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Virtual POS now in SA

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Small enterprises can now accept digital card payments remotely or on-the-go using their connected mobile devices following the launch of Virtual Card Service’s virtual Point of Sale (vPOS).

Powered by MasterCard’s MasterPass digital payments platform, the vPOS provides a safe, convenient and easy way for merchants to be paid using their own connected mobile phone as a point of sale (POS) device, while consumers can pay for goods and services using MasterPass, a digital wallet.

“We designed the vPOS to meet the needs of merchants who do business ‘on the move’ and need to accept card payments wherever they are conducting business – be that at someone’s house or selling products at weekend markets or roadshows,” says Wouter Uitzinger, Chief Operating Officer at VCS. “We see enormous potential for the solution in South Africa, especially with the large number of informal traders, and the growing population of smartphone users.”

To sign up for a vPOS, merchants simply apply for an affordable merchant facility directly from Virtual Card Service, after which they download the vPOS app from their Android or Apple store and authenticate their credentials. To accept payment, they enter the transaction amount on the app’s keypad and generate a MasterPass Quick Response (QR) code that is displayed on their own device.

Consumers need to download the MasterPass app from their app store, register, and load their credit, debit or cheque cards from any bank into the digital wallet. To pay, they simply open the MasterPass app on their mobile device and scan the QR code. They select the card they wish to use, enter their bank PIN number on their own device, and the transaction is complete.

“Mobile technologies have emerged as a powerful tool for shop owners and mobile businesses to accept digital payments,” says Anton van der Merwe, Head of Market Development for MasterCard, South Africa. “As a fast, easy and inexpensive POS device that can be used literally anywhere, the vPOS has the potential to open up new revenue channels for merchants and enable them to meet the demands of today’s connected shopper.”

With the vPOS, merchants can increase revenues from accepting digital card payments, and reduce their exposure to the risks and costs of managing cash. Payment is immediate and is guaranteed, meaning that merchants no longer need to wait for Electronic Fund Transfers or cheques to clear. VCS also  reconciles payment and Value Added Tax to offer even more efficiency and time-savings to the merchant and is more affordable than traditional POS or mobile POS devices.

For consumers, MasterPass offers a simple, convenient, trusted digital platform that provides a fast, safe shopping experience. It enables consumers to pay for the things they want with the security they demand, using any connected device.

Unlike many other similar solutions, each MasterPass transaction is classified as an Authenticated Mobile Transaction by South African Banks, ensuring that consumers enjoy the highest protection from fraudsters.

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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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