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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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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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