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Tap into credit card trends

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Apart from taking advantage of the standard benefits of using a credit card (including up to 55-days interest free credit), ETHEL NYEMBE, Head of Card Issuing at Standard Bank, says there are numerous other advantages of signing up for one.

As with many inventions in modern society, credit cards are evolving rapidly. Once deemed an emergency tool only, the credit card has become so much more than that; used wisely, credit cards can be secure and convenient methods of payment that offer valuable rewards to the consumer.

“The credit card industry is one of the most competitive in the world, and card issuers go to great lengths to retain existing customers while convincing new customers to join and experience the convenience of a credit card – so much so that they are forever looking for new and unique ways to increase their value offering. So, apart from taking advantage of the standard benefits of using a credit card (including up to 55-days interest free credit) there has never been a better time to acquire this type of revolving credit,” says Ethel Nyembe, Head of Card Issuing at Standard Bank.

Below are just a few current trends that were designed to work in the consumer’s favour:

New ‘cash back’ card innovations

Cardholders who use reward cards earn valuable points, frequent-flyer miles at some banks, or cash back for the purchases they would have made anyway. Those who earn cash back – or in the case of Standard Bank, Ucount Rewards points – are realising helpful discounts on purchases, whether in the form of actual cash, or in points that can be exchanged for discounts, flight miles and other rewards.

Competition is tight among financial institutions to offer their customers the very best in rewards and loyalty benefits, and credit card holders are urged to do their homework, keep abreast of changes to their bank’s rewards programme, and make sure they are optimising all the benefits available to them.

Increase of secure mobile payment solutions

Standard Bank’s SnapScan and Snap Beacons are two such innovations. With more consumers and vendors making and receiving payments using their cellphones, the SnapScan series of payment solutions allow customers to pay at SnapScan-enabled merchants by simply scanning a payment code. SnapBeacon lets customers do the same, but in a more convenient way, as no codes need to be scanned. By using Bluetooth technology, merchant beacons detect where customers are and invite them to “pay here” for goods or services.

Innovative chip card communications and security features

To avoid long queues, all cheque and credit card account holders can use Standard Bank’s Tap to Pay payment solution. All that is required is a simple tap of their credit card within 5cm of the terminal at the point-of-sale (POS). Easy and secure, your card never leaves your hand, making it the ultimate in safe payment solutions. And if your card is stolen, the holder cannot tap for any amount over R500 without your PIN, giving you time to cancel your card with minimal risk of financial loss. “In addition, to mitigate the risk of any transactions on your account without your knowledge, Standard Bank offers MyUpdates – a free service that alerts you via SMS and emails of all activities on your account, enabling you to identify and report any transactions that may be suspicious or that you didn’t authorise,” says Nyembe.

Newly designed websites, apps and services

Banking customers are among some of the most tech-savvy, and, as such, are ever in search of new, fast and convenient ways to conduct their day-to-day banking. Standard Bank recognises this, and – as one example among many – offers the latest in credit card functionality on its web and mobile banking app. The update has reimagined the way customers use credit cards and aims to convert the app into a remote control for cards. Via the mobile banking app, clients can now activate their bank cards for use during international travel, toggle cards on or off, stop cards in case of loss or theft, order new cards, and manage ATM limits.

Peace of mind

One of the less appreciated benefits of a credit card is that consumers are protected when a merchant fails to deliver goods or services paid for, or if what you received was not what was promised. To get your money back, you simply have to contact your credit card issuer and request a chargeback. A temporary credit for the amount in dispute is immediately received, and it becomes permanent once the card issuer has researched and substantiated your claim.

For example, if you paid for a product that never arrived by mail, you would receive a full refund. Or, if you purchase a service for one year, and the service provider goes out of business after a few months, you would receive a pro-rated refund for the service you didn’t receive.

“Not too long ago, credit cards were seen as a dangerous, but at times ‘necessary evil’ whose overuse could lead their owners down the road to over-indebtedness and financial ruin. This inaccurate view is fast being dispelled as it becomes obvious that credit cards are not only a fast, convenient, and secure, payment method, but also an effective financial management tool,” says Nyembe.

 

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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