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Banks must be mobile-first

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Rapid technological innovation and the emergence of more stringent regulations means that banks are having to reinvent themselves as trusted providers of a much broader range of financial services, delivered securely to consumers primarily via mobile technology, says Entersekt CEO SCHALK NOLTE.

The unbundling of banking and transactional functions from traditional financial services providers – driven by increased development of mobile technology, regulatory change, and competition from agile new challenger banks and fintech providers – is forcing banks to radically rethink their business models.

“Managing change on multiple fronts can be difficult for any organisation but especially for large multi-disciplinary financial service providers that operate globally,” says Schalk Nolte, CEO of mobile security specialist, Entersekt.

He says by adopting a mobile-first strategy, banks can cement their role as the central hub for customers’ financial activities – and grow the range of services they provide.

“Banks are finding it hard to categorise and prioritise financial technology innovation that will enable better customer interaction and reduce costs.

“However, by offering a single secure mobile banking app, banks can create a trust point between users and new fintech services providers, making it easy for consumers to choose which payment method to use,” says Nolte.

Consumers now have many ways to manage their finances and make payments, which are often provided by new single-service fintech companies. Banking aggregation services that combine financial offerings from multiple suppliers are also popular with consumers, especially in the 18-35 age range.

Says Nolte: “Historically, the main financial trust relationship consumers had was with their bank. Now, the use of services offered by other financial providers is threatening that bond.”

To avoid disintermediation and service erosion, banks need to strategically position themselves at the centre of mobile-centric financial services by acting as a bridge between their customers and new fintech services. This is especially true for payment services.

Nolte says that banks can help their customers navigate this fast-changing environment and remain competitive by offering a banking app as an anchor point.

“This reinforces and strengthens the relationship between banks and their customers. Our locally-developed Connekt software, deployed around the world, provides issuing banks with a digital commerce enablement tool. The software puts them firmly at the centre of managing digital payments and allows their customers to have a single trusted app for digital payment.

“This removes the need for people to download a range of mobile payment applications as they can now be supported through one mobile banking application. Connekt becomes the single trusted anchor from which the mobile and payments world is unlocked for consumers, and supports their daily financial needs,” says Nolte.

In the EU, the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) become effective in January. This will make customer data held by the retail banking sector available to a large range of third-party providers that, like banks, also help consumers and businesses transact and manage their finances or make payments online.

Nolte says PSD2 will make it even more important for banks to focus on providing an enhanced mobile banking and financial services offering for their customers.

“It keeps them relevant in a sector that’s being rapidly reinvented by innovation,” he says.

The official launch of Connekt will take place in March this year at the Seamless Africa event in Cape Town.

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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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