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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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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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