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R5m for fintech start-ups

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A high-speed pitching event at AlphaCode last week saw five black-owned South African financial technology (fintech) startups walk away with R1-million each in funding.

In a addition, a surprise R1-million was allocated to Heritage Capital Partners by Royal Bafokeng Holdings.

The event is an initiative of  Merrill Lynch South Africa, which seeks to identify and reward high potential South African entrepreneurs to catalyse the development of fintech, and AlphaCode, a Rand Merchant Investments club for fintech entrepreneurs.

Top honours were awarded to five of the eleven black-owned fintech businesses pitching at the event. These five become AlphaCode platinum members, which entitles them to office space and one year of incubation.

The winning fintech startups were:

·         E-factor, an online marketplace that allows small and medium sized businesses to sell their invoices so that they can obtain payment within 24 hours

·         Imafin, established in 2013, a specialist payment and commercial credit firm driven by innovation on traditional payments models.

·         Invoiceworx, an online platform that enables SMEs to save time and money when applying for credit from financial institutions.

·         Stokfella, which offers a digital platform for stokvels to manage their day to day affairs with ease.

During the event, the eleven contestants had just five minutes to pitch their businesses, with a couple of minutes set aside for questions. Judges included Dominique Collett, senior investment Eeecutive at Rand Merchant Investments, Richard Gush, CEO of Merrill Lynch South Africa, Albertina Kekana, CEO of Royal Bafokeng Holding,s and Sonja Sebotsa, principle partner at Identity Partners.

Collett said she was extremely impressed by the energy and calibre of all the contestants: “The winning businesses were selected because of their ability to meet our judging criteria which included their pricing and revenue-generating models and how delivery and implementation would occur.”

Said Gush, “South Africa has the potential to become a fintech centre of excellence as it has an incredibly advanced financial services infrastructure. This provides an empowering context for emerging fintech entrepreneurs and financial technology innovators to develop solutions that meet the needs of different communities, many of whom have previously had little access to safe and reliable financial services.”

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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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