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Uber to take cash in SA

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South Africa will become the first country in Uber’s global network to experiment with cash payments, launching the option across five cities simultaneously on 26 May.

Next week Uber, the innovative smartphone app that seamlessly connects riders to drivers, will launch a cash payment experiment in South Africa. On Thursday 26 May 2016, South Africa becomes the first country in Uber’s global network to experiment with cash payments, launching the option across five cities simultaneously.

“We’re always looking at how we can make it easier for people to benefit from the convenient, safe and affordable option of taking an Uber,” says Alon Lits, General Manager for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa. “This experiment will help us understand whether riders and driver-partners welcome the choice of paying by cash or card. As before, all trip details are electronically recorded and riders will always be able to pay by debit or credit card if they prefer.

“Offering cash as an alternate option has proven to be very successful for Uber. The introduction of cash in Singapore for example, had an extremely positive response and this is a country that has a substantial credit card penetration and very high GDP per capita.”

Even though credit cards are common many are surprised to learn that cash payments currently make up 65% of all transactions in South Africa1. By introducing this experiment, Uber says it discovered three simple ways that cash could make it a little easier for everyone who needs a ride in South Africa.

1. Removing the fear factor for first time riders

Many people still have concerns about credit cards. Every South African should have the freedom to choose the way they travel and cash is a truly inclusive way to let everyone move around their city reliably and affordably.

2. No credit card? No worries.

Cash opens doors for more South Africans to take their first ride, and have a quality experience with Uber, whether they are a busy Mom, a university student without a credit card or a senior citizen who’s more comfortable using cash.

3. More riders means more trips for drivers

When more riders choose Uber and there is a higher demand for trips, driver-partners will spend more of every hour moving people, less time waiting around and so get more money.

Uber says South Africa was selected for this experiment because it provides Uber with the right environment to experiment a cash payment option amongst a sizeable and sophisticated rider and driver-partner community. Cash is a dominant payment method in Africa and this experiment will give Uber insight into how riders and driver-partners adopt and use a mix of cash and electronic payments, how consumer behaviour changes and what Uber can do to build a better product and provide a better experience.

The lesson learnt here in South Africa (and across Africa) could have implications for the business across the world. Uber is imagining, innovating and developing smart solutions in Africa which could to be implemented globally.

“The interest in South Africa has been amazing, and we are excited to experiment with cash payments on the Uber platform,” said Lits. “Riders in South Africa already have access to reliable, convenient and safe transportation and this cash experiment opens up the Uber platform to even more people.”

Cash is an open-ended experiment, so not all riders will see this additional payment option right away. Uber days riders and driver-partners are encouraged to share their feedback  at support@uber.com or on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #uberCASH

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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