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Airtickets about to evolve

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PayU, the company that secures payments for SAA, Mango, Flysafair and Skywise, believes that airline ticket payments are set to transition over the next five years, making it even easier and safer to secure seats.

Air travel may be statistically safer than other forms, but what about the transactions that surround it?

According to Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) figures, over 9.5 million passengers bought tickets for domestic flights in 2014. In this August alone – the latest statistics available – the number stands at more than 743 thousand.

International Air Transport Association passenger numbers are predicted to reach 7.3 billion by 2034, more than double that of 2014 and 2015. China with 856 million new passengers is expected to overtake the US (559 million) in volumes with India (266 million), Indonesia (183 million) and Brazil (170 million) sitting in the top five.

These figures underscore the importance of having secure and dynamic payment systems that tap into the trends and recognise how people use technology to purchase their tickets and handle their travel.

One fraudulent transaction can cost thousands of Rands, and for the airline companies sound fraud management is essential, as this will impact on the business significantly. Air travel is a capital-intensive industry – it costs around R100k to fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town and the margins are slim. While only 8% of payments are cash-free in South Africa, that 8% is valuable and needs to be driven even higher through availability, security and ensuring trust.

“All businesses are exposed to fraud, and it can be a big issue for airline operators and the consumer,” says Kirby Gordon, Vice President: Sales and Distribution at Flysafair. “The biggest hesitation around online transactions is always around the payment system. The fear of fraud and the reality of it are daunting as our transactions are often big numbers.”

When the plane takes off, the seats leave with it. Every detail must be attended to or there is potential for both the customer and corporate to suffer either loss of funds or, for the corporate, reputation.

“When profit margins are thin and the capacity to be defrauded is high you really need a stable payment system. We are conscious that all of our payments are maintained properly so that when a flight departs, we have the funds in our account,” says Gordon.

Airline ticket purchases make up the largest portion of e-commerce transactions in South Africa. And, according to Euromonitor, the local online travel market is estimated at approximately R17.7 billion in 2015.  PayU, the company that secures payments for SAA, Mango, Flysafair and Skywise, believes that airline ticket payment is set to transition over the next five years.

“The airline industry represents a microcosm of the payments industry as a whole, with nuances and challenges around dynamic stock movement and modifications keeping us on our toes,” says Mustapha Zaouini, CEO of PayU MEA. “This will only get more intricate as the power continues to shift to the consumer and payment methods become more on-demand.”

The fast-evolving ticketing ecosystem will play a significant role in the flying experience, says Gordon. “There is a need for high level augmentation in the airline payments environment, not a standard payment gateway,” says Gordon. “In our world, modifications to bookings are a frequent occurrence – changing flights, adding a suitcase, buying an extra seat or insurance. That payment needs to be taken a second time and recorded against the first to ensure we have a complete record. It can get complicated. The next phase will be accepting in-flight payment.”

Corporate travellers commit the worst offences in airline booking with around 31-37% of reservations requiring modifications. Flysafair has led the way in unbundling in South Africa, taking the suitcase out of the net fare paid and making check-in optional. With 42% of passengers booking a bag it means that the remainder may change their mind at the last minute, impacting the transaction and the tally. While this presents challenges it also offers further opportunity.

“The trends we are seeing in mobile development are huge and are playing a giant role in how the payment industry is advancing. This means that working with a partner like PayU, one that is aware of these shifts and is prepared for them, ensures that our customer’s credit cards stay as safe as they do when they fly with us.”

Juniper Research has predicted that mobile tickets and digital ticketing are expected to take more than one in two ticket transactions by 2019. This means that payment methods such as credit and debit cards will increasingly move to digital and this demands that the security around payment needs to be completely watertight.

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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