Tuesday, 05 July 2011

Oppikoppi Rock Festival, the Ground for South Africa's First NFC Payments Trial

The Oppikoppi Rock Festival will see South Africa's first ever NFC-based mobile payments trial. Every year in August, Oppikoppi rock festival takes place in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, where thousands of music lovers gather to enjoy local rock music.

In the NFC mobile phone payments trial, 15,000 music fans will be issued free tap 'n' go cards by the Standard Bank. Loading stations will be set up throughout the entertainment area, where people can pre-load money onto their Oppikoppi cards, using cash, credit, debit cards or mimoney, Standard Bank's e-currency. To make a payment, card holders simply need to tap their card against a participating vendor's cash register and the correct amount will be deducted from their balance.

Once the festival is over, any value remaining on the Oppikoppi cards will be converted into mimoney. The mimoney can then be spent at over 25 of South Africa's top online and physical retailers.

Herman Singh, chief executive officer of Standard bank's innovation unit Beyond Payments, said: "NFC is the way of the future and after its introduction at Oppikoppi, we foresee it becoming a popular payment method in many other contexts".

If the cards prove successful, Oppikoppi music organiser Hilttop Live said, "it will roll the innovation out across all of its major festivals and events, which include more than 60 a year".

Alibaba to Unveil Mobile OS in Third Quarter of 2011

China's top e-commerce group Alibaba is set to start a mobile operating system (OS) in the third quarter of this year, reports the Wall Street Journal. The mobile operating system will be developed by Alibaba's cloud computing unit. The unit will also provide various mobile applications features as per the news. However, Alibaba Group spokesman declined to comment on the news.

China's top search engine Baidu is developing its own mobile operating system based on Google's Android operating platform.

Indian Railways to Roll out New E-Ticketing Service

Indian Railways will be issuing its own e-ticketing service, thereby replacing the existing practice of booking tickets through the travel agents. "The new service by Indian Railway will have no role of travel agents and commercial organisations. Only individual users will be allowed to book on the portal", said a Railway official.

Under the new e-ticketing system, individual customers will need to register themselves for the first time with the railways for availing the services. The registration will be free of charge. A maximum of 8 transactions per user ID per month will be allowed in the beginning. The service charges levied will be Rs 5 per ticket for sleeper class and Rs 10 per ticket for all other classes. The new service will be available on its web portal www.indianrailways.gov.in

The launch of this new e-ticketing service will be announced after necessary clearance for payment gateway transaction is given. The service will be available from 12.30 am to 11.30 pm IST.

Baidu Challenges Google's Dominance

Baidu, China's largest search engine company has joined hands with Microsoft to provide English-language search results in the country. English search queries will be directed from Baidu's website to Microsoft's Bing search engine. Baidu dominates over 75% of the Chinese online market. Through the deal, Microsoft aims at increasing its presence and market in China.

Baidu said that "it expected the service to start later this year". The 2 companies have already co-operated on mobile platforms and page results.

According to Dong Xu, an analyst with Analysys International, "The co-operation between Baidu and Microsoft will further strengthen Baidu's dominance in China's search engine market, and will also make Google's business in China more difficult".

Qatar Selects Gemalto Solution to Secure eGovernment Services

Gemalto announced its selection by Qatar's Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR), to deploy the Coesys eGov 2.0 solution for eGovernment in Qatar.

Using Qatari citizens' national eID card as a strong authentication token, the solution will boost usage and enhance access security of their national eGovernment services portal - the Hukoomi. Qatar plans to expand the existing service to integrate more than 50 eGovernment initiatives over the next years.

Qatari citizens and residents holding an electronic identity document, will enjoy considerable ease of access to their national eGovernment services from the comfort of their homes, and perform administrative procedures such as visa application, commercial registration, electricity bill payment or health card renewal. In addition, users will be able to digitally sign official documents and forms on the website. Gemalto is also providing the associated services including software integration, training, support and maintenance.

The Gemalto solution requires no additional software installation by the end-users. They simply need to use their eID card as the single credential and a personal code to authenticate themselves. The technology allows web applications running in a standard web browser to seamlessly access a smart card connected to the user's computer, thereby enhancing the security and usability of web applications. This also enables the Hukoomi portal to dynamically deploy and update its services in a transparent way for the citizens.

SecurEnvoy Releases New Application for Two-Factor Authentication

SecurEnvoy, pioneers of mobile phone based token-less authentication, has released SecureAccess Version 6.0, which turns any mobile phone into an authentication device, either by receiving an SMS message or simply downloading an application from Google.

Through this new authentication system, end-users will have complete flexibility with zero administration or overhead costs providing a mobile security solution to suit the operator's lifestyle and location. The latest version of SecureAccess Version 6.0 provides a one-time pass-code on the user's mobile by downloading a soft token as an app for those users that need the extra security in areas that cannot rely on GSM coverage.

SecureEnvoy application is suitable for most types of mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads, Blackberry and Android phones. In addition, SecurEnvoy plans to add soft token support for laptops such as Apple Mac (OSX 10.6) and Windows (XP, Vista and Windows 7).

Steve Watts, Co-founder of SecurEnvoy said, "Our research amongst global customers has shown that a very small minority now require an alternative to SMS token-less authentication for some of their workers who are in more remote locations, such as mines, mountainous regions or indeed in certain parts of the US and China where the GSM reception is patchy at best! With downloadable apps from Apple or Blackberry for example, we can offer organisations a wider choice of 2 factor authentication on all devices in every continent of the globe".

Online Payment System of UAE's Second Largest Mobile Firm Disrupted

Du, UAE's second largest telecommunication operator, has admitted that its online customer payments system has failed last month, resulting in a number of customer's home services being disconnected.

The operator's online payment system failed due to a system up-gradation forcing the company to return customer payments, reported the Arabian Business. The Du stated: "As a result of a recent system upgrade to our online payment system, some of our customers were unable to complete their bill payments via some banks whilst the upgrade was taking place"

Following the failed online payment system, Du has returned all kinds of payments to the customers made during the period of upgrade.

When contacted, the Du customers said they were not warned about the problem before. In spite of repeated calls to the Du customer care department, no company authority picked up the phone. Also, some of the customers have not received their payments which were done during the process upgrade in spite of the company claiming they have cleared all customers' payments.

The COO of Du has promised for an internet investigation into the customer complaints.

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