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MWC: Visa makes wearables payable

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Visa announced at Mobile World Congress that it is expanding its Visa Ready program to include Internet of Things companies, such as manufacturers of wearables, automobiles, appliances, public transportation services, clothing and almost any other connected device.

Emerging IoT companies will join mobile device manufacturers, including mobile point-of-sale acceptance (mPOS) providers, mobile NFC-enabled device manufacturers and other technology partners in the Visa Ready Program.

The Visa Ready Program gives companies one seamless path to integrate secure payments into their products and services. Visa Ready partners receive access to industry best practices, tools and resources, and Visa’s Digital Enablement Program (VDEP), which includes streamlined access to Visa Token Service (VTS). The Visa Token Service, an innovative security technology, allows secure mobile and digital payments anywhere there is an Internet connection.

The first IoT companies to join the Visa Ready Program will focus on payments for wearables and automobiles. Initial Visa Ready partners include Accenture, Coin, Giesecke & Devrient, Fit Pay, and Samsung, who will work with device manufacturers including Chronos and Pebble, to help embed secure payments in consumer devices and have those devices certified as Visa Ready.

Mobile technology is accelerating the pace of change in the payments industry, helping open up new possibilities for a generation of consumers who increasingly rely on connected devices to manage their money, shop, pay and get paid. The number of IoT enabled devices is expected to reach 50 billion by 2020 according to Cisco, providing a huge opportunity for secure payments to be a feature in just about any form factor.

“More and more, consumers are relying on smart appliances and connected devices to make their lives easier,” said Jim McCarthy, executive vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships at Visa Inc. “By adding payments to these devices, we are turning virtually any Internet connection into a commerce experience – making secure payments seamless, and ultimately more accessible, to merchants and consumers.”

Visa Ready Program for IoT

The Visa Ready Program is a commercial program designed to provide innovators with a path to help ensure that devices, software and solutions can initiate or accept Visa payments. It also provides a framework for collaboration with Visa, as well as guidance and best practices to access the power of the Visa network. Mobile point-of-sale acceptance (mPOS) providers, mobile NFC-enabled device manufacturers, and chip and platform providers are already playing a critical role in enabling new ways to pay and benefiting from the Visa Ready Program.

The Visa Ready Program for IoT will also enable device manufacturers to evaluate, develop and potentially adopt new payment methods that are already approved by Visa, and can help financial institutions and merchants drive growth by expanding the use and acceptance of electronic payments globally.

Visa Token Service

As part of the Visa Ready Program, all participants will use the Visa Token Service (VTS) security technology that replaces sensitive payment account information found on payment cards, such as the 16-digit account number, with a unique digital identifier that can be used to process payments without exposing actual account details.

Visa Partner Quotes: 

Visa’s partners around the world are sharing their views on Visa Ready program for IoT manufacturers:

  • “This is the type of secure, frictionless payment enabler that we are looking to include in commercial solutions as clients start experimenting with how best to take advantage of the IoT,” said Anand Swaminathan, managing director of growth & strategy, Accenture Digital.  “We lead a range of initiatives with contextual commerce capabilities that could integrate Visa Token Services. We are looking forward to seeing where else Visa Token Services will help make IoT-enabled payments easier for customers across any number of situations.”
  • “Chronos is focused on bringing the very best of today’s technology to the items you already wear; creating seamless devices by distilling functionality and technology only to those that provide meaningful interactions,” said Luke Fromowitz, co-founder and CTO, Chronos. “Chronos believes payment on the wrist is one of those interactions; there is no quicker or more convenient method for payment than tapping your Chronos powered watch at the register. Partnering with Coin and Visa has allowed us to quickly bring this technology to the Chronos platform and help push the standard of payment processes into the future.”
  • “Coin is excited to be a Visa strategic partner in bringing secure payments to IoT devices. We’re giving wearables makers like Chronos, enabled by Coin, a seamless solution to integrate payment functionality,” said Kanishk Parashar, CEO and co-founder of Coin. “Our partnership with Visa is significant because of how it enables payment functionality on everyday devices. This is a big opportunity for the rapidly growing wearables market, projected to reach $53 billion in sales by 2019.”
  • “Visa Ready is about opening secure, convenient payment capabilities to a wider range of products and enhancing the overall user experience,” said Michael Orlando, co-founder and chief executive officer of Fit Pay Inc., which has developed a payment platform services for wearable devices. “Integrating our wearable payment platform with the world’s largest card network is a critical step to bringing contactless payment capabilities to a whole new generation of IoT devices, including Pagaré – a payment smart strap we have developed for the Pebble Time.”
  • “The growing IoT market, particularly wearables, needs secure transactions and connectivity. G&D secures mobile life in the connected society,” noted Axel Deininger, senior vice president and head of the enterprise security OEM division at Giesecke & Devrient. “We are pleased to work with Visa on their new program.”
  • “We’re thrilled to be one of the first smartwatch makers in the Visa Ready Program,” said Eric Migicovsky, founder and chief executive officer of Pebble. “More than ever, today’s consumers value products that make their lives easier. Having the ability to make secure payments directly from your wrist is convenient and a great example of how a smartwatch can be helpful in your everyday life.”

Arts and Entertainment

Deezer to host Hotstix’s Mandela tribute playlist

Deezer is celebrating Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birthday by hosting a tribute playlist created by music legend Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse.  

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Mabuse, a legendary figure in African music, first rose to prominence in the 1970s with his band Harari and later developed a name for himself as a solo artist. One of his best known songs was the global hit BurnOut in the 1980s.

The playlist takes the listener on a captivating musical journey through the life of Nelson Mandela.  It was compiled by Mabuse, who consulted with Mandela’s family and friends to ensure that the music would be relevant and accurate. The playlist also features commentary by Mabuse, which was recorded in his Soweto home.  

“I have tried to tell the story of the music that Madiba loved,” says Mabuse. “The Playlist excludes the time in prison obviously, as Madiba would not have had exposure to music in that time.  We have focused on the music we know he loved before and after that period. This recording was really an emotional journey for me, but an incredible opportunity to document these memories.”

The playlist features the music the young Mandela loved, such as The Manhattan Brothers, Solomon Linda, Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba.  It includes struggle songs from Chicco, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.  The playlist also includes Mandela by Zahara, one of the younger artists who caught Madiba’s ear.

Mabuse also offers stories of his own songs, such as Shikisha, a song greatly beloved by the former President.

“I was delighted to share my thoughts and hope the listeners enjoyed the musical journey,” says Mabuse. “Madiba did enjoy music immensely and we all have a purpose wherever we are in the world to celebrate culture and to learn from different cultures and music forms and styles.”

This playlist was inspired by the Nelson Mandela 100 campaign, calling on corporates and individuals to act as sources of inspiration and engage in conversation and action.

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Sports streaming takes off

Live streaming of sports is coming of age as a mainstream method of viewing big games, as the latest FIFA World Cup figures from the UK show. Africa isn’t yet at the same level when it comes to the adoption of sports streaming, but usage is clearly moving in the right direction.

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England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden was watched by just under 20 million viewers in the UK via BBC One. While this traditional broadcast audience was huge, it was streaming that broke records: the game was the BBC’s most popular online-viewed live programme ever, with 3.8 million views. In Africa, the absolute numbers are lower but the trend towards streaming major sports events on the continent is also well under way.

According to DStv, live streaming of sports dominates the usage figures for its live and recorded TV streaming app, DStv Now. The number of people using the app in June was five times higher than a year ago, with concurrent views peaking during major football and rugby games.

Since the start of the World Cup, average weekday usage of DStv Now is up 60%. The absolute peak in concurrent usage for one event was reached on 26 June, during the Nigeria vs Argentina game. The app’s biggest ever test was on 16 June with both Springbok Rugby and World Cup Football under way at the same time, resulting in concurrent in-app views seven times higher than the peaks seen in June last year.

The World Cup has also been a major reason for new users to download and try out the app. First-time app user volumes have tripled on Android and doubled on iOS since the start of the tournament.

“While we expected live sports streaming to take off, it’s also been pleasing to see that the app is really popular for watching shows on Catch Up,” says MultiChoice South Africa Chief Operating Officer Mark Rayner. “Interestingly, some of the most popular Catch Up shows are local, with Isibaya, Binnelanders, The Queen and The River all getting a significant number of views.”

With respect to app usage, the web and Android apps are the most popular way to watch DStv Now, with Android outpacing iOS by a factor of 2:1.

“We’re continuing to develop DStv Now, with 4k streaming in testing and smart TV and Apple TV apps on their way shortly,” says Rayner. “The other key priority for us is working with the telcos to deliver mobile data propositions that make watching online painless and worry-free for our customers.”

The DStv Now app is free to all 10 million DStv customers in Africa. The app streams DStv live channels as well as supplying an extended Catch Up library. Two separate streams can be watched on different devices simultaneously, and content can also be downloaded to smartphones and tablets. The content available on the app varies according to the DStv package subscribed to.

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