By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has announced hundreds of vacancies for skilled workers across various fields as part of its plan to modernise its tax compliance systems with new and evolving technologies.

“SARS is preparing for a future where increasingly our work will be informed by data driven insights, self-learning computers, artificial intelligence and interconnectivity of people and devices,” the tax authority stated.

“Mindful of this, we are evolving our workforce to prepare for this exciting changed and changing world of work.”

“Whilst we continue to develop our own employees, we invite talented and passionate executives, who share our strong public service ethos and unmistakeable commitment to improving the material conditions and wellbeing of all South Africans,” SARS said.

These employees would assist in SARS’s mandate of ensuring optimal compliance with tax and customs legislation in South Africa.

Available positions
In addition to 200 South Africans who have recently graduated in the fields of Customs, Chartered Accountancy, Auditing and Legal, SARS is seeking 370 highly skilled leaders and specialists in specialised roles.

The latter includes Information and Technology specialists with the looking aptitudes:

  • Developers (C#, Java, Angular, Web, Data Warehouse [ETL/C#])
  • Database Administrators (SQL, Adabas)
  • Integration Designers
  • Websphere Application Server Specialists
  • SAP Specialists (GRC, FICA, HCM, SRM, Development & Integration)
  • IT Security Engineer
  • Software Engineers
  • Server Engineers (Wintel)

Other fields outside of IT in which vacancies are being offered include:

  • Data Management
  • Audit and Risk
  • Investigations and Auditing with specific focus on Tax Evasion and related matters
  • Legal Specialists and Consultants
  • Governance, Risk, and Compliance Specialists
  • Specialists in Trust Practice, Research and Analysis, Strategy and Advisory, Interpretive Tax Policy & Compliance

TymeBank surpasses the 3m customer mark

Source: ITWeb

TymeBank has reached the three-million customer milestone, as the digital-only bank increases its kiosks at Pick n Pay and Boxer stores across SA to 700.

Having launched in February 2019, TymeBank bills itself as one of the world’s fastest-growing digital banks across the globe, on-boarding between 100 000 and 120 000 customers each month – between 3 000 and 5 000 new customers every day.

TymeBank is majority owned by Dr Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital with UK-based Apis Growth Fund II, a fintech private equity fund based in the UK; JG Summit Holdings, a Philippines-based conglomerate owned by the Gokongwei family; and the Ethos AI Fund.

The branchless bank attributes its milestone to its core banking technology platform, hosted securely in the cloud, as well as its no monthly banking fees model and lower transaction fees.

TymeBank CEO Tauriq Keraan comments: “Financial institutions need to be responsive to consumer preferences. Banking customers are sensitive to costs impacting adversely on their financial health, particularly in these tough times. They also want to know exactly what they’re paying for and TymeBank’s simple, transparent, affordable banking offering is giving our three million customers what they want and need.

“Over the last year, we have added an average of four new features monthly to our customer interfaces, including extending our app availability, upgrading our Web site and enabling e-commerce locally and internationally to cater for customer behaviour during COVID-19.”

TymeBank’s partnership with Pick n Pay and Boxer allows consumers to sign up at the kiosks fitted inside their stores, and make deposits or withdraw money at any of the over 14 000 Pick n Pay and Boxer till points across the country.

According to the bank, the majority of accounts to date (85%) have been opened at kiosks, while 15% were opened online. Customers have also deposited more than R10 billion into their TymeBank accounts in the past six months, it notes.

In February, TymeBank secured R1.6 billion in funding from Apis Growth Fund II and JG Summit Holdings, which it said would be used to expand the bank’s range of banking products, grow its lending portfolio locally, and channelled towards funding offshore expansion opportunities.

The bank says it is looking to introduce new credit offerings and insurance products in the near future.

The lending portfolio will entail a credit facility, among other loan solutions, which will allow customers to ‘buy now and pay later’ for goods – enabled by the bank’s future partnerships with merchants across the country.

The credit facility, according to the bank, will be based on a TymeBank credit card, which will provide customers with access to SA’s shopping network, built on the bank’s partnership with third-parties.

The bank is also looking at expanding its insurance offerings after signing a bancassurance deal with Hollard last year, to offer customers funeral policy plans without any paperwork.

 

Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi says that his department is working on a number of tech-focused features, with plans to take some services digital – according to a recent article in Business Tech.

Answering in a recent written parliamentary Q&A, Motsoaledi said that the department will also introduce a number of changes which are aimed at increased identity security for citizens:

  • A partnership with the Department of Health (DoH) will ensure that each child is allocated with a birth certificate on the spot, by registering birth at health facilities. This will curb identity theft, as an ID number gets allocated and remains with the child for life.
  • “Live capture” will help identify applicants through online verification which has a direct interface with the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) to identify persons through biometrics
  • During the collection of smart identity cards, online verification is also performed to ensure that the correct enabling document is handed over to the appropriate clients.
  • Enhanced security features for South African Smart ID card and passports
  • All users responsible for registering and capturing births and identity-related applications within the organisation are assigned with biometric fingerprint authentication, to detect and hold users accountable for fraudulent activities.
  • The department is moving from a paper-based model to a paperless model, for reasons of increased security.

 

Shoprite launches new mobile network

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

Shoprite has launched its own mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) called K’nect Mobile which offers flat call and data rates.

The network also provides new customers with 100MB free data for three months and rewards Shoprite, Checkers, and Usave customers with free data and airtime when they make qualifying purchases.

Last week, Shoprite CEO Pieter Engelbrecht said the launch of Shoprite’s own virtual mobile network was imminent, adding that it would allow the company to enhance its use of customer data even further.

“In a world where data access is a necessity, this move also means the Shoprite Group is now truly a one-stop-shop for its customers,” Shoprite said.

“K’nect Mobile’s key differentiator is simplicity, with flat call and data rates, and no complicated tiers.”

“Airtime, data bundles and rewards only expire after 60 days, rather than the more common 30-day expiry,” it added.

Users of products in the Shoprite Group’s ecosystem, such as Xtra Savings account holders, can earn free airtime, data, or streaming content when swiping their XtraSavings cards at checkout.

Other rewards include early access to Computicket events and tickets, and 100MB free for three months (six months for Xtra Savings members), subject to in-store RICA and activation.

The prepaid cellular network runs on the mobile network infrastructure of Cell C, which roams in turn on MTN’s physical infrastructure.

Shoprite said the network would become available to customers next month.

Rates and Xtra rewards
K’nect Mobile offers the following data and call rates to its customers:

  • 50c per minute all day K’nect to K’nect calls
  • 99c per minute all day calls to other networks
  • 15c per megabyte for any size data bundle, up to 1GB

It also offers the following Xtra rewards to users with qualifying accounts:

  • 10% free on recharge
  • 10% Xtra for Xtra Savings cardholders
  • 5% Xtra when recharging via Money Market Account
  • Double airtime rewards on Xtra Savings airtime deals

K’nect Mobile SIM card will also benefit from zero-rated data on selected Shoprite and Checkers websites and apps, including the Money Market Account, Computicket website, and the Group’s jobs portal.

“At the same time, the move will help the Shoprite Group streamline communication and drastically reduce its internal data costs,” the company said.

“Its 141 000 employees are now able to receive communications directly on the Group’s internal app (called SiyaRinga) without the need to reverse data costs.”

It said the network forms part of the company’s financial services offering, which enables customers to pay bills, buy cell phones, make money transfers, buy airtime and data, lotto tickets, electricity and funeral insurance in partnership with OUTsurance.

“K’nect Mobile is part of our ever-growing suite of fintech products designed to better serve our customers,” said Shoprite financial services general manager Jean Olivier.

“We’ve spent a lot of time understanding how a mobile network can add value to our customers’ lives, and our solution is an easy to understand network that offers straightforward call and data rates as well as tangible rewards.”

Trump to start own social media platform

Source: CNN

Former President Donald Trump is coming back to social media – but this time with his own network, a Trump spokesperson told Fox News on Sunday.

Jason Miller, a long-time adviser and spokesperson for Trump’s 2020 campaign told Howard Kurtz on Fox’s “MediaBuzz”, said that Trump will be “returning to social media in probably about two or three months.” He added Trump’s return will be with “his own platform” that will attract “tens of millions” of new users and “completely redefine the game.”

“This is something that I think will be the hottest ticket in social media,” Miller told Kurtz. “It’s going to completely redefine the game, and everybody is going to be waiting and watching to see what President Trump does, but it will be his own platform.”

Miller said during his appearance on Fox News that the former president has been approached by numerous companies and is in talks with teams about the new platform.

“This new platform is going to be big,” Miller said on Sunday. “Everyone wants him and he’s going to bring millions and millions — tens of millions — to this platform.”

The announcement comes after Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter and other social platforms, such as Facebook, following his incitement of the US Capitol riots on January 6 — where hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building, leaving five people dead.

Following Trump’s ban on Twitter, Jared Kushner, the former president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, intervened when other aides attempted to get Trump on fringe social media platforms such as Parler and Gab.

 

offugo reading glasses by David Green Eyewear

As technology advances, we all continue to use blue-light emitting screens indiscriminately, knowing that it may be affecting our eye-health and sleep.

The good news is, with offugo Blue Block readers by David Green Eyewear, you can now use your phone, computer, tablet and TV with confidence.

offugo reading glasses, designed in Cape Town, have been developed to selectively block this blue light source, which can cause eye fatigue and strain. Plus, you’ll look stylish while receiving relief and comfort. They even have a lens for people with 20-20 vision. Choose from a variety of colours and four designs, to suit any face: half, oval, rectangle and round, with a petite model for smaller faces.

offugo Blue Block optometric quality designer reading glasses from David Green Eyewear are made with optical standard hinges and rubberised finish for superior comfort and come in a nifty zipper case. Want to see what they look like on you? For more information, visit www.greeneyewear.com and use the offugo state-of-the-art technology to “click and see yourself”.

Pro Tip: practice the 20/20/20 rule when using digital devices: every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet (about 6 m) away for 20 seconds and daydream for a moment.

Available from leading optometrists. Retail price from R459.00.

 

 

859 hours of loadshedding in 2020

By Kaylynn Palm for EWN

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Tuesday said for almost 10% of 2020, there was load shedding.

A report compiled by the council said the country endured 859 hours of blackouts last year.

The council’s Jarrad Wright said: “Possibly going forward, it doesn’t seem like it is going to look good, which is why our biggest recommendation is procurement that talks to a customer response and enabling regulatory frameworks especially for large customers to start to self-supply for themselves.”

He’s suggested the problem be tackled in various ways: “We can’t just rely on the coal fleet returning and it seems like it has not and doesn’t look like it will as its eligibility level declined from 2019 from 67% to 65% in 2020.”

He said during the COVID-19 lockdown last April, electricity demand went down significantly but when the country came out of the risk-adjusted strategy, it shot back up.

“Nothing really changed in terms of energy availability and as a result of that, there was a return to load shedding.”

By Natasha Odendaal for Creamer’s Media Engineering News

The phased switch-off of South Africa’s analogue television transmitters has started and will continue province-by-province until the end of March 2022, when the last transmitters will be shut off in Gauteng.

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, together with broadcasters, implemented the phased switch-off in the Free State, starting with Boesmanskop and surrounding towns in the Xhariep district municipality on March 15 and Ladybrand and surrounding towns on March 16.

The switch-off in each province will be systematic and in phases, moving from one analogue transmitter coverage area to the other, until all district municipalities within the province are completed,” said Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

According to the project timeline estimations for the phased switch-off of analogue TV transmitters, the Free State will be switched off in March, followed by the Northern Cape in April, the North West, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape in May, KwaZulu-Natal in July, the Western Cape in November, Limpopo in December and Gauteng in January 2022.

“The department is collaborating with provincial governments and district municipalities to recruit local installers of government-subsidised decoders in order to accelerate the implementation of the broadcasting digital migration.”

“As it is in the interest of the country that the broadcasting digital migration is completed to free up much-needed spectrum, we are redoubling our efforts to accelerate the project,” Ndabeni-Abrahams concluded.

EskomSePush removed from the Google Play Store

Source: JacarandaFM

Planning your day around loadshedding got a little more difficult after Google suspended the EskomSePush app from the Play Store.

On Sunday, co-founder of the popular load shedding app, Herman Maritz, tweeted a screenshot of a message from Google. The message stated that the notification app EskomSePush (ESP) has been pulled from the Google Play Store.

The suspension happened a month after the app had garnered more than 2.2-million users.

When asked about the reason for the suspension by a Twitter user, Maritz mentioned that Google’s initial suspension email was quite vague.

“We have been getting a few rejections about User Generated Content. But we have everything in place according to policies: banned words, community reporting, moderators. Today they claim “Misleading Claims” no information given,” he explains.

MyBroadband reported that, according to Google, while the app does have the ability to flag inappropriate users in the app, there was no way to report objectionable content and take action against this when needed. In addition, Google also indicated that EskomSePush had supposedly not met its COVID-19 app policies.

By midday, on Monday, the updated ESP app was reinstated on the Google Play Store. Android users can download the app from this link.

FNB Connect is rapidly gaining customers

By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband

South Africa’s largest mobile virtual network operator, FNB Connect, has seen a big increase in customers over the past year.

FNB Connect CEO Bradwin Roper recently spoke to MyBroadband regarding the performance of the operator during 2020, and what its plans were for the year ahead.

According to Roper, FNB Connect had grown its true active subscribers by 22% year-on-year to 815,124 as of the end of December 2020. These customers had recorded financial or network activity in the last three months.

“Our Easy and our Gold account base – that’s our entry and our middle market customers – account for two-thirds of that base,” Roper stated.

The operator has further noted massive adoption and advocacy from higher-income customers – with a 37% increase in premium and 45% growth in its private customer base.

Roper said this was notable, as it indicated that even the most finicky, fussy, and particular customers were choosing FNB Connect as their telecoms providers.

He added that this had happened without the operator having to heavily market its benefits over other operators.

“These customers have organically found us and are using us,” Roper said.

Cheaper prices
Roper claimed that part of the MVNO’s growth could be attributed to its affordable pricing.

“We really have rung true to this concept of money management and how important telco spend is in households,” Roper said.

Products Roper cited as a testament to this the adoption of FNB Connect’s TalkMax and TalkMax Pro plans.

These let customers make unlimited calls to up to 120 or 200 unique phone numbers, for either R299 or R399 per month. They also include set allocations of data and SMSs.

“If you think about the incumbents and their relevant competing products, you are talking about thousands of rand for the same product offering,” Roper stated.

In addition, FNB Connect’s data prices performed well when compared with its rivals.

“Whatever benefits we’ve received, we’ve passed those benefits onto customers,” Roper said.

“We repriced our 1GB data package to R59 per month which arguably is about 40% cheaper than the rest of the market,” Roper stated.

“Our market leading once-off data prices are available to all Connect customers and not as promotional offers to certain customers like the MNOs do,” Roper added.

FNB Connect has also seen increasing usage of its value-added Free Connect benefit for FNB account holders, with a total of 715 million MB of data and 134 million voice minutes used to date.

Month-to-month flexibility
Roper said that one area in which people underestimated FNB Connect was its capability to offer greater customer choice and flexibility, something which he wanted to continue driving.

“One month you need a gig of data, the other month you need five. It’s really impossible, and I think it’s very unfair, to get stuck into a 24-month contract,” Roper said.

“In order to get onto a top-up plan with a big incumbent, you have to be credit-scored, with ours you have the ability to change your allocations on a month-on-month basis,” he stated.

“We want to give you the full benefit of everything that a postpaid service gives you but on a month-to-month basis,” Roper said.

Roper said that this flexibility was one of the reasons why FNB Connect had also seen a surge in Top Up customers.

“Our Top Up base growth has been 57% year-on-year,” Roper said.

“Customers are really loving the fact that they can – on a month-to-month basis – figure out exactly how much data, voice, and SMSs they need and be able to top that up without the cumbersome going into a telco store and getting scored.”

“With us, you can do it on the app and have that SIM delivered to your home or your office or wherever you find yourself,” Roper stated.

Order FNB Connect devices from the app
FNB app users will soon be able to order FNB Connect devices straight from the app in a similar way that they can currently purchase other products.

At the moment, the app allows users to buy Prepaid, Talk Max Top Up, Top Up Data, and Top Up Lifestyle bundles under the Connect pillar of the “Apply now” section.

According to Roper, starting from June or July 2021 this will be expanded to allow for ordering a wide array of devices on FNB Connect postpaid and credit-scored products as well.

“That is going to be a massive disruption to the market,” Roper claimed.

 

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