SA to get new driver’s licences

Source: MyBroadband

South Africa is set to get new driver’s licences in the next year, Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced as part of the Driving Licence Card Account’s (DLCA) annual performance plan.

The DLCA, which falls under the Department of Transport as a trading entity, is the sole producer of driver’s licences in South Africa.

The DLCA is currently in the final phase of designing a new South African driver’s licence card.

Mbalula said in the DLCA’s annual performance plan for 2021/2022 the new card is expected to be introduced midway through the financial year.

This means the new driver’s licences may be here later this year or early next year.

The transport minister said the DLCA plans to reduce the turnaround time of the production of driver’s licence cards through ‘atomising’ its productions processes.

The new licence cards will be closer aligned to international practices and incorporate new technologies. The actual design of the licence card will also be changed.

“The introduction of the new driving licence involves a new design of the driving licence card, and the re-engineering of processes to allow for agility and focus on delivering services efficiently and quickly,” the DLCA said.

“The project will allow for the adoption of digital technologies such as blockchain and other related technologies which will form the platform of an integrated transport system.”

The DLCA’s annual performance plan states that one of the group’s key priorities was to modernise the ‘driving licence production environment’.

This will include the purchasing of a new production machine that is capable of printing more modern licences, as well as the introduction of a new secure, high quality, and durable licence card.

While the card will still have to be approved by parliament, it is envisaged that the new design and the procurement of the machine will run concurrently, the DLCA said.

This news follows shortly after Mbalula met with the Gauteng MEC for transport and Gauteng licensing authorities about the challenges related to Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs).

“Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) provide an important service to our motorists, as they are an important support system to enable mobility,” the transport minister said.

There are, however, pervasive challenges, particularly in Gauteng, related to issuing driver’s licenses.

“The difficulties experienced by citizens in booking slots through the online platform is a serious cause for concern,” Mbalula said.

“We are gravely concerned that preliminary investigations suggest that corruption is the principal driver of lack of availability of booking slots in various DLTCs across Gauteng.”

He said problems at DLTCs impacted the livelihoods of those who require these services to put bread on the table.

“The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare these challenges, most of which are a consequence of corruption in the system,” said Mbalula.

“The additional pressure has amplified these challenges and requires of us to move with speed and deliberate focus in addressing these.”

The aim of the meeting, Mbalula said, was to take stock of the challenges and agree on decisive interventions that effectively address the challenges facing Gauteng and its DLTCs.

The interventions must deliver a system that improves efficiency, eliminates corruption, and modernises processes to eliminate the need for end-users to queue at DLTCs.

“Post our engagements, we will unpack the modalities of these interventions and commit to firm time-lines on the rollout,” Mbalula said.

“We are paying particular attention to the rollout of online services in a manner that improves efficiencies and minimises the time the end-user spends in a queue.”

The ultimate end goal is to eliminate these queues once the full bouquet of online services has been successfully rolled out, the transport minister said.

 

Source: Business Insider SA

Standard Bank clients were left frustrated by technical problems which impacted payments in the last two weeks of April. On Monday, the bank reported that persistent issues had finally been resolved and that it had launched a new service status page to keep clients up to date with any future disruptions.

Standard Bank’s services were marred by numerous technical issues in April. Clients first reported problems with the mobile banking app halfway through the month, with Standard Bank urging users to opt for internet or cell phone banking while the “technical issues” were being fixed.

A week later, the trouble with logging into the mobile app extended to internet banking. Clients, unable to access their accounts on payday, were left fuming and took to social media to voice their dissatisfaction.

Despite Standard Bank noting that its technical issues had been resolved on 24 April, many clients complained that they continued to experience problems with both internet and mobile app-based banking services.

But Standard Bank’s April problems weren’t over. On the last day of the month, the bank confirmed yet another technical problem impacting its mobile banking app, whereby the delivery of one-time PIN (OTP) numbers was disrupted. This led to delays in confirming payments and further frustrations among clients.

On Sunday, Standard Bank reported that problems with its mobile app, internet banking, ATMs and point of sale services were affecting transactions. Blame was placed on a “hardware issue” and fed-up clients threatened to jump ship, with competitors First National Bank (FNB) extending an invitation on Standard Bank’s Twitter account.

Facing a fierce backlash, Standard Bank apologised to its clients on Monday and announced the launch of a status page which would provide real-time updates on the functionality of mobile and internet banking services.

“Following the extended disruption to our banking services, we have launched a new service status page to give you real time status of our banking services and offerings,” explained Standard Bank.

“This website was developed in the interest of transparency and customer service. We always endeavour to ensure that our systems are up and always running, but technology is fallible. With this tool we can keep our customers informed in real time while our teams work to fix any issues that might occur.”

Standard Bank clients have been urged to register for immediate updates, which can be received via SMS, email, or RSS feeds. The page displays the system’s overall functionality, with anything other than the banner stating “All Systems Operational” indicating a problem with one or more services.

The service status page tracks the real-time availability of app logins, balance checks, instant money transfers, airtime, data and electricity purchases, lottery picks, business banking statements and more.

“Any disruption of our services impacts our customers adversely,” noted Standard Bank.

“While our teams worked tirelessly to solve the problem, we know that this is not what our Standard Bank customers expect from us. Our service status page is a way to keep our customers informed if we should ever experience technical issues of this kind again.”

 

Microsoft wants to replace Calibri

By Dominick Reuter for Business Insider US

Move over, Calibri, there’s a new font in town – though which one will be the choice of voters.

On Wednesday, Microsoft’s Design Team put out a call asking for typographophiles to choose the new default font for the Office 365 software suite, which includes mainstay workplace apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

“A default font is often the first impression we make; it’s the visual identity we present to other people via our resumes, documents, or emails. And just as people and the world around us age and grow, so too should our modes of expression,” the team said in its announcement.

Calibri has been the brand’s default font choice since 2007, when it replaced the classic Times New Roman. And no, Times New Roman is not one of the choices to vote on for the refresh.

The five new sans-serif choices are called Tenorite, Bierstadt, Skeena, Seaford, and Grandview, and the designers of each offered their best argument for why typographophiles should choose theirs.

All five are available now, to subscribers, through the Office 365 cloud, and social feedback is encouraged on the company’s Twitter page.

The shortlisted new fonts “span the various sans-serif styles—humanist, geometric, swiss-style, and industrial” says Microsoft.

The candidates are described as:

  • Tenorite “has the overall look of a traditional workhorse sans serif (a font without a serif, or a stroke at the ends, like Times New Roman), but with a warmer, more friendly style. “
  • Bierstadt “is a precise, contemporary sans serif typeface inspired by mid-20th-century Swiss typography. A versatile typeface that expresses simplicity and rationality in a highly readable form, Bierstadt is also notably clear-cut with stroke endings that emphasize order and restraint.”
  • Skeena “is a ‘humanist’ sans serif based on the shapes of traditional serif text typefaces. Its strokes are modulated, with a noticeable contrast between thick and thin and a distinctive slice applied to the ends of many of the strokes.”
    Seaford “is a sans serif typeface that is rooted in the design of old-style serif text typefaces and evokes their comfortable familiarity.”
  • Grandview “is a sans serif typeface derived from classic German road and railway signage, which was designed to be legible at a distance and under poor conditions.”

SA’s new debit order system begins on 1 May

Source: IOL

In an effort to modernise the payment system, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has announced that it will implement AC/DebiCheck payment system from 1 May.

SARB said the aim of the project was to address the increasing levels of abuse in the debit order payment system known commercially as the early debit order (EDO) payment system.

SARB said: “From May 1, 2021, all new and renegotiated EDO mandates will be originated in the AC/DebiCheck payment system and not in the current EDO payment system.

“Early debit orders will only be processed through the AC/DebiCheck payment system, while normal debit orders will still be processed later in the day as per current arrangements.”

The central bank said the EDO system allowed consumers to instruct a company or user to collect money from their bank account.

SARB said the new AC/DebiCheck payment system consumers would provide authorisation to their bank to release funds from their accounts when a debit order was submitted by a company or user with whom they conducted business.

The AC/DebiCheck payment system was first implemented on August 1, 2018, and has been going through various stages and processes of testing and integration.

“Companies or users of the EDO system had until November 1, 2019, to fully implement the AC/DebiCheck payment system. Since the implementation date, companies or users have been requested to begin using the system for all EDO collections,” it said.

“Owing to the complex nature of the AC/DebiCheck system, a lengthy ramp-up period was required to ensure that all stakeholders in the EDO collections ecosystem had implemented and tested their internal processes and interfaces to the AC/DebiCheck payment system,” the SARB said.

SARB added that the AC/DebiCheck project was an initiative of the collections industry that ensured the safety and efficiency of the national payment system, and the mitigation of rogue and fraudulent behaviour in the collections system.

By Sarah Perez for TechCrunch

Netflix is officially launching a feature that will make it easier to find something to watch when you’re stuck browsing and unable to make a decision. The service is introducing a tool called “Play Something” to users worldwide — the final iteration that “shuffle” feature you may have already seen during Netflix’s tests over the past year. When selected, Netflix will play another show or movie it thinks you’ll like, based on your interests and prior viewing behaviour.

In other words, it won’t play random content, but will instead bring up either a movie or show you’re already watching, a series or movie on your list, an unfinished series or movie you may want to revisit, or a brand new series or film that Netflix’s personalisation algorithms suggest.

The feature has been in testing under various names and styles for some time. A year ago, the feature was called Shuffle Play, for example. During its Q4 earnings, Netflix said the shuffle feature would roll out to its worldwide users sometime in the first half of 2021, describing it as a way for users to “instantly watch a title chosen just for them.”

For today’s launch, not much has changed beyond the feature’s name and style.

The new option can be found on Netflix’s TV app underneath your profile name, on the navigation menu to the left of your screen and on the tenth row on your Netflix homepage — a location that hopes to find users after they’ve been scrolling for some time without landing on anything they want to watch.

Netflix users with screen-readers can use Text-to-Speech (TTS) to use Play Something, the company notes.

While Netflix is always testing features that make it easier for users to jump from browsing to watching, this feature in particular comes at a time when Netflix is seeing slower subscriber growth — something it’s blaming on the lighter content slate due to COVID. But the reality is that Netflix is no longer the only streamer in town. And some of the content it has shipped has been weak, as evident in the growing list of cancellations. It has also lost top titles like “The Office” to rivals as rights’ holders have pulled their content back to their own new services.

For those reasons, too, Netflix needs a way to addict its current user base to what’s available in its existing catalogue before they churn out.

The new Play Something feature is available today on Netflix on TVs, and will soon begin testing on mobile devices, starting with Android.

 

By Kim Lyons for The Verge

Google has unveiled new tools to help people planning their first post-vaccination vacations, as COVID-19 restrictions and requirements still vary widely among domestic and international travel destinations.

A Google search for flights, hotels, or things to do will now also bring up results for any COVID-19-related travel advisories or restrictions at the searcher’s destination. Google has added additional travel restriction details, including whether quarantine is required or if you have to show proof of immunisation or a negative COVID-19 test. Users can choose to receive updates about when restrictions are lifted or added for a given destination. The updates are country-specific and state-specific within the US.

Under the “explore” tab on Google’s travel page, people can browse not just for flights but filter destinations by interests, like beaches or skiing. When you choose a destination, you’ll get the updated information on any travel advisories or restrictions as well.

After pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions kept many people at home much of last year, Google isn’t the only company preparing for the return of travel. Expedia Group — which includes online travel agent (OTA) websites Expedia, Vrbo, Travelocity, Hotels.com, and others — created its Travel Advisor tool to help customers plan trips and follow any COVID-19 restrictions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends Americans delay travel until they’ve been fully vaccinated, after which they can travel safely within the US. The agency has a map showing where travel may be especially risky due to the coronavirus.

And while Americans are still barred from travelling to many international destinations, a European Union official told The New York Times over the weekend that Americans fully vaccinated against the coronavirus should be able to visit the EU this summer.

 

The acceleration of e-commerce as the global Covid-19 pandemic revolutionises buying trends is giving rise to exciting new developments in the financial technology industry.

According to research by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), e-commerce’s share of global retail trade grew from 14% in 2019 to about 17% in 2020.

And the phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down.

“Businesses and consumers who were able to ‘go digital’ have helped mitigate the economic downturn caused by the pandemic,” says UNCTAD Acting Secretary-General Isabelle Durant

“But they have also sped up a digital transition that will have lasting impacts on our societies and daily lives … Developing countries should not only be consumers but also active players and thus producers of the digital economy.”

It is not surprising that ecommerce’s meteoric rise has birthed new financial products and technologies that are able to align with needs of merchants and consumers.

In March, the New York Times described startup fintech companies as “hot tickets” among investors, and with good reason. Any company A person with a beard

Description automatically generated with low confidence not investing in online banking and digital tools will be left behind as the economic landscape undergoes a complete overhaul.

The result is that some fintech companies have already begun to list on the New York Stock Exchange, and this is only the beginning.

Closer to home, FinTech magazine forecasts that the financial technology sector will be “critical to the recovery” of numerous countries in Africa in the wake of the pandemic.

Figures from early 2020 show that venture capital funding for African fintech startups had risen by 51%. It was reported that new fintechs raised almost $350-million (R4.9-billion) during the first quarter of 2020, with South Africa leading the way with $112m (R1.6bn) in investments.

Projects included virtual banking projects, consumer credit checks and finance apps.

Against this backdrop, it was a ‘no-brainer’ for South African internet auction and online marketplace bidorbuy to partner with local e-commerce payment solutions company Payflex.

Payflex allows shoppers to pay off their purchase over six weeks, interest free, which obviously is also to the benefit of merchants as it will attract more consumers to their platforms.

“Payflex allows buyers on the platform to get the benefit of getting the product they want right away, but the flexibility of paying that off over six weeks, is a huge advantage. There is no catch and there is no interest charged on the repayments,” says bidorbuy CEO Craig Lubbe.

While bidorbuy is yet to see which categories are most popular for payments with Payflex, Lubbe expects that it will enable shoppers to have access to products that would, in many instances, be slightly out of reach in terms of value.

The marketplace also recognises that there is an ongoing shift from more established methods of payment such as EFTs (electronic funds transfers), to credit card and other contactless payment options.

“We also expect to see further developments within the e-wallet payment space,” Lubbe says.

“Because payment options are evolving as the needs of consumers change, we truly believe that we should offer our shoppers as much choice as possible. Not only does this include the wide assortment of new and used goods for sale, but also that our shoppers can pay in the way that is most convenient to them. Not every option suits the needs of every customer and we’d like to be as accommodating as possible to all who transact on our platform.”

Payflex CEO Paul Behrmann believes the partnership with bidorbuy will be a “win-win” for buyers and sellers on the marketplace.

“Our innovative payment solution helps buyers on bidorbuy purchase what they want to today – and pay for it later at no additional cost. And for sellers on bidorbuy, it makes it easier to close a sale by making purchases more affordable to buyers,” he says.

“At Payflex our primary ambition is to introduce innovative debt-free payment solutions that make shopping more accessible and affordable to all. By adding bidorbuy as a Payflex store, we can now offer thousands of Payflex shoppers the opportunity to shop with Payflex at the best marketplace in South Africa. A big-win for Payflex shoppers – which is a big-win for us”.

As part of the launch campaign, Payflex and bidorbuy will be offering new bidorbuy Payflex customers a number of promotions when they use Payflex on bidorbuy.

The partnership is very much in keeping with the latest international trends

In the United Kingdom, buy now pay later (BNPL) is the fastest growing payment method, with a growth rate that is double that of bank transfers and more than triple that of digital wallets, according to finder.com.

Its research shows that 37% of British consumers have used a BNPL service, and more than half of (52%) of BNPL users are using these services more during the Covid-19 period.

Similar statistics are being reflected in the United States, where a recent study found that 42% of respondents had used a BNPL service before.

Beware of this banking scam

The Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) says it continues to receive complaints on a daily basis from consumers who were deceived into providing confidential banking information to fraudsters.

  • The OBS recorded more than 640 new fraud complaints
  • A bank customer will receive a phone call from someone who says they are from the customer’s bank
  • The customer is informed that funds have been fraudulently taken from their account or that they (the bank representative) is helping the customer to claim from a rewards program that is offered by the bank. For this to take place, the customer needs to confirm their details so that the funds can be credited to their account.
  • Alternatively, customers are told that they need to act quickly and urgently, as fraudsters “are about to take funds out of their account, but this can be stopped, if they act quickly and co-operate”
  • The fraudster already has the customer’s phone number (he/she is calling the customer) and may have a host of other personal information at his/her fingertips. This includes addresses, ID numbers, other contact details, email addresses, employment details, or NB even a customer’s bank card number.
  • The customer is asked to update or verify their details, possibly on their cell phone.
  • The customer is then requested to provide everything required to access their bank account, such as card details, the cards pin number, transaction OTPs, and mobile or internet banking passwords. The fraudster says that this is necessary for them to assist the customer, to redeem the rewards, to do a transaction, stop a fraudulent payment, or recover the stolen money.
  • Once the customer has provided the requested details, their accounts are emptied.
  • This scam is devastating to elderly citizens and pensioners
  • It is not possible to recover any of the funds which have disappeared
  • Unless the money is stolen at the bank or lost through the fault of an employee or a technological glitch at the bank, it is ultimately up to consumers to do all they can to protect themselves by staying informed about banking scams

Oracle cuts Eskom off

Source: MyBroadband

Oracle has cut off essential technical services to Eskom following a payment dispute, but the impact on the power producer’s operations has been minimal.

The payment dispute arose after Eskom allegedly added modules and users to their Oracle software services without paying the required license fees.

An audit by Oracle revealed abuse by Eskom and the software giant initially claimed Eskom underpaid by R7.3 billion.

Following discussions between the parties the amount was lowered to R380 million. Eskom, however, said it only owes Oracle R166 million.

Oracle threatened to cut off essential technical services to the power utility unless it settles the outstanding R380 million.

Eskom responded by launching an urgent court application to compel Oracle to continue providing technical support amidst the payment spat.

The Johannesburg High Court dismissed Eskom’s application, and shortly afterwards Oracle cut its essential technical services to Eskom.

In its court application Eskom warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Oracle withdrew its support services.

Eskom said it could affect its ability to supply electricity to South Africa which will have a crippling effect on the economy.

To date the impact of Oracle’s decision to discontinue its support services has, however, been minimal.

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha confirmed that Oracle has cut off technical support services after their legal victory.

“Oracle’s technical support services have not been available to Eskom over the past week,” Mantshantsha told Bruce Whitfield on The Money Show.

Eskom has now implemented contingency plans which it developed in preparation for this scenario.

Mantshantsha said at this stage there has not be a “very big impact” on Eskom’s operations.

This is partly because Oracle’s support was a supplement to Eskom’s internal teams who have been working with the software for more than 20 years.

“We have activated those teams and they are holding the fort at the moment,” said Mantshantsha.

This raises the question whether the Oracle technical support services were necessary in the first place.

Mantshantsha said it is undoubtedly necessary to have the technical expertise of companies like Oracle to resolve problems with their software.

“We will continue to require such services and as such Eskom has embarked on an urgent procurement process to find the technical skills to replace Oracle,” he said.

Oracle’s decision to terminate its technical support services adds risk to electricity supply in South Africa, but Mantshantsha said they do not rely entirely on the experts from Oracle.

“There is a risk which Eskom has put mitigation measures in for…but we are able to operate without their support for now,” he said.

Eskom dismissed concerns that other providers will be hesitant to work with Eskom following this debacle.

“Any supplier which enters into business with Eskom can expect that Eskom will always honour its contractual obligations,” said Mantshantsha.

Oracle has been mum on the matter, only saying “Eskom should pay the pending dues for the Oracle software that they use”.

 

Cell C posts R5.5-billion loss

By Sibongile Khumalo for News24

Cell C says its latest set of results showed that its turnaround strategy was having a “positive impact in stabilising the business”, although some key performance industry were still down.

CEO Douglas Stevenson says investors were looking forward to a proposed recapitalisation deal aimed at driving revenue growth and profitability.

Net loss narrowed to R5.5 billion for the 2020 financial year, compared to compared to R7.6 billion in the first half of the year.
Cell C, which has battled a severe liquidity crunch, narrowed its net loss to R5.5 billion for the 2020 financial year, compared to R7.6 billion seen in the first half, with the company describing its performance as reflective of a “business in transit”.

The telecommunications operator, which in 2020 defaulted on an interest payment on a $184 million loan, said its latest set of results showed that its turnaround strategy was having a “positive impact in stabilising the business”, although some key performance industry were still down.

Its gross margin declined by 7% and cost optimisation resulted in overall direct expenses being 9% lower at R7 billion, from R7.7 billion in 2019, the annual financial statements released on Tuesday showed. A once-off expenditure of R5.7 billion was incurred due to recapitalisation and the costs associated with network restoration, which the company attributed to its net loss before tax of R5.5 billion.

“Our turnaround strategy has improved our financial performance as a mobile network operator and Cell C is operationally more efficient,” said CEO Douglas Stevenson.

“Over the next three years we will fully transition to roam on partner networks – all with the aim of providing a quality network, innovative value offerings for our customers and ensuring a profitable and sustainable business.”

‘A business in transition’

Despite a challenging period, Cell C managed to lift total subscriber numbers to over 12.5 million, up from 11.7 million in the first half of the year.

In January 2020, Blue Label Telecoms, which is a 45% shareholders in Cell C, announced that the network provider had defaulted on interest and capital repayments related to the respective bilateral loan facilities between Cell C and Nedbank, China Development Bank Corporation, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which were due in January 2020.

“Our results reflect a business in transition,” said CFO Zaf Mahomed.

“We are starting to see the impact of our changes which included a focus on more profitable subscribers and through the reduction in costs a shift to revenue generating activities. The foundations are now in place.”

The financial challenges faced by Cell C has seen Blue Label write off its investment in the firm to zero, but support plans for the company’s turnaround.

Stevenson said the investors were looking forward to “the proposed recapitalisation deal that will provide working capital aimed at driving revenue growth and profitability.”

Total revenue was down by 8% to R13.8 billion, with a notable contribution from the prepaid customer base.

 

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top