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Message to SA Govt: Smartphones not a luxury



Ahead of Sunday’s scheduled VAT and various excise duty increases, ALEX FOURIE, weFix CEO, has expressed concern that taxation on entry- and mid-level smartphones will negatively impact South African consumers.

Ad valorem excise duties on some luxury goods were one of the tax increases tabled in February’s Budget Speech, up from 7 percent to 9 percent. The Treasury has stated its intention to change the definition of cell phones to include smartphones, so that they too attract ad valorem taxes.

Treasury said, “Government will also consult to replace the flat rate for cell phones, with a progressive rate structure based on the value of the phone.”

weFix CEO, Alex Fourie, said that weFix will keep a close eye on Treasury’s consultation process to ensure that the entry- and mid-level smartphones are not taxed unduly.

“Not all smartphones are luxuries – new entry-level devices are regularly available for under R500. Our concern is that undue taxation of entry- and mid-level devices will reduce access to what are communication and business necessities for millions of South Africans,” says Fourie.

“It is well-documented that affordable smart devices have put the Internet into the hands of South Africa students, consumers and business owners in all sectors, increasing digital literacy, access to news and educational material, and benefiting the economy as a whole.”

South Africa has 21 million internet users, according to the Internet Access in South Africa 2017 study by World Wide Worx. Of that total, 7 million access the Internet via mobile devices exclusively.

Fourie says that one way for consumers to reduce the impact of mobile devices on their budgets – which has the added bonus of lessening their exposure to tax – is to consider repairing or purchasing refurbished smartphones.

“Mobile devices that are repaired and refurbished having been preowned or damaged during shipment, demo units that are shop-soiled, or new devices that have a fault upon opening, are a really affordable alternative to new devices, particularly in light of the proposed tax increases,” says Fourie.

weFix intends to absorb the imminent VAT increase of 1 percent to further encourage consumers to make use of repair and refurbishment services offered by providers like weFix.

“We understand that for many consumers, going without their mobile devices is unthinkable – and not because they can’t be without social media,” says Fourie.

“We want to keep South Africans connected to their businesses, to their study materials, to the news and to their social networks, hence our commitment to keeping our repair services as affordable as possible.”


Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.



This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.


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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.



Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.


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