Banks in South Africa hold the key to whether mobile payment systems like Apple Pay could be widely adopted in the country, writes DUNCAN ALFREDS.
Apple Pay and Google Wallet enable users to make payments directly and securely from smartphones. Both of these payment systems use the Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV), or chip-and-PIN, standard.
This means that an Apple Pay or Google Wallet could be simply linked to a credit or debit card, and users pay by tapping their NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled phone on a point of sale terminal. With the iPhone 6, users can also authorise payments with their fingerprints.
Apple Pay has recently been launched in the UK after it received a cool reception in the US. Meanwhile, Google Wallet is also slowly rolling out with a limited number of merchants. Google, though, has built the technology into its online Play Store system as well.
South Africa has adopted the international EMV standard, meaning that Apple Pay and Google Wallet could work in the country especially with regard to processing contactless payments.
But unlocking Apple Pay and Google Wallet for South African consumers requires the approval of local banks.
“There is however a big catch before Apple Pay and Android Pay will work in South Africa. The customer’s bank that issued their card must give permission to Apple and Google to allow their cards to be loaded to the Apple Pay or Android Pay application,” Craig Kilfoil, managing director of ExactConsult, told Fin24.
“In summary, if the big five banks don’t want Apple Pay or Android Pay to work in South Africa then it simply won’t happen because the big five banks control the merchant card acceptance infrastructure and completely dominate card issuance in South Africa and as much as Apple and Goggle might make the mobile payment technology available, it just won’t work without the permission and co-operation of the banks,” said Kilfoil.
Even though the payment systems from Apple and Google are advertised as unique, Kilfoil argued that they may be far in common than initially thought.
“While neither obvious nor advertised by Apple and Google as such, I have concluded that Apple Pay and now Android Pay are 100% interoperable as they are both built on Visa and MasterCard Chip card technology called EMV.”
In some markets, the technology is already in use, but roll-out in SA has been delayed because of the lack of devices that support the standard.
In the meantime, banks have marketed cards with so-called “tap-and-pay” technology, but it is not a huge jump to expand the functionality to appropriate smartphones.
Ultimately, the banks hold the cards in terms of the roll-out of mobile contactless payments, said Kilfoil.
“FNB, Absa, Standard Bank, Nedbank and all the others would need to allow for their cards to be loaded to the mobile phone apps in order for them to work.”
A survey has found that few companies are ready for mobile e-commerce, despite the massive handset penetration in the country.
The wiGroup Fast Company SME Mobile Readiness Survey found that 35% allowed customers to make purchases on mobile devices.
But mobile payments are likely to increase in importance as more people turn to smartphones to transact.
Globally, Juniper Research reports that mobile e-commerce sales amounted to $1.5 trillion in 2013, and is projected to hit over $3.2 trillion by 2017.
Convenience, cost, risk
Kilfoil said that the key for retailers was to balance convenience, cost and risk to encourage consumers to adopt mobile payments.
“If convenience is a key factor and the added cost is minor with little perceived additional risk then consumers that value convenience will adopt new payment method.”
Kilfoil will be presenting his findings into the mobile payments industry at Cashless Payments Summit on June 25 – 26 2015 at Emperors Palace Hotel in Johannesburg.
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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser
Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.
A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.
The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.
“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.
When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.
The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.
“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”
According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.
The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.
“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”
Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.
The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.
Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.
Future of the car is here
Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK
Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.
The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.
Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.
The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.
Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.
And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.
The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.
Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:
- All-wheel drive
- Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
- 0-100km/h in 4.8s
- 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
- Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
- Two-year/34 000km service intervals
Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.