PayGate has entered into a partnership with Trans Africa Solutions, whose patented Smart Code product, SCode allows barcoded invoices to be settled in cash at retailers and Post Offices throughout South Africa.
Until now, barcoded invoices, which allow cash settlement, have been the exclusive domain of large companies which have had to negotiate individual deals with retailers and undergo lengthy and costly integration processes. E-commerce offerings have been cut off from this option, which has significantly constrained their access to certain markets.
“SCode’s revolutionary solution will allow even the smallest businesses selling online to generate electronic barcode invoices using all internet platforms, for goods or services being purchased. It also enables the large number of consumers who prefer to use cash, or who don’t have bank cards, to make payment for online purchases – solving the challenge for both the consumer and the retailer,” explains Brendon Williamson, PayGate’s head of business development.
E-commerce has traditionally relied on card payments or EFT transactions. This has effectively cut off a large percentage of the population who may still not trust online payments, or who may be unbanked.
“You can now imagine a parent in a remote area buying textbooks online via their cell-phones, receiving a barcoded invoice and then being able to make payment at their local Shoprite and their child at university receiving the books the next day. This opens online shopping to every person, across every LSM,” comments SCode director, Fraser Gregg.
The network of retailers which currently accept the SCode cash, debit or credit card payments include OK, Shoprite, Checkers, Checkers Hyper, House & Home, USave and all post office outlets. , with other large retail chains coming on line in early 2016, creating one of the most extensive retail payment networks in Southern Africa.
The PayGate – SCode solution is a seamless integration that can be added with no additional development required by the merchant. Even with the cash element, the system allows for automatic reconciliation, significantly streamlining the transaction process for merchants.
“We chose to partner with PayGate for a number of reasons. They have a great track record, a significant client base and an innovative approach towards online payments,” explains Gregg.
The solution is priced in line with existing card-based transactions. This which keeps the offering competitive and affordable to all online merchants.
“Our clients want to get paid as fast as possible, in as many ways as possible. This has allowed us to offer yet another means of payment without any additional integration being required,” says Williamson.
PayGate has integrated the SCode solution with all their existing products, but of significant interest to business owners is the combination of SCode with the PayBill product. PayBill allows companies without e-commerce functionality on their websites to accept and process online payments.
“With these two products you don’t need e-commerce functionality on your website and now you can add cash as a payment option to an array of existing payment methods. This means anyone can open a business and begin transacting almost immediately. We see this as yet another way in which we are enabling business development in Africa,” comments Williamson.
The PayGate offering allows even start-ups or small service providers to offer the same payment facilities as the larger corporates. With SCode, the payments are handled by the retailers, lowering regulatory risk. It also lowers the physical risk for those who have to handle large amounts of cash.
Looking ahead, Williamson says PayGate plans to expand the SCode offering into further African markets, many of which remain predominantly cash-based.
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
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.”
Oracle leads in clash of
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.”