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AppDate: RICA SIMs in seconds with Trace Mobile

In his latest app roundup SEAN BACHER highlights Trace self-RICA, WhoYou, FNB’s fitness, health and savings tracker, Moya Messenger and Spotify’s Premium 3 month deal

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Trace self-RICA service

Trace Mobile has launched a SIM card ordering and self-RICA system that takes users less than two minutes to complete via the Trace app.

The app lets users RICA their SIM card in three steps, using an ID and profile facial recognition system to process the application. Trace Mobile also makes it easier to order a SIM, RICA it and collect it instantly at more than 600 Clicks stores countrywide. The user’s selfie, ID number, surname and address are verified against each other, using optical character recognition technologies which comply with the POPI and RICA acts to protect the subscribers’ personal information.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Download the app for Android here and for iOS here.

Expect to pay: A free download.

WhoYou

Smartphones can now act as advanced ID fingerprint scanners in South Africa, thanks to WhoYou.

The app allows you to verify who you’re dealing with by just taking a photo of the person’s two thumbprints. In seconds, WhoYou will compare the photographed thumbprints against the National Population Register (NPR), maintained by the Department of Home Affairs, and return a confirmation of the person’s ID details as well as their photo.

Until now, only South African banks and telecommunications companies have had the ability to verify people’s identities against the NPR — and even this has depended on the use of traditional fingerprint scanners.

Although the app is easily installed, users of the app have to register themselves, which involves scanning the left and right fingers and thumbs. This is easier said than done and, after trying numerous times, I eventually gave up. This comes after the once-off R4 enrolment fee.

The app is expected to play a significant role in curbing identity fraud for a range of scenarios — from retailers dealing with account openings to insurers handling claims processing, and authentication for debit orders from customer accounts. The app can also help individuals verify the identity of suppliers working at their homes or businesses.

WhoYou is fully compliant with the South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information (Popi) Act. However, the subjects of identity verification have to first give consent and accept the terms and conditions in-app before allowing their fingerprints to be photographed.

Businesses can either use the WhoYou smartphone app or they can use their existing fingerprint scanners with the WhoYou Windows app. The WhoYou computer app works on desktops or laptops.

Platform: Android and Windows with iOS coming soon.

Expect to pay: A free download with an enrolment fee of R4 for individuals. Individual users will then pay a R4 fee per transaction or verification, while a volume-based fee or licence model will be aimed at businesses.

Stockists: Visit WhoYou here for registration details.

FNB now tracks fitness, savings and health

FNB has expanded the nav» functionality on the FNB App by allowing customers to set and track their savings, health and fitness goals.

The new functionality is a continuation of the nav» journey which began in 2016 when FNB introduced nav» Home, followed by nav» Car and, more recently, nav» Money.

The process has been designed to calculate how much a customer needs to save for a goal, recommend a personalised savings solution and include the ability to track progress. 

The bank’s goal-based solution offers customers the option of 10 main savings goals categories, including: education, emergencies, travel, save to start a business as well as health and wellness – with over 50 different sub categories. Customers also have an option to create and name their own goal.

The nav» Wellness feature requires users to complete a questionnaire to get insights into their wellness score before setting goals to improve their score. There is also a feature that allows them to order prescription medicine from their nearest Dis-Chem pharmacy from within the FNB App, and be notified when it is ready for collection. The bank has also negotiated discounts with a number of health and wellness partners and has set  up monthly deals with the following:

Deals:

  • VIVA Gyms: 40% off 12-month contract if paid in full up front;
  • Body Tec: 35% off a 10-session contract and/or 75% off a trial voucher and eBucks are accepted;
  • Life Day Spa: 20% off during the week with the convenience of using eBucks to pay for treatments;
  • BOUNCE: 25% off for Bounce Fit/Students/Junior Jumpers/General Access and eBucks are accepted;
  • DNAlysis: 35% off diet, health and sport genetic testing and accepts eBucks;
  • Monthly Deals: Exciting discounts which change month to month. Current discounts from Fitchef, Faithful to Nature, Ucook, Life Day Spa, Bounce and Bodytec, with many more partners and deals coming soon.

Platform: Android and iOS

Stockists: Visit FNB here for downloading instructions

Expect to pay: A free download.

Moya Messenger

biNu has announced that its Moya Messenger and content app is now being used by more than one million people in South Africa every month, with 650 000 people using it every day.

The key differentiator between Moya, WhatsApp and other messaging platforms is that no data costs are incurred by users to send and receive 1-to-1 or group messages – and visit a range of #datafree websites and apps.

For enterprises looking for new  ways to engage with mass-market mobile users in South Africa, Moya includes the “Discover” feature, where people engage with #datafree digital content and services.

biNu helps commercial businesses, public agencies, NGOs, not-for-profits, and other organisations to build content for Discover, including full and micro websites, apps, full screen video advertising and surveys. 

Early adopters that are interacting with Moya’s one million users through Discover include Tiso Blackstar, Cosmopolitan magazine, Assupol Insurance, iQ Academy, Adzuna Job Search, Kuba Services, WeMarket, Sanlam Insurance, DirectAxis, Arial, Nivea and Project UBU.

Platform: Android with an iOS version coming out soon

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Moya Messenger can be downloaded here.

Spotify Premium free for 3 months

Spotify Premium is giving users who are new to the Premium package more time to use its features, offering the first 3 months for free.

The offer is based on always-on/not limited time, and will roll out across Spotify Premium plans globally.

“Music and podcasts play an important role in people’s lives so we wanted to give users the first 3 months for free to fully enjoy everything that Spotify Premium has to offer,” says Spotify Chief Premium Business, Officer Alex Norström. “We know it takes time to fully experience all of the features available with Premium, so we’re giving people the time that they need to fall in love with Premium’s listening experience and on-demand access to more than 50 million tracks, billions of playlists and 450 000 podcast titles for free.”

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: Free to download and use for the first three months

Stockists: Sign up for Spotify Premium here.

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Liquid, IS, partner for 5G roll-out to corporate SA

Liquid Telecom has teamed up with Internet Solutions to develop an ultra-fast wholesale connectivity service for enterprises – including telcos

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Liquid Telecom South Africa has partnered with Internet Solutions (IS) to provide wholesale 5G connectivity targeted at delivering enterprise services to their existing and potential new customer bases.  

The 5G service will provide operators and internet service providers with faster speeds, lower latency and greater capacity, ultimately enabling businesses to deliver richer experiences to their customers.

“Providing IS with 5G wholesale services as an alternative to fibre connectivity, Liquid Telecom South Africa is highlighting how we are delivering on our commitment to the market to continue being the best business network in South Africa,” says Reshaad Sha, CEO of Liquid Telecom South Africa. “Local businesses are adopting technologies like SD-WAN, IoT, and cloud computing, However, these technologies need network connectivity that provides high quality, increased capacity, and greater reliability to ensure optimum performance.” 

IS managing executive Dr Setumo Mohapisays the company has evolved its networking model to provide a high-performance hybrid network that aggregates multiple WAN transport services. 

“This enables clients to fully utilise all available bandwidth for high availability and total application performance,” he says. “The innovation, flexibility and range of 5G use cases that this offers for different industries such as agriculture, retail, manufacturing, and logistics is boundless. 5G is a core component of our hybrid network and we are extremely excited about the extended capability this partnership with Liquid enables us to offer our clients.

Liquid Telecom is the first to launch a 5G wholesale network service, which it says will “accelerate the building of Africa’s digital future and the  digital revolution in South Africa”.

Liquid Telecom is a leading communications solutions provider across 13 countries, primarily in Eastern, Southern and South Africa. It serves mobile operators, carriers, enterprise, media and content companies and retail customers with high-speed, reliable connectivity, hosting and co-location and digital services. This means that it can provide the basis for its clients to offer 5G services to end-users.

Liquid has built Africa’s largest independent fibre network, approaching 70,000km, and operates state-of-the-art data centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nairobi.

IS, which pioneered Internet connectivity in South Africa, is a subsidiary of the Dimension Data Group and part of Japanese telecoms giant NTT. It now leverages its infrastructure and global footprint to support organisations with the rapid deployment of emerging technologies. Still headquartered in South Africa, it has operating offices in Mozambique, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. It has 82 Points of Presence (PoPs) in 19 African countries and four international PoPs in London, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore. The company has over 10 000 square metres of data centre space across Africa.

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So you think you need a Blockchain?

By CAYLE SHARROCK, Head of Engineering at Tari Labs

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It’s 2020, and we’re still in hype overdrive about blockchain. If conventional wisdom is to be believed, blockchain is going revolutionise and disrupt every industry known to humankind.

But does every industry actually need a blockchain? Let’s take an objective look at two of the most aggressively touted use cases for Blockchain to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

Before we do this, let’s remind ourselves about the four pillars of Blockchain technology and what they give you: tamper-evident logs (the blockchain); cryptographic proof of ownership (digital signatures); public accountability (the distributed public ledger); and corruption resistance (proof of work).

If we use these four features as a checklist, we can evaluate any proposed use case of blockchain technology and decide whether the potential is genuine, or whether it’s just buzzword bingo.

Banking

There have been hundreds of headlines over the past four years proclaiming how Bank Y will use Blockchain to disrupt the industry. Usually, what they claim is that they can perform interbank settlements at a fraction of the cost of what the incumbent monopoly, SWIFT, provides.

So does Blockchain work for the banking sector? Clearly, tamper detection of the transaction history is a must-have here. What about digital signatures and proof of ownership? Without a doubt. Multiple signatures? The more the merrier.

Bitcoin was conceived as trustless money – and with banks, we have a fairly small community that is heavily regulated, and that do actually trust each other to some degree. Essentially, banks use governments’ big stick instead of proof-of-work to keep everyone honest. This works most of the time. Except when it doesn’t. The 2008 crisis and the 2012 Cypriot haircuts are just two examples.

How about Public Accountability from distributed public records? No, public accountability has never been the banking sector’s strong suit. That means the banks’ ideal “blockchain” is just tamper detection, plus digital signatures. This sounds like a bunch of databases that have tightly controlled access along with strong cryptographic signatures.

The banks actually gave this non-Blockchain blockchain a name: Distributed Ledger Technology. And it’s pretty much what SWIFT already does.

Verdict: Do banks need Blockchain? Nah. They want a cheaper alternative to SWIFT.

Supply-chain management

Blockchain technology is going to revolutionise the supply-chain management (SCM) industry, we’re told. BHP Billiton was one of the first large companies to announce in 2016 that they were implementing Blockchain for their core sample supply chain. We’ve heard similar stories about the diamond industry.

Whether you think a proof-of-work Blockchain makes sense for SCM is really secondary to the challenge of The Oracle problem: blockchains are brilliant at letting you know when data in the system has been compromised. But they have zero sense whether that data is true or not.

The Oracle problem arises whenever you need to bring the concept of truth, or providence from the real world into a trustless system like Blockchain. How does the core sample data get onto the blockchain ledger? Does a guy type it in? Does he never make mistakes? Can he be bribed to type in something else? If it’s a totally automated system, can it fail? Be hacked?

Maybe we solve this by having two systems running and we compare the results. Or three. Or four. Now we have the problem of having to ship our samples to different labs around the world and be sure they weren’t tampered with in transit. If only we had a blockchain-based SCM system to secure our blockchain-based SCM system …

Verdict: The Oracle problem is really hard, and torpedos a lot of tangible good-based blockchain proposals.

So, back to our original question: do you need a blockchain? Ultimately, the future of blockchain applications (beyond money) lies in whether the benefits of having a decentralised, public record secured by proof-of-work outweighs its costs. There are plenty of really encouraging use cases emerging – think ticketing, for example, or trading in any digital assets. But for most industries, the jury’s still out.

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