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Banks lack experience to deliver biometrics

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A report from Mastercard and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford highlights that only 36% of banks feel they have adequate security measures in place to provide proper biometric authentication.

People unlock their phone and, increasingly, shop and pay with the touch of their finger. They don’t get locked out when they forget a password because it has been replaced with a simpler, more secure option – mobile biometrics.  Whether using a fingerprint, an iris scan or a selfie to confirm identity, banks see biometric technology as a way to provide greater convenience and security to customers as they use their accounts.

But, it’s still early days in mobile biometrics, and a new report from Mastercard and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford highlights a big barrier. Only 36% of relevant banking executives feel they have adequate experience to deliver.

To overcome this knowledge gap, the report, titled “Mobile Biometrics in Financial Services: A Five Factor Framework”, explores this fast-evolving technology landscape and provides bank executives with guidelines to successfully bring mobile biometrics to life. Simply put, they need to focus on Performance, Usability, Interoperability, Security and Privacy.

Some of these factors are more visible to the consumer, having a real impact on user experience, while others operate behind the scenes. But, long-term success for a bank requires that they address all factors equally to protect against threats. The framework can help financial service companies avoid the trap of focusing only on the ones their customers see.

“Biometric authentication has a lot of potential, but it is important to address the objectives of each of the Five Factors when designing solutions. Working together with Mastercard enables us to solve for realistic threats to the industry with the best technical and scientific ideas. Users will need consistency, quality and assured security for this technology to thrive,” said Professor Ivan Martinovic, Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford.

Ajay Bhalla, president, Global Enterprise Risk & Security, Mastercard, commented on the research initiative in a blog post, saying:

“Effective mobile biometrics melt into the broader experience of consumer-centric financial services, giving people the power to instantly access their financial information or make a payment. They’re driving the trend toward a password-free future where digital identity is all about who we are, not what we remember.”

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Considering that global sales of smartphones are expected to reach $400 billion by next year, people everywhere will increasingly have access to the tool that makes mobile biometrics possible. Banks see that as an opportunity, and with initiatives like the collaboration with the University of Oxford and pioneering biometrics solutions like Mastercard Identity Check Mobile, Mastercard is a partner to deliver widespread and responsible adoption of mobile biometric solutions in financial services.

As Bhalla continued, “This framework is fundamental to accelerating the deployment of mobile biometrics for consumers and industry alike, but collaboration is key. We can only achieve this if industry, academia, governments and technology vendors understand and contribute to the evolution of the Five Factor Framework for mobile biometrics.”

“Mastercard and Oxford have done important work in exposing some of the root causes for the inconsistent adoption of mobile biometrics in financial services,” said Ravin Sanjith, Program Director: Intelligent Authentication, Opus Research. “We expect the Five Factor Framework to become an indispensable aide for industry professionals and decision makers to have better informed, strategic discussions that drive towards more efficient and successful high-scale implementations.”

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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