Local software developers in the financial sector are in high demand as they capitalise on expertise from operating in one of the most sophisticated banking and advanced mobile tech environments.
South African software developers that service the financial sector are in high demand locally and internationally as they capitalise on expertise gleaned from operating in one of the most sophisticated banking and advanced mobile tech environments in the world.
The country’s highly progressive banking system, good technical skills, mobile know-how and competitive pricing are making it an important destination for international fintech software development.
The mobile space particularly is growing increasingly important as consumers around the world perform more financial transactions from their mobile devices.
Local financial services organisations are leading the way in demonstrating how these mobile apps can be functional, transactional and secure.
“South Africa has a developed banking system, and our mobile technology is equally modern. Put that together with innovative software developers, and you have a combination that’s ready to take on the world,” says Martin Dippenaar, CEO of Cape Town software developers, Global Kinetic.
“We spend a lot of time abroad, building products, which gives us a good perspective on the state of banking in other regions too,” adds Dippenaar.
South Africa has a relatively small banking community of just 13 banks, made up of the big five, and then second tier operators. By comparison, says Dippenaar, there are around 12,000 banks and credit unions in the US, each with separate licences, and operating autonomously.
“We can effect change here in South Africa a lot faster than is possible in such a disparate environment,” he says.
“The US banking system as a whole is also not particularly advanced. For example, around a quarter of all payments in that country happen by cheque. There are few organisations in South Africa still using such a dated process.”
While banking in the US is market-driven, in Europe the impetus behind innovation is spurred by regulation.
“More innovative mobile banking products are likely to come out of Europe in time, as progressive legislation starts to make deployment of mobile banking technology a lot easier there,” says Dippenaar.
In 2018, Europe will introduce the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) protocol. The objective of PSD2 is to standardise the sector and make payments safer, increase consumer protection, and stimulate innovation and competition.
Although all banking apps need to allow users to do similar things like check balances and perform transactions, the real challenge for developers lies in consolidating and standardising the underlying technologies that allow these transactions to be carried out across multiple systems.
Schalk Nolte, CEO of mobile security specialists, Entersekt, based in Stellenbosch, says developing fintech apps requires an understanding of a wide range of issues and disciplines.
“These include regulatory compliance, privacy, accuracy, and protection of personal information. Development needs to be highly secure, super accurate, and involves intensive testing, especially for banking platforms.
“There are huge opportunities for tech companies designing new ways of delivering financial services to end-users,” he says.
“South Africa stands out as an attractive destination for fintech software development not least because development costs here are in rands. Our rates are highly competitive, with a higher quality of service and expertise than at other development sites around the world, including those in Eastern Europe, India and the Philippines,” concludes Dippenaar.
Nolte adds: “Banks, insurance companies, and many other financial services organisations are turning to South African specialist software developers because they are likely to have already encountered and dealt with the challenges of bringing secure banking and mobile technology together.”
Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults
An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.
By 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.
These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.
Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.
The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:
- The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
- The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
- The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
- The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
- The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
- The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.
The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been.
“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured. The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.
“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’.
“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves. Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).
“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”
For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.
How load-shedding is killing our cellphone signals
Extensive load-shedding, combined with the theft of cell tower backup batteries and copper wire, is placing a massive strain on mobile network providers.
MTN says the majority of MTN’S sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the system for several hours when local power goes out and the mains go down.
“With power outages on the rise, these back-up systems become imperative to keeping South Africa connected and MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries to maintain communication for customers, despite the lack of electrical power,” the operator said in a statement today.
However, according to Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs, at MTN SA, “The high frequency of the cycles of load shedding
An additional challenge is that criminals and criminal syndicates are placing networks across the country at risk. Batteries, which can cost R28 000 per battery and upwards, are sought after on black markets – especially in neighbouring countries.
“Although MTN has improved security and is making strides in limiting instances of theft and vandalism with the assistance of the police, the increase in power outages has made this issue even more pressing,” says O’Sullivan.
Ernest Paul, General Manager: Network Operations at SA’s leading network provider MTN, says the brazen theft of batteries is an industry-wide problem and will require a broader initiative driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors to bring it to a halt.
“Apart from the cost of replacing the stolen batteries and upgrading the broken infrastructure, communities suffer as the network degrades without the back-up power. This is due to the fact that any coverage gaps need to be filled. The situation is even more dire with the rolling power cuts expected due to Eskom load shedding.”
Loss of services and network quality can range from a 2-5km radius to 15km on some sites and affect 5,000 to 20,000 people. On hub sites, network coverage to entire suburbs and regions can be lost.
Click here to read more about efforts to combat copper theft.