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Opera debuts browser payments in Kenya

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Opera has integrated a new web payment platform in Kenya called OPay. The service directly runs on the Opera Mini browser, which will bring a new level of convenience to a nation that has become a world leader in leapfrogging its IT infrastructures.

Top up mobile airtime and pay utility bills with just a few clicks

Designed to be a fast and secure payment option, OPay will enable not only Opera Mini but also other mobile browser users to top up their Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom mobile phone accounts, as well as pay electricity, cable TV and utility bills directly through its secure, user-friendly platform. It will also accommodate multiple payment methods, from major credit cards to Airtel Money and M-Pesa.

With so much of a community’s economic well-being resting on the efficient, affordable and easy transfer of funds, much of Africa finds itself in something of a catch-22 situation. Growing businesses in the digital age, particularly in Africa’s critically important informal sector (which accounts for as much as 60% of the total GDP in some African states), require easy and secure payment functions that help people get around the continent’s many gaping holes in service delivery and infrastructure.

Get extra credits and cutbacks

Using OPay will get you something extra for a limited time. Users who make their first deposit to their Wallet will get a 100 percent bonus of up to 200 Ksh. They can use this bonus to pay for services or recharge airtime on the portal.

In addition, for every airtime purchase the user makes, users will receive 20 percent cashback in the form of credits in their Wallet. These credits are the same as the ones earned from depositing money within the Wallet and can be used to pay for services or recharge airtime.

“This mobile payment technology integrated into the Opera Mini browser will help Kenya continue the highest rate of mobile payment technology adoption in the world. More than 80 percent of the country’s population with access to a cell phone use it to pay for goods and services,” says Nuno Sitima, Executive Vice President of Payments and Fintech, Opera Software AS. “However, the challenges of long distances, difficult terrain and large rural populations who often lack access to formal banking systems are all addressed with OPay and the reach of the Opera Mini browser. Our ultimate goal is to fuel the growth of African businesses through a simple, affordable solution that can encompass many payment methods in one easy-to-use app.”

African development in the digital age is highly reliant on inclusive solutions that enable every citizen, no matter where they live or the resources available to them, to participate in the economy easily. High penetration of mobile phones and Opera Mini’s leading market share on the continent make OPay just the solution that Kenya needs to continue fuelling its reputation as one of Africa’s leading digital innovators.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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