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Sci-finance comes to credit card

Diners Club has brought the world of science fiction and finance together through the launch of the Diners Club Virtual Card.

The technologically-advanced and easy to use payment solution targeting travel buyers, travel management companies (TMCs) and suppliers makes card payments possible without needing a physical card.

Research conducted by the African Business Travel Association in 2014 revealed that the issues that keep travel buyers awake at night include governance and travel policy, technology advancements, information management, automation, and payments.

Diners Club Virtual Card offers benefits like data collection and reporting, reduced reliance on bill backs, and most importantly enhanced security for all players in the corporate travel industry.

Enforcing governance and travel policy is easily attainable by using Diners Club Virtual Card rather than an account or invoice system. Organisations that don’t issue corporate cards, such as public sector entities due to National Treasury regulations, often require travellers to pay for hotels and car hire using their personal cards, and then refund after a long and arduous expense management and reconciliation process.

For many years the corporate travel industry has been trying to design practical working solution to eliminate the financial challenges associated with the billing and reconciling of land arrangements.

The hotel, guesthouse and car rental invoices commonly referred to in the industry as “bill backs” have long presented a host of costly administration and reconciliation issues to suppliers, travel management companies and corporates.

By introducing a Virtual Card into the booking, authorization and settlement process for land arrangements, the Virtual Card is able to solve the persistent “bill back” problem using travel management and card solutions.

With Diners Club Virtual Card, the company policy can still be implemented and the traveller does not have to pay out of their own funds.  Travel buyers, in conjunction with their TMC, can ensure that travel spend will be capped and they will only incur pre-approved costs, in line with travel policy. This greatly reduces the chance of overspending and effects cost control through the elimination of the need for credit facilities.

Virtual Card Solutions also offer enriched data from the point of sale by providing third-level data, which is crucial in the reconciliation process. This impacts positively on the efficiency of reconciliation, matching of transactions, consolidating spend on the lodge card or corporate card, and of course, general reporting.

From a security perspective the dynamic nature of the Virtual Card’s account numbers greatly reduces the fraud risk posed by external activities.

Says Ebrahim Matthews, MD of Diners Club South Africa: “Much like we pioneered the virtual lodge card, Diners Club continues to provide new and innovative solutions in the corporate travel industry. The Virtual Card allows all players in the industry to better control their travel and entertainment spend and is a complete travel supplier payment solution that facilitates immediate supplier settlement, enabling cost-savings and improving cash flow.”

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Veeam passes $1bn, prepares for cloud’s ‘Act II’

The leader in cloud data management reveals how it will harness the next growth phase of the data revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Veeam Software, the quiet leader in backup solutions for cloud data management,has announced that it has passed $1-billion in revenues, and is preparing for the next phase of sustained growth in the sector.

Now, it is unveiling what it calls Act II, following five years of rapid growth through modernisation of the data centre. At the VeeamON 2019conferencein Miami this week, company co-founder Ratmir Timashev declared that the opportunities in this new era, focused on managing data for the hybrid cloud, would drive the next phase of growth.

“Veeam created the VMware backup market and has dominated it as the leader for the last decade,” said Timashev, who is also executive vice president for sales and marketing at the organisation. “This was Veeam’s Act I and I am delighted that we have surpassed the $1 billion mark; in 2013 I predicted we’d achieve this in less than six years. 

“However, the market is now changing. Backup is still critical, but customers are now building hybrid clouds with AWS, Azure, IBM and Google, and they need more than just backup. To succeed in this changing environment, Veeam has had to adapt. Veeam, with its 60,000-plus channel and service provider partners and the broadest ecosystem of technology partners, including Cisco, HPE, NetApp, Nutanix and Pure Storage, is best positioned to dominate the new cloud data management in our Act II.”

Veeam has been the leading provider of backup, recovery and replication solutions for more than a decade, and is growing rapidly at a time when other players in the backup market are struggling to innovate on demand.

“Backup is not sexy and they made a pretty successful company out of something that others seem to be screwing up,” said Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst at Ovum, speaking in Miami after the VeeamOn conference. “Others have not invested much in new products and they don’t solve key challenges that most organisations want solved. Theyre resting on their laurels and are stuck in the physical world of backup instead of embracing the cloud.”

Illsley readily buys into the Veeam tagline. “It just works”. 

“They are very good at marketing but are also a good engineering comany that does produce the goods. Their big strength, that it just works, is a reliable feature they have built into their product portfolio.”

Veeam said in statement from the event that, while it had initially focused on server virtualisation for VMware environments, in recent years it had expanded this core offering. It was now delivering integration with multiple hypervisors, physical servers and endpoints, along with public and software-as-a-service workloads, while partnering with leading cloud, storage, server, hyperconverged (HCI) and application vendors.

This week, it  announced a new “with Veeam”program, which brings in enterprise storage and hyperconverged (HCI) vendors to provide customers with comprehensive secondary storage solutions that combine Veeam software with industry-leading infrastructure systems. Companies like ExaGrid and Nutanix have already announced partnerships.

Timashev said: “From day one, we have focused on partnerships to deliver customer value. Working with our storage and cloud partners, we are delivering choice, flexibility and value to customers of all sizes.”

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‘Energy scavenging’ gets funding

As the drive towards a 5G future gathers momentum, the University of Surrey’s research into technology that could power countless internet enabled devices – including those needed for autonomous cars – has won over £1M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry partners.

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has been working on triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), an energy harvesting technology capable of ‘scavenging’ energy from movements such as human motion, machine vibration, wind and vehicle movements to power small electronic components. 

TENG energy harvesting is based on a combination of electrostatic charging and electrostatic induction, providing high output, peak efficiency and low-cost solutions for small scale electronic devices. It’s thought such devices will be vital for the smart sensors needed to enable driverless cars to work safely, wearable electronics, health sensors in ‘smart hospitals’ and robotics in ‘smart factories.’ 

The ATI will be partnered on this development project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, QinetiQ, MAS Holdings, National Physical Laboratory, Soochow University and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and the principal investigator of the TENG project, said: “TENG technology is ideal to power the next generation of electronic devices due to its small footprint and capacity to integrate into systems we use every day. Here at the ATI, we are constantly looking to develop such advanced technologies leading towards our quest to realise worldwide “free energy”.

“TENGs are an ideal candidate to power the autonomous electronic systems for Internet of Things applications and wearable electronic devices. We believe this research grant will allow us to further the design of optimized energy harvesters.”

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