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Nedbank opens SA’s first solar cashless bank branch

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Nedbank has launched South Africa’s first solar bank branch in Mncwasa, 60 km from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

In what is a first-to-market in the financial sector, the Nedbank solar-powered branch is aimed at providing convenient banking solutions to a community without banking facilities. It is providing the service through SolarTurtle, a mobile service provider owned by members of the Mncwasa community.

Opening the Mncwasa branch was also a result of a partnership with the Mbhashe Local Municipality, represented by Executive Mayor, Councillor Samkelo Janda, who spoke at the launch. More than 69% of the Mncwasa community is economically inactive and depends on child support grants, with employment concentrated among teachers and small-scale entrepreneurs.

The solar branch is situated in a rural area and will enable community members to access financial services such as cashless banking, and make use of digital-payment solutions through Masterpass, in partnership with Mastercard.

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Masterpass is an innovative digital-payment app in the form of a digital wallet that enables faster and safer transactions, as it saves client payment information so that they can make online purchases at the press of a button. The app can be downloaded from the Apple, Android, Blackberry and Windows app stores.

“This solar Nedbank branch will offer cutting edge e-banking technology to an area where banks normally don’t go,” says James van der Walt, CEO of SolarTurtle. “This will allow rural clients to open accounts, receive money from their relatives and even take personal loans so they can buy solar-power solutions for their own homes. All this is done cash-free through a phone, making it safe and secure.”

Currently, there is no local banking facility in the community, and Nedbank says it is committed to uplifting communities by offering facilities for local entrepreneurs to transact safely and conveniently.

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“As money experts who do good, Nedbank is committed to making banking accessible to all the communities in which we operate,” says Eastern Cape Provincial General Manager Lonwabo Daniels. “We understand the role that banking services plays in stimulating economic activity and thereby developing communities. It is for this reason that we continue to develop innovative products and services such as the solar-powered branch, which is designed to overcome infrastructure constraints while enabling individuals, families and businesses to realise their goals and full potential,

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Nedbank and we envisage it being a pilot for a potential penetration strategy into Africa.”

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New Year, New Safety: Win a Nokia with Namola Plus

In 2020, South Africans can stay connected to emergency services with Namola Plus. Gadget is giving away two Nokia 5.1 smartphones with a Namola Plus subscription.

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Whether your home gets broken into or you get involved in a car accident, life happens. Now the Namola app is here to keep South Africans safer and connected to emergency services when they need it. 

The fastest way to request emergency assistance is via the Namola app. It uses a phone’s GPS location to notify the closest responders about who and where the user is. It also uses a combination of local law enforcement and community safety initiatives, so they can come to the user’s aid as fast as possible.

Namola is free but it does offer a paid subscription called Namola Plus. If offers armed response and private emergency medical services (EMS), even when you don’t subscribe to these services outside of Namola. This means Namola can send armed response if you need it, faster than other response services. The private EMS is also available to Namola Plus users, even if they’re not on medical aid. Namola Plus costs R49 per month.

Here are some tips on how to stay safe this year:

  • Tag along the perfect wingman – (Virtually) bring your loved ones along when you drive, ensuring they are with you every step of the way via the Namola Family Safety and Tracking features that allow you to share your location or, with permission, track your nearest while they’re on the move. 
  • Know what’s out there – rather look at the roads you intend to travel with Google Maps before you take them. This helps you to avoid nasty traffic surprises, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the areas. One can use the Nokia 5.1’s Google Assistant function that provides you with your own personal assistant without having to say OK Google. This makes it convenient to ask “what’s the traffic like to work?” or “how long will it take to get to a petrol station?” without having to tap the screen.
  • Don’t hesitate if you feel unsafe – Namola is available to help keep you safe. That’s why you should always request help, even if you’re not 100% sure you need it yet. Namola can also be requested for other people, so if you see someone in danger, open the Namola app to request help. It could save that person’s life.

To stand a chance to win one of two Nokia 5.1 phones, and a 6-month subscription to Namola Plus to the value of R3,099, sign up for Gadget’s Newsletter here, and follow this link to the competition that will be supplied in the newsletter every day this week. For more information on the terms of the competition, read here.

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The PC is back!

… and 2020 will be its big year, writes CHRIS BUCHANAN, client solutions director at Dell Technologies

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Concept Ori

It turns out the PC’s death has been exaggerated. PC sales grew between 1.1% and 1.5% in the last few quarters of the year, according to Gartner. While those don’t sound like massive leaps, they represent a large market that has been declining for several years. Windows 10 is credited for this surge, especially as Windows 7 is leading towards its end of life (EOL).

But I don’t think that is the entire picture. Windows 10 upgrades have been taking place for several years, and the market has also gotten savvier about managing EOL. Other factors are driving the adoption of PCs.

A specific one is how much closer the PC now sits to smartphones. I recently watched some youngsters work with laptops that had touchscreens. They hardly ever touched the keyboard, instead tapping and swiping on the screen. Yet they were still working on a laptop, not a smartphone. Certain things are much easier to do on a PC than a phone, and users are realising this. They aren’t relinquishing the convenience of their smartphones but applications are now available on PC’s and often easier to use.

Convertible or 2-in-1 machines have closed the gap between the two device types. This is in contrast to tablets. If you observe how people sit with tablets, it’s the opposite of smartphones or laptops. With the latter, we sit forward, attentive and focused. But tablets often prompt people to recline. It’s just a casual observation, yet I believe that PCs and smartphones have much more overlap with each other than pure tablet devices. Additionally, the convertible laptop has become the new tablet.

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Why does this bode well for PCs in 2020? 2-in-1 machines break down the barriers between the utility of a PC and collaborative culture of a smartphone. You can now flip a laptop into tent mode and use it as an interactive presentation screen on a boardroom table, or cradle it like a clipboard you jot on with a digital pen.

In the next year, we’ll see more of the market responding to this trend. Premium 2-in-1 devices have a stable and growing audience of users who are now going into their second, third and even fourth generations of devices. Mid-range and entry-level laptops are also starting to adopt touchscreens and flip displays.

2-in-1 devices are also pushing innovation, such as the emergence of dual-screen systems. Dell revealed two such concept devices at CES this year: Project Duet, a dual screen laptop, and Project Ori (for origami), a more compact approach to foldable devices. We also unveiled Project UFO, a prototype Alienware device that puts triple-A PC gaming into a handheld device. All of these reflect the desire for touch-enabled devices that are portable without sacrificing performance or excellence. They definitely point us to the future.

Convertible devices are not a new form factor. I can recall the first flip-over touchscreen designs appearing 15 years ago. Back then they were exotic and the standard laptop ruled the roost. But today, the habits and expectations of users are driving a change decisively towards convertible devices.

Desktop PCs are meanwhile becoming more specialised, yet also more widely appreciated for their versatility. Specialist non-Windows PCs, such as those used by designers, are being replaced by Windows PCs, often for lower costs. Integrated discrete graphics chips and other advancements add a lot of value to modern desktops. The smartphone overlap also appears here: many people use services such as Whatsapp Web on their PCs, and Dell customers use the Dell Mobile Connect app to show their smartphone screen on their PC display.

There is a new synergy between the PC and smartphone, created by users who find the two complement each other. Not everyone has realised this yet, but in 2020 that will be the resounding message. The PC is back and 2020 will be its year.

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