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Brewing giant gives blockchain to African farmers

AB InBev Africa and BanQu are empowering farmers through a non-cryptocurrency application of blockchain technology.

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Zambian Cassava famers in the AB InBev value chain are able to keep a record of their produce sales and receive cash through the Blockchain mobile money solution

AB InBev Africa and BanQu have roped in blockchain technology to uplift smallholder farmers in the global brewing giant’s supply chain. The companies say they are expanding financial inclusion and empowering more people across the continent, while also giving AB InBev better line of sight of its supply chain, helping it intervene to make sure that farmers also have the resources they need.

It has rolled out a blockchain solution developed by US-based fintech company BanQu, which has developed a non-cryptocurrency blockchain platform designed to provide an economic identity for people around the world. It is geared especially to those working at the tail end of supply chains and who are economically disconnected. This technology enables farmers in the AB InBev value chain to have line of sight of their barley, sorghum, and cassava sales, and receive cash through a mobile money solution.

Initially launched through a pilot project in Zambia in August 2018, a second implementation was unveiled earlier this year in Uganda, through Nile Breweries Limited. Since then, 1200 farmers have signed up on the BanQu blockchain platform. The farmers have access to full accounting information, such as sales price, volume sold, and payment information, made available via SMS. They also have records that they can take to the bank, allowing them access to credit and form a verifiable economic identity.

This possibility is realised through an immutable digital record of their financial transactions, through BanQu’s Dignity Through Identity solution.

Another benefit to AB InBev’s smallholder farmers, which has recently been made available by BanQu, is the integration of mobile money, which means that farmers do not have to walk around with cash that could be stolen. Instead, they can store money, pay bills or send remittances online directly through the free, secure platform.

“Most people have a rudimentary understanding of blockchain because it is the platform that enables Bitcoin transactions,” says AB InBev’s Solutions Africa director of innovation and analytics, Sameer Jooma. He says that BanQu’s solution can be applied to almost any industry.

Says BanQu co-founder and CEO Ashish Gadnis, “BanQu connects people to global supply chains, enabling them to do business with brands, organisations, and governments. Almost 2.7 billion people across the globe don’t have access to credit or other banking services, because they don’t have what we call an economic identity – the data record of their financial position. BanQu seeks to solve this dilemma by providing auditable financial records, which are bankable, allowing more people to participate in the global economy.”

The partnership also gives AB InBev Africa better visibility of farmers in their supply chain, and the Group can easily see how much, and when, a farmer was paid, as well as track produce from the farm to the brewery through geo-location tags.

Now that the farmer is connected, AB InBev Africa can also connect with farmers to ensure that they receive training and resources.

Successive roll outs in Uganda, India, and Brazil have since taken place, making Brazil the fourth market where BanQu will assist AB InBev in reaching the global brewer’s 2025 sustainability goals.

Jooma says: “Over the last year, through BanQu implementations, we have touched more than 4000 farmers in our supply chain in four markets across the world. Through this work, we are helping to create an economic identity for our famers, which enables them to access financial services. This will ultimately allow farmers to grow their business and improve the livelihoods of their families and communities.”

AB InBev has also invested in BanQu, advancing an undisclosed amount to ZX Ventures, the company’s global growth and innovation group, in June this year.

“Our investment in BanQu is an investment in our future through empowering our farmers,” says Jooma.

lockchain platform designed to provide an economic identity for people around the world. It is geared especially to those working at the tail end of supply chains and who are economically disconnected. This technology enables farmers in the AB InBev value chain to have line of sight of their barley, sorghum, and cassava sales, and receive cash through a mobile money solution.

Initially launched through a pilot project in Zambia in August 2018, a second implementation was unveiled earlier this year in Uganda, through Nile Breweries Limited. Since then, 1200 farmers have signed up on the BanQu blockchain platform. The farmers have access to full accounting information, such as sales price, volume sold, and payment information, made available via SMS. They also have records that they can take to the bank, allowing them access to credit and form a verifiable economic identity.

This possibility is realised through an immutable digital record of their financial transactions, through BanQu’s Dignity Through Identity solution.

Another benefit to AB InBev’s smallholder farmers, which has recently been made available by BanQu, is the integration of mobile money, which means that farmers do not have to walk around with cash that could be stolen. Instead, they can store money, pay bills or send remittances online directly through the free, secure platform.

“Most people have a rudimentary understanding of blockchain because it is the platform that enables Bitcoin transactions,” says AB InBev’s Solutions Africa director of innovation and analytics, Sameer Jooma. He says that BanQu’s solution can be applied to almost any industry.

Says BanQu co-founder and CEO Ashish Gadnis, “BanQu connects people to global supply chains, enabling them to do business with brands, organisations, and governments. Almost 2.7 billion people across the globe don’t have access to credit or other banking services, because they don’t have what we call an economic identity – the data record of their financial position. BanQu seeks to solve this dilemma by providing auditable financial records, which are bankable, allowing more people to participate in the global economy.”

The partnership also gives AB InBev Africa better visibility of farmers in their supply chain, and the Group can easily see how much, and when, a farmer was paid, as well as track produce from the farm to the brewery through geo-location tags.

Now that the farmer is connected, AB InBev Africa can also connect with farmers to ensure that they receive training and resources.

Successive roll-outs in Uganda, India, and Brazil have since taken place, making Brazil the fourth market where BanQu will assist AB InBev in reaching the global brewer’s 2025 sustainability goals.

Jooma says: “Over the last year, through BanQu implementations, we have touched more than 4000 farmers in our supply chain in four markets across the world. Through this work, we are helping to create an economic identity for our farmers, which enables them to access financial services. This will ultimately allow farmers to grow their business and improve the livelihoods of their families and communities.”

AB InBev has also invested in BanQu, advancing an undisclosed amount to ZX Ventures, the company’s global growth and innovation group, in June this year.

“Our investment in BanQu is an investment in our future through empowering our farmers,” says Jooma.

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Security gets an upgrade – with a few glitches

Video doorbells are all the rage in the USA. Can they work in South Africa? SEAN BACHER tries out the Ring Video DoorBell 2 and Floodlight Cam.

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IP cameras have become synonymous with both business and home security. They are readily available, fairly inexpensive and, in many cases, easy to install.

Many are wireless, allowing one to place the camera anywhere within Wi-Fi range. As a result, they are a solution that can be customised to suit any type of security situation.

A world leader in doorbell security, Amazon subsidiary Ring, has recently extended its range of security devices, which now includes doorbells, floodlights, and Wi-Fi extenders, all designed to enhance and complement existing security beams and electric fences.

First up is the Ring Video DoorBell 2

It doesn’t look much like your normal intercom system, except for the miniature eye that keeps track of mischief that may be happening.  

Setting up is fairly easy. All one needs to do is connect it to the network by pushing the connect button, create an account on the downloaded smartphone app and get started with customisation and certification. Features like sensitivity, alerts, and numbers where these alerts need to be sent can all be preprogrammed. It is then just a matter of positioning the doorbell to get the best video coverage.

Getting the correct position may take some time, though, as cars and pedestrians may set it off. 

Next up is the Floodlight Cam

This works much the same as the doorbell. However, it needs to be mounted to a wall. Ring has you covered there: in the box you will find drill bits, screws and even a screwdriver to help you secure the camera. 

You will have to set alerts, phone numbers, and sensitivity. The spotlight allows you to change what time it should light up and shut down, and the package also includes an alarm, should its beams be broken.

Although this all sounds good, there are a few drawbacks to the Ring solutions. Firstly, unlike the United States, where doorbells are stuck in the vicinity of a front door, allowing them to connect to a network easily, many houses in South Africa have gates that need to be opened before one can reach the front door. This means that the bells are on or near the gate, and they are unable to connect to a home or business network.

Now, however, Ring has launched a Wi-Fi extender, but this requires an additional set-up process – and a fairly expensive one, considering the camera cost.

The Ring devices come with Protection Plans that automatically upload any triggered recordings to the cloud, allowing you to view them at a later stage. This trial period only lasts for 30 days, after which the plans can be extended from R450 for a three month period, up to R1 500 for a twelve-month period.

In practice

The attention to detail in the packaging and the addition of the tools really does put the Ring in a class of its own. No short cuts were taken in its design, and you can immediately see that it’s no rip-off. However, the Protection Plans need to be looked at carefully in terms of their costs.

Aside from this challenge, I found the devices very handy inside my house. For instance, a few times my external alarm or fence would sound, at which stage I would get a notification from my armed response – while I was away. But I easily logged in to Ring from my phone to check if anything strange was happening – all in a matter of seconds and while I was sitting all the way in Berlin.

The devices are rather expensive, though, with the Video Door Bell starting at R3 500 and going up to R7 990, and the Floodlight Cam going for R5 000. It all adds up quickly.

The cost means these solutions may not be quite ready for the South African consumer looking for a complete external perimeter security system.

Despite the Protection Plans, I did find them very handy inside my house. For instance, a few times my external alarm or fence would sound, at which stage I would get a notification from my armed response.

But, I easily logged in to Ring from my phone to check if anything strange was happening – all in a matter of seconds and while I was sitting all the way in Berlin.

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It’s not a ‘techlash’ – it’s a ‘tech clash’

By RORY MOORE, Innovation Lead, Accenture South Africa

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People’s love for technology has let businesses weave it, and themselves, into our lives, transforming how we work live and interact in this new world which we at Accenture are referring to – in our Tech Vision 2020 – as the “post-digital era.” But now we are being held back.

At a time when people see the potential of embracing technology more deeply into their lives, systems and services built for a old era are not supporting where people want to go. The next five years will see radical transformation as technology is realigned to better reflect people’s needs and values.

We look at the latest emerging trends that will transform how we live in work in this fundamentally different post-digital world.
Tech trend 1: “The I in experience” – helping people choose their own adventure

The next generation of technology-driven experiences will be those that make the user an active participant in creating the experience. Businesses are increasingly looking to personalise and individualise experiences to a greater degree than ever before, but are faced with stricter data regulations and users that are wary of services being too invasive. To address this, leading businesses are changing the paradigm and making choice and agency a central component of what they deliver.

Tech trend 2: “Artificial intelligence (AI) and me” – reimagining business through human and AI collaboration

Businesses will have to tap the full potential of AI by making it an additive contributor to work, rather than a backstop for automating boring or repetitive tasks. Until now, enterprises have been using AI to automate parts of their workflows, but as AI capabilities grow, following the old path will limit the full benefit of AI investments, potentially marginalise people, and cap businesses’ ability for growth. Businesses must rethink the work they do to make AI a generative part of the process. To do so, they will have to build new capabilities that improve the contextual comprehension between people and machines.

Tech trend 3: “The dilemma of smart things” – overcoming the “beta burden”

As enterprises convert their products into platforms for digital experiences, new challenges arise that, if left unaddressed, will alienate customers and erode their trust. Now that the true value of a product is being driven by the experience, a facet of the product that enterprises have traditionally retained strict control over, businesses must re-evaluate central questions: how involved they are with the product lifecycle, how to maintain transparency and continuity over product features, when is a product truly “finished”, and even who owns it?

Tech trend 4: “Robots in the wild” – growing businesses’ reach and responsibility

Robotics are no longer contained to the warehouse or factory floor. Autonomous vehicles, delivery drones, and other robot-driven machines are fast entering the world around us, allowing businesses to extend this intelligence back into the physical world. As 5G is poised to accelerate this trend, every enterprise must begin to re-think their business through the lens of robotics. Where will they find the most value, and what partners do they need to unlock it? What challenges will they face as they undergo this transformation, and what new responsibilities do they have towards their customers and society at large?

Tech trend 5: “Innovation DNA” – creating an engine for continuous innovation

Businesses should assemble their unique innovation DNA to define how their enterprises grow in the future. Maturing digital technology is making it easier than ever before to transform parts of the business, or find new value in share tools with others. The three key building blocks of innovation DNA are:
Continue on the digital transformation journey
Accelerate research and development (R&D) of scientific advancements and utilise elements such as material sciences and genomic editing to ensure practical applications are leaving these labs quicker than ever before
Leverage the power of DARQ (distributed ledger technology, AI, extended reality and quantum computing) to transform and optimise the business
Differentiation in the post-digital era will be driven by the powerful combinations of innovation and these building blocks will enable exactly that.

It’s not a “techlash”, it’s a “tech-clash”

Essentially, this new digital world is more intimate and personal than ever imaginable, but the models for data, ownership, and experience that define that world have remained the same.

Tech-clash is a clash between old models that are incongruous with people’s expectations. The time to start transformation is now. To this end, businesses need to defuse the tech-clash, build human-centered models and foster deeply trusting relationships.

For more information on how Accenture can help enterprises adopt the latest tech trends to future-proof their businesses in the post-digital era, go to: https://www.accenture.com/za-en.

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