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Barcodes come to e-tailers

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PayGate has entered into a partnership with Trans Africa Solutions, whose patented Smart Code product, SCode allows barcoded invoices to be settled in cash at retailers and Post Offices throughout South Africa.

Until now, barcoded invoices, which allow cash settlement, have been the exclusive domain of large companies which have had to negotiate individual deals with retailers and undergo lengthy and costly integration processes. E-commerce offerings have been cut off from this option, which has significantly constrained their access to certain markets.

“SCode’s revolutionary solution will allow even the smallest businesses selling online to generate electronic barcode invoices using all internet platforms, for goods or services being purchased. It also enables the large number of consumers who prefer to use cash, or who don’t have bank cards, to make payment for online purchases – solving the challenge for both the consumer and the retailer,” explains Brendon Williamson, PayGate’s head of business development.

E-commerce has traditionally relied on card payments or EFT transactions. This has effectively cut off a large percentage of the population who may still not trust online payments, or who may be unbanked.

“You can now imagine a parent in a remote area buying textbooks online via their cell-phones, receiving a barcoded invoice and then being able to make payment at their local Shoprite and their child at university receiving the books the next day. This opens online shopping to every person, across every LSM,” comments SCode director, Fraser Gregg.

The network of retailers which currently accept the SCode cash, debit or credit card payments include OK, Shoprite, Checkers, Checkers Hyper, House & Home, USave and all post office outlets. , with other large retail chains coming on line in early 2016, creating one of the most extensive retail payment networks in Southern Africa.

The PayGate – SCode solution is a seamless integration that can be added with no additional development required by the merchant. Even with the cash element, the system allows for automatic reconciliation, significantly streamlining the transaction process for merchants.

“We chose to partner with PayGate for a number of reasons. They have a great track record, a significant client base and an innovative approach towards online payments,” explains Gregg.

The solution is priced in line with existing card-based transactions. This which keeps the offering competitive and affordable to all online merchants.

“Our clients want to get paid as fast as possible, in as many ways as possible. This has allowed us to offer yet another means of payment without any additional integration being required,” says Williamson.

PayGate has integrated the SCode solution with all their existing products, but of significant interest to business owners is the combination of SCode with the PayBill product. PayBill allows companies without e-commerce functionality on their websites to accept and process online payments.

“With these two products you don’t need e-commerce functionality on your website and now you can add cash as a payment option to an array of existing payment methods. This means anyone can open a business and begin transacting almost immediately. We see this as yet another way in which we are enabling business development in Africa,” comments Williamson.

The PayGate offering allows even start-ups or small service providers to offer the same payment facilities as the larger corporates. With SCode, the payments are handled by the retailers, lowering regulatory risk. It also lowers the physical risk for those who have to handle large amounts of cash.

Looking ahead, Williamson says PayGate plans to expand the SCode offering into further African markets, many of which remain predominantly cash-based.

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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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