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South Africa’s hi-tech future from SARB

The South African Reserve Bank has pioneered Project Khoka – an adoption of blockchain systems throughout SA’s financial sector. However the capacity of SA to remain self and properly regulated by independent institutions like SARB is an economic imperative, writes ANDRIES BRINK, CEO of Andile Holdings.

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Lower costs and better access to investment are fundamental for growth and jobs. Those advantages become reality when you apply the appropriate technologies. But technology can be risky and everyone prefers a stable hand to help guide the process. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) knows this, which is why it pioneered Project Khoka, initiated in order to drive consensus and adoption of blockchain systems throughout SA’s financial sector. It is a highly proactive action, similar to other astute emerging markets such as Dubai and Singapore.

Blockchain or distributed ledger systems are fairly new. Setting aside all the buzz around cryptocurrencies, at its root a blockchain system is a fantastic trust authority that is based on a transparent smart contract. Many different systems maintain a ledger independently from each other, so a transaction can be vetted automatically by simply comparing ledgers. In other words, no cooking the books because as has been famously quipped, a computer can’t take an envelope!

What is so special about this? Blockchain is a whole new way to enforce trust. It disintermediates the middlemen and instead uses a ledger replicated between many different machines to underwrite something’s veracity. This increases the speed of agreement between parties and, when designed properly, drastically reduces the costs involved. Through Smart Contracts, it can protect lenders and borrowers alike, creating an optimised environment for entrepreneurship. It also combats corruption and disables patronage networks.

The SARB’s true value

The real headline belongs to the SARB’s proactive attitude. Through Project Khoka it is helping guide South Africa into a high-tech future that benefits everyone. It creates the stability that others can build upon, leading to more innovation and job creation. This has long been the crucial role of the SARB: it maintains the course so that others can flourish on the stability it provides.

No wonder the World Economic Forum recognised South African banks as the second most sound globally. Despite significant body blows in the past number of years, the South African economy has maintained much of its resilience and remains attractive to investors. That is not by accident but instead has everything to do with sound policy and vision from the SARB.

South Africa has some of the best industry self-regulation bodies. Bodies like the Banking Association South Africa (BASA), Payments Association South Africa (PASA) and numerous sub-committees continue to do excellent world, unabated by external influence. On the capital markets side, the JSE, Strate and the likes are solid institutions that facilitate efficient trade and capital flow.

But it’s a culture that can only thrive if the SARB remains politically agnostic. In recent months, calls for nationalising the SARB have grown. There is a view that a central bank controlled by the government is the best way to create gains for SA’s people. But both theory and real-world examples don’t agree. The SARB’s track record proves that a non-Public Sector entity can take on those roles to the benefit of all.

The best bank for the job

Recently some have jumped on the SARB’s shortcomings as a reason for ending its independence. Sure, the SARB doesn’t have a spotless record, other than more recent examples such as African Bank and VBS, it also stumbled on the Tier II banking shutdown and the 1998 mini-crisis, but no institution is perfect.

It’s impossible to regulate comprehensively to avoid utmost greed, such as at African Bank, and plain corrupt graft as we saw at VBS. There is also no proof that nationalised banks are any more effective at preventing such extreme abuses. The SARB is actually very effective. Consider how decisively it acted with African Bank, managing to turn it around in just two years. There are banks in first world countries that still haven’t quite recovered from the 2009 crisis. We really undervalue the effectiveness and stability we get from the SARB.

By supporting Blockchain technologies, the SARB is really saying that they support self-regulation by consensus, based on transparent contracts as a high-tech addition to normal bank regulation. This excites me as the SARB is demonstrating that it is willing and able to move with the times whilst remaining solid in the execution of core responsibilities.

Technology is creating positive change. In the wake of the Tier II crisis, new Challenger banks used technology to fill the vacuum and upset incumbents. Those Challengers became Capitec and Discovery and now include Bidvest and Sasfin. They were able to take risks in good faith, knowing that the right policies and support are in place.

Such support doesn’t materialise out of thin air. They require an institution of vision and drive to back them, as the SARB is doing. Blockchain is just one example: the world is changing fast through numerous digital technologies and the countries that can’t adapt will become the paupers of the 21st century. A technology-progressive and visionary SARB holds the keys to South Africa’s future.

This is not possible if the SARB isn’t independent of state politics. The capacity of SA to remain self and properly regulated by independent and excellent institutions such as the SARB is an economic imperative of the same importance as the sanctity of life and the protection of all property rights. Those uncomfortable about all the tax-funded bailouts of rogue banks should support an independent SARB because it stands for innovation, trust and value. A state-run SARB will result in the opposite, also known as a Venezuelan Tragedy.

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AppDate: DStv jumps on music bandwagon

In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights DStv’s JOOX, Cisco’s Security Connector, Diski Skills, Namola and Exhibid.

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DStv JOOX

DStv is now offering JOOX, a music streaming service owned by China’s Tencent, to DStv Premium, Compact Plus and Compact customers.

In addition to streaming local and international artists, JOOX allows one to switch to karaoke mode and learn the lyrics as well as create and share playlists. Users can add up to four friends or family to the service free of charge.

DStv Family, Access and EasyView customers can also log in to the free JOOX service directly through JOOX App, but will be unable to add additional friends and won’t be able to listen to add-free music.

Platform: Access the JOOX service directly from the services menu on DStv or download the JOOX app for an iOS or Android phone.

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Cisco Security Connector

With all the malware, viruses and trojans doing the rounds, it is difficult for users and enterprises to ensure that they don’t become targets. Cisco, in collaboration with Apple, has brought out its Cisco Security Connector to protect users. The app is designed to give enterprises and users overall visibility and control over their network activity on iOS devices. It does this by ensuring compliance of mobile users and their enterprise-owned iOS devices during incident investigations, by identifying what happened, who it affected, and the risk of the exposure. It also protects iPhone and iPad users from accessing malicious sites on the Internet, whether on the corporate network, public Wi-Fi, or cellular networks. In turn, it prevents any viruses from entering a company’s network.

Platform: iPhones and iPads running iOS 11.3 or later

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the Apple App Store for downloading instructions.

 

Diski Skills

The Goethe-Institut, in co-operation with augmented reality specialists Something Else Design Agency, has created a new card game which celebrates South African freestyle football culture, and brings it alive through augmented reality. Diski Skills is quick card game, set in a South African street football scenario, showing popular tricks such as the Shibobo, Tsamaya or Scara Turn. Each trick is rated in categories of attack, defence and swag – one wins the game by challenging an opponent strategically with the trick at hand. Through augmented reality, the cards come alive. Move a smartphone over a card and watch as the trick appears on the screen in a slow motion video. An educational value is added as players can study the tricks and learn more about the idea behind it.

 

The game will be launched on 27 October 2018 at the Goethe-Institut.

For more information visit: www.goethe.de

 

Namola

With  recent news of kidnappings on the rise, a lot more thought is going into keeping children safe. Would your child know what to do in an emergency? Have you actually asked them?

Namola, supported by Dialdirect Insurance, is a free mobile safety app. Namola’s simple interface makes it an ideal way for children to learn how to get help in an emergency. All they need to do is activate the app and push a button to get help that they need, even when their parents are not around.

Parents need to install the app on their child’s phone, hold down the request assistance button, program emergency numbers that will automatically be dialled when the emergency button is pushed, and teach their children how and when to use the app.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Exhibid

Exhibid could be thought of as Tinder, but for for art lovers. The interface looks very similar to the popular mobile dating app, in that users swipe left for a painting that doesn’t appeal to them, or swipe right for something they like. Once an art piece is liked by swiping right, one can start bidding or make an offer on it. The bid is automatically sent to the artist. Should he or she accept the offer, the buyer makes a payment through the app’s secure payment gateway and the two are put in contact to make arrangements for delivery.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

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New kind of business school

At a recent meeting, ALLON RAIZ, founder and CEO of Raizcorp, realised that in order for today’s youth to become entrepreneurs, teachers, the curriculum and the parents need continually expose them to entrepreneurial thinking from a young age.

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Several years ago, I found myself in a meeting with my business partner and two of my staff members. In front of us was a client who was sharing some of the frustrations in his business. At the end of the meeting, my partner and I were extremely excited about the prospect of two massive opportunities we had both independently identified while listening to the client. My two staff members, on the other hand, completely missed them. This led me to wonder what it was in my own and my partner’s backgrounds that allowed us to so easily spot opportunities while my two staff members remained oblivious … I realised that the difference was that my partner and I both had an early exposure to entrepreneurship while they didn’t.

Not long afterwards, I was delivering a lecture about how Raizcorp grows and develops small businesses at Oxford University’s Said Business School in my role as their Entrepreneur-in-Residence. I mentioned the above incident and spoke about my intention of going into children’s education with a view to providing an entrepreneurial perspective.

One of the professors in attendance asked me if I’d ever heard of a piece of research by Henrich R Greve called Who wants to be an entrepreneur? The deviant roots of entrepreneurship. It’s a pretty unfortunate title but a fascinating piece of research nonetheless. It highlights how certain contexts in childhood result in a much a higher probability of becoming an entrepreneur. For example, kids who participate in solo sports such as tennis or athletics are more likely to become entrepreneurs than children who play team sports like soccer and cricket. Conversely, your mother’s participation in the parent-teacher association has a negative correlation to you becoming an entrepreneur. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the professor’s office discussing other research papers that unequivocally proved that context during your childhood has a massive influence on whether or not you will follow the entrepreneurial route.

Another member of the lecture audience was a double-PhD from the USA who was completing her MBA at Oxford. After the lecture, she approached me and volunteered to help build a framework to incorporate entrepreneurship in the school curriculum without interfering with the formal requirements of the CAPS curriculum.

She spent nine months in South Africa working with me to build out a practical framework. The next phase of the plan was to find the right school at which to embark upon this journey. In December 2015, Raizcorp purchased Radley Private School and we began our entrepreneurial education adventure in earnest in 2016.

At the centre of the Radley philosophy is that the school (the physical building), the teachers, the curriculum and the parents are the “marinade” in which the kids need to soak in order to be continuously exposed to entrepreneurial thinking from a young age. The aim was that if, in future, the kids found themselves sitting in a boardroom with me and my partner, they too would be able to identify the opportunities that we did.

A big shift this year has been the launch of our Entrepreneurial Educator Guide (EEG) programme where we have been training our Radley teachers (whom we call guides) to understand entrepreneurship, business language, business concepts, financial documents and the like. (The EEG training makes use of Raizcorp’s internationally accredited entrepreneurial learning and guiding methodologies.) We have also employed a full-time staff member to ensure that these concepts are imbedded into all lesson plans and classroom activities.

Through my network at Raizcorp, I have been pleasantly surprised by the massive support we’re receiving from prominent entrepreneurs and businesses who want to participate in our Radley Exposure programme, where we take our kids of all ages on visits to different types of businesses so they can understand the difference between retail, wholesale, manufacturing, logistics and so on. Prominent businesspeople have put up their hands to come to the school and tell their stories of hard work, resilience and perseverance. This ties in beautifully with the 17 entrepreneurial concepts that we are instilling into our Radley learners (such as opposite eyes, lateral thinking and opposable mind), while never compromising on our quality academic offering.

As parents, we’ve all heard the terrible statistics about the probability of our kids finding jobs in the future. At Radley, we’re working hard to ensure that our kids have a legitimate and lucrative alternative to finding traditional employment and that is to become an entrepreneur. Radley is all about producing job creators and not job seekers!

To enrol your child or find out more about the school, please visit www.radley.co.za.

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