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Rise of biometrics in business

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The need for ever-improving customer service, higher levels of speed and efficiency, as well as the limitless financial and reputational risks that go along with online financial services, banks, insurers and other financial service providers are embracing biometrics like never before.

Biometrics may at the outset seem like a space-age, technology driven discipline, but using unique physical characteristics as identifying features is nothing new. Artefacts discovered in ancient Babylon and China have been uncovered bearing handprints and fingerprints that scholars believe were used for everything from business to criminal prosecution. Technology, and a greater understanding of what makes humans unique on a biological and behavioural level, have accelerated and expanded the biometric field to practically limitless applications in the modern business landscape.

From the fingerprint scanners that we use to get into the office every day, to the nifty facial recognition features being used to unlock smartphones, biometrics has been sneaking stealthily into our lives for years. But in an age where so much of our daily lives is carried out remotely and online, threats of cybercrime and fraud are driving a new wave of biometric controls that are being layered over our personal and professional online functions, with surprising urgency and a vast array of innovative techniques.

It’s safe to say that digital banking has surpassed real-world banking in much of the developed world. Thanks to the need for ever-improving customer service, ever higher levels of speed and efficiency, as well as the limitless financial and reputational risks that go along with online financial services, banks, insurers and other financial service providers are embracing biometrics like never before to gain the competitive edge over their peers.

“In the financial services sector in particular, we are bound to see more and more biometrics being made use of in unobtrusive and creative ways over the next few years,” said Davina Myburgh, Director of Core Credit for TransUnion Africa. “We live in a mobile age, and people are understandably less and less eager to go into their bank branch unnecessarily. And since customer service and digital security are two of the biggest opportunities for both consumer and commercial banks to differentiate themselves from the competition, the race is on to incorporate biometrics in meaningful and original ways.”

From established, old-world techniques such as fingerprint recognition, to more advanced applications like voice recognition and iris scanning, the reliability of these technologies is growing in leaps and bounds – but it’s not quite foolproof. Not yet, anyway. Myburgh explained:

“A burn or scar could make fingerprint identification difficult, while a cold could affect our ability to use voice identification. Even the unique patterns of our irises have been known to change over time. The real power of biometrics is not in its ability to completely replace the identifiers we rely on today, but to add an extra layer of security and convenience to transactions without affecting speed, efficiency, or the customer experience.”

Balancing this trade-off between security and user-experience will divide the winners from the losers in the coming years, and biometric measures are helping organisations around the world to add new levels of excellence to both. As we continue to see ever-more creative developments in this field, it’s becoming clear that biometric technologies are no longer a gimmick, but are part and parcel of the merge we are seeing between the real world and the digital, contributing to a more seamless transition for both organisations and individual consumers.

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Showmax launches half-price mobile streaming service

A new streaming product designed specifically for Africa, featuring TV series as well as African content and live sport, is aimed at filling the gap in subscription video on demand services

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The subscription video on demand (SVoD) model, which originated in the USA, spread rapidly in countries where uncapped broadband is affordable and widely available. However, because the model also relies on consumers being comfortable with transacting online and having ready access to credit cards, it has barely scratched the surface across Africa.

On top of that, smartphones are often the only only form of Internet access across Africa, and none of the popular SVoD services have been designed for the format.

Showmax says it plans to change this with the launch of a new mobile plan that costs 50% of the standard Showmax package but still features 100% of the same video content. Showmax is set apart by a combination of four pillars: hit African content, exclusive international series, topkids’ shows, and live sport, including weekly matches from the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, and Spain’s La Liga.

Showmax says the new plan is aimed at consumers who only use smartphones and tablets to watch video content. Video resolution peaks at standard definition to help reduce data consumption. As it is a product aimed at individuals, only one concurrent stream is included in the plan. As with the regular service, it is also available for a 14-day free trial.

“This is all about an African service developing a solution that meets the needs of African consumers,” saus Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice. “Customer feedback consistently points to local content and sport as some of the things that people value most from Showmax. That’s of course on top of the international series, movies, and kids’ shows that are our bread and butter. With all of that content now available in a product designed specifically for mobile usage, we’re doing something no other service can offer.

“On top of that, with groundbreaking deals like our new offer with Vodacom in South Africa, we solve the credit card issue through add-to-bill payment and the data issue by including data directly in the package. We’re looking to launch similar offers in Kenya and Nigeria soon.”

Both the standard and mobile plans include live sport, sport magazine shows and sport documentaries. The 2019 Rugby World Cup Final was streamed live on Showmax earlier this month, and the following is a selection of some of the football due to be live-streamed in November:

22 November: Levante vs Mallorca (La Liga)

23 November: Arsenal vs Southampton (Premier League)

24 November: Bologna vs Parma (Serie A)

25 November: Aston Villa vs Newcastle United (Premier League)

29 November: Celta Vigo vs Valladolid (La Liga)

30 November: Fiorentina vs Lecce (Serie A)

30 November: Chelsea vs West Ham United (Premier League)

Showmax’s mobile plan is currently available in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. 

Comparison of Showmax plans:

Mobile Standard
Price per monthR49 / N1450 / KSh 375R99 / N2900 / KSh 750
Watch on smartphone or tabletYesYes
Watch on smart TV and computerNoYes
HD streamingNoYes
TV series, movies, kids’ showsYesYes
SportYesYes
Concurrent streams12
Cancel anytimeYesYes
14-day free trialYesYes
Chromecast and AirPlayNoYes
Number of devicesOne registered device5 devices can be registered, with 2 able to stream at the same time

For a 14-day free trial, visit www.showmax.com

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Online series wins SA’s Journalist of the Year award

A series of stories on gang warfare in Hanover Park earned Tammy Petersen of News24 the ultimate prize in South African journalism. Here are all the winners of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards.

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At the 18th edition of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards held at Vodacom World earlier tonight, News24’s Tammy Petersen took top honours and the R100,000 grand prize as national winner for her body of work on a gang war series entitled When you live in Hanover Park, you know death. Petersen’s submission was one of over 1,000 entries received from around the country across 12 categories – Investigative, Opinion, Lifestyle, Photography, Sport, Economics, Politics, CSI, Live reporting/ breaking news, Data Journalism, Multi-platform and the Young Journalist of the Year Award. This year’s theme – Connect the Dots – pays tribute to the best-of-the-best of those entries.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at Vodacom Group says: “This year has seen extraordinary entries to the 18th Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards. Not all the stories that are national winners were about huge events but also showed the importance of telling the stories of ordinary people. In line with our theme, the dots were indeed connected, and we congratulate all the winners.”

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “The quality of entries has convinced the judges once again that our industry is in good hands, as far as journalism is concerned, despite the many problems that have beset the industry in recent times. Judging from the entries, South African journalists are determined to fly the flag high for a free, independent, and vigorous media, which augurs well for our democracy. As judges, we can only salute all the entrants for the great work that they submitted. In the end, our industry is probably the biggest winner.”

Judges for this year’s awards are: Ryland Fisher (convenor), Jermaine Craig, Arthur Goldstuck, Albe Grobbelaar, Franz Kruger, Patricia McCracken, Mapi Mhlangu, Collin Nxumalo, Mary Papayya, and Obed Zilwa.

Visit the next page for the full list of winners and their citations.

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