier to access.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: A free download.

 

KaChing hits Thrupps in JHB and The Pavilion in Durban.

Following the launch of the KaChing cashless and ticketless parking service at Melrose Arch, Morningside Shopping Centre and Campus Square earlier this year, it has now been launched at the Thrupps Centre in Illovo and The Pavilion in Durban. KaChing uses licence plate recognition to open a boom when a driver arrives at the entrance and then automatically deducts the parking fee from a pre-paid account or credit card when the vehicle leaves.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to you device.

Expect to pay: A free download.

 

Opera Apps Club

The Opera Apps Club allows users without credit or debit cards to download premium apps. Should users decide to buy premium apps, the cost will be deducted from their contract with the cellular service provider. In this way, Opera Apps Club is able to reach a wider audience of mobile users who would otherwise not have access to premium mobile apps.

Platform: Android

Stockists: Visit www.appsclub.com for registration.

Expect to pay: A free service.

 

Value Forest classified search engine

Using a search engine like Google to find second hand items on the Internet can be tricky – especially when you want to refine a search to a certain country or region. With Value Forest, users can search various local classifieds like Gumtree, bidorbuy, Autotrader, cars.co.za, OLX and Junkmail, from a single place.

Platform: Visit www.valueforest.co.za from an Internet browser or download the Android app from the Google Play Store.

Expect to pay: A free download.

 

The Powerpuff Girls Flipped Out 

The Powerpuff Girls is an animated comedy series from Cartoon Network Studios that gives fans the opportunity to take the action with them on-the-go by downloading the new mobile game.  Flipped Out is two games in one: Destroy monsters with puzzles and brains, or flip the device sideways and hammer buttons to punch, kick and destroy enemies. Each mode allows one to play as all three girls, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, while defending Townsville.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

Expect to pay: A free download.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

Arts and Entertainment

VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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