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Spazapp and Mastercard take small traders mobile

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Mastercard is collaborating with Spazapp, to bring secure mobile payments to thousands of informal traders and convenience stores, better known as spaza shops, in South Africa.

By combining their expertise and reach, the companies intend to unlock economic growth by helping informal micro-businesses connect to formal markets and digital payment systems.

The informal retail sector boasts an impressive R46 billion in annual sales a year with more than nine million households regularly shopping at these stores. While these shops represent the economic backbone of many local communities, their true potential remains untapped as they do not have the tools necessary to accept electronic payments and run their businesses effectively.

Through this partnership, Mastercard has integrated its digital global payment service Masterpass into Spazapp – a free, money-saving android application that connects a community of informal traders directly to big FMCG brands including Unilever and Tiger Brands. Using Spazapp, traders can order a wide variety of products at competitive prices – which they would be unable to access without the collective bargaining power that the Spazapp platform offers – and use Masterpass to digitally pay for stock and accept cashless payments from their customers with their mobile phones.

“Too many informal micro-retailers are stuck, like their customers, in a cash economy that doesn’t work for them,” says Mark Elliott, division president for Mastercard, Southern Africa. “By matching up Spazapp’s extensive supplier and distribution network with digital payment and acceptance solutions from Mastercard, we are able to help these shop owners build a better future and serve their customers who are themselves demanding safer, and more convenient ways to pay.”

By digitizing the entire value chain, the 4,500 micro-businesses already using Spazapp’s buying app can generate significant savings on stock procurement. Traders no longer need to close their stores to buy stock, miss out on bulk buying savings because of cashflow constraints or have to worry about the security risks and high costs of cash.
“Our goal is to uplift last mile traders and disadvantaged communities by simplifying the buying process for small, informal traders through competitive pricing and collective bargaining power,” says Tim Strang, CEO of Spazapp. “Masterpass has the scale, efficiency and convenience we need to offer merchants a truly accessible, low-risk and affordable way to accept electronic payments from their customers and pay their suppliers.”

For spaza owners, Masterpass provides a more affordable alternative to traditional Point of Sale devices, allowing them to offer a convenient digital payment option to their customers – the majority of whom are banked and are ready to use mobile payments.

How it works
Spaza customers can download Masterpass from the iOS or Android app store, register, and load their credit, debit or cheque cards from any bank into the digital wallet. To pay for their goods, they simply open the Masterpass app on their mobile device, and scan the unique QR code that is generated on the Spazapp retailer’s smartphone. After shoppers enter their bank PIN number or 3DSecure code and CVV/CVC number on their own device, the transaction is complete.

Similarly, spaza shop owners use their Masterpass app to scan a QR code printed on the supplier’s invoice, to pay for their stock on delivery at their store. Payment card information – including card details from Mastercard and other payment networks – is only captured once eliminating the hassle of repeatedly entering these details each time they want to pay their bill.

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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