Don’t confuse biometrics with strong authentication

Don’t confuse biometrics with strong authentication

Frans Labuschagne, Country Manager UK & Ireland.

As our world becomes more digitalised, the information we want to keep private is increasingly at risk – and yet no-one wants that information protected by cumbersome security measures which do not fit in with our pace of living. As such, the stage seems to be set for the large-scale adoption of super-convenient biometric technology, especially on the mobile. Different forms of biometric security have already begun working their way into the banking and payments industries; among these are face, fingerprint, iris, palm, vein and voice.

Everyone with a stake in digital banking security has been tracking the rapid developments in biometrics and debating the technology’s usefulness in the battle against cybercrime. There is little doubt that biometrics will play an important role in securing mobile services, particularly when viewed from the perspective of user convenience. But it is also fair to point out that biometrics can place enterprises and their customers at risk if deployed as the sole means of user identification and transaction authentication.

To effectively secure high-risk transactions, banks and other financial service providers need a strong base layer of security to which biometrics can be added via a flexible plug-in as required for increased risk levels or improved user experience.

Unlike usernames and passwords, which we can change at will, we only have one set of biometric data. If this falls into hackers’ hands, it becomes of no use to us for authentication purposes. The consensus amongst industry experts, such as the FIDO Alliance, is that we must limit the exposure of our private biometric data by not sharing it, and keeping it instead locked down on our personal devices. Even then, our biometrics are still only as safe as the technology of our devices allows them to be. Devices can be rooted or jailbroken, and their owners often engage in risky behavior.

Attackers have already figured out how to bypass many of today’s biometric solutions, and the fight for supremacy between financial service providers and hackers will only intensify over time. Biometrics can play a valuable role in user verification, but for the strong authentication of users and sensitive transactions, more than one authentication factor must be in place. The three possible factors are knowledge (something the user knows), possession (something the user has), and inherence (something the user is). This means that even so-called dual biometrics, which entails using, for example, both a fingerprint and a “selfie” for authentication, does not qualify as strong authentication, because both mechanisms are of the same factor.

Identity theft and account takeover strategies are increasing in sophistication and impact, making the balance between user experience and security more complex – and more challenging – than ever. As is proved almost daily, no single security measure will hold for long against persistent attacks from cybercriminals. It is only by layering cutting-edge technologies such as digital certificates with biometrics that an institution will be able to stand up to fraud.

Selecting an authentication solution that combines the highest level of protection with the lowest possible user friction will ensure that financial service providers meet regulatory requirements, as well as user demands, as industry changes advance from all sides.

By Frans Labuschagne

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Uber CEO Kalanick resigns under pressure

Uber’s embattled chief executive Travis Kalanick has resigned, yielding to pressure from investors seeking to clean up a toxic corporate culture at the fast-growing ridesharing group.

Kalanick had announced an indefinite leave of absence a week earlier following the release of a report on Uber’s workplace troubles by former US attorney general Eric Holder.

His departure announced late Tuesday caps a rocky period for the global ridesharing giant, which has been roiled by reports of a cutthroat workplace culture, harassment, discrimination and questionable business tactics to thwart rivals.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world, and at this difficult moment in my personal life, I have accepted the investors’ request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick said in a statement.

The Uber board of directors welcomed the “bold decision,” say it marked a “sign of his devotion and love for Uber.”

Kalanick, who has been the driving force behind Uber’s massive global expansion and whose brash style had made him a liability, will remain on the board with a large voting stake in the company, whose $68 billion valuation makes it the world’s largest venture-backed startup.

The pioneering company has been facing pressure to rein in a no-holds-barred management style led by Kalanick and to reform its workplace culture.

Investors had been growing impatient with Kalanick despite a pledge to implement reforms.

In a letter, titled “Moving Uber Forward,” key investors told Kalanick that he must immediately leave as part of a necessary change in leadership, The New York Times reported.

– ‘Lasting impact’ –
Following Kalanick’s announcement, early Uber investor Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital offered praise for the departing CEO.

“There will be many pages in the history books devoted to @travisk – very few entrepreneurs have had such a lasting impact on the world,” Gurley tweeted.

Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research said in a blog post that Kalanick’s resignation “leaves an enormous vacuum at the top of the company,” but that “this is all for the best long term, even if it’s messy in the short term.

Uber has not only disrupted the local transport industry in dozens of countries. It’s also been investing in autonomous driving technology, and has provoked a lawsuit from the former Google car unit now called Waymo that accused Uber of stealing trade secrets.

Last week, Kalanick said one of the reasons for taking a leave of absence was his mother’s recent death.

Kalanick’s fiery character helped Uber’s expansion in the face of opposition from regulators and established taxi operators, but it also got him into trouble.

As Uber faced a series of embarrassing disclosures, he was captured on a dahscam berating and cursing at a driver who had complained about earnings, in a video that went viral.

His resignation comes a day after the company emailed its US drivers to say it would allow passengers to tip them, starting in three cities and rolling out across the country by the end of July. Kalanick had reportedly been opposed to tipping.

– Questionable practices –
Before Kalanick’s departure, Uber had been shaking up its ranks.

The San Francisco-based firm parted ways with its number two executive, Emil Michael, who had reportedly been linked to a number of questionable practices at Uber, including a visit to a South Korean escort-karaoke bar and an attempt to dig up embarrassing information on journalists.

Previously, Uber said it had fired 20 people after examining 215 claims of discrimination, harassment, unprofessional behavior and bullying.

Uber this month released a 13-page document calling for major reforms at the company based on a probe led by Holder, who investigated allegations of misconduct and ethical lapses.

The report, recommendations of which were adopted by the board, said Uber “should reformulate its written cultural values” to “reflect more inclusive and positive behaviors.”

The reforms should focus on “tone at the top, trust, transformation and accountability,” the report added.

It said Uber should also consider installing an independent board chair, “to serve as an independent check on Uber’s management” and to show it is taking reforms seriously.

The Holder report called for “an ethics and culture committee” to oversee Uber’s efforts to maintain ethical business practices.

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Inflight internet ready to take off

Inflight internet ready to take off

A man uses his laptop to test a new high speed inflight Internet service named Fli

Inflight internet access, a nascent market still hobbled by slow speeds, is set to take off as dedicated satellites make surfing in the skies a reality, experts say.

Even bans on bringing laptops and tablets on board imposed by Britain and the United States on flights departing from certain airports won’t halt it, industry players and analysts gathered at the Paris Air Show believe.

“It is undeniably a trend. The main thing is to jump on the wave at the right moment,” said Marc Rochet, chief executive of the low-cost airline French Blue, about the technology which is rapidly evolving but comes with a high price tag.

By 2021 more than 17,000 airliners — or nearly half the global fleet of commercial aircraft — will be equipped for inflight internet, according to a recent study by the Euroconsult firm. That is close to triple the 6,500 planes equipped in 2016.

The increase is being driven by a new generation of satellites that allow the use of smaller and lighter antennae on aircraft, as well as greater coverage by land-based systems.

This allows for higher data transmission speeds making the experience for users much as they get at home, and not the slow and spotty connections available so far.

It is a far cry from the early systems that began to be introduced around five years ago that allowed users to consult emails.

– ‘Game changer’ –
The United States was the pioneer in developing a network of ground antennae for inflight internet. There, some 4,000 planes are equipped for inflight internet compared with just hundreds in Europe.

In 2016 new satellites capable of supporting video and television streaming, games and social media began to be deployed.

“The ability to support video streaming on a large scale shall be a game changer,” said Euroconsult.

According to William Huot-Marchand, sales director at the inflight entertainment division at the aerospace firm Thales, there is also a generational change underway in airline passengers.

If previously most passengers accepted flights as a time to disconnect, younger generations, particularly millennials, don’t appreciate the forced withdrawal from social media and online access.

Euroconsult estimates that revenues to suppliers for providing inflight internet connectivity topped $1 billion in 2016 and should reach $6.5 billion by 2026.

But the investment isn’t negligible, with the cost of equipping each plane running up to half a million euros.

Captive audience
The airlines which have taken the plunge are using different pricing models. Some offer inflight internet as a free perk. Others charge by the hour, flight, or even offer longer subscriptions as a way to recoup their costs and avoid overloading the available bandwidth.

With passengers being in effect being a captive audience, some airlines are considering how to use it as a means to boost onboard sales.

It can also help reduce losses, helping airlines to recoup their investments.

“Today there are fraudulent transactions onboard” as card transactions for inflight sales are not verified, said Sebastien Maire, an aeronautics expert at the Olivier Wyman consultancy.

He put the annual losses at 90 million euros ($100 million).

Security is another worry for airlines and equipment manufacturers who want to make sure inflight internet access isn’t used as a means to mount a cyber attack on an aircraft.

“The issue of cybersecurity is at the centre of our preoccupations. Every day there are new threats and every day you have to anticipate them,” Huot-Marchand at Thales, one of the leading global firms in cybersecurity, said.

Even if the United States and other nations broaden a ban to bringing laptops and tablets, the widespread use of smartphones by consumers to watch videos, write emails and use social networks mean that there will still be growing demand for internet connectivity.

“And while the recent US and UK bans of personal electronic devices on certain flights might impact dynamics if extended, we believe that aero connectivity is poised for structural growth,” Euroconsult chief executive Pacome Revillon said recently.

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Apple opens new round in battle with Qualcomm

Apple opens new round in battle with Qualcomm

(FILES) This file photo taken on September 17, 2012 shows the Apple logo on the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York. DON EMMERT / AFP

Apple has expanded its legal battle against Qualcomm, accusing the US chip maker of charging for invalid patents in the latest twist in the clash between the two tech giants.

In legal filings in a federal court in California on Tuesday, Apple claimed that several Qualcomm patents were invalid because they conflict with existing patents, while other patents were not essential for cell phone communications, according to details of the lawsuit reported by The Wall Street Journal.

In January the iPhone maker filed a lawsuit complaining that Qualcomm — which produces chips widely used in smartphones and tablets around the world –abused its market power to demand unfair royalties, and demanded billions of dollars in compensation.

Apple filed two similar complaints against Qualcomm in China days later.

However Qualcomm countersued in April, claiming that Apple breached agreements and encouraged regulatory attacks worldwide on Qualcomm.

“Qualcomm’s illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry,” Apple said in an email Tuesday to AFP.

“They supply us with a single connectivity component, but for years have been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products – effectively taxing Apple’s innovation.”

Qualcomm, in a statement by legal counsel Don Rosenberg, denied the accusations.

Apple “knows well” that “Qualcomm’s innovations are at the heart of every iPhone and enable the most important uses and features of those devices,” Rosenberg said.

“It simply is untrue that Qualcomm is seeking to collect royalties for Apple innovations that have nothing to do with Qualcomm’s technology.”

In January, the US Federal Trade Commission hit Qualcomm with an antitrust suit alleging it abused its dominant market position for processors, resulting in higher prices for consumers.

The complaint said Qualcomm’s practices amount to “unlawful maintenance of a monopoly in baseband processors,” which are devices that enable cellular communications in phones and other products. Qualcomm rejected the claims as “flawed”.

The San Diego, California, group in 2015 agreed to pay $975 million to settle antitrust charges in China.

Qualcomm is challenging a European Union competition inquiry which could result in a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual sales, which amounted to $26.5 billion in 2015.

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Enterprise lessons from Amazon and WholeFoods

Enterprise lessons from Amazon and WholeFoods

A woman walks past a Whole Foods Market in Washington, DC, June 16, 2017, following the announcement that Amazon would purchase the supermarket chain for $13.7 billion. Amazon is once again shaking up the retail sector, with the announcement it will acquire upscale US grocer Whole Foods Market, known for its pricey organic options, in a deal that underscores the online giant’s growing influence in the economy. SAUL LOEB / AFP

The biggest news in technology recently has been Amazon’s acquisition of the premium grocery chain – Wholefoods – for $13.7 billion. The acquisition was unexpected, and it came as a surprise to a lot of people. This takeover is surprising because Wholefoods is a niche business selling healthy primarily organic food to upmarket customers. Their shops are not as ubiquitous as other retail chains. The first thing I mentioned on Twitter when I heard the news was “Amazon is buying a demographic” and not just a business.

One of the most profitable parts of Amazon’s business model is it’s Amazon Prime subscription model where preferred customers pay an annual subscription to enjoy unique fulfilment as well as access to free online content. For those that can afford it, the benefits far outweigh the subscription costs. It, however, creates an inverse loyalty relationship. Prime customers always think of buying from Amazon first because they have already somewhat invested in Amazon. They rarely, if ever, consider other options. I know this because I am a Prime customer and have been for many years.

An interesting feature of Amazon Prime is the ability for you to add other family members to your account at no additional cost and they also enjoy full Prime benefits. It is in the interest of Amazon for my other household members to be Prime members because they are more likely to make e-commerce purchases while my main reason for actually paying for Prime subscription is the free video content. Amazon has been blessed generously with my wife’s shopping. She buys everything from diapers to shoes on Amazon. Having other family members in my household linked to my account also makes Amazon understand my home shopping habits better. It has always been a data game.

Shopping at Wholefoods is a lifestyle. It is like an addiction. A friend told me that any time she is in America, the first thing she does is to search for their nearest store. Wholefoods customers are the perfect Amazon Prime demographic. They are affluent and loyal. The grocery store outlets are also typically located near upmarket neighbourhoods, so they give Amazon a beachhead into those neighbourhoods.

A key benefit one also enjoys as a Prime customer is the free delivery of purchases to Amazon lockers everywhere. Amazon lockers are temporary storage locations where goods ordered can be delivered. They have been particularly effective for people who would not be at home or a delivery location all the time. I am sure the first thing Amazon would do is to install Amazon lockers at every Wholefoods store.  Doing this would greatly simplify their logistics and lock the customers in even further. Secure lockers in a trusted location is a plus.

Taking the lessons back home
I wonder if there are Nigerian parallels to Amazon’s move to bridge online and physical retail. It turns out that model may be the best for our markets. Some niche e-commerce firms are doing that right now and achieving great success. While some existing commerce companies like Gloo and Yudala have adopted a strategy of having physical outlets, local luxury goods companies who had primarily been offline are also seeking out new markets online and achieving tremendous success.

Ewaen Sorae is a second-generation entrepreneur from Edo State. He decided to do something different after he got his MBA from the UK. He launched his company called “E-Sorae Luxury” selling luxury household goods. The company started offline with a shop located at the upmarket SilverBird Galleria in Abuja, and he did very well there. A lot of his products ended up in the leading Nigerian hotels as their suppliers patronised him. It was a successful niche, and he seemed to know what his customers wanted.

The business tried to go online as well, but the launch of their online initiative also coincided with the rapid ascent of Nigeria’s electronic commerce giants, Jumia and Konga. They decided to work with them rather than become competition. The e-commerce marketplace model by those companies quadrupled E-Sorae Luxury’s sales eventually. Going online gave him a lot more insight into who his actual customers were. He decided to move his business closer to them in Lagos. He also discovered that having an offline location to compliment his online sales was always an excellent idea. It was a very successful experiment for him as is the same model Argos has adopted in the UK.

One key thing that helped his business grow more than anything else was online advertising. He didn’t just depend on being in the e-commerce marketplaces alone. He still had his website and did his fulfilment as well as online advertising. He started with paid Facebook adverts and saw the effects in real time. He began learning how to hack the growth of his business by doing better targeting of his advertising. He also learned much more about his customers and their preferences just from doing this. He discovered that one line item that did very well online was beddings, and he decided to set up a separate business to fully take advantage of the Nigerian market for beddings. The new company he called Bedsheets Express. Bedsheets Express did so well that he is considering closing up his first business to focus more on that line. He found out his niche retail demographic. He would not have done this well if he remained offline alone. A lot of other offline businesses are now following this same model. The nature of Nigerian retail is going to be very different in a few years.

I am sure that if Amazon were to launch in Lagos tomorrow, they would adopt a strategy that best suits our markets. They would also have physical stores as outlets, and Amazon lockers or neighbourhood stores would probably be the primary delivery mechanism. They probably would acquire companies like BedsheetsExpress, Gloo or Yudala that have figured this out.

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Chinese firm to manufacture phones in Nigeria by Q1 2018

Chinese firm to manufacture phones in Nigeria by Q1 2018

Chief Executive Officer, Awesome Communications, Joshua Ajayi (left); Technical Partner, Partner Mobile, Sola Akintola; Marketing Manager, Partner Mobile, Ife Akerele-Molokwu and Chief Operating Officer, Partner Mobile, Simon Klepper at the launch of PS 3  to celebrate Partner Mobile 1st anniversary in Lagos.

• Unveils new smart device to mark anniversary
Chinese Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), operating in Nigeria as Partner Mobile, has informed of its readiness to start manufacturing mobile phones in the country.

The firm, which entered the Nigerian market a year ago, said all the logistics have been put in place to enable it commence the production of features phone from quarter one (Q1), 2018.

Speaking in Lagos, at the weekend, the Technical Partner, Partner Mobile, Shola Akintola, said the plant would be sited either in Abeokuta or Lagos, saying all the component parts of the phone would be manufactured in Nigeria. He however, identified the country’s erratic power supply as a major disincentive to investment.

Describing the performance of Partner Mobile brand in the Nigerian market for the past 12 months, the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Partner Mobile, Simon Klepper, said the brand has been successful despite the challenging Nigerian economy, the decreasing value of the Naira and political change.

Klepper attributed the success of the brand to true commitment and perseverance shown by the company. He added that Partner Mobile in the coming years will deeply penetrate the Nigerian market and also establish itself as a reputable company in the country.

“Partner Mobile’s first year in the Nigerian market has got to be viewed as a success. The last year has been a challenging one for the whole of Nigeria with the current dwindling economy, the decreasing value of the Naira and political change.

“For any company to launch itself under such conditions, it has to show true commitment and perseverance, Partner Mobile has displayed these qualities,” Klepper said.

Also commenting on Partner Mobile’s penetration into the Nigerian market, the Marketing Manager, Partner Mobile, Ifeoluwa Akerele-Molokwu, said the brand name has been marketed to a large extent. According to Akerele, “Partner Mobile devices have been made to fit into every social and economic class.”

She said: “We have our gadgets currently in major stores across the country, and we are still working towards reaching more customers by partnering with other dealers.

“We have made available devices to fit into every social and economic class, and also putting into consideration the current economic situation. Better said, we’ve got a Partner for everyone.”

Akerele-Molokwu said within the last 12 months, Partner Mobile did gather some market share, stressing that over a million mobile phones was sold by the brand.

While speaking on the quantity of devices already released into the Nigerian market, Klepper said: “We released three android phones at the launch last year and quickly followed them up with a straight forward feature phone. The PF1 proved so popular that over the last three months we have released similar models of increasing specifications, the PF2, PF3, PF4 and a heavy duty PF-P1 with the capability of a power bank.

“Our mid-range Elite series E15 has just been replaced with the E16 and in the Prestige series, the PS1 has been joined by the PS-Power and PS2. Over the next couple of months we will have the PS1 + and PS1 Pro to complete the series.

“As we look forward to Nigeria re-establishing it’s previously impressive growing economy, phone and gadget lovers can be assured that Partner Mobile will bring to market ranges of phones to satisfy the needs and desires of its consumers.”

The COO further stressed that in an ever changing market where the needs and wants of the consumer take precedence, the company is committed to constantly evaluating and assessing the kinds of products to bring into the market that will solve the consumer’s need. He further explained that the consumer spending power is equally a factor that affects their decision making.

Klepper proposes that Partner Mobile in its fifth anniversary would be established throughout the African continent and equally trading in continents including Middle East, Europe, and the United States of America.

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Philips tackling the evolving lighting industry

Philips tackling the evolving lighting industry

Philips head office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Philips Lighting celebrated their one year anniversary of becoming a standalone company today at a media event at their offices in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the event, Reggie Nxumalo, GM of Philips Lighting Southern Africa, spoke of the evolving sector which is lighting and broke down just how Philips Lighting plans to make an impact.

Since becoming a stand-alone company and being listing on the Amsterdam stock exchange, the company has delivered many innovations that look to unlock the extraordinary potential of light to bring about brighter lives and a better world.

Reggie, at the event, highlighted that lighting has evolved past its original function. He said that “Lighting is technology and since iv started working here I have been shocked as to how exciting this space is. You might say I have had a few lightbulb moments myself.”

Lighting the way to change by helping to eliminate Light poverty

Philips note that for more than a billion people around the world, electric light can seem like an unobtainable luxury. Without reliable access to it, entire communities across Africa, as well as places like India, are plunged into darkness at sunset. Unable to work or study after dark, their inhabitants are deprived of opportunities to build a better future.

To try and combat these light poverty issues, Philips has designed a range of products which includes solar lanterns as well as home lighting systems that enable off-grid communities to access safe, renewable lighting after dark. With this technology, social and business life no longer has to stop when the sun goes down, while light becomes a catalyst for recreation, productivity and economic growth. These solutions are vital within Africa, where there are more than 500 million people that live without electricity, according to the World Bank, and are a lot more affordable than costly kerosene refills.

Enabling a Smart way of using fewer City resources

Reggie drew attention to the fact that as cities grow, the challenges they pose—environmental, economic, and social—grow with them. The growth of these cities combined with the introduction of Smart Cities which use new communications and digital technologies, data sharing and analysis, and intelligent design to make cities more liveable, resilient, economically sound, and sustainable, has opened up new opportunities for lighting companies to make an impact.

The Philips lighting MD pointed how conventional street lighting can account for as much as 40% of a city’s total energy budget. By switching to LED street lights alone cities can reduce the energy consumed by street lights by 30% or more.

Switching on to new thinking around lighting

Another key point that was set out to the media in attendance is the need to use an integrated system, including lighting, to improve sustainability, efficiency, and user experience goals.

For this to happen, each luminaire is uniquely identified and seamlessly integrated into the IT network in a building or city, and is able to share information about their status and operations. This allows each sensor-boasting luminaire to become a point of intelligence that can share information on occupancy, activity patterns, and changes in temperature or humidity, as well as daylight levels.

By integrating wireless communications into the lighting system, organisations can deliver location-based services and in-context information via mobile apps to people in illuminated spaces. In addition, connected lighting provides businesses with greater customer insight, a superior customer experience, creates personalised workspaces by adding a layer of intelligence to the environment, which responds and adapts to people’s preferences and needs.

Furthermore, companies can employ a lighting management software, such as the one Philips provides, to enable operators of spaces to monitor and manage the lighting system in real time by for instance, visualising and analysing historical information about luminaire performance. Moreover, connected lighting systems can integrate with other systems in a building or city, creating new synergies and efficiencies, and making lighting an integral part of the new digital ecology.

The just of the event was to help educate consumers that by integrating luminaires with sophisticated controls and comprehensive management systems, companies can streamline business activities while saving energy and ensuring satisfaction. Ultimately, while the challenges and complexity of countries, regions and cities can seem daunting, organisations such as Philips are creating the innovations that can make substantive, transformative changes to the cultural and economic paradigms.

Staff Writer

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The new normal for digitalised enterprise

The new normal for digitalised enterprise

The banks will become the processing engine while the customer ownership sits with the start-up and the innovator.

Digitalisation has done so much more than just shift expectation and transform innovation. It has created digital divides, rifts between internal pillar and external deliverables, and redefined the ideals of engagement and growth. The fundamental business models are changing and organisations are falling into two camps – those who face the customer, and those who supply the customer.

“It is a visible shift across the corporate landscape as organisations determine their camp and what role they are set to play going forward,” says Mohamed Cassoojee, Vice President and Country Manager at Software AG South Africa. “Some of the models that look towards the customer are now referred to as the Platform Businesses, operating within the Platform Economy.”

These businesses aggregate services, combine products and deliver these to the customer on a platform platter. They ultimately own the customer data and the information that defines them. This model grows through the network effect – the more people using a platform, the more it attracts.

“An excellent example of this in action is, of course, Airbnb and Uber. Neither of these companies own the assets they promote, they facilitate and collect on the income off the top. What’s interesting, is that if you look at the valuations of these organisations compared with the traditional ones, they are extremely high,” adds Cassoojee.

If you take BMW, for example, they have a market cap of under $US 55 billion with around 125 thousand employees, whereas Uber has a market cap of $US 70 billion, was only formed in 2009, and only has around 7000 employees globally.

In addition to this, there is an evolution within the customer space that is being changed by digitalisation. The user is becoming the prosumer – directly influencing the development of a product and supporting the organisation in bettering services based on their input and influence. It’s a marked difference from a product being something that’s made, marketed and sold.

Now it is innovated, evolved and refined through internal and external input and processes. An example of a company that has done this to impressive effect is Apple with their iStore. They created a community of people who develop apps and services for them. It makes in the region of $US 30 billion of which Apple takes 30% off the top. A neat $US 10 billion just for managing a platform.

The other camp consists of the backend business, the traditional organisation manufacturing a product that is sold onto the consumer or commoditised. Banks may shift into this space as fintechs continue to elbow them aside to become the front-end of the financial market.

The banks will become the processing engine while the customer ownership sits with the start-up and the innovator. Some banks may do both, and already there are organisations that have long recognised the potential effect of the digitalisation end-game and have opted to keep their feet firmly planted on both sides.

These changes are not taking place just on the technology frontier either. McCormick Spices has created a customer platform where users can rank and rate the products while sharing recipes and testing flavours, and they’ve maintained their production of the spices on the backend. McCormick Spices developed a community around the brand that embraces the influence of digitalisation across the traditional and the customer-facing platform.

“Organisations need to focus on the end goal of the digitalisation game and know exactly which camp they plan to live in, and how to make it work for them. Ultimately, every interaction is an opportunity, every frustration can be monetised, and every shift in the market can steer the business towards success,” concludes Cassoojee.

Staff Writer

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Nigerian start-up and Mastercard deliver cashless online shopping payment

Nigerian start-up and Mastercard deliver cashless online shopping payment

NetPlus and Mastercard to offer cashless payment solution in African e-commerce sector.

Within an African e-commerce sector which is plagued by cash, with the majority of payments still being made in cash at the point of delivery, Mastercard has partnered with Nigerian tech start-up, NetPlus to develop an e-commerce solution that will help make cash a thing of the past, for e-retailers and consumers alike.

The Mastercard e-commerce solution empowers the consumer, the e-retailer as well as the delivery service by providing a simple and secure digital solution. Consumers can pre-authorise the payment when placing their order online, the e-retailer is given a sense of comfort and dispatches the goods via a delivery service who is able to use the Mastercard e-commerce app to authorise the release of the payment once the consumer approves, ensuring the merchant is paid immediately.

A key feature is that if the consumer is dissatisfied with their package the transaction can be voided and the funds immediately released, so there is no delay – one of the biggest points of frustration for consumers buying online in Africa.

This is a giant leap forward for the online sector, which is predicted to generate yearly e-commerce sales in Africa of $75bn by 2025. In Nigeria alone the sector generates over $1bn every year and continues to grow exponentially. The biggest challenge facing online retailers is cash, as it poses logistical issues and puts the consumer, merchant and delivery service at risk. Digitizing the sector will ensure efficiency, transparency and security.

“Cash has held the sector back from reaching its full potential in Africa,” says Omokehinde Adebanjo, Vice President and Area Business Head for West Africa at Mastercard. “We have invested a great deal of energy and resources to develop a workable solution that will meet the diverse needs of merchants and consumers across the continent, and world. It is fitting that our partnership with NetPlus, an African-born tech company, has resulted in us achieving our goal of digitizing the e-commerce sector.”

Wole Faroun, Founder and CEO of NetPlus explains that the solution reduces the online purchasing process to a few simple steps:

Step 1: The buyer (consumer) completes an online purchase and pre-authorisation is placed on the funds until the goods or service is delivered. The money is not taken out of their bank account, but is simply held until delivery is made.

Step 2: The seller (e-retailer) will dispatch the goods with help of a delivery service, the delivery service will have access to the Mastercard e-commerce app on either their mobile or tablet. This allows them to complete the transaction on behalf of the e-retailer once the delivery has been completed. This ensures the funds flow directly to the e-retailer and that the delivery service does not handle cash unnecessarily.

Step 3: On delivery the consumer is able to inspect their goods and confirm if they are satisfied. The transaction is then verified on the app by the delivery service representative, and as an extra security measure the consumer will enter the last four digits of their bank card to complete the transaction. If the consumer is not happy with their package, because they received the wrong size for example, the transaction is immediately voided on the app and the money immediately reflects back in their bank account.

“The solution comes with extensive benefits for merchants and consumers,” says Faroun. “For e-retailers, the pre-authentication reflects commitment on the part of the consumer to the purchase, as well as guarantees real time payment and improved liquidity. Consumers benefit from renewed confidence in online shopping, peace of mind as the payment is only processed on delivery without the need for cash.”

Particularly exciting about the partnership between Mastercard and the tech start-up is the fact that NetPlus is the first African start-up to be selected by the Mastercard Start Path programme. The initiative is open to start-ups from Africa and across the world who are rethinking banking and payments and who are well established already, having secured significant investment. During a six-month virtual programme, Start Path provides start-ups with the operational support, mentorship and investment they need to develop the next generation of commerce solutions and grow their operations.

NetPlus was one of five start-ups chosen globally for the last programme of 2016, and Faroun along with his team have already benefited from knowledge sharing and mentorship sessions in New York, London and Singapore where they were able to meet with other start-ups and Mastercard customers. The Nigerian tech company proves that there is tremendous talent on the continent and that start-ups are contributing significantly to the growth of Africa.

Staff Writer

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Win R1 Million in Cell C Original Reality Show ‘Hangman’

Win R1 Million in Cell C Original Reality Show ‘Hangman’

Contestants to battle it out for the R1 million prize money.

South African telecoms company, Cell C, today announced the launch of Hangman, a unique fast-paced online reality show which aims to uncover South Africa’s greatest innovator. The programme offers contestants a chance to win R1 million in prize money. The 10-part Hangman series represents a new genre in unscripted entertainment and follows on the success of Cell C’s first online Break the Net reality talent show which streamed on the service provider’s Cell C Reality App last year.

Jose Dos Santos, Cell C Chief Executive Officer, speaking on the launch said that the programme highlighted how this new venture falls in line with Cell C’s strategic focus in bringing relevance to the South African market through service offerings.

Hangman is a global first in interactive, immersive entertainment, it puts viewers in the driver’s seat. By “investing” in a virtual Stock Exchange, they can help determine the outcome of the show, while standing in line to win great viewer prizes including a car.

This new reality show also gives wings to the aspirations of entrepreneurs who have identified a gap in the market and have come up with an innovation that fills that space and want to bring it to the market.

Hangman consists of two different content streams. The first is the actual reality online series which would traditionally be consumed on prime-time TV but is now being streamed live online.

Contestants will have to prove their mettle through a series of gruelling challenges but their fate is determined by more than performance alone. They will have to win the approval of ‘Backers’, captains of industry and investment with keen business acumen and ruthless standards. These include businesswoman Phuti Mahanyele, celebrity economist Iraj Abedian, self-made billionaire Quinton van der Burgh and Bonang Mohale, chairman of Shell South Africa Energy Limited.

“It’s breakneck entertainment that sees contestants put their bodies on the line in the pressure cooker of innovation and turns viewers into real-time investors,” says Bl!nk Pictures director Odette Schwegler who was commissioned by Cell C to produce Hangman, a Cell C original.

Hangman is open to anyone residing or working in South Africa who wants to participate in the competition or just view the series. Simply download the Cell C Reality App on Android or iOS to access the shows and to register for the competition. Access within the App will be zero rated for Cell C customers. Any breakout from the App will be charged as per current data depletion.

The second stream comes in the form of a Stock Exchange called ‘The Exchange’. Viewers can truly immerse themselves in the show, meet the Backers, be inspired by successful innovators and get expert business insights. The hub is constantly updated with “hot off the press” content straight from the Hangman set! To take part in the outcome of the show, win great prizes and rewards, viewers can become virtual investors by trading on The Exchange. They will also help drive the outcome of the competition.

The innovator who succeeds in garnering the support of the Backers, while rallying viewer/‘investor’ sentiment, could walk away with a R1 million cash prize and everything needed to succeed in a 21st century market.

Dos Santos added that, “Cell C is delighted to present this fully interactive and unscripted format with Hangman. It offers the opportunity for viewers to track innovator performance and invest ‘real time’ via a Cell C Stock Exchange App. They can also get involved ‒ up close and personal ‒ by helping contestants win their tasks. We are delighted that as an innovator, Cell C is continuing with the delivery of incredible content.”

Entry is open from June 21 to July 21 with the show streaming online from October 9 to December 11. Contestants and viewers do not need to be a Cell C customer to play or download the App but Cell C customers will receive bonuses for participation and viewing the show.

Staff Writer

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