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Barcodes come to e-tailers

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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.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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