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Our top tech stories from SA for 2020

This is it, the end of the year. A terrible 12 months has finally come to an end but as COVID-19 continues to ravage the world at large, we aren’t hopeful that 2021 is going to be much different.

As the end of the year is a time for reflection we have looked back at 2020 and it has been a jarring experience.

With all the pandemic talk it’s easy to forget that 5G was officially launched in SA, two major firms were hacked with little to no information provided to regular folks and Eskom has been, well, Eskom.

So with a strong drink in hand (for us this is dark roast coffee) let’s look back at the year that was.

Masterpass flexing its muscle

Back in October we printed a story regarding FNB QR codes now being operational at various point-of-sale devices including those bearing the Zapper logo. As it turns out, Zapper is no longer a part of the Masterpass eco-system that made this interoperability possible.

While that isn’t important at first glance, Mastercard’s behaviour in the space is and it should be cause for concern.

“The nature of the interoperability forces the apps that want to participate in Masterpass QR codes to process transactions the way Masterpass wants to process transactions,” Brett White, chief executive officer at Zapper told Hypertext.

This means that if in the future a partner wants to leave the network, Mastercard has made it incredibly difficult for those partners to do that.

Worse still, Mastercard is flexing its muscles in this space which means smaller firms struggle to enter the market or succeed if they do.

The big hacks

This year saw two major firms hacked. Those firms were Momentum Metropolitan and Experian.

A few months on and Experian has detailed what data was compromised, how the breach happened and taken steps to insure an incident like this doesn’t happen again. To its credit, Experian still links to this information on its homepage. While we still feel the incident could have been handled better from the outset, we commend Experian for its efforts here.

Momentum Metropolitan however, appears to have forgotten it was hacked or rather hopes we will forget.

The firm’s media centre has no mention of the breach and the best we can find is independent reports from August.

In contrast to how Experian has handled its breach Momentum Metropolitan really does look like its sweeping this under the rug. Even in its Integrated Report for 2020 we couldn’t find mention of the breach.https://online.flippingbook.com/view/304193/

We hope that local firms take cybersecurity a lot more seriously now that PoPIA is partially in effect.

Speaking of which…

PoPIA comes into effect

After many years of preparation and waiting, the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA) came into effect on 1st July.

The full weight of the legislation however, will not be in effect until 2021 but sections that are in effect are notable.

These include sections which pertain to:

  • The conditions for the lawful processing of personal information
  • The regulation of the processing of special personal information
  • Codes of Conduct issued by the Information Regulator
  • Procedures for dealing with complaints
  • Provisions regulating direct marketing by means of unsolicited electronic communication
  • General enforcement of the Act.

We also sat down with experts in the legal and marketing fields to discuss what PoPIA means for businesses. It’s a fantastic conversation we highly recommend listening to.

5G, sorta

After much talk about how 5G will herald in a new era of connectivity, the technology became available to South Africans.

Unfortunately 5G is currently only available on the MTN and Vodacom networks and in very few areas around the country. Yes, rain offers a 5G product but this is purely for your home and we have seen nothing but bad reports from customers as regards that firm. For those that are able to make use of 5G the experience is good though we suspect it will get better as more areas come online.

One thing that still appears to be holding network operators back is a lack of spectrum. This might be addressed with an invitation to apply for spectrum but this depends largely on how network operators bid and how that spectrum is used.

We are still rather far from 5G making as big of an impact we’d like to see but the ball is now rolling and hopefully it gains momentum in 2021.

MultiChoice finally embraces streaming

Yes, MultiChoice has had Showmax on offer for the better part of five years but it has always seemed as if Showmax was a handwave at a streaming service in response to Netflix’s growth.

This year however, Showmax has grown to now feature a Pro-tier subscription that offers live news and some sports streaming.

Further to that, DStv recently launched streaming only packages on a month to month basis which grant access to DStv bouquets without the need for a decoder or installation of equipment.

Pricing for these streaming packages is immense though as we detailed earlier in the year but we suppose this is progress and after many years of rumours it’s good to see MultiChoice moving with the times.

Eskom fails South Africa again

Even before the national lockdown began in March Eskom had been implementing loadshedding.

Then lockdown struck and many South Africans hoped that due to the lack of economic activity, loadshedding would not happen. Unfortunately in April loadshedding returned and it has remained a fixture of lockdown throughout the year.

The reasoning for loadshedding’s return in these months was that maintenance could not be conducted due to restrictions put in place by lockdown. This put a damper on the utility’s plans to fix infrastructure while demand was low.

The other oddity Eskom introduced this year was load reduction.

What is load reduction? It’s loadshedding lite in that it doesn’t affect the entire country. Load reduction sees some areas cut off from the grid during the early morning or late afternoon to avoid blackouts.

Quite frankly it’s another year of being disappointed by Eskom and we haven’t even mentioned the rampant corruption.

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