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FNB allows selfie authentication

FNB has announced that SMEs can now completely switch or open a new bank account in less than five minutes through selfie authentication and digital KYC (Know Your Customer) on the FNB App.

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This paperless cheque account opening process uses biometric technology to validate the business and its owner, allows the SME to order and courier new cards, switch debit orders and setup digital banking immediately.

This “marks a significant milestone in our 180-year history as we move beyond being a digital innovator to a broader contextual platform disruptor,” FNB CEO Jacques Celliers said at the launch of the service on Wednesday. “It is through this contextually helpful platform that we can offer holistic financial solutions and become a trusted partner to the broader society. This will enable us to help create a better world for years to come.”

Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO of FNB Business said FNB had worked hard to understand how SMEs operate and the day to day challenges they faced, which were considerable.

“We have coined the phrase ‘businessism’ inside FNB, driving our focus on solutions that remove those moments of angst that businesses face – from registering a company and opening a bank account, to applying for credit and managing the businesses daily affairs,” said Vacy-Lyle. “Our digital solutions now cater for the entire SME value chain via Online Banking Enterprise, which is linked to the FNB App.”

The focus on fintech has grown significantly on the African continent.  Although there are a number players that actively innovate in the SME market, they often lack scale and fail to deliver a single platform that is convenient and does not pose additional cost, security and administrative burdens.

“Therefore, it was imperative that we not only integrate key solutions, but further incorporate trust and simplicity to our platforms, while ensuring that we do not add complexity in an already over-crowded marketplace,” said Vacy-Lyle.

FNB Business revealed the following statistics regarding its SME offerings:

  • An average of 3000 new company registrations were initiated every month on digital channels in the last year, with more than 1,000 assisted CIPC registrations per month.
  • Over 300 000 customers accessed digital account confirmation letters online (with SARS endorsement)  eradicating the need to go to branch or call in for assistance.
  • eWallet Pro payments between SME’s and casual workers increased 40% year on year.
  • Over 4 500 customers used DocTrail which allows businesses to easily attach source or reference documents to all their digital payments in the cloud, creating a transparent and auditable trail for every payment execution.
  • Over 200,000 customers registered to use FNB’s suite of Instant Value Add solutions, that help take the angst out of your day-to-day business administration of bookkeeping, payroll and invoicing.
  • FNB Instant Invoicing produces over 40,000 compliant tax invoices per month for businesses;
  • Business clients can now make payments, including Pay-and-Clear now, as well as those that require multiple authorisations on FNB’s digital channels.
  • More than 50% of all credit applications in FNB Business are now digitally originated and approved representing more than R200m per month of new SME credit facilities.

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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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