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Service turns invoices into virtual credit machines

South African startup walletdoc has launched a new way for businesses to collect more money from customers using quick and secure online credit and debit card payments for invoices and statements.

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“Consumers are cash-strapped and this creates cash flow issues for businesses,” says Leonard Shenker, joint CEO of wallet doc. “By allowing consumers to pay accounts online and instantly by credit and debit cards, our merchants have noticed a dramatic increase in the speed and volume of payments, which has improved their cash flow.

“In addition, there is a rise in invoice fraud in South Africa, where an invoice is altered to get a customer to pay for goods or services into a fraudster’s account. Using walletdoc eliminates invoice fraud risk.”

In association with EasyPay, walletdoc to date has been integrated with 400 of South Africa’s largest billers for services like monthly subscriptions and utilities.

“Our network of payable billers is now growing exponentially, with our offering for all businesses that seek a smart solution to collect more money by offering online card payments,” says Shenker.

Businesses are able to sign up with walletdoc business in minutes. No system integration is required and walletdoc is compatible with any accounting system.

Businesses send their bills to wallet doc, which immediately on-sends the bills to customers, with embedded debit and credit card payment functionality. In this way, the invoice is turned into a virtual card machine, offering card as a payment option to clients. Clients will still be able to pay the bill via EFT if preferred.

Bill recipients do not need to download walletdoc nor be existing users of walletdoc to be able to pay with Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club or American Express cards and benefit from their credit card reward programmes.

Businesses will also benefit from detailed bill payment management information, which indicates which bills have been received, opened and paid. Each payment is automatically referenced to an account or invoice number, so there are no unallocated payments, reducing the administrative burden often associated with incorrectly referenced EFTs. Customers are also sent reminders for payment prior to the due date.

Businesses are settled every working day for the prior day’s payments.  Merchants pay a small fee for payments received: there are no upfront nor monthly fees to use walletdoc business. Merchants may no longer need a POS device.

Lior Solomons of Morningside Plumbers was an early user and said: “walletdoc has given our customers a convenient payment option and allowed us to eliminate our traditional speed point in the process. On the first day of implementation of walletdoc, we received multiple payments through the walletdoc system within two hours.”

The walletdoc app has had hundreds of thousands of downloads from Google Play and the App Store and is processing billions of Rands in payments each year, says Shenker.

The company partnered with Absa when it launched and developed a comprehensive and robust suite of information-protection measures. Anyone, no matter who they bank with, can use walletdoc.  Data is fully encrypted and mobile transactions use either fingerprint or PIN authentication, making it safe for users to pay their bills anytime, anywhere.

walletdoc is a gold member of AlphaCode, a club for fintech startup entrepreneurs, under the umbrella of Rand Merchant Investments.

Head of AlphaCode, Dominique Collett, says: “walletdoc has experienced dramatic growth due to understanding and elegantly solving a customer pain point. The founders are expanding their winning concept so that any business can increase cashflow and consumers can further reduce bill payment hassles.”

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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