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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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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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