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How money gets to people

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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.

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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.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled

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Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.

These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.

“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.

“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.

Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.

The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic. 

Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.

“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.

The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.

The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/

The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.

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