Connect with us

Featured

How money gets to people

Published

on

Many take South Africa’s ATM network for granted – simply insert a card and withdraw money. GAVIN REUBENSON, Group CIO, Paycorp, outlines what it actually takes to deliver cash to 17 million South Africans on the first of every month.

It starts very early in the morning on the first working day of every month: 17 million South Africans go to their nearest ATM to withdraw their government (SASSA) grant. It almost doesn’t matter what time you get there, you’ll find a queue of South Africans waiting for their turn at the ATM.

The image below shows the extent to which SASSA withdrawals on the 1st dwarfs those transactions done by other cardholders, and certainly dwarfs the peak that happens on the 25th of each month when the majority of South Africans get paid by their employers. The blue portion of the graph represents SASSA withdrawals; the orange is normal business.

unnamed

The annual Finscope survey released in November last year reported that 34% of people – that’s 6.1m South African grant recipients – withdraw all their money on payment day every month regardless of the fact that they could withdraw it in small increments during the course of the month, or even use their SASSA cards as debit cards at point-of-sale.

It helps to understand that SASSA’s electronic payment system represents the first time many people have had access to any kind of banking system. We’re beginning to see a change in behaviour; we see more people withdrawing two or three times a month as they learn to trust electronic banking, although it has to be said that recent uncertainty regarding SASSA administration does have a knock-on effect.

Leaving that aside, these newly-banked customers are not the only ones who’ve had to adapt since the grant payment system went electronic in Q1, 2012.

As a company whose primary purpose is to connect people to their money and businesses to their customers, we rate service very highly so we don’t like to see long queues at our ATMs. Like everyone else, we’ve had to get used to it on SASSA payment day.

We’re much more concerned with ensuring that there will be enough cash for every SASSA cardholder at every one of our 5,500+ ATMs. Reliability is our number one priority – people need their cash, and we’re going to make sure they get it!

When SASSA first went electronic there was significant pressure on the national payment system which put strain on everyone, and we all had to adapt very quickly. At Paycorp we were quick to update and reconfigure our cash forecasting systems to ensure that we could service the increased withdrawal volumes and values.

Whilst Paycorp has always been about financial inclusion, moving government grants from cash to electronic through the SASSA card added a new dimension by helping to drive financial activity in remote communities. This is not just because more cash is being circulated. For merchants who have in-store ATMs, 30 – 40% of cash withdrawn from their ATM will be used in their store and therefore the money stays in the local community.

With every local ATM we install – and the majority of our installations are in rural and peri-urban areas – we know that we’re contributing to the local community’s reduction in travel time to access an ATM, which is now down to below 30 minutes. Seventeen years after deploying South Africa’s first independent ATM, nothing is more satisfying than seeing how the addition of an ATM makes life easier for individual South Africans, promotes business growth, and builds local economies.

Featured

When will we stop calling them phones?

If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.

Published

on

Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?

It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.

Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.

It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.

That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.

Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and  instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti,  Admyt and Kaching.

Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.

Who has time for phone calls?

The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.

The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,

This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.

That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.

Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.

Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.

Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.

More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time. 

I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.

There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
Continue Reading

Featured

MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps

MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.

Published

on

The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.

“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”

“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”

“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2018 World Wide Worx