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How money gets to people

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Many take South Africa’s ATM network for granted – simply insert a card and withdraw money. GAVIN REUBENSON, Group CIO, Paycorp, outlines what it actually takes to deliver cash to 17 million South Africans on the first of every month.

It starts very early in the morning on the first working day of every month: 17 million South Africans go to their nearest ATM to withdraw their government (SASSA) grant. It almost doesn’t matter what time you get there, you’ll find a queue of South Africans waiting for their turn at the ATM.

The image below shows the extent to which SASSA withdrawals on the 1st dwarfs those transactions done by other cardholders, and certainly dwarfs the peak that happens on the 25th of each month when the majority of South Africans get paid by their employers. The blue portion of the graph represents SASSA withdrawals; the orange is normal business.

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The annual Finscope survey released in November last year reported that 34% of people – that’s 6.1m South African grant recipients – withdraw all their money on payment day every month regardless of the fact that they could withdraw it in small increments during the course of the month, or even use their SASSA cards as debit cards at point-of-sale.

It helps to understand that SASSA’s electronic payment system represents the first time many people have had access to any kind of banking system. We’re beginning to see a change in behaviour; we see more people withdrawing two or three times a month as they learn to trust electronic banking, although it has to be said that recent uncertainty regarding SASSA administration does have a knock-on effect.

Leaving that aside, these newly-banked customers are not the only ones who’ve had to adapt since the grant payment system went electronic in Q1, 2012.

As a company whose primary purpose is to connect people to their money and businesses to their customers, we rate service very highly so we don’t like to see long queues at our ATMs. Like everyone else, we’ve had to get used to it on SASSA payment day.

We’re much more concerned with ensuring that there will be enough cash for every SASSA cardholder at every one of our 5,500+ ATMs. Reliability is our number one priority – people need their cash, and we’re going to make sure they get it!

When SASSA first went electronic there was significant pressure on the national payment system which put strain on everyone, and we all had to adapt very quickly. At Paycorp we were quick to update and reconfigure our cash forecasting systems to ensure that we could service the increased withdrawal volumes and values.

Whilst Paycorp has always been about financial inclusion, moving government grants from cash to electronic through the SASSA card added a new dimension by helping to drive financial activity in remote communities. This is not just because more cash is being circulated. For merchants who have in-store ATMs, 30 – 40% of cash withdrawn from their ATM will be used in their store and therefore the money stays in the local community.

With every local ATM we install – and the majority of our installations are in rural and peri-urban areas – we know that we’re contributing to the local community’s reduction in travel time to access an ATM, which is now down to below 30 minutes. Seventeen years after deploying South Africa’s first independent ATM, nothing is more satisfying than seeing how the addition of an ATM makes life easier for individual South Africans, promotes business growth, and builds local economies.

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IoT sensors are anything from doctor to canary in mines

Industrial IoT is changing the shape of the mining industry and the intelligence of the devices that drive it

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has become many things in the mining industry. A canary that uses sensors to monitor underground air quality, a medic that monitors healthcare, a security guard that’s constantly on guard, and underground mobile vehicle control. It has evolved from the simple connectivity of essential sensors to devices into an ecosystem of indispensable tools and solutions that redefine how mining manages people, productivity and compliance. According to Karien Bornheim, CEO of Footprint Africa Business Solutions (FABS), IoT offers an integrated business solution that can deliver long-term, strategic benefits to the mining industry.

“To fully harness the business potential of IoT, the mining sector has to understand precisely how it can add value,” she adds. “IoT needs to be implemented across the entire value chain in order to deliver fully optimised, relevant and turnkey operational solutions. It doesn’t matter how large the project is, or how complex, what matters is that it is done in line with business strategy and with a clear focus.”

Over the past few years, mining organisations have deployed emerging technologies to help bolster flagging profits, manage increasingly weighty compliance requirements, and reduce overheads. These technologies are finding a foothold in an industry that faces far more complexities around employee wellbeing and safety than many others, and that juggles numerous moving parts to achieve output and performance on a par with competitive standards. Already, these technologies have allowed mines to fundamentally change worker safety protocols and improve working conditions. They have also provided mining companies with the ability to embed solutions into legacy platforms, allowing for sensors and IoT to pull them into a connected net that delivers results.

“The key to achieving results with any IoT or technology project is to partner with service providers, not just shove solutions into identified gaps,” says Bornheim. “You need to start in the conceptual stage and move through the pre-feasibility and bankable feasibility stages before you start the implementation. Work with trained and qualified chemical, metallurgical, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and structural engineers that form a team led by a qualified engineering lead with experience in project management. This is the only way to ensure that every aspect of the project is aligned with the industry and its highly demanding specifications.”

Mining not only has complexities in compliance and health and safety, but the market has become saturated, difficult and mercurial. For organisations to thrive, they must find new revenue streams and innovate the ways in which they do business. This is where the data delivered by IoT sensors and devices can really transform the bottom line. If translated, analysed and used correctly, the data can provide insights that allow for the executive to make informed decisions about sites, investment and potential.


“The cross-pollination of different data sets from across different sites can help shift dynamics in plant operation and maintenance, in the execution of specific tasks, and so much more,” says Bornheim. “In addition, with sensors and connected devices and systems, mining operations can be managed intelligently to ensure the best results from equipment and people.”

The connection of the physical world to the digital is not new. Many of the applications currently being used or presented to the mining industry are not new either. What’s new is how these solutions are being implemented and the ways in which they are defined. It’s more than sticking on sensors. It’s using these sensors to streamline business across buildings, roads, vehicles, equipment, and sites. These sensors and the ways in which they are used or where they are installed can be customised to suit specific business requirements.

“With qualified electronic engineers and software experts, you can design a vast array of solutions to meet the real needs of your business,” says Bornheim. “Our engineers can programme, create, migrate and integrate embedded IoT solutions for microcontrollers, sensors, and processors. They can also develop intuitive dashboards and human-machine interfaces for IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to manage the input and output of a wide range of functionalities.”

The benefits of IoT lie in its ubiquity. It can be used in tandem with artificial intelligence or machine learning systems to enhance analytics, improve the automation of basic processes and monitor systems and equipment for faults. It can be used alongside M2M applications to enhance the results and the outcomes of the systems and their roles. And it can be used to improve collaboration and communication between man, machine and mine.

“You can use IoT platforms to visualise mission-critical data for device monitoring, remote control, alerts, security management, health and safety and healthcare,” concludes Bornheim. “The sky is genuinely the limit, especially now that the cost of sensors has come down and the intelligence of solutions and applications has gone up. From real-time insights to hands-on security and safety alerts to data that changes business direction and focus, IoT brings a myriad of benefits to the table.”

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Oracle leads in clash of
e-commerce titans

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Three e-commerce platforms have been awarded “gold medals” for leading the way in customer experience. SoftwareReviews, a division of Info-Tech Research Group, named Oracle Commerce Cloud the leader in its 2020 eCommerce Data Quadrant Awards, followed by Shopify Plus and IBM Digital Commerce. The awards are based on user reviews. 
The three vendors received the following citations:

  • Oracle Commerce Cloud ranked highest among software users, earning the number-one spot in many of the product feature section areas, shining brightest in reporting and analytics, predictive recommendations, order management, and integrated search. 
  • Shopify Plus performed consistently well according to users, taking the number-one spot for catalogue management, shopping cart management and ease of customisation.
  • IBM Digital Commerce did exceptionally well in business value created, quality of features, and vendor support.

The SoftwareReviews Data Quadrant differentiates itself with insightful survey questions, backed by 22 years of research in IT. The study involves gathering intelligence on user satisfaction with both product features and experience with the vendor. When distilled, the customer’s experience is shaped by both the software interface and relationship with the vendor. Evaluating enterprise software along these two dimensions provides a comprehensive understanding of the product in its entirety and helps identify vendors that can deliver on both for the complete software experience.

“Our recent Data Quadrant in e-commerce solutions provides a compelling snapshot of the most popular enterprise-ready players, and can help you make an informed, data-driven selection of an e-commerce platform that will exceed your expectations,” says Ben Dickie, research director at Info-Tech Research Group. 

“Having a dedicated e-commerce platform is where the rubber hits the road in transacting with your customers through digital channels. These platforms provide an indispensable array of features, from product catalog and cart management to payment processing to detailed transaction analytics.”

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