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SA fintech developers in big demand globally

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Local software developers in the financial sector are in high demand as they capitalise on expertise from operating in one of the most sophisticated banking and advanced mobile tech environments.

South African software developers that service the financial sector are in high demand locally and internationally as they capitalise on expertise gleaned from operating in one of the most sophisticated banking and advanced mobile tech environments in the world.

The country’s highly progressive banking system, good technical skills, mobile know-how and competitive pricing are making it an important destination for international fintech software development.

The mobile space particularly is growing increasingly important as consumers around the world perform more financial transactions from their mobile devices.

Local financial services organisations are leading the way in demonstrating how these mobile apps can be functional, transactional and secure.

“South Africa has a developed banking system, and our mobile technology is equally modern. Put that together with innovative software developers, and you have a combination that’s ready to take on the world,” says Martin Dippenaar, CEO of Cape Town software developers, Global Kinetic.

“We spend a lot of time abroad, building products, which gives us a good perspective on the state of banking in other regions too,” adds Dippenaar.

South Africa has a relatively small banking community of just 13 banks, made up of the big five, and then second tier operators. By comparison, says Dippenaar, there are around 12,000 banks and credit unions in the US, each with separate licences, and operating autonomously.

“We can effect change here in South Africa a lot faster than is possible in such a disparate environment,” he says.

“The US banking system as a whole is also not particularly advanced. For example, around a quarter of all payments in that country happen by cheque. There are few organisations in South Africa still using such a dated process.”

While banking in the US is market-driven, in Europe the impetus behind innovation is spurred by regulation.

“More innovative mobile banking products are likely to come out of Europe in time, as progressive legislation starts to make deployment of mobile banking technology a lot easier there,” says Dippenaar.

In 2018, Europe will introduce the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) protocol. The objective of PSD2 is to standardise the sector and make payments safer, increase consumer protection, and stimulate innovation and competition.

Although all banking apps need to allow users to do similar things like check balances and perform transactions, the real challenge for developers lies in consolidating and standardising the underlying technologies that allow these transactions to be carried out across multiple systems.

Schalk Nolte, CEO of mobile security specialists, Entersekt, based in Stellenbosch, says developing fintech apps requires an understanding of a wide range of issues and disciplines.

“These include regulatory compliance, privacy, accuracy, and protection of personal information. Development needs to be highly secure, super accurate, and involves intensive testing, especially for banking platforms.

“There are huge opportunities for tech companies designing new ways of delivering financial services to end-users,” he says.

“South Africa stands out as an attractive destination for fintech software development not least because development costs here are in rands. Our rates are highly competitive, with a higher quality of service and expertise than at other development sites around the world, including those in Eastern Europe, India and the Philippines,” concludes Dippenaar.

Nolte adds: “Banks, insurance companies, and many other financial services organisations are turning to South African specialist software developers because they are likely to have already encountered and dealt with the challenges of bringing secure banking and mobile technology together.”

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Bring your network with you

At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.

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In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.

Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.

“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.

The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.

Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.

“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.

He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”

By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.

The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.

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Kaspersky moves to Switzerland

As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.

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This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.

Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world

The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.

The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.

Relocation of customer data storage and processing

By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.

Relocation of software assembly

Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.

Establishment of the first Transparency Center

The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.

Independent supervision and review

Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.

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