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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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IoT sensors are anything from doctor to canary in mines

Industrial IoT is changing the shape of the mining industry and the intelligence of the devices that drive it

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has become many things in the mining industry. A canary that uses sensors to monitor underground air quality, a medic that monitors healthcare, a security guard that’s constantly on guard, and underground mobile vehicle control. It has evolved from the simple connectivity of essential sensors to devices into an ecosystem of indispensable tools and solutions that redefine how mining manages people, productivity and compliance. According to Karien Bornheim, CEO of Footprint Africa Business Solutions (FABS), IoT offers an integrated business solution that can deliver long-term, strategic benefits to the mining industry.

“To fully harness the business potential of IoT, the mining sector has to understand precisely how it can add value,” she adds. “IoT needs to be implemented across the entire value chain in order to deliver fully optimised, relevant and turnkey operational solutions. It doesn’t matter how large the project is, or how complex, what matters is that it is done in line with business strategy and with a clear focus.”

Over the past few years, mining organisations have deployed emerging technologies to help bolster flagging profits, manage increasingly weighty compliance requirements, and reduce overheads. These technologies are finding a foothold in an industry that faces far more complexities around employee wellbeing and safety than many others, and that juggles numerous moving parts to achieve output and performance on a par with competitive standards. Already, these technologies have allowed mines to fundamentally change worker safety protocols and improve working conditions. They have also provided mining companies with the ability to embed solutions into legacy platforms, allowing for sensors and IoT to pull them into a connected net that delivers results.

“The key to achieving results with any IoT or technology project is to partner with service providers, not just shove solutions into identified gaps,” says Bornheim. “You need to start in the conceptual stage and move through the pre-feasibility and bankable feasibility stages before you start the implementation. Work with trained and qualified chemical, metallurgical, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and structural engineers that form a team led by a qualified engineering lead with experience in project management. This is the only way to ensure that every aspect of the project is aligned with the industry and its highly demanding specifications.”

Mining not only has complexities in compliance and health and safety, but the market has become saturated, difficult and mercurial. For organisations to thrive, they must find new revenue streams and innovate the ways in which they do business. This is where the data delivered by IoT sensors and devices can really transform the bottom line. If translated, analysed and used correctly, the data can provide insights that allow for the executive to make informed decisions about sites, investment and potential.


“The cross-pollination of different data sets from across different sites can help shift dynamics in plant operation and maintenance, in the execution of specific tasks, and so much more,” says Bornheim. “In addition, with sensors and connected devices and systems, mining operations can be managed intelligently to ensure the best results from equipment and people.”

The connection of the physical world to the digital is not new. Many of the applications currently being used or presented to the mining industry are not new either. What’s new is how these solutions are being implemented and the ways in which they are defined. It’s more than sticking on sensors. It’s using these sensors to streamline business across buildings, roads, vehicles, equipment, and sites. These sensors and the ways in which they are used or where they are installed can be customised to suit specific business requirements.

“With qualified electronic engineers and software experts, you can design a vast array of solutions to meet the real needs of your business,” says Bornheim. “Our engineers can programme, create, migrate and integrate embedded IoT solutions for microcontrollers, sensors, and processors. They can also develop intuitive dashboards and human-machine interfaces for IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to manage the input and output of a wide range of functionalities.”

The benefits of IoT lie in its ubiquity. It can be used in tandem with artificial intelligence or machine learning systems to enhance analytics, improve the automation of basic processes and monitor systems and equipment for faults. It can be used alongside M2M applications to enhance the results and the outcomes of the systems and their roles. And it can be used to improve collaboration and communication between man, machine and mine.

“You can use IoT platforms to visualise mission-critical data for device monitoring, remote control, alerts, security management, health and safety and healthcare,” concludes Bornheim. “The sky is genuinely the limit, especially now that the cost of sensors has come down and the intelligence of solutions and applications has gone up. From real-time insights to hands-on security and safety alerts to data that changes business direction and focus, IoT brings a myriad of benefits to the table.”

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Oracle leads in clash of
e-commerce titans

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Three e-commerce platforms have been awarded “gold medals” for leading the way in customer experience. SoftwareReviews, a division of Info-Tech Research Group, named Oracle Commerce Cloud the leader in its 2020 eCommerce Data Quadrant Awards, followed by Shopify Plus and IBM Digital Commerce. The awards are based on user reviews. 
The three vendors received the following citations:

  • Oracle Commerce Cloud ranked highest among software users, earning the number-one spot in many of the product feature section areas, shining brightest in reporting and analytics, predictive recommendations, order management, and integrated search. 
  • Shopify Plus performed consistently well according to users, taking the number-one spot for catalogue management, shopping cart management and ease of customisation.
  • IBM Digital Commerce did exceptionally well in business value created, quality of features, and vendor support.

The SoftwareReviews Data Quadrant differentiates itself with insightful survey questions, backed by 22 years of research in IT. The study involves gathering intelligence on user satisfaction with both product features and experience with the vendor. When distilled, the customer’s experience is shaped by both the software interface and relationship with the vendor. Evaluating enterprise software along these two dimensions provides a comprehensive understanding of the product in its entirety and helps identify vendors that can deliver on both for the complete software experience.

“Our recent Data Quadrant in e-commerce solutions provides a compelling snapshot of the most popular enterprise-ready players, and can help you make an informed, data-driven selection of an e-commerce platform that will exceed your expectations,” says Ben Dickie, research director at Info-Tech Research Group. 

“Having a dedicated e-commerce platform is where the rubber hits the road in transacting with your customers through digital channels. These platforms provide an indispensable array of features, from product catalog and cart management to payment processing to detailed transaction analytics.”

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