By Masabata Mkwananzi for IOL
Absa has officially launched its facial recognition technology in its Android and iOS apps. Now, customers can easily link their unique facial features with their mobile devices to create even greater security.
According to Absa, the ID Facial Biometrics uses facial mapping technology to verify and identify customers when linking a device to their Banking App, and this will provide an additional layer of security.
“Technology is leaping ahead faster than ever, and it’s up to us to ensure that you stay right at the cutting edge. We are, therefore, proud to introduce the Absa ID Facial Biometrics to our Absa Banking App,” the statement reads.
The bank adds that the ID Facial Biometrics will link your unique facial features to your mobile device to create a security barrier that only you can unlock.
The new feature is said to improve the customer’s overall banking experience by reducing trips to the bank to link their devices to their banking app. Now, Absa can safely and seamlessly identify and verify you using your unique face.
“The technology will recognise your face and automatically link your relevant accounts and products, and make immediate payments more securely and conveniently,” the statement said.
Absa says its biometric facial recognition technology is a first for its digital banking security, backed up with highly acclaimed honours. It previously won the Best Digital Innovation Initiative in the Transaction Banking category at the Digital Banker Middle East & Africa Innovation Awards this year.
Here’s what a user will need to set up Absa’s ID Facial Biometrics feature:
- The latest version of the Absa Banking App
- A valid cellphone number registered with Absa
- A valid identification photograph with the Department of Home Affairs
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
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.
FNB announced on Monday via its Twitter page that some of the functionality on its digital platforms was unavailable.
“We are aware that some of our functionality is temporarily unavailable. Our IT teams are working to restore the affected functionality,” said the bank in its tweet.
According to users, when they tried to the access the app they would receive a message that said that the system was unavailable and the users should try again later.
The bank apologised to its customers for the inconvenience.
By Tuesday, it had fixed its Foreign Exchange services, and on Wednesday announced that lotto and electricity services were back online.
As of Wednesday, airtime and data services were still not working.
Nedbank service provider’s IT systems have been breached, exposing the personal information of up to 1.7 million clients, said the bank last Thursday.
Computer Facilities, which does direct marketing for Nedbank by sending short messages and email marketing information on behalf of the bank, was breached.
The bank said there was some “potentially compromised data” which included names, identity cards numbers, telephone numbers, physical and/or email addresses.
“We regret the incident … and the matter is receiving our urgent attention. The safety and security of our clients’ information is a top priority,” said Nedbank CEO Mike Brown, adding that the bank systems or client accounts were not impacted.
“We are communicating directly with affected clients. We are also taking the necessary actions in close cooperation with the relevant regulators and authorities,” said Brown.
Nedbank group Chief Information Officer Fred Swanepoel said they have secured and destroyed all their client information held by Computer Facilities.
Last year the City of Johannesburg’s system was hacked and some payment in bitcoins were demanded. In 2017 South Africa’s insurance company Liberty was hacked and demanded ransom.
Source: Eyewitness News
The reintroduction of the bill comes at an awkward time for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is on an investment drive to boost an ailing economy.
An opposition politician’s bill to nationalise the South African central bank that spooked investors when first unveiled a year ago has been revived and referred back to lawmakers, parliamentary papers showed on Tuesday.
The reintroduction of the bill comes at an awkward time for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is on an investment drive to boost an ailing economy. He has to juggle his pro-business approach with left-leaning elements of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) that want to legislate for land expropriation without compensation, among other policies.
Introduced by leftist politician, Julius Malema, in August last year, the bill lapsed when a new Parliament was elected in May. Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were one big winner, gaining 19 new seats.
When initially introduced, the South African Reserve Bank Amendment Bill put pressure on the ANC to go through with a plan it shelved in 2018 and rattled markets wary of threats to the central bank’s independence.
The ANC has said any plans to nationalise the bank will be done responsibly and not affect the institution’s mandate or independence. Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago has previously warned that the ownership debate was increasing investor uncertainty and pushing up the risk premium attached to the country’s debt.
Unlike most central banks in the world, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is privately owned. The ANC resolved at a party conference in December 2017 to move it into full state ownership.
Malema’s private members bill will be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance for further deliberations and public input before the lower house of parliament votes on it. If passed, it would normally then go to parliament’s upper house for approval before Ramaphosa signs it into law.
Malema, however, believes it is not necessary to refer the bill to the upper house, which could hasten its passing.
All of the major banks across South Africa will partake in strike action on Friday unless a court rules in favour of stopping it.
If The South African Society of Bank Officials (Sasbo) succeeds on Wednesday, service will be disrupted nationwide. The total shutdown may result in up to 70 000 employees downing tools.
Sasbo, which is affiliated with Cosatu, is is planning five marches throughout the country in Johannesburg, Durban, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. They are scheduled to take place from 10:00 onwards.
The union is striking over the digitalisation of banking practices which have lead to job losses and retrenchments in the sector.
The South African outlined how each bank might be affected:
Employees: 54 000
Customers: 8.12 million (as of 2018)
Response: The bank are waiting for the court’s decision before responding to planned strike action
Other information: Standard Bank are said to have slashed 1 200 jobs in the last year, following the closure of 91 branches across South Africa. The bank is facing the harshest criticisms from the union.
Employees: Around 30 000
Customers: 8.15 million (as of 2018)
Response: FNB envisage staff shortages on Friday, but the group have customers to ease the workload by registering for online banking, or downloading FNB’s official app before the end of the week
Other information: They have expressed their willingness to co-operate with Sasbo, after getting wind of the potential bank strike last Friday
Employees: 42 000
Customers: Between 8 – 9 million. Just over five million people use it as their “main bank”
Response: ABSA has confirmed to Fin24 that they “will deploy a business continuity and contingency plan to mitigate the impact on customers and clients” – they expect a small number of workers to strike.
Other information: Around 187 ABSA branches have been cut from service over the past decade
Employees: 31 000
Customers: 7.85 million (as of 2018)
Response: They have revealed through a statement that some branches will have “a limited number of workers available”, and continued to say: “For optimal service delivery, clients are encouraged to make use of our ATMs and our convenient digital banking platforms to transact.”
Other information: The institution has joined Business Unity South Africa’s application to halt the bank strikes. Around 1 500 Nedbank staff are currently facing unemployment or redeployment elsewhere
Employees: 12 000 – 13 000
Customers: 10.2 million (as of 2018)
Response: A representative told Business Tech: “Over the past year, our staff complement has grown by over 200 people. We also plan to open a further 17 branches in the next six months.”
Other information: Don’t expect too much disruption at Capitec. Their ship remains steady on the bank strike issue
Cash machines, inter-personal bank services and a host of branches are expected to be impacted across the country.
In order to prepare for Friday, consumers should:
- Withdraw money in advance and make sure you have enough to last a few days
- Any tax-related payments to SARS should be made before the close of business on Wednesday
- Register for your bank’s online banking or download their bank app.
SEF (Small Enterprise Foundation) is a South African lender most people have never heard of – yet it has no bad debt.
Lending to the poorest of the poor, it has created close to 200 000 jobs.
Many major banks have tried to break into this market, with varying degrees of success – largely due to their lending models relying on collateral and proof of income, which the economically disempowered are unable to obtain.
Small Enterprise Foundation (SEF) has modelled itself on the hugely successful Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, and has managed to succeed where other banks have failed:
- Since 1992, it has awarded R8.7-billion in loans to people who do not qualify for traditional bank loans
- It has created 200 000 jobs
- The percentage of its portfolio at risk is just 0.2%
- Overall, about 3% of SA banks’ combined loan books are non-performing
- Capitec has the highest exposure to unsecured lending, reporting a 12.2% provision for doubtful debts
- Unsecured lending has multiplied four-fold to R200-billion since 2009
- Unsecured lending grew 21% last year alone
- SEF attempts to avoid bad debt by using existing, trusted clients to onboard new ones
- People borrowing money are then allocated to a cell of five or six other borrowers, where each cell member undertakes to cover the loan repayments of the others
- This is a form of positive peer pressure, and ensures loans are recovered
Nedbank Group is in talks with about 1 500 employees over potential job cuts at the South African lender’s retail and business-banking division to cope with a struggling economy and increased competition.
The company forecasts that “between 50 and 100 employees are at risk of not being placed in a role,” Johannesburg-based Nedbank said in an emailed response to questions on Friday.
“Unplaced employees will then be assisted by the bank to either secure available alternative positions within the bank, which is our first prize, or be equipped for opportunities outside the bank.”
South African lenders are battling to grow revenue faster than costs as they contend with an economy that has shrunk for three of the past five quarters.
Consumers have been battered by rampant unemployment, rising taxes, fuel prices and utility bills, pushing them to explore cheaper banking alternatives or digital services.
Companies aren’t investing amid uncertainty over electricity supply and surging government debt levels.
“Nedbank is being forced to reshape our operating models and businesses,” the company said. “In doing this, Nedbank actively makes use of natural attrition and a redeployment and reskilling pool. Non-voluntary retrenchments are always the last option.”
The company, which employs 30,577 people, has also been reducing the floor space used by its branches and increasing the use of automation to lower costs.
Nedbank expects the process to be concluded after the final meeting with the labor union Sasbo at the end of this month, it said.
In a landmark ruling, the Gauteng High Court has decided that banks may not “raid” accounts to pay debt that consumers owe, for items such as personal loans, credit card debt, or vehicle loans.
The ruling states that banks may not apply the common law principle of “set-off” to credit agreements that are regulated by the National Credit Act (NCA).
The principle of set-off has been used to deduct money from an account that is in credit and then settle or pay another account that is in arrears. Up until now, banks were allowed to do this without notifying you or obtaining your permission, and to debit any amount they consider to be validly due to them.
The National Credit Regulator (NCR) had received complaints from consumers about Standard Bank applying common law set-off and argued that it did not apply to credit agreements subject to the NCA.
The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) argued that the practice of common law set-off deprives poor debtors of income that they rely upon to survive, without their consent or without affording them the protection offered by the NCA.
The SAHRC said the ruling will provide a “much-needed safety net, properly insulating consumers from financial shocks, as credit providers now have to comply with the conditions set out in Section 124 of the NCA”.
In a media release, the NCR welcomed the judgment “as it protects consumers from financial difficulties caused by the arbitrary transfer of funds from their accounts by banks. Banks should obtain permission from consumers before transferring funds from consumers’ accounts to pay amounts due under the credit agreements”.