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AppDate: Amber Alerts come to Instagram

In this AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Amber Alerts on Instagram, Ukheshe tap-on-phone, Nedbank Avo becoming an Apple authorised seller, Ctrack Crystal, and Hello Tractor.

Amber Alerts on Instagram

Instagram recently launched Amber Alerts, developed in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the US, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, the National Crime Agency in the UK, the Attorney General’s Office in Mexico, the Australian Federal Police, among other.

Amber Alerts was originally launched on Facebook in 2015 because the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the first few hours of going missing. With this update, if an Amber Alert is activated by law enforcement the alert, will appear on phones in the relevant area.

The alert will include important details about the child, such as a photo, description, location of the abduction and any other available information that can be provided. People can also share the alert with friends to further spread the word.

“These alerts are specific to the search area,” says Michelle DeLaune, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “If you get one it means there is an active search for a missing child nearby.”

Amber Alerts on Instagram will be available shortly in 25 countries, including South Africa.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free service

Stockists: Download and set up an Instagram profile to begin receiving alerts.

Ukheshe tap-on-phone

Ukheshe Technologies has launched a tap-on-phone payment solution that needs no certifications. Though tap-on-phone payments have been available for a while, until now this functionality has been costly, with several administration hurdles.

Ukheshe has solved this problem by creating a quick process for merchants and service providers to accept tap-on-phone payments. It will allow most near-field communication (NFC) enabled Android phones to accept tap-on-phone transactions. There is no need for any certifications or app approvals, and no need to include any third-party or software development toolkits (SDKs).

“Accepting card transactions via terminals is often a hurdle for merchants, not to mention the additional distribution and maintenance concerns,” says Paul Selibas, president of channel solutions for Ukheshe Technologies. Tap-on-phone payments via NFC are especially helpful for SMEs, as they help reduce the costs of app certifications in developing and implementing tap-on-phone solutions.

Tap-on-phone essentially turns a merchant’s smartphone or tablet into a contactless point-of-sale (POS) terminal that can receive payments from contactless cards or mobile wallets.

When a merchant requires a payment, the app initiates the tap-on-phone functionality. The customer then taps their card against the merchant’s phone and the purchase is done.

Tap-on-phone transactions are protected by the same security and encryption technology offered by chip cards throughout the world, and the same secure transaction process as traditional POS transactions.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: The app is free to download but transaction fees apply.

Stockists: Visit the Ukheshe website here for more information.

Nedbank Avo appointed as an Apple authorised seller

Having grown to over 1.5-million users, Nedbank’s Avo app has been authorised by Apple, allowing Avo wallet owners to buy a full range of its products. Nedbank customers can also convert Greenbacks into Avo points in-app, making Apple products more affordable.

Once a person signs up and buys through their Avo wallet, they receive 1% back in Avo points – 1 point equals 1 Rand. They are then able to use those points on their next purchase or can withdraw them in cash. In addition to buying Apple devices, users can purchase appliances, home décor and children’s toys, airtime, data and electricity bundles, vouchers and takeaways.

Platform: And device with an up-to-date browser

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the Avo website here for downloading instructions.

Ctrack Crystal

Ctrack, an in-vehicle tracking and fleet management service, is now offering its Ctrack Crystal data management solution to fleet owners.

Ctrack Crystal is a customisable platform that combines existing functionality and new features into a cloud-based offering. The solution is designed to not only help fleet managers save time and costs, but also allow them to react more efficiently.

Ctrack Crystal relies on the same hardware technology built locally for African conditions. The data is now presented in an easy-to-use format that allows for swifter decision-making and the efficient managing of fleets, no matter their size.

“In this day and age, the usefulness of data is determined by how easy it is to make decisions based on the information presented to them,” says Hein Jordt, CEO of Ctrack Africa.

Ctrack’s data is available 24/7 and is presented in a way that users can easily identify any trends or issues. This allows them to put a solution in place in an efficient manner.

By integrating the data with hardware installed in vehicles, it is transmitted to the cloud and hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment, resulting in a faster and more secure solution.

Tracking and tracing are done in real-time, with live updates every 15 seconds. 

Ctrack Crystal is user customisable and offers functionalities like a live map with traffic views, the ability to send a message to the driver, and setting up user-defined locations.

The live map allows users to see exactly where their assets are, replay their historical movements, and view any alerts.

Platform: Any device with an up-to-date Internet browser

Expect to pay: Prices vary depending on a customer’s needs

Stockists: Visit the Ctrack website here for more information.

Hello Tractor gets Nigerian investment

Heifer International has announced that it is investing $1-million USD in the tractor booking platform, Hello Tractor, to provide loans for tractor purchases that can be repaid from revenues earned by leasing them to local farmers.

The program, Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Tractor Financing for Increased Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria, has enabled tractor purchases in Nasarrawa, Abuja and Enugu. These purchases make tractors accessible to thousands of small farmers via the Hello Tractor leasing platform. Hello Tractor offers software and tracking devices that allow farmers to book tractor services from local tractor owners via a mobile phone app.

“The Pay-As-You-Go model provides financing for entrepreneurs who want to create jobs by capitalising on the demand for tractor services on African farms, but who lack traditional forms of collateral,” says Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president of Africa programs at Heifer International. 

Globally, there are roughly 200 tractors per 100 square kilometres of agricultural land but, in sub-Saharan Africa, there are only about 27. This is illustrative of a mechanisation deficit that has a significant impact on farm productivity and local economies in a region where most people depend on smallholder farming for income.
For more information on Hello Tractor, click here.

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