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MWC: Visa makes wearables payable

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Visa announced at Mobile World Congress that it is expanding its Visa Ready program to include Internet of Things companies, such as manufacturers of wearables, automobiles, appliances, public transportation services, clothing and almost any other connected device.

Emerging IoT companies will join mobile device manufacturers, including mobile point-of-sale acceptance (mPOS) providers, mobile NFC-enabled device manufacturers and other technology partners in the Visa Ready Program.

The Visa Ready Program gives companies one seamless path to integrate secure payments into their products and services. Visa Ready partners receive access to industry best practices, tools and resources, and Visa’s Digital Enablement Program (VDEP), which includes streamlined access to Visa Token Service (VTS). The Visa Token Service, an innovative security technology, allows secure mobile and digital payments anywhere there is an Internet connection.

The first IoT companies to join the Visa Ready Program will focus on payments for wearables and automobiles. Initial Visa Ready partners include Accenture, Coin, Giesecke & Devrient, Fit Pay, and Samsung, who will work with device manufacturers including Chronos and Pebble, to help embed secure payments in consumer devices and have those devices certified as Visa Ready.

Mobile technology is accelerating the pace of change in the payments industry, helping open up new possibilities for a generation of consumers who increasingly rely on connected devices to manage their money, shop, pay and get paid. The number of IoT enabled devices is expected to reach 50 billion by 2020 according to Cisco, providing a huge opportunity for secure payments to be a feature in just about any form factor.

“More and more, consumers are relying on smart appliances and connected devices to make their lives easier,” said Jim McCarthy, executive vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships at Visa Inc. “By adding payments to these devices, we are turning virtually any Internet connection into a commerce experience – making secure payments seamless, and ultimately more accessible, to merchants and consumers.”

Visa Ready Program for IoT

The Visa Ready Program is a commercial program designed to provide innovators with a path to help ensure that devices, software and solutions can initiate or accept Visa payments. It also provides a framework for collaboration with Visa, as well as guidance and best practices to access the power of the Visa network. Mobile point-of-sale acceptance (mPOS) providers, mobile NFC-enabled device manufacturers, and chip and platform providers are already playing a critical role in enabling new ways to pay and benefiting from the Visa Ready Program.

The Visa Ready Program for IoT will also enable device manufacturers to evaluate, develop and potentially adopt new payment methods that are already approved by Visa, and can help financial institutions and merchants drive growth by expanding the use and acceptance of electronic payments globally.

Visa Token Service

As part of the Visa Ready Program, all participants will use the Visa Token Service (VTS) security technology that replaces sensitive payment account information found on payment cards, such as the 16-digit account number, with a unique digital identifier that can be used to process payments without exposing actual account details.

Visa Partner Quotes: 

Visa’s partners around the world are sharing their views on Visa Ready program for IoT manufacturers:

  • “This is the type of secure, frictionless payment enabler that we are looking to include in commercial solutions as clients start experimenting with how best to take advantage of the IoT,” said Anand Swaminathan, managing director of growth & strategy, Accenture Digital.  “We lead a range of initiatives with contextual commerce capabilities that could integrate Visa Token Services. We are looking forward to seeing where else Visa Token Services will help make IoT-enabled payments easier for customers across any number of situations.”
  • “Chronos is focused on bringing the very best of today’s technology to the items you already wear; creating seamless devices by distilling functionality and technology only to those that provide meaningful interactions,” said Luke Fromowitz, co-founder and CTO, Chronos. “Chronos believes payment on the wrist is one of those interactions; there is no quicker or more convenient method for payment than tapping your Chronos powered watch at the register. Partnering with Coin and Visa has allowed us to quickly bring this technology to the Chronos platform and help push the standard of payment processes into the future.”
  • “Coin is excited to be a Visa strategic partner in bringing secure payments to IoT devices. We’re giving wearables makers like Chronos, enabled by Coin, a seamless solution to integrate payment functionality,” said Kanishk Parashar, CEO and co-founder of Coin. “Our partnership with Visa is significant because of how it enables payment functionality on everyday devices. This is a big opportunity for the rapidly growing wearables market, projected to reach $53 billion in sales by 2019.”
  • “Visa Ready is about opening secure, convenient payment capabilities to a wider range of products and enhancing the overall user experience,” said Michael Orlando, co-founder and chief executive officer of Fit Pay Inc., which has developed a payment platform services for wearable devices. “Integrating our wearable payment platform with the world’s largest card network is a critical step to bringing contactless payment capabilities to a whole new generation of IoT devices, including Pagaré – a payment smart strap we have developed for the Pebble Time.”
  • “The growing IoT market, particularly wearables, needs secure transactions and connectivity. G&D secures mobile life in the connected society,” noted Axel Deininger, senior vice president and head of the enterprise security OEM division at Giesecke & Devrient. “We are pleased to work with Visa on their new program.”
  • “We’re thrilled to be one of the first smartwatch makers in the Visa Ready Program,” said Eric Migicovsky, founder and chief executive officer of Pebble. “More than ever, today’s consumers value products that make their lives easier. Having the ability to make secure payments directly from your wrist is convenient and a great example of how a smartwatch can be helpful in your everyday life.”

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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Ford begins production of high-tech Ranger in SA

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Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria has officially commenced production of the new Ford Ranger, bringing a raft of product upgrades and refinements to one of South Africa’s best-selling vehicles and export models.

“Following the investment of over R3-billion in our local operations and extensive upgrades to our plants over the past 18 months, we are delighted to see the first of the new Ford Ranger models coming off our production line,” says Neale Hill, managing director for Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

“This is an extremely important and exciting year for the Ford Ranger, which will also see the launch of the first Ranger Raptor that is undoubtedly one of this year’s most highly anticipated new models,” says Hill.

“The 2019 Ford Ranger will deliver more power, greater fuel efficiency, enhanced refinement, and additional advanced technologies when it goes on sale in the coming months, and we are confident it will once again set the benchmark in the extremely competitive pickup segment.”

Selected range-topping models, including the Ranger Raptor, will be powered by the all-new 2.0 Bi-Turbo diesel engine assembled at Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth. This unit produces 157kW and 500Nm of torque – up by 10kW and 30Nm compared with the current 3.2 TDCi – and delivers up to a nine percent improvement in fuel efficiency when combined with the advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Certain derivatives will feature a 2.0 Single Turbo version of this engine, producing 132kW and 420Nm of torque, mated to the same 10-speed transmission. Various other models in the line-up will retain the proven 2.2 and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines and existing gearbox options – thus giving customers the widest choice yet in this category. As usual, the line-up includes Single Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab body styles to suit customer requirements.

Along with freshened design cues, range-topping Ranger models will raise the bar once again with industry-defining safety features on the Wildtrak such as Pre-Collision Assist and Active Park Assist. SYNC 3® with Navigation remains one of the Ranger’s technology highlights as a fully featured infotainment system with intuitive voice control.

Following the launch of the ‘standard’ new Ford Ranger models, the attention will be shifted to the locally assembled Ranger Raptor that is set to create an entirely new segment in the pickup market when it makes its eagerly anticipated debut.

“There is a lot of excitement and hype around the Ranger Raptor, and this exhilarating new model will occupy a white space in the pickup market when it goes on sale in the second quarter of this year, creating a much-needed performance model in this crucial segment,” Hill states.

“We can’t wait to get the Ranger Raptor to market, enabling our customers to experience unrivalled off-road performance, cutting-edge technologies and the most muscular design yet seen in this class.”

Some of the defining features of the Ranger Raptor include Position Sensitive Damping (PSD) shock absorbers exclusively manufactured by FOX, and an advanced Terrain Management System (TMS) that includes an exciting Baja mode for fast off-road driving. It also boasts a toughened reinforced chassis, powerful all-disc braking system and specially developed BF Goodrich tyres.

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