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Gumtree adds escrow to online classifieds

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Online classified service Gumtree South Africa continues its quest to build trust in the online peer-to-peer trade market by incorporating Shepherd, a Standard Bank-powered escrow service.

“Classifieds are immensely popular, but there are risks associated with trading  online, such as meeting someone in person that you don’t know, handling  cash or the risk of non-payment after delivery,” says Johan Nel,  country manager of Gumtree SA. “It’s our belief that, while millions of South Africans are already prolific traders online, there are as many who want to participate but are wary to do so. We want to remove those barriers and offer safe alternatives to the conventional face-to-face interaction.”

Shepherd operates as a third party that facilitates  transactions on behalf of sellers and buyers and is offered as an option to Gumtree customers. “The process is fairly simple,” explains Martin Reynolds of Shepherd. “Either the buyer or seller can request dealing through Shepherd.  After the seller initiates the transaction,  the buyer makes a payment into a secure trust account. Shepherd secures the funds until the buyer receives the item and accepts it and facilitates the delivery through Ram couriers.  The buyer simply signs the courier waybill to accept the delivery if she is satisfied with the item.  Shepherd then releases the funds to the buyer. If the buyer isn’t satisfied, the item is returned to the seller and the buyer’s payment refunded.”

According to Reynolds, this not only eliminates a lot of the risks involved but also opens up the large Gauteng market to buyers and sellers elsewhere in the country.  “ There is no need to only deal locally anymore.”

Craig Polkinghorne, Head of Business and Commercial Banking at Standard Bank, says while e-commerce continues to grow in South Africa, the biggest concern for online shoppers remains the availability of secure payment platforms.

“At Standard Bank we view safety and security as a top priority for our customers. We found it fitting to support Shepherd’s escrow service as it aligns with Standard Bank’s commitment to constantly deliver safe and convenient banking platforms and solutions to customers. Shepherd simply eliminates the payment risks associated with online shopping, enabling the buyer and seller to focus on completing the transaction.”

Nel says that, while the vast majority of Gumtree customers  are familiar enough with online safety to allow them to transact without incident, Shepherd adds additional peace of mind.  A small transaction  fee is charged  for the service, but  Nel  believes the benefits of the service far outweigh the cost.

“It’s worth paying a nominal fee for peace of mind when you could be spending over R15,000 for an Apple Mac or a rare collectible. Having said that, the fees are so small that items as inexpensive as a R1,000 can be traded with equal ease.”

Shepherd is iniitially limited due to item size restrictions.

Users can sign up online.

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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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