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Don’t lose your head on Black Friday

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Fraud syndicates are likely preparing to pounce as shoppers throw caution to the wind in the Black Friday shopping frenzy, warns Ideco Biometrics CEO MARIUS COETZEE.

The Black Friday sale tradition is gaining momentum in South Africa, with leading retailers promising significant discounts from Friday, 24 November, through to Cyber Monday on 27 November.

For many consumers, the discounts will prove too tempting for caution as they happily part with their personal information and hand over their credit cards to snap up the deals on offer, says Ideco Biometrics CEO Marius Coetzee.

“Fraud syndicates are sophisticated and very well organised, with individuals and businesses losing billions of rands to fraudsters every year. The moment a consumer drops his or her guard, they risk having their personal and banking information duplicated or shared and misused to carry out fraudulent transactions or deplete the victim’s bank account,” Coetzee warns.

The key to safe shopping this Black Friday is to stay vigilant and watch your credit card, he says.

Online shopping can be safer than bricks and mortar shops

“It might surprise some shoppers to discover that online shopping can be safer than using your credit card at a restaurant or retail outlet.  When you hand over your physical credit card, it is very easy for fraudsters to ‘skim’ the card – presenting it to a card reader at the bottom of the point of sale device. This information can be shared across a syndicate within minutes, and by the time the victim becomes aware of the problem, their account could have been drained,” he says.

Coetzee recommends keeping an eye on your card throughout the transaction. “Giving your card to someone who walks away with it to a point of sale terminal is asking for problems.  Many reputable retailers now allow customers to conclude their own transactions by entering the card into the point of sale device. This is typically the safest option, allowing the consumer to stay in control of their own card and personal information.”

Guard your identity

While reputable online retailers go to great lengths to ensure a secure environment for transactions, there are some potential risks in buying online or over the ‘phone, mostly because of consumers’ willingness to share personal information with strangers.

“Your identity – your personal information – is the key to accessing your home and your bank account, so you have to be cautious about who you share it with,” says Coetzee.  One way to be sure you’re sharing your information with a trusted online retailer is to initiate the engagement and the purchase, he says.

“If you initiate the process by going to a reputable online retailer’s website or calling a company’s contact centre, you know who you’re engaging with. Whereas if you click on a link you’ve been sent via email to start shopping, or you share personal information with someone who calls you on the ‘phone, you have no way of knowing for sure who you are giving your information to.”

“It’s safest not to answer questions from people pushing a sales effort to you – rather ask them to confirm the information they have about you. If they don’t have your details, be careful of confirming your personal identity information,” he says.

“It’s commonly accepted that when you drop your guard is when fraudsters will strike. So on Black Friday, when everyone is distracted in the rush to grab the best deal, they need to exercise caution and guard their information,” he says.

Ideco, a pioneer in identity management solutions, is leading efforts to introduce advanced new identity management systems to South Africa to reduce the risk of fraud and identity theft

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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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