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Are South Africans ready to ditch their wallets? 

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After years of hype, the mobile commerce bandwagon may have just rolled into town. And if projections are anything to go by, the days of the traditional wallet might be numbered, writes MUSTAPHA ZAOUINI, CEO of PayU.

The global mobile wallet market is projected to grow at an annual compounded growth rate of 36.8% over the next four years, according to research by RNR Market Research.

Additionally, Statista predicts that the global mobile payment transaction volume is expected to reach US$721 billion in 2017, up from US$235 billion in 2013.

Paypal, the leading provider of wallet services, now has circa 162 million active wallets.

A further look at mobile money growth from around the world reveals the fruits of unprecedented user engagement and device proliferation.

A 2014 report by Hamburg based yStats.com revealed that in China, where more than 200 million people already use mobile payments, third-party mobile payments grew by 800% last year and are forecasted to more than double this year. Meanwhile, USA mobile payments are growing at three-digit percentage rates.

Banking apps in the U.K. were used 10.5 million times a day across the country in March, surpassing the 9.6 million daily log-ins to internet banking services, according to data from the British Bankers’ Association.

Impressive numbers, but will South Africans be as keen to replace their physical wallets?

In my view, current local market factors support mobile wallet adoption. The mobile phone user adoption curve is at a point where we have a sufficiently large group of consumers in SA who are comfortable with making payments online, as well as enough mobile devices to make the mobile wallet service viable. However, the value proposition must be relevant to both the consumer and merchant, both online and offline.

The high rate of mobile phone users in South Africa – approximately 59 million according to Wikipedia – suggests that user education is not a barrier. This is further supported by a 2015 World Wide Worx survey that found internet browsing via phones to be at 40% in South Africa.

Moreover, we have seen that payment infrastructure is improving and a sufficient density of wallet pay points has been reached thanks to incumbent Wallet initiatives acting as enablers of point of sale devices.

Homegrown wallet offerings like Snapscan, Zapper, Flickpay and eWallet are gaining momentum despite the backdrop of modest e-commerce growth.

FNB’s mobile wallet is an example of banks looking to ensure that they scale through low cost access channels to serve the under and un-banked customers with higher profitability. A key focus for wallet providers will be on the seven million people in South Africa who earn salaries but do not have their own bank accounts, according to Vodacom’s estimates.

I agree with FNB’s eWallet’s CEO Yolande Steyn’s sentiments that the success of eWallet has shown that there is still massive scope for mobile money remittances as an entry point for mobile money in a country. The challenge lies in creating further financial services adoption off the back of it.

Last month’s go-ahead for remittance exchanges between SA and Zimbabwe’s Econet by the SA Reserve Bank may be an omen for mobile money.

Yolande Steyn also maintains that using supplementary technologies such as self-service terminals, ATMs and other mobile applications can further augment the value proposition.

A 2015 Forrester report suggests that the future of mobile wallets may lie beyond payments. The research points to the fact that in the next five years mobile wallets will resemble marketing platforms.

A diversified offering will unlock value in a South African Market that is socially savvy and has an appetite for integrated services. It is an inevitable progression for large third-party players like Apple or PayPal to offer a suite of services through their wallets. In China, for example, the Alipay Wallet already lets brands reach consumers via mobile banner ads.

Thomas Husson, Principal Analyst at Forrester perhaps summed it up best in a recent mobile wallet report: “Offering faster or more-secure payments is not enough; wallet providers will have to solve real pain points, such as giving consumers the ability to see how much is on stored value cards at any moment in time, access loyalty points, or automatically receive digital copies of payment receipts.”

The Forrester Report highlights the top functionality that people interviewed want in a mobile wallet. Loyalty points and rewards ranked highest among US respondents (57%) and second for EU respondents (34%). Coupons discounts and special offers came in a close second for both groups (56% and 36% respectively).

Other items making the list were price comparisons, relevant product info, the ability to make reservations, split-billing, as well as digital tickets.

If the mobile wallet, in conjunction with cash and credit cards, can provide the means for all South Africans to access the digital world then the traditional alternative’s time may be up.

For me, it’s a question of when the wallet will cross the chasm, rather than if.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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