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Alibaba Group’s Alipay Unveils ‘Smile to Pay’ for Commercial Use

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Alibaba Group’s Alipay has launched its “Smile to Pay,” facial-recognition payments technology for commercial use in China allowing Alipay users to authenticate their payments through a facial scan and their mobile phone number in seconds.

, Ant Financial Services Group said Friday.
Ant Financial, the firm that runs Alipa, said the service debuted at a KFC in Hangzhou ending the decade long use of cash, card and ewallets in the payments sector. Alipay said the Smile to Pay option will only be at the KFC KPRO restaurant for pilot and a later expansion to other merchants with time.
According to the firm, Smile to Pay is a multistep process that takes one to two seconds to do a facial scan via a 3D camera over a “live-ness detection algorithm” to identify a user. The firm added that the algorithm can detect shadows and other features thereby blocking hijackers who might use live photos or video. The phone-number check increases user security and the firm also offers loss in the event of theft of a customer’s Smile to Pay account.
In June, South Africa’s Peach Payments partnered with Alipay and ACI Worldwide to bring Alipay acceptance to Africa for the first time. There are possibilities of Alipay expanding across Africa. With its launch in Africa, Alipay’s Smile to Pay will easily triumph over Safaricom’s M-Pesa which is requires PIN and is takes several steps for user to pay hence ruining the entire user experience at merchant stores.

Cape Town’s Feastfox raises $175,000 from Silicon Valley’s Co-Creation Capital, Dorm Room Fund & Larry Kubal

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Cape Town’s Feastfox, an eating out app has raised $175,000 (R2.3 million) angel fundraising round from Silicon Valley’s Co-Creation Capital; Dorm Room Fund and prominent angel investors such as Larry Kubal to focus on its spontaneous eating out with its “book now, eat now” concept.

According to co-founder, Cape Town local, Stuart Murless, “By raising angel funding from exceptional, California-based venture capital firms and angel investors, we proved that it is possible to get early-stage, Silicon Valley financing for a mobile startup in South Africa”.

“We are excited about this successful fundraising as this will further facilitate our growth in Cape Town. These funds will be used for business development and marketing, adding more high-quality merchants while attracting thousands of foodies to the platform.” added Stuart.

Feastfox is following a philosophy that they call “South Africa first”. By proving a new mobile concept in Cape Town first, the venture aims to showcase that South Africa is a perfect first market for new mobile companies that want to validate their idea before starting a global expansion.

Stuart says that Cape Town is very similar to some of the most developed cities globally and by entering South Africa first, we aim to prove to other international startups that Cape Town is an ideal first market for mobile companies with global aspirations.”

 

Resquebnb is a new ‘Airbnb’ connecting stranded Kenyans to food & shelter in election-related violence hotspots

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Image credits:Dailymail.co.uk
Image credits: dailymail.co.uk

Ushahidi.com was launched by a group of volunteers to map post election violence after Kenya’s disputed general election in December 2007. Ten years later, Resquebnb has launched to connect stranded Kenyans to food and shelter after election-related violence claimed over 20 lives leaving several injured and stranded in the capital Nairobi and Kisumu town in western Kenya.

Resquebnb, coined from rescue and bed and breakfast or bnb as made popular by Airbnb, the global short accommodation marketplace is a collaborative initiative by social media enthusiasts and humanitarian volunteers led by Kenyan developer Tevin Otieno. and Twitter user @MissNyawira. The site, now in its raw form, is being used to raise cash and food donations as well as connect stranded Kenyans to temporary accommodation from willing but vetted volunteers for both sexes.

“We are a community seeking to map, match and connect those in need of help with willing volunteer hosts following the just concluded #ElectionsKE2017,” the team posted on its website allowing users to either host or ask for shelter.

The site has partnered with Kenya’s on-demand B2B courier firm Sendy to help get donations to those in need for free. Food donations can be dropped off at any Uchumi outlet while cash donations can be channeled through mobile crowdfunding platform M-Changa though its Lipa Na Mpesa PayBill number 891300  and account number 13923 or via Airtel Money though Paybill Business Name: MCHANGA and reference 13923.

By the end of Sunday, the M-Changa donations had surpassed the volunteers target of Ksh. 150,000.

The platform might not help everyone affected in the violence as most of the victims are low income slum dwellers who might not afford the data to be online now but it’s a positive contribution to save lives as Police and pro-government militia slam violence to opposition demonstrators who feel their victory was stolen.  The opposition led by Raila Odinga claimed the post-election protests have claimed over 100 lives while the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said just 24 people have been killed. However, Police spokesman George Kinoti said the the force had only recorded six deaths. Kenyans have been infuriated by news of a ten-year old girl who was shot and killed by a stray bullet at her parents house in Mathare slums.

There have been reports of police and the goons breaking into peoples homes to quell the opposition demonstrators.

 

 

Vote for small business!

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 The party that emerges as the winner of Kenya’s general election, to be held on 8 August, has an opportunity to supercharge job creation and economic growth by adopting policies that help Small & Medium Businesses to thrive.

That’s according to Nikki Summers, Regional Director for Sage in East Africa, the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, HR & payroll, and payment systems. She says that the next government will have a strong framework and foundation to build on, following years of State investment in creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurs and business builders.

“With GDP expected to expand by around 6% this year, Kenya is on the right track for growth,” says Summers. “Improving the ease of doing business and following sound macro-economic policies will help ensure that this pace of growth continues, also offering an environment where Small & Medium Businesses can flourish.”

Summers says that Small & Medium Businesses deserve a special place in government policy because they contribute up to 80% of jobs in an emerging economy such as Kenya. As important as large infrastructure projects are, Small & Medium Businesses are the engines of job creation and the most efficient vehicle for redistributing and creating prosperity for the benefit of ordinary people, she adds.

“The new government should continue to follow the Kenya Vision 2030  blueprint, which recognises the crucial role of micro, small and medium business in industrial development,” says Summers. “It should also look at ways of strengthening its various small business funding efforts such as Uwezo Fund  and the Youth and Women Enterprise Fund, since access to financing remains one of the most significant challenges for entrepreneurs and business builders.”

Improving small business survival rate

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS)  around 2.2 million micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) shut down in the last five years. Some 30% reported that shortage of operating funds was the reason for their closure, highlighting the importance of sustainable financing in ensuring a healthy environment for small businesses.

“We also believe that technology could play a role in improving the sustainability of small Kenyan businesses and that government could encourage uptake of accounting solutions,” says Summers. “Accounting and payroll software could help entrepreneurs keep more accurate records, comply more easily with government and tax regulations and gain better visibility into financial performance. This could, in turn, improve their financial planning and their ability to manage cash flow.”

Summers says that the present governments’ policies of entrenching Buy-Kenya-Build-Kenya policy in public procurement are also to be welcomed. “The procurement budget is one of the best tools government has to help develop emerging businesses,” she adds. “By giving small businesses preferential treatment in tenders, paying them quickly for work they do, and helping them develop skills, government can help them grow their businesses to the next level.”

There should also be closer collaboration between small business forums, big business (including multinationals) and government in nurturing the small business sector. “We at Sage would welcome working with other large companies and government to create forums for education, recognising and rewarding small businesses,” says Summers.

“Mentoring programmes, where business builders can learn from established entrepreneurs and businesspeople, as well as platforms that connect small businesses to big business and government, could all help smaller businesses to grow and thrive.”

Kenya Tourism Board, UBA launch Magical Kenya Prepaid Travel Card Targeting West Africans

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The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) and United Bank for Africa (UBA), Go Places and E-Gift Africa today launched the first Magical Kenya Prepaid Travel Card to promote travel to Kenya by travelers across the African continent.

The debit cum loyalty card is targeted at West African nationals who travel for corporate, education, medical as well as leisure purposes within Africa and will be distributed across the UBA Bank’s footprint in Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal.

“The Magical Kenya Prepaid Travel Card will be available to International and domestic travelers in Kenya. This will enable all users, whether customers of UBA or not – to have unparalleled access to its built-in benefits available across all platforms. This will further enhance the Magical Kenya’s footprint in the continent” Kenya Tourism Board Chair, Jimi Kariuki.

Through selective criteria of age, deposit balance, number of types of accounts held by customer or corporate accounts the target list of customers will be engaged and enticed through registration campaigns as well as convenience for everyday use both in home market and when travelling to Kenya. This will create an appeal for the card as well as the realization, eventually that this may be the only card needed in the wallet.

“The West African market is potential to us and this is the beginning of our efforts to tap into the market that has high spenders with willingness to spend. The Magical Kenya Prepaid Travel Card is therefore a great incentive as it avails to current and potential travellers exciting a value adds in terms of bonus points, discounts or gift,” KTB Chair, Jimi Kariuki added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter’s video autoplay feature now available in Africa

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Social media platform Twitter announced it is now much easier for its users in Africa to enjoy video on its platform. In a statement made available to TechMoran, Twitter said native videos, Vines and GIFs will begin to play back automatically.

“You can keep up with the action without missing a Tweet and get a better sense of what’s been shared instantly,” Twitter stated.

This is how the new feature works. Once you tap the video, sound will turn on and the video will continue to play in an expanded view. If you turn the video to landscape mode, the sound will automatically turn on and the video will expand to fill the screen.

“Twitter gives the users ultimate control through your settings; they can choose to revert to the previous click-to-play experience all the time or simply have videos autoplay only when you’re connected to Wi-Fi,” Twitter said.

If you are somewhere with high data rates or you have low bandwidth on your device, Twitter will opt you out of autoplay to avoid unexpected charges or slow performance; so you’ll continue to see videos as click-to-play.

The social media giant said from today, it has started to roll out this change to everyone on Twitter for iOS and twitter.com; the Android version is coming soon.

YouTube Set To Introduce An Ad-Free Paid Subscription Service

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Users of YouTube wanting to avoid advertisements and commercials when watching videos on the platform will now be able to do so at a fee. This will be possible through a new paid offing that YouTube is planning to launch before the end of the year.

The new update will provide fans with an ad-free paid-subscription version of the YouTube channel that YouTube says will generate a new source of revenue to add to the already growing advertising revenue that the channel continues to witness and share with its partners.

YouTube confirmed the planned availability of the service through an email sent to YouTube partners asking them to agree to the updated terms and conditions set to take effect in June, this year, adding that in addition to increasing revenue, the new version would be meeting the growing demand of YouTube fans.

“Your fans want choices. Not only do they want to watch what they want, whenever they want, anywhere, and on any device they choose, they want YouTube features built specifically with their needs in mind,” reads part of the email.

Following the launch of YouTube Kids app that is designed to five families a video – viewing service that promised to offer simplicity and security, the app has now welcomed over 2 million users through installations in a period not amounting to one month.

It is not clear how much YouTube will ask for as subscription fees but in its updated terms and conditions YouTube content creators will be paid 55 per cent of the total amount emanating from subscription fees.

YouTube will pay you 55% of the total net revenues recognized by YouTube from subscription fees that are attributable to the monthly views or watch time of your content as a percentage of the monthly views or watch time of all or a subset of participating content in the relevant subscription offering – as

The move is a confirmation to reports initiated last year by YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, who said an ad-free option would be available to cater for especially the mobile users who do not want to see ads. In the email, YouTube reveals that mobile revenue was up by 200% in the last year.

Africa Video Traffic Expected to Grow Faster Than In Any Other Global Region-Report

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web-video-icon Sandvine,  a leading provider of intelligent broadband network solutions for fixed and mobile operators, today released its Internet traffic trends report, entitled “Global Internet Phenomena Report 2H2013”, based on data from a selection of Sandvine’s 250-plus service provider customers spanning North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Caribbean and Latin America and Asia-Pacific. Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Report is published twice a year.

“For the first time ever, peer-to-peer file sharing has fallen below 10% of total traffic in North America, which is a stark difference from the 60% share it consumed 11 years ago,” said Dave Caputo, CEO, Sandvine.  “Since 2009 on-demand entertainment has consumed more bandwidth than “experience later” applications like peer-to-peer file sharing and we had projected it would inevitably dip below 10% of total traffic by 2015. It’s happened much faster. This phenomena, combined with the related rise in video applications like Netflix and YouTube, underscores a big reason why Sandvine’s business has grown beyond traffic management to new service creation.”

Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Report 2H2013 includes findings from fixed and mobile networks around the world.

 

•          Video accounts for less than 6% of traffic in mobile networks in Africa, but is expected to grow faster than any other region before it.

•          Blackberry use in Africa? Blackberry email and BBM messaging accounts for over 13% of traffic across the continent.

•          Average monthly mobile usage in Asia-Pacific now exceeds 1 gigabyte, driven by video, which accounts for 50% of peak downstream traffic. This is more than double the 443 megabyte monthly average in North America.

•          In Europe, Netflix, less than two years since launch, now accounts for over 20% of downstream traffic on certain fixed networks in the British Isles. It took almost four years for Netflix to achieve 20% of data traffic in the United States.

•          Instagram and Dropbox are now top-ranked applications in many regions across the globe. In mobile networks in Latin America, Instagram, due to the recent addition of video, is now the 7th top ranked downstream application, making it a prime candidate for inclusion in tiered data plans which are popular in the region.

•          Netflix (31.6%) holds its ground as the leading downstream application in North America and together with YouTube (18.6%) accounts for over 50% of downstream traffic on fixed networks.

•          P2P Filesharing now accounts for less than 10% of total daily traffic in North America. Five years ago it accounted for over 31%.

With customers in over 20 countries within Africa, Sanvine say the African market is especially unique, as most users are connecting to the Internet for the first time through mobile devices, and using applications like Skype, Facebook and WhatsApp.

Caputo adds that in other parts of the world, new users have first connected to the Internet via a fixed line and while video is a small part of mobile bandwidth in Africa, the continent will be the fastest video adopter globally.

 

 

Kanye West & Kim Kardashian Sue YouTube Founder For Gate-Crashing & Leaking Their Wedding Proposal Video

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"PUNK: Chaos To Couture" Costume Institute GalaYouTube founder Chad Hurley has been accused of allegedly leaking a video of the wedding proposal of Rapper Kanye West and new fiancé, reality star Kim Kardashian on his latest video-sharing app, MixBit in a move to garner more users and ads.

The video has led to a lawsuit filed Thursday against Hurley who was not invited but only allowed to stay at the party after promising both verbally and written that the details of the event will remain private.

The couple accuses Hurley, who sold YouTube to Google for $1.65 billion in 2006 for eagerly wanting to promote MixBit using their event. The couple claim Hurley used the event for his own financial benefit.

The couple had intended to sell the footage to MC Cable Television for Keeping Up with the Kardashians TV series. Therefore Hurley breached the firm’s exclusive property rights.

YouTube-founder-Chad-HurleyHurley is also accused of tweeting about the event to his over 500,000 Twitter followers and issued a press release to an event he wasn’t even invited and acted as if he was a rep for West and Kardashian who usually sell the rights to  such filmed events exclusive.

In doing all these, the suit says Hurley breached both the verbal and written contract, is fraudulent by falsely agreeing to keep promise and will also pay for unjust enrichment from the video footage.

Read the full lawsuit here.