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Uber to take cash in SA

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South Africa will become the first country in Uber’s global network to experiment with cash payments, launching the option across five cities simultaneously on 26 May.

Next week Uber, the innovative smartphone app that seamlessly connects riders to drivers, will launch a cash payment experiment in South Africa. On Thursday 26 May 2016, South Africa becomes the first country in Uber’s global network to experiment with cash payments, launching the option across five cities simultaneously.

“We’re always looking at how we can make it easier for people to benefit from the convenient, safe and affordable option of taking an Uber,” says Alon Lits, General Manager for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa. “This experiment will help us understand whether riders and driver-partners welcome the choice of paying by cash or card. As before, all trip details are electronically recorded and riders will always be able to pay by debit or credit card if they prefer.

“Offering cash as an alternate option has proven to be very successful for Uber. The introduction of cash in Singapore for example, had an extremely positive response and this is a country that has a substantial credit card penetration and very high GDP per capita.”

Even though credit cards are common many are surprised to learn that cash payments currently make up 65% of all transactions in South Africa1. By introducing this experiment, Uber says it discovered three simple ways that cash could make it a little easier for everyone who needs a ride in South Africa.

1. Removing the fear factor for first time riders

Many people still have concerns about credit cards. Every South African should have the freedom to choose the way they travel and cash is a truly inclusive way to let everyone move around their city reliably and affordably.

2. No credit card? No worries.

Cash opens doors for more South Africans to take their first ride, and have a quality experience with Uber, whether they are a busy Mom, a university student without a credit card or a senior citizen who’s more comfortable using cash.

3. More riders means more trips for drivers

When more riders choose Uber and there is a higher demand for trips, driver-partners will spend more of every hour moving people, less time waiting around and so get more money.

Uber says South Africa was selected for this experiment because it provides Uber with the right environment to experiment a cash payment option amongst a sizeable and sophisticated rider and driver-partner community. Cash is a dominant payment method in Africa and this experiment will give Uber insight into how riders and driver-partners adopt and use a mix of cash and electronic payments, how consumer behaviour changes and what Uber can do to build a better product and provide a better experience.

The lesson learnt here in South Africa (and across Africa) could have implications for the business across the world. Uber is imagining, innovating and developing smart solutions in Africa which could to be implemented globally.

“The interest in South Africa has been amazing, and we are excited to experiment with cash payments on the Uber platform,” said Lits. “Riders in South Africa already have access to reliable, convenient and safe transportation and this cash experiment opens up the Uber platform to even more people.”

Cash is an open-ended experiment, so not all riders will see this additional payment option right away. Uber days riders and driver-partners are encouraged to share their feedback  at support@uber.com or on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #uberCASH

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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