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Standard Bank app pushes R430bn

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Standard Bank has revealed that during 2015 825 million financial transactions worth R430 billion were processed through its banking app resulting in a sharp decline in ATM and branch transactions.

Standard Bank has revealed that during 2015 825 million financial transactions worth R430 billion were processed through its banking app. As a consequence of this, branch transactional volumes have declined and ATM and branch transactions now make up less than 5% of total banking transactions. This means 95% of Standard Bank’s transactions are already electronic.

“The vast bulk of Standard Bank’s Personal & Business Banking strategy to 2020 is about how we can use digital capabilities to deliver an even better customer experience,” says Peter Schlebusch, Standard Bank’s chief executive for personal and business banking. “This entails putting customers in control, providing more convenience, and extracting key customer insights from our rich data so that the bank becomes more proactive, relevant and easy to use.”

Schlebusch says Standard Bank has invested heavily in IT infrastructure to ensure that the bank has a single view of the customer, and the customer has a single instant view of their complete banking services regardless of geography, product or customer segment. The app includes the ability to open accounts online, move money across borders quickly and easily, trade shares internationally on 29 stock exchanges and even lodge homeowner insurance claims off a single mobile device.

The move to mobile has been enthusiastically received by customers:

·         Most customers now bank outside of traditional banking hours. A high peak hour is between 8:00am and 09:00am

·         The total number of unique Standard Bank universal banking IDs created to date is more than 600 000

·         Over R5.7 billion in value has been traded on Standard Bank’s Online Share Trading App to date

·         Over 22 000 merchants and more than 200 000 customers have signed up for SnapScan

·         InstantMoney has processed more than R7.5 billion in money transfers and remittances

The bank is upgrading its entire core banking systems in an effort to meet the continually changing behaviour of customers. The fully functional new core banking platform in South Africa is processing substantial volumes, with approximately 570 million transactions processed in 2015, 27% more than in 2014. Across the rest of Africa the bank already has 73% of Personal & Business Banking customers on its new core banking system.

Standard Bank says it will continue to leverage off increased smartphone penetration. In Africa, the Internet is being predominantly accessed by the smart mobile device, for example, in South Africa, 60% of all Internet page views are on a smartphone.

Standard Bank also says it continues to enhance its integrated universal banking app, which allows personal, business and high net worth customers to view and transact with a single digital ID across multiple geographies, including South Africa, Ghana, Namibia, Botswana, Uganda and Standard Bank Offshore, with additional launches in the countries in which Standard Bank operates expected in the coming months.

“We are committed to Africa and proudly call the continent our home. Africa loves mobile. This is why we are so excited about how technology and data is allowing us to get even closer to our customers. We are steadfast on a strategy of tapping into the increasing use of technology, like smartphones, tablets and wearables, across the continent to become a truly integrated internet-based financial services business,” says Schlebusch.

As innovative solutions for an increasingly mobile, tech savvy and cost conscious client base continue to be harnessed, the bank’s vision is clear: To become a digital leader in Africa.

“Our aim is to be always on and always connected, while providing biometric authentication and extensive use of data analytics to personalise the customer experience to a far larger degree,” says Schlebusch.

To succeed in this, Standard Bank has placed the customer at the heart of the bank’s digital strategy, with a remarkable list of first to market innovations to date. These include:

·         The single digital ID across multiple countries

·         Biometric identification for mobile banking

·         An app enabling clients to trade across 29 different stock exchanges off their mobile device

·         24/7 Banking instant messaging service for Private & Prestige customers via WeChat – with further developments imminent

·         A card console to remotely turn cards on and off, and control the countries and the time when the card may be used

·         Snapscan, which enables mobile phone payments using QR codes or iBeacons regardless of where customers bank

An additional first in the pipeline is the first-of-its kind Kidz Banking App, which is a game-like, vividly animated banking app designed primarily for children aged 6-11 years. Just in time for Savings Month 2016, the app was developed with youth education and the improvement of the culture of saving in mind.  It will be linked to a parent’s Standard Bank smartphone app, and features colourful characters – themed on South Africa’s Big 5 – that assist parents in guiding children on money management concepts such as earning, saving and responsible spending.

The customer experience in the future will be worlds apart from what it was just a few years ago. Where customers pressed ten buttons before to conduct a simple banking transaction, the intelligence of the future will better understand and anticipate their behaviour in advance and only one click will be needed to set in motion multiple responses and outcomes. These future digital capabilities will not only be more convenient and engaging for customers, but can also be expected to reduce costs.

“The cost of banking has halved in real terms in the last decade and a lot of it is because of the powerful and comprehensive digital platforms we have provided,” says Schlebusch. “This trend will continue as more consumers utilise digital channels in the future.”

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Prepare your cam to capture the Blood Moon

On 27 July 2018, South Africans can witness a total lunar eclipse, as the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

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Also known as a blood or red moon, a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of all lunar eclipses and presents an exciting photographic opportunity for any aspiring photographer or would-be astronomers.

“A lunar eclipse is a rare cosmic sight. For centuries these events have inspired wonder, interest and sometimes fear amongst observers. Of course, if you are lucky to be around when one occurs, you would want to capture it all on camera,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive at Canon South Africa.

Canon ambassador and acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton has provided his top tips to keep in mind when photographing this occasion.   In South Africa, the eclipse will be visible from about 19h14 on Friday, 27 July until 01h28 on the Saturday morning. The lunar eclipse will see the light from the sun blocked by the earth as it passes in front of the moon. The moon will turn red because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.

A partial eclipse will begin at 20h24 when the moon will start to turn red. The total eclipse begins at about 21h30 when the moon is completely red. The eclipse reaches its maximum at 22h21 when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.

David Noton advises:

  1. Download the right apps to be in-the-know

The sun’s position in the sky at any given time of day varies massively with latitude and season. That is not the case with the moon as its passage through the heavens is governed by its complex elliptical orbit of the earth. That orbit results in monthly, rather than seasonal variations, as the moon moves through its lunar cycle. The result is big differences in the timing of its appearance and its trajectory through the sky. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on weight tables to consult the behaviour of the moon, we can simply download an app on to our phone. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is useful for giving moonrise and moonset times, bearings and phases; while the Photopills app gives comprehensive information on the position of the moon in our sky.  Armed with these two apps, I’m planning to shoot the Blood Moon rising in Dorset, England. I’m aiming to capture the moon within the first fifteen minutes of moonrise so I can catch it low in the sky and juxtapose it against an object on the horizon line for scale – this could be as simple as a tree on a hill.

 

  1. Invest in a lens with optimal zoom  

On the 27th July, one of the key challenges we’ll face is shooting the moon large in the frame so we can see every crater on the asteroid pockmarked surface. It’s a task normally reserved for astronomers with super powerful telescopes, but if you’ve got a long telephoto lens on a full frame DSLR with around 600 mm of focal length, it can be done, depending on the composition. I will be using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Ext. 1.4 x lens.

  1. Use a tripod to capture the intimate details

As you frame up your shot, one thing will become immediately apparent; lunar tracking is incredibly challenging as the moon moves through the sky surprisingly quickly. As you’ll be using a long lens for this shoot, it’s important to invest in a sturdy tripod to help capture the best possible image. Although it will be tempting to take the shot by hand, it’s important to remember that your subject is over 384,000km away from you and even with a high shutter speed, the slightest of movements will become exaggerated.

  1. Integrate the moon into your landscape

Whilst images of the moon large in the frame can be beautifully detailed, they are essentially astronomical in their appeal. Personally, I’m far more drawn to using the lunar allure as an element in my landscapes, or using the moonlight as a light source. The latter is difficult, as the amount of light the moon reflects is tiny, whilst the lunar surface is so bright by comparison. Up to now, night photography meant long, long exposures but with cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV now capable of astonishing low light performance, a whole new nocturnal world of opportunities has been opened to photographers.

  1. Master the shutter speed for your subject 

The most evocative and genuine use of the moon in landscape portraits results from situations when the light on the moon balances with the twilight in the surrounding sky. Such images have a subtle appeal, mood and believability.  By definition, any scene incorporating a medium or wide-angle view is going to render the moon as a tiny pin prick of light, but its presence will still be felt. Our eyes naturally gravitate to it, however insignificant it may seem. Of course, the issue of shutter speed is always there; too slow an exposure and all we’ll see is an unsightly lunar streak, even with a wide-angle lens.

 

On a clear night, mastering the shutter speed of your camera is integral to capturing the moon – exposing at 1/250 sec @ f8 ISO 100 (depending on focal length) is what you’ll need to stop the motion from blurring and if you are to get the technique right, with the high quality of cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS R, you might even be able to see the twelve cameras that were left up there by NASA in the 60’s!

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How Africa can embrace AI

Currently, no African country is among the top 10 countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. But, the continent has the potential to catch up with the rest of world if we act fast, says ZOAIB HOOSEN, Microsoft Managing Director.

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To play catch up, we must take advantage of our best and most powerful resource – our human capital. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25.

These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can work together for the good of society. In fact, the most recent WEF Global Shapers survey found that almost 80 percent of youth believe technology like AI is creating jobs rather than destroying them.

Staying ahead of the trends to stay employed

AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as AI can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.

According to Gartner, while AI will improve the productivity of many jobs and create millions more new positions, it could impact many others. The simpler and less creative the job, the earlier, a bot for example, could replace it.

It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and find opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills while learning how to work more closely and symbiotically with technology.

Another global study by Accenture, found that the adoption of AI will create several new job categories requiring important and yet surprising skills. These include trainers, who are tasked with teaching AI systems how to perform; explainers, who bridge the gap between technologist and business leader; and sustainers, who ensure that AI systems are operating as designed.

It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.

Combining STEM with the arts

Young people have a leg up on those already in the working world because they can easily develop the necessary skills for these new roles. It’s therefore essential that our education system constantly evolves to equip youth with the right skills and way of thinking to be successful in jobs that may not even exist yet.

As the division of tasks between man and machine changes, we must re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.

For example, technical skills will be required to design and implement AI systems, but interpersonal skills, creativity and emotional intelligence will also become crucial in giving humans an advantage over machines.

“At one level, AI will require that even more people specialise in digital skills and data science. But skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.” This is according to Microsoft president, Brad Smith, and EVP of AI and research, Harry Shum, who recently authored the book “The Future Computed”, which primarily deals with AI and its role in society.

Interestingly, institutions like Stanford University are already implementing this forward-thinking approach. The university offers a programme called CS+X, which integrates its computer science degree with humanities degrees, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts and Science qualification.

Revisiting laws and regulation

For this type of evolution to happen, the onus is on policy makers to revisit current laws and even bring in new regulations. Policy makers need to identify the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and create strategies to reintegrate them into the economy.

Simultaneously, though AI could be hugely beneficial in areas such as curbing poor access to healthcare and improving diagnoses for example, physicians may avoid using this technology for fear of malpractice. To avoid this, we need regulation that closes the gap between the pace of technological change and that of regulatory response. It will also become essential to develop a code of ethics for this new ecosystem.

Preparing for the future

With the recent convergence of a transformative set of technologies, economies are entering a period in which AI has the potential overcome physical limitations and open up new sources of value and growth.

To avoid missing out on this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, a future with AI. We must do so not with the idea that AI is simply another productivity enhancer. Rather, we must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.

It comes down to a choice of our people and economies being part of the technological disruption, or being left behind.

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