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Spar now takes eWallet

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FNB has announced that consumers can now use eWallet to purchase goods and withdraw cash at participating owner-managed SPAR stores in South Africa.

Aptly called eWallet@till, the cardless functionality uses a cellphone to enable eWallet recipients to make over the counter purchases and withdrawals at over 1300 participating SPAR outlets.

Sandi Madikiza, FNB Head of Mass Market Segment: Consumer Core Banking: says, “The partnership complements our long-term digital strategy to expand access to financial services. Our customers are increasingly making cardless withdrawals at our ATMs and we see this becoming a common trend where mobile technology is preferred instead of the physical cards.”

“The use of technology helps to reduce the cost of withdrawals while enabling customers to get access to their money whenever they need it. Over the past few months, we’ve been introducing the eWallet@till functionality through a phased approach and we have already seen increased usage among customers,” he says.

FNB’s user data of eWallet@till shows a sharp spike in usage across select provinces in December 2017, with 53% transactions taking place in Limpopo, followed by Gauteng at 32% and KwaZulu-Natal with 10% as well as the Eastern Cape with about 5% of transactions.

According to the findings of the FinScope South Africa survey, mobile money solutions continue to play a vital role in broadening financial inclusion. The survey shows that in 2017, 71% of senders are sending money once a month to people outside of the household. Furthermore, the study showed that consumers have a propensity to use both mobile and retailer to send and receive money.

Madikiza says in the long run, the use of mobile technology will most likely become the primary channel through which consumers manage their money.

“The persistent adoption of smart technology will remain the single biggest contributor to the adoption of solutions such as eWallet, among other financial services products. Already, we are seeing a growing number of customers who are using the FNB banking app to access eWallet, and we expect this trend to improve significantly overtime,” he concludes.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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