They’re here: pbVerify’s all-new website and enhanced system have landed

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Marketing concept with person using a laptopOur central data-hub of powerful and intelligent credit and identity information has received its long-awaited face-lift – with a faster system and exciting new products to boot.

As a leading data bureau with innovation at its core, pbVerify has been hard at work face-lifting our website and enhancing our service, so that we can bring you the most cutting-edge products, complete with the latest user interface.

Today, we are both delighted and proud to announce that, after months of blood, sweat, tears, late nights and too much coffee, our all-new website and supplemented online service is ready to go live.

On Monday 2 September, when you open pbVerify.co.za, and log in to your account, you will be greeted with a vibrant new interface, and a greatly enhanced system, featuring more comprehensive data and faster response times on all our existing reports.

What can you expect from the new interface?

Dashboard:

An eye-pleasing and functional dashboard featuring customisable weather updates and news strings to accompany your first cup of coffee in the morning. For our new customers, the new dashboard also features a site explaining the system’s main features and how to navigate through them.

We’ve added your Pending baskets to the dashboard, providing a clear view of outstanding bank reports, which are updated in real-time.

The new menu system makes it easier than ever to navigate our extensive range of products, either by product, or by bureaux. We’ve also enhanced the transaction history section, making it easy to search and find past transactions, and to download files.

Enhanced Reports:

Not only are our new reports beautifully formatted for you, they also contain enhanced quality data, which is now fully interactive. When opening a report, you can find the sections that are hyperlinked, and simply click on the relevant one/s. The links provide click-through functionality presenting more in-depth searches and reports on the data-subject.

New Products:

You can now remove customers you previously listed under the TransUnion Default Listing product. You no longer need to send letters for delisting or updating TransUnion, simply use the TransUnion Default Listing Manager on your Dashboard to manage, update or remove any listing.

But that’s not all

Our platform is gearing up to bring all our customers electronic FICA functionality, previously only available to large organisations and banks. These products, already available via API, will be launched within the next two months, so watch your emails for announcements..

KYCFactory

First up on the list, is our new digital KYC (Know Your Customer) tool, KYCFactory. Developed by our SigniFlow software team, KYCFactory offers businesses a compliant, automated and fully digitised FICA system that caters for both juristic and natural persons, as per policy defined by the Risk Management and Compliance Programme (RMCP).

KYCFactory is the first fully digital end-to-end electronic FICA/AML (Anti-Money Laundering) solution on the market that requires no supporting documents, irrespective of whether your company is on-boarding a consumer or a business. You will be able to read all about this groundbreaker under its dropdown menu on the new pbVerify website.

KYCFactory’s consumer verification comprises configurable, automated processes, including a slick new online 3D liveness test that biometrically matches the person to their national identity document photo, identity data, and alive-deceased data while retrieving their address from over 100 trustworthy SACRRA sources. Juristic entities are equally provided for with a brand-new approach to FICA verification, through an electronic declaration that caters for Directors, Signatories and UBOs (Ultimate Beneficiary Owners) compliant with the new FIC Amendment Act.

KYCFactory incorporates our new Sanctions, PEP and PIP (Politically Exposed and Influential Persons) reporting tool, which enables you to manually screen prospective clients and perform enhanced due diligence on anyone, from any country. This service instantly reports on over 2.5 million detailed PEP profiles and detects individuals, organisations and vessels linked to more than 50 risk categories, including Sanctions, Foreign Officials, and State-Owned Enterprises.

The second part of our Sanctions screening service relates specifically to sanctions and embargoes – i.e. political trade restrictions put in place against target countries to maintain or restore international peace and security. KYCFactory automates reporting on business with individuals who pose a threat and are listed on OFAC (The Office of Foreign Assets Control) Mission. Read more here.

RapidLEI

The next new entry, RapidLEI, is just as innovative and powerful. PBSA has teamed up with UK-based Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) innovator, RapidLEI, to build instant LEI registration into the pbVerify system.

Launched last year by our partner Ubisecure, RapidLEI’s pioneering automatic LEI issuance process takes the process of registering Legal Entity Identifiers, and reduces it from days to mere minutes. With regulation mandating the use of LEIs and new use cases now benefitting from the identity assurance LEIs can offer, this G20-endorsed organisation identifier is already achieving mass adoption.

To find out more about the history behind RapidLEI, and how the service automates the LEI issuance processes to deliver LEIs much faster and easier than ever before, click here. You can also watch Ubisecure’s video on this fully automated LEI process here.

 We look forward to hearing from you on our new website, system and products. If you have any queries or comments, please don’t hesitate to give us a ring on +27 (0)10 300 4898 or email support@pbverify.co.za.

pbVerify is a registered Credit Bureau in terms of section 43 of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005. Its data-systems, data-security and data-processing protocols are audited annually in accordance with the NCA. pbVerify follows strict ISO9001:2015 quality management processes that are audited and internationally certified by TUV Rheinland Germany. pbVerify engineers are certified in ISO27001 IT Security Management.

[REFERENCES]

  1. SigniFlow – Digital KYC
  2. Ubisecure – RapidLEI From Ubisecure
  3. Ubisecure YouTube channel – RapidLEI fully automated Legal Entity Identifiers (LEI)

E-Invoicing in the spotlight

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e-invoicing 20-8-2019 smOver 50 countries across the world are looking into implementing e-invoicing systems, thanks to the advantages of true electronic billing and invoicing.

Electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) was brought under the microscope in the United Kingdom in 2014 after the UK Government launched an inquiry into e-invoicing in the public sector, and announced e-invoicing initiatives to be rolled out by April 2019.

At the time, the MP tasked with the inquiry, Stephen McPartland, positioned e-invoicing as a technology that could streamline UK government admin processes “at a stroke”, saving the public sector and its suppliers a minimum of £2 billion a year. “E-invoicing could open up new markets throughout the country and help drive innovation and economic growth.”

This followed a new standard and directive on e-invoicing by the European Parliament in April 2014, which made it mandatory for all EU Member States to adopt a new e-invoicing standard. According to the directive, “all contracting authorities and contracting entities [are to] to receive and process e-invoices complying with the European standard”.

“We live in a world driven by digital innovation where efficiency and productivity benchmark new standards and expectations for business,” states McPartland’s report.

But what does this relatively new billing method – made possible by digital technology – entail, and could it live up to the expectations that have started to gain a foothold not only in the UK and Europe, but in countries all over the world?

A research paper, set to be released in the coming months by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), expounds how mandatory e-invoicing in Peru is helping increase firm sales and tax revenues. “Drawn by its potential to strengthen tax compliance and reduce costs, Peru is among more than 50 countries around the world to have implemented e-invoicing and many others are preparing to follow suit.”

About e-Invoicing

Essentially, an e-invoice is a statement created by suppliers and businesses to send to customers and clients requesting money. Typically, these are sent in PDF form and allow for circumvention of manual paper-based processes and physical paper documents that require a further set of physical procedures.

True e-invoicing – i.e. invoicing that is electronic in nature from start to finish – offers total automation, which in turn enables higher levels of efficiency and productivity, as well as significant financial savings in terms of resources.

Wikipedia defines e-invoicing as a form of electronic billing. “E-invoicing methods are used by trading partners, such as customers and their suppliers, to present and monitor transactional documents between one another and ensure the terms of their trading agreements are being met. These documents include invoices, purchase orders, debit notes, credit notes, payment terms and instructions, and remittance slips.”

The advantages of this system of electronic billing that over 50 countries across the world are looking at implementing, extend to both suppliers and buyers, and broadly include:

  • Process automation, which means time and money savings and, in turn, faster payment time.
  • Less disputes, due to the fact that invoice data is directly transmitted from supplier to customer electronically, creating a full audit trail.
  • Mitigation of human error, thanks to the high level of automation in the invoicing cycle.
  • Better supplier/buyer relationship and improved customer satisfaction, because processes are far more streamlined and reliable.

For more information on the automation of invoices and SigniFlow’s digital business solutions, visit our website, https://signiflow.com/, or contact us on the relevant number below:

International Contact Centre: 002710 300 4899

South Africa: +27(0)11-516-9403

Americas: +1-603-717-4248

United Kingdom: +44(0)208-611-2681

[REFERENCES]  

  1. European Commission – European legislation on e-invoicing
  2. Wikipedia – Electronic Invoicing
  3. Finextra – Electronic Invoicing in the UK Public Sector, post Brexit
  4. European Union – eInvoicing in United Kingdom
  5. NHS – Is your organisation on board with e-invoicing?
  6. PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line) – e-Invoicing explained
  7. NHS – NHS Shared Business Services eInvoicing Information Guide for Suppliers (PDF)
  8. Future-Focused Finance – eInvoicing: a win-win for providers and commissioners
  9. IMF – Electronic invoicing reform in Peru paying off
  10. Finextr – Electronic Invoicing in the UK Public Sector, Post Brexit
  11. tips – Electronic Invoicing: The next steps towards digital government (2014 Report following Inquiry into electronic invoicing (‘eInvoicing’) in the UK public sector.)
  12. EUR-Lex – Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on electronic invoicing in public procurement

Top ten benefits of digital signatures

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We have compiled a list of the main benefits we’ve seen from companies that have implemented digital signature solutions.  

Blog Digital Signature benefits

The technology we have at our disposal today makes for exciting times, with ever-evolving digital tools drastically changing the way business is done.

As an international provider of digital solutions, SigniFlow is grateful to be at the forefront of this exciting era, and to see the different ways in which our solutions empower businesses of all sizes to streamline processes, become compliant and ultimately serve their customers better.

On the back of this, we’ve put together a list of the top ten benefits we have seen at play in the businesses we serve with our solutions, which have secure digital signatures at their core.

  1. Document Security. Nobody wants to have to go into crisis management mode when important paper documents are stolen, misplaced or destroyed due to a fire, flood or other unforeseen disaster. The fact is, these things happen – and prevention is always better than cure. Digital document management and storage eliminates the chances of physical records going missing or being destroyed.
  2. Company image. Using digital signatures and finalising contracts and agreements so much faster than expectations have always dictated shows clients your business has the latest technology in place, and is serious about efficiency. For one of our clients, the fact that they used a digital signature and workflow solution turned out to be a differentiator when it came to them getting a deal.
  3. Corporate social responsibility. There is without doubt increased awareness and a higher expectation for companies to be environmentally aware nowadays. Using digital signatures and supporting a paperless business model demonstrates that you as a company are aware of the impact using paper has on the environment, and willing to employ solutions to minimise damage. Paper pollution causes serious adverse effects to the quality of air, water and land around us. Not only is discarded paper a major component of landfill sites, paper recycling in itself is a major source of pollution, given all the sludge that is produced during de-inking.
  4. Time management. There is nothing more time consuming – not to mention frustrating – than having to spend hours searching for physical documents that went through a lengthy manual signing, managing & storing process – and straight into a proverbial black hole. Digital Signatures turn hours – sometimes days or even weeks – into mere minutes by allowing you to quickly find the required documents, on a secure server, and then action them.
  5. Simplification of processes. One of our recently acquired customers were pleasantly surprised to see how simple going digital and paperless was, and how quickly our solution was able to save them time and money by simplifying day-to-day business processes. “We initially thought the change to digital processes would complicate things and take so much time to implement, but it turns out it was simpler than any single manual process we’ve done in the past, and our employees were happy and quick to get on board and move away from old manual contract signing and filing systems.”
  6. Customer satisfaction. We love to hear feedback from our customers about their customers, because we understand how much value a customer holds for a company. While organisations stand to benefit hugely from going paperless – in both monetary and time-saving terms – the customers they serve reap just as many rewards, including convenience, speed and efficiency. At the end of the day, a happy customer means a happy bottom line.
  7. Eradication of fraud. It’s no secret that any semi-skilled con artist can forge a physical signature. Digital signatures completely eliminate the risk of forgery, because they are backed by a unique digital identity, based on globally accepted Public Key Infrastructure standards. There is no higher level of security when it comes to signing a document.
  8. Legality. One of the things we frequently get asked by customers, is whether digital signatures are legally valid across all parts of the world. The answer is yes. SigniFlow digital signatures were developed with both security and compliance at their core, and are compliant with European, US, South African and international regulations for electronic transactions and trust services. Our solution uses state-of-the-art digital cryptographic signature technology that allows businesses and their customers to sign documents remotely and securely, with the sound knowledge that they are signing with signatures that are legally binding.
  9. Money savings. This is probably the most immediately raved about benefit see when companies deploy digital signatures. Apart from the obvious money-saving benefits that come with not having to print documents out, such as no more paper, ink, printers and maintenance, there are other associated cost savings enabled by digital document management and storage, such as needing less physical office space (which is often one of the biggest expenses a company has), and document distribution.
  10. Audit trails. In business, the ability to trace documents to their origin is crucial – not only for internal records, but also for the sake of transparency, compliance and protection of company information. Our digital signature workflow system provides businesses with a full digital audit trail, kept with documents in the SigniFlow workspace, stored on secure servers.

For more information on our solutions, visit our website www.signiflow.com or contact us by submitting an online query HERE or calling us: International Contact Centre Tel: 002710 300 4899 / From South Africa Tel: 011 516 9403.

Still reliant on paper processes? It’s time to pull the plug

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Stop allowing paper processes to drain your business of money and your employees of productivity, and start reaping the benefits of digital.

Doing business in today’s fast-paced, digitally charged world is nothing short of dog-eat-dog. Companies simply have to be able to operate optimally at all times – or risk being devoured by competitors.

Fortunately, with the Digital Revolution now in full swing, state-of-the-art technology and software make it easier for business owners to keep their eyes on the prize at all times, by ridding operations and employees of distractions and impediments to productivity.

Of course, there are productivity drains that remain – and one of the biggest and perhaps simplest to mitigate these days, is paper.

If your company’s processes are still primarily paper-based, you are putting serious – and unnecessary – strain on your business. It’s a proven fact: Relying on manual methods and paper to complete business processes not only hampers productivity, it is also a huge drain on resources.

Think about this: how much time do your employees spend searching through cabinet upon cabinet of paper records to find the document they are looking for? And how much easier and faster could this process be, if the documents were digitally archived, able to be indexed at the touch of a few buttons or with a few clicks?

Imagine employees no longer had to spend their time printing, filing and sorting paper documents, and could rather use their time constructively, while at the same time cutting out some of the physical costs associated with outdated paper processes.

And how much time, money and physical office space could you save if you were to replace paper with the cloud? Consider costs of not only paper itself, but associated costs like printing and courier expenses.

Going beyond the advantages of digital business processes for your business internally, the ability to offer the very lifeline of your business – your customers – speed, security and innovation, is priceless. It’s a well-known fact that today’s customer wants speed and simplicity – which is exactly what digital offers, from onboarding processes to instant finalisation of agreements and contracts online.

Today, it’s no longer a question of whether to go digital, but of when to go digital. And the answer is now. Stop relying on processes that consume resources and drain productivity – and start enjoying the software at your disposal, the digital resources that enable you to streamline operations and elevate your company’s reputation.

New fintech partnership to escalate RapidLEI growth in South Africa

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Innovative new partnership sees LEIs encapsulated in digital signing applications.

South Africa-based customer communications company, PBSA, and UK-based Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) innovator, RapidLEI, today announced a strategic partnership that will see PBSA become a regional Registration Agent (RA) for RapidLEI as well as build LEI support into its signing solutions.

RapidLEI was launched in 2018 by Ubisecure and has been taking the world by storm through a growing network of global partners, with PBSA representing the next stage in this continued expansion. RapidLEI’s pioneering automatic LEI issuance process sees it reduced from a few days to a few minutes. With regulation mandating the use of LEIs and new use cases now benefitting from the identity assurance LEIs can offer, this G20-endorsed organisation identifier is already achieving mass adoption and shows no sign of slowing down.

PBSA, as a RapidLEI Registration Agent, will meet client demand for LEIs in South Africa, as well as offering LEIs in other regions they are expanding to, such as Europe and the USA, via their SigniFlow brand.

The RapidLEI solution makes LEIs available through a SaaS service or API. The API allows third party developers to build same-session LEI issuance into their applications, which will be used to its full extent by PBSA in the first stage of this collaboration. While strong identities like BankID & eID are beginning to be used to digitally sign documents, this new partnership adds organisational identity to the digital seal in the form of an LEI. Encapsulating the LEI in the company seal gives the other party the opportunity to check identities against a live global company database – verifying which company signed this document, and also their parent company/group structure.

After this initial phase of the partnership, PBSA and Ubisecure plan to collaborate further on additional pioneering identity assurance solutions. Ubisecure will be launching new services in the coming weeks, where LEIs are central to new organisation Identity Provider (IdP) solutions for advanced KYC (Know your Customer) and RtX (Right to Represent). These cutting-edge services will help enterprises to reduce fraud, lower compliance costs and create new products using verified organisation identities.

Leon Van Der Merwe, Director at PBSA, says “We’re very excited to bring Ubisecure’s pioneering approach to digital identity to the South African market and beyond, and have our global customers benefit from strong organisation identities offered by our signing solutions. Our long-held ideals of collaboration, integrity and accountability go hand in hand with what the LEI stands for – trust in who you’re doing business with.”

Paul Tourret, Corporate Development Officer at RapidLEI, says “We are incredibly honoured to be collaborating with the largest South African signing/workflow provider to connect the LEI ecosystem to the signing ecosystem, and we see a lot of potential to further enhance online trust with LEIs and the Ubisecure IdP services as we connect the various ecosystems together. We see this collaboration being the start of a dramatic shift in how LEIs are used in modern digital transactions.”

Find out more about LEIs at www.rapidlei.com, or get in touch now.

About PBSA

With a rich history of innovation dating back over 90 years, PBSA (formerly Pitney Bowes SA) is a leading customer communications company, offering software, equipment and services to help companies improve operational efficiencies and connect with their customers in more meaningful ways.

Based in Midrand, Gauteng, PBSA understands both hardware and software solutions and is optimally positioned to provide a secure, committed support infrastructure to its international customer base. The company’s solutions help companies engage customers, gain business insight, manage document workflow and ultimately optimise overall business performance.

Visit www.pbsa.co.za to learn more.

PBSA LEI: 984500S5591EMD8BCB56

About SigniFlow

Created in South Africa by a team of passionate Johannesburg-based IT minds, SigniFlow is a core workflow, digital document management and cryptographic digital signature engine that works, either on its own, or fully integrated with existing core business systems.

SigniFlow uses the most advanced and trusted digital signature technologies known to man, enabling powerful workflow functionality and ease of document distribution to automate any business process.

SigniFlow has a team of cryptographic experts, experienced engineers and business process automation architects to assist businesses in their digitalisation journey.

About Ubisecure & RapidLEI

Ubisecure is accredited by the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) to issue Legal Entity Identifiers (LEI). RapidLEI is a Ubisecure service that automates the LEI lifecycle to deliver LEIs quickly and easily. As well as pioneering LEI automation, the company is a technology innovator and provides identity management software and cloud identity services that enable enterprises and governments to enhance customer experience, security and privacy through support for strong identities and management of customer identity data. Ubisecure also provides solutions to companies maintaining their own strong customer identities (such as banks and mobile network operators) to become Identity Providers (IdP) for strong authentication and federation services.

For more information please visit www.rapidlei.com or www.ubisecure.com

Ubisecure LEI: 529900T8BM49AURSDO55

Electronic vs Digital Signatures: Defining the Difference

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electronic vs digital signatures EDITED“Electronic” and “digital” are often used as interchangeable prefixes to the word “signature” – but there are vast differences between the two.

We are all familiar with, and have at some stage in our daily goings-on, dealt with the traditional “wet-ink” signature. In today’s digitally-charged world, however, this is fast becoming obsolete as more secure, efficient means of signing documents are developed.

A signature is essentially a means of binding an individual to the contents of a document, by way of an intentional mark. It typically signifies knowledge, approval, acceptance, or obligation.

That may be common knowledge, however, the advent of the digital signature has turned the humble handwritten signature on its head, introducing a number of new (and entirely exciting) facets, including a whole new set of terminology.

A digital signature, in its base form, is a digital code created and authenticated by public key encryption, which is attached to an electronic document to verify its contents and the sender’s identity.

But, largely dependent on where you are in the world, “digital” and “electronic” are often confused – or wrongly used interchangeably – in both conversation and law. Often described in unison, digital signatures and electronic signatures individually are different technologies, have different meanings, and they carry different legal weight.

So what exactly is the difference then? Let’s demystify this once and for all…

Electronic signatures: The superficial sign

Also referred to as an “ordinary electronic signature”, an electronic signature is generally defined as “Symbols or other data in digital form (whether it be a sound, process or symbol) attached to an electronically transmitted document as verification of the sender’s intent to sign the document”.

There are many different scenarios here. An electronic signature can be as basic as a scanned image of a handwritten (wet-ink) signature that is copied onto a signed document, in Word for example. Another case of an electronic signature would be your name, typed at the end of an email.

An electronic signature can even be verbal, a simple click of a box, or drawn on a hardware device such as a signature pad.

Given the examples above, it is evident that, by the sheer nature of electronic signatures, these types of signatures are difficult to maintain, and proof of identity, security, authentication and integrity is low.

Electronic signatures do not have the ability to lock documents for editing after the signing process, nor do they carry any active verification capability. This leaves documents signed with electronic signatures wide open to fraud and repudiation.

Digital signatures: The cryptographic mark

As alluded to earlier, digital signatures involve cryptography. They are the most advanced and secure type of electronic signature, and they guarantee the contents of a message or document have not been altered in transit.

A digital signature is also referred to as an advanced or secure electronic signature. It is based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology, using accredited personal X.509 digital certificates to provide the highest levels of security and universal acceptance.

These electronic signatures on steroids are created using a cryptographic operation that creates a hash-code unique to both the signer and the content, so that it cannot be copied, forged or tampered with.

This process provides strong proof of the signer’s identity, protects the data integrity of the document and provides absolute non-repudiation of signed documents.

Digital signatures can be verified without the need for any special proprietary software. Depending on the document format, the latest versions of free Adobe Reader or Microsoft Office application can verify the signature. Simply click directly on the digital signature to view the properties, signer’s identity, time and reason for signing – all of which are embedded in the document.

When a digital signature is applied to a document, a digital certificate is attached to the data being signed into one unique fingerprint, including cryptographic credentials.

That said, it is obvious digital signatures would carry far more legal weight and be preferable should security be even a slight concern.

In a nutshell, you could say electronic signatures verify documents, whereas digital signatures secure documents.

* SigniFlow only utilises Digital signature technology. Every signature on a document signed with SigniFlow is a Digital signature that carries the unique cryptographic credentials of the signer.

[REFERENCES]  

  1. za – Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002
  2. Michalsons – Guide to the ECT Act in South Africa
  3. Difference Between – http://www.differencebetween.net/technology/difference-between-digital-signature-and-electronic-signature/

Credit bureaus rebut e-toll blacklisting threats

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Etoll picSA’s credit bureaus contradict threats by collection company ETC that non-payment of e-tolls could get road users blacklisted.

Road users need not panic – non-payment of e-toll bills will not get you blacklisted.

This is the firm word from SA’s credit bureaus, in reaction to recent news around e-tolls and default judgments that has sparked a new wave of panic around the government’s embattled highway tolling project.

In a statement last week, the Credit Bureau Association (CBA) stated categorically that road users could not – and would not – be blacklisted for not paying their e-toll bills. “Information relating to e-tolls/SANRAL [SA National Roads Agency Limited] will not be held on the credit bureaus.

“The Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Act, 2013, which amended the South African National Roads Agency Limited and National Roads Act, 1998, specifically excludes the levying and collecting of e-tolls from the provisions of the National Credit Act, 2005 and the Regulations thereto, as amended from time to time (“the NCA”).

“Credit bureaus receive, hold, display and remove consumer information in accordance with the provisions of the NCA and accordingly are not able to hold information which is specifically excluded from the provisions of the NCA.”

The CBA, an industry body representing 9 of the 14 registered credit bureaus within South Africa, further stated that any information relating to e-tolls or SANRAL, which had been “inadvertently” loaded onto a consumer profile, would be removed.

“If any consumer is aware that information relating to e-tolls/SANRAL has been loaded to his/her consumer profile, please contact one of the [listed] credit bureaus to lodge a dispute and this information will be removed.”

The CBA represents Compuscan, Consumer Profile Bureau, Cred-IT Data Risk Management Solutions, Experian, Inoxico, Lexis Nexis Risk Management Services, Tenant Profile Network, TransUnion and Xpert Decision Systems (XDS).

What sparked the panic?

The CBA’s setting straight of the record comes after reports last weekend that a Gauteng motorist had been denied credit after being blacklisted for owing R60 000 in e-toll fees.

According to IOL, at least 25 other e-toll defaulters had also been given default judgments. Default judgments arise when a debtor does not respond or defend a summons they have received, and a default judgment automatically means blacklisting.

Shortly after reports of the shock discovery by the Gauteng consumer, Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) – the body appointed by Sanral to collect e-toll fees – said it had applied to the courts for about 1 400 default judgments against road users who had neglected to pay their e-toll fees, and had ignored court summonses.

According to Eyewitness News, ETC chief executive Coenie Vermaak said that over 15 000 summonses had been sent to court for e-toll users who had not settled their e-toll accounts.

 *To read the law that underpins the CBA’s statement first-hand, click HERE.

 [REFERENCES]  

  1. Credit Bureau Association: Consumer information relating to e-tolls
  2. za – Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Act 3 of 2013
  3. Eyewitness news – E-tolls collection company applies for 1400 default judgments for blacklisting
  4. Business Tech – ‘Pay your e-tolls or you will be blacklisted’
  5. IOL – E-tolls blacklist shocker for Gauteng resident

China’s social scoring system takes the idea of credit vetting to another level

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chinasocialcredit

Picture credit: Kevin Hong

Your credit score makes up a significant part of the whole when it comes to your social status – something we at pbVerify value, and use to promote sound decision making.

 

As SA’s leading credit data bureau, pbVerify knows how important it is – for businesses and consumers alike – to be familiar with their credit history, and well aware of their current credit status. There are good reasons for providing access to credit score information, all of which are aimed at promoting financial health and good business decisions.

The same beneficial system, however, has seemingly seen a more sinister twist, with the well-publicised move by the Chinese government to take it to a whole new level – one that instils fear, rather than protecting the people it is in place for.

We all know about social status and, whether we like to admit it or not, it is important to us. Nowadays we use social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat to project a certain idea about ourselves to the world around us – a feature these platforms refer to as a user’s “Status”.

pbVerify specialises in one of the most influential aspects or “scores” that make up a personal status – your credit score. While most consumers are all too familiar with what a credit score means, the implications of a negative score and the importance of knowing your score, the system the Chinese government plans to implement over the next few years, in which every citizen is tagged with a social score, sounds like the makings of a science fiction novel.

China’s Social Credit System (SCS), whereby the government plans to rank its citizens based on their social credit, is due to be implemented in full by 2020, although its wheels are already well in motion. It basically allocates each citizen a social score card based on – among other things – their credit history, behaviour, philanthropic contributions and even outlook on life and events. The government will garner this information based on citizens’ accounts and network activities.

Going forward, this social credit score will be used to rank citizens and reward – or punish – them accordingly. Some of the implications include travel bans, exclusion from top schools (for kids of parents with low credit scores) and from certain jobs, slow internet connection, exclusion from hotels, and even registration on a public blacklist.

In development for some time already (reportedly conceived around 2014 in its current form) and set in motion in earnest in late 2018, China’s SCS has already seen millions of Chinese citizens prohibited from travelling, with a reported 1.75 million air ticket purchases, and 5.5 million train ticket purchases denied last year.

While China claims its aim with the SCS is to enhance trust and social stability by creating a “culture of sincerity”, most are less optimistic about the system’s ultimate goal, with many referring to it as an Orwellian Dystopia, and calling it “nightmarish”.

The jury is sure to be out on this one for some time, at least as far as the general public goes. If nothing else conclusive for now, it does go to show the weight social scores – or statuses – can hold.

We are all about empowerment

At pbVerify, we pride ourselves in providing a service that is accessible, easy to use – and above all, beneficial to our customers. Our focus is on empowering our customers every step of the way, by imparting knowledge that enables sound, intelligent financial decisions.

We constantly strive to put the power squarely in the hands of local businesses, to enable them to quickly and comprehensively make informed decisions with regard to the customers they onboard.

To this end, we recently bolstered our TransUnion Business Report with Quick Vet 4 Business (QV4B) – an instant online tool that enables credit vetting decisions in a matter of seconds.

Granting credit to new customers does not need to be a long, complicated process. Read HERE for more on how QV4B can speed up your business’s decision making and credit granting processes, giving you more time to attend to the things that matter most.

For more information or to speak to a pbVerify consultant call 010 300 4898 or email support@pbverify.co.za.

[REFERENCES]

  1. Wikipedia – Social credit system
  2. ABC Australia – China uses social credit surveillance system to ban millions from buying plane and train tickets
  3. Opploans – For people with bad credit, China’s ‘Social Credit’ scores sound like an actual nightmare
  4. Wired – Big Data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens
  5. Wired – The complicated truth about China’s social credit system
  6. pbVerify Blog – pbVerify bolsters credit risk management portfolio
  7. TransUnion – Quick Vet 4 Business

 

To renovate, or not to renovate – is that even a question?

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pbartisan renovations picRenovations aren’t easy, yet so many people insist on going through the process…There are good reasons why.

Like moving house, renovating a home is not easy – in fact it can be downright disruptive and stressful. So why do so many people put themselves through it? And why is the trend of home renovation growing in popularity, among young and old alike? The answer is simple: the benefits by far outweigh any inconvenience homemakers need to temporarily endure.

Pam Golding Properties manager Jonathan Davies says there is a strong argument for investing in alterations to a home. “These are likely to add value to what is the largest investment you are ever likely to make. With careful planning, developing a well-situated property over time can make sound financial sense, as it optimises the investment, resulting in improved property prices. There is also much one can do to improve one’s property that does not require a massive outlay in financial resources,” says Davies.

Besides the obvious benefit of adding monetary value to a home, there are a number of other reasons that make renovations such a popular option. South Africans in particular, are keen renovators. They will jump at any given opportunity to extend, redesign, redecorate or just relatively improve their living space.

And it’s no wonder, given the outdoor and sunshine bonanza we enjoy as a country, the world is really our oyster when it comes to making our homes beautiful. On top of that, a house is most likely the single biggest investment you will ever make, and any improvements you make on your biggest investment, equal both further future investment and immediate benefit.

Some of the immediate and short-term benefits include an enhancement of comfort and enjoyment for you and your family, experiencing a fresh new environment (they say change is as good as a holiday), pride in your place of abode when friends and family visit, and the satisfaction of knowing your home is your home, in every way – one that you envisioned, planned and created yourself. Renovations give you the opportunity to literally make your dreams come true.

Of course, it does not stop there. There are also the longer-term, financial rewards that come with renovating your home. If your property is an investment property that you are renting or want to rent out, you will be able to get far better returns.

If, on the other hand, you are there to stay, not only do renovations mean you can avoid the lengthy and stressful process of house hunting, making an offer to purchase, getting finance and, finally, uprooting to a new home, but they mean absolute peace of mind in the home you have, and plan to keep.

Make your dreams a reality

pbArtisan, PBSA’s renovation, maintenance & development division, burst onto the property scene in 2018, with a vision of revolutionising the market through its fresh, professional and bold approach of bringing white collar services to a blue collar industry.

Specialising in building maintenance, residential and commercial renovations, additions and new buildings, our team of professional, highly skilled artisans are passionate about taking homemakers’ dreams and making them a reality.

Our graphic designers bring your ideas to life with beautiful interior and exterior 3D drawings of your project. This allows you to personally plan the end-product upfront, in as much detail as you wish. You can come up with your own colour schemes, tiles, wall and ceiling finishes or any interior and exterior design you have in mind, and our team will detail your vision.

Best of all, is our pledge to you, our valued customer – all our workmanship is 100% guaranteed.

Why wait? If you would like to make the house you live in a home, contact us.Visit www.pbartisan.co.za or call us on 010 300 4892.

pbArtisan is a registered home builder with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) in terms of the the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act, 1998 (Act No.95 of 1998).

REFERENCES

  1. Forbes – New Study Shows How Much Millennials Are Spending On Home Renovation
  2. Statista – Home Improvement – Statistics & Facts
  3. BusinessTech – Should you invest in renovating your home?
  4. Property24 – Top 10 reasons to renovate your home

Healthcare – revolutionising an industry through digital

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digitising healthcare with logoDespite all the fear and uncertainty surrounding data security in a digital world, the health industry has more to gain that it will ever have to lose from digitalisation.

The emergence of new privacy laws – international, local and industry specific – in an era of digital business and record management, has many companies quaking in their boots when it comes to the issue of data security.

One of the industries perhaps most touched by the concern over sensitive data, is the healthcare industry and, although digitisation can sound scary, there are so many more benefits than there are risks for this specific industry – and at the top of the advantages list, is increased security.

Independent research on paper document security by the Ponemon Institute found that not only is there a greater risk of loss that comes with going the paper route – rather than digital – but paper processes also make it far more difficult for companies to prepare for audits, share information securely and cut down on costs.

“There are not enough resources available to protect confidential paper documents. Sixty-one percent of individuals surveyed report that there are not enough resources and controls available to secure paper documents containing sensitive or confidential information,” reports Ponemon.

Digital Dawn

And, while times may change, paper processes do not. The fact remains – paper and manual document and data processes will always require more time and money, and be more prone to human error and other inevitable risks that come with physical handling, duplication and the sending back and forth of documents.

Fortunately, where resources do change, is in the digital realm. Today, digitalisation is not only a reality – it is the only way to go for institutions that value the security of their data as highly as law – and good sense – dictate.

Digitising processes, including storing and maintaining medical records, registration, exam requests and prescriptions, among others, can only bolster the security of data, and therefore the protection of all parties involved in medical processes, including patients, physicians, hospitals, laboratories and medical finance institutions.

The SigniFlow solution was developed precisely for this type of application. Instead of limiting functionality and dictating how entities and organisations should use their systems, SigniFlow offers total flexibility, allowing integration with a host of business applications so companies can go digital their way, with as little disruption as possible.

The best part, coming back to the thorny issue of data security, is that our encrypted solution is fully compliant with all security and privacy standards, including security requirements imposed by internal policies, industry, national and international laws.

Serious Security

SigniFlow is compatible with different enterprise resource planning (ERP) and hospital management systems, such as Phillips Tasy, MV and Benner, allowing entities and organisations to take advantage of investments already made, without the impact a change of system and infrastructure can have.

Our software platform enables the digitisation of processes such as patient check in, onboarding, medical records, requests for examinations and procedures, prescriptions and many more medical processes. At the same time, the SigniFlow solution uses different authentication methods to guarantee the identity of the parties involved, and to apply electronic signatures sealed by a digital certificate.

What’s more, SigniFlow allows users with their own certificates to use these, thereby enforcing compliance with regulations such as eIDAS, eSign, ICP Brasil, HIPPA, and many others, ensuring the authenticity, integrity and non-repudiation required to legally validate the relevant documents anywhere in the world.

For customers that require a higher level of identity assurance, we can also implement different authentication methods, such as witness signatures, photo capturing or biometrics, at the time of signing.

Big Benefits

So, in a nutshell, what are the real and immediate benefits of digitising processes in the healthcare industry?

Well, in addition to a considerable reduction in the costs associated with paper processes, going digital with SigniFlow can:

  • Decrease time of registration and admission of patients
  • Reduce waiting time for insurance approvals
  • Reduce financial loss resulting from misplaced original paper contracts related to payments for hospitals and insurance
  • Eliminate prescription forgery and health insurance fraud
  • Increase efficiency when it comes to access to patients’ medical history
  • Centralise information, allowing it to be shared with the relevant party (such as other hospitals, experts, health insurance, laboratories & pharmacies) in a matter of seconds

And the above are just some of the many benefits that come from integrating with our platform to digitise processes.

For patients, it means faster and more efficient healthcare. It means faster processes – which in turn means a quicker diagnosis.

For more information visit www.signiflow.com or call us on 010 300 4898.

REFERENCES

  1. Ponemon Institute: Security of Paper Documents in the Workplace
  2. Crypto ID: Benefícios da digitalização de processos na Indústria de Saúde

 

Brand new Hybrid Server range in the offing

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carbonite-hybrid-server-for-business2The SigniFlow team has once again gone all out to ensure all our customers’ needs are met in every way, with our latest range of Hybrid Server licences.

Following an overwhelmingly positive response to our hybrid server solution, SigniFlow has pulled out all the stops to create a product that covers all bases, serves every one of our customers according to their specific needs and – above all – is first-class and failsafe.

A native cloud application utilising cloud computing frameworks and network-attached Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) to perform cryptographic signature operations, the SigniFlow solution was born out of the need for enterprise-level businesses to have maximum control over their data.

“For most small-to-medium businesses, accessing applications in the cloud was no problem, in fact it was in many cases preferred, but at an enterprise level, where highly sensitive documents and international legislation were involved, the need for more control was imminent,” explains Leon van der Merwe, Digital Director at SigniFlow.

In response to this need, SigniFlow launched its first open-enterprise on-premise SigniFlow Hybrid Server in 2017.

The term ‘Hybrid’, which we’ve used to name our server offering, refers to the combination of technology it employs – a dedicated hosted server, virtualisation technology and cloud-based cryptography.

Although often referred to as an on-premise solution, the SigniFlow Hybrid server is at home in a private server room or data centre, as well as in any hosted environment (private or public-cloud) and in a secure cloud services platform, like the popular Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure.

The SigniFlow Hybrid brought about the ultimate in customisation, rebranding, enterprise information control, and an unrivalled bespoke integration landscape.

Highly successful among the big businesses the solution was intended for at the time, the technology drew such interest in the market at large during 2018, that suddenly businesses from across the spectrum wanted it.

“By listening to our customers, we realised that the solution, originally built for the enterprise, needed to be more flexible and scalable, to cater to medium – and even smaller – businesses,” says Van der Merwe.

“The SigniFlow team has once again gone full tilt in the idea factory, and we are very excited about our brand new Hybrid Server offerings for 2019.”

How the new licences work

The new SigniFlow Hybrid Server range consist of five new licences, the NANO-50, MEGA-250, TERA-500, PETA-1000 and the exciting new document-based open-enterprise license, the EXA-OPEN.

As its name suggests, the NANO-50 is a single tenant Hybrid that caters for up to 50 users, unlimited documents and unlimited signatures.

Similarly, the MEGA-250, TERA-500 and PETA-1000 cater for up to 250, 500 and 1 000 users respectively, all with document limits removed, and fully scalable and upgradeable licence plans.

From the MEGA-250 onwards, the servers can be duplicated to cater for more than 1 000 users and farmed for high-volume load balancing. Each comes with a second licence that can be used for disaster recovery (DR), or user acceptance testing (UAT or pre-prod). These models are also multi-tenant and can feature multiple business profiles per server.

The EXA-OPEN introduces a new approach to enterprise licensing. Documents, which may contain any amount of signatories, are bought in packs, ranging from 1 000 to 400 000 documents per pack, at incredibly low rates per document.

The real benefit of the EXA-OPEN kicks in for customers with document volumes above 400 000 per year, as the licence has a ceiling-charge equal to the 400 000 pack’s price. This means that after 400 000 documents, a flat annual rate is charged – no matter how many documents are involved or how many users are utilising the system.

The new Hybrid Server Licence Models are available in South Africa, South America, the United States, Europe, the Nordics and the United Kingdom.

 

For more information on how our Hybrid Server range can benefit your company, contact the team via support@signiflow.com  or phone:

South Africa : (+27) 10 300 4898

Americas: (+1) 603 717 4248

Europe: (+32) 494 102 095

DocFlow: Bridging the document automation gap

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G10167-MSSigniFlow now integrates a document management and process automation tool that seamlessly manages business processes, from A to Z.

Document management is without doubt one of the most important functions in a business, regardless of its size. In many ways, document management is the heartbeat of an organisation – the foundation upon which many other functions are built, and that enables a company to run smoothly.

Despite this, many organisations struggle to adequately manage this core of their business, which is heavily reliant on efficient, traceable business processes and corresponding archives.

This is where DocFlow – a powerful combination of document management and process automation systems – comes in. Created by SigniFlow engineers, DocFlow is an integrated extension to SigniFlow workflows, which seamlessly manages the automation of business processes, from A to Z.

Released in 2018,  DocFlow is set to become an indispensable component of businesses’ process and document management in the coming years.

The creation of DocFlow comes in the wake of the discovery of a gap in the document management space. SigniFlow found that a number of clients were in serious need of auxiliary functions, such as meta matching through barcode scanning, barcode decryption, auto filing, and managing physical artefacts that lacked electronic artefacts. Following painstaking research and design by the SigniFlow team, we are now able to bridge this gap.

How DocFlow works

As an extension of SigniFlow, DocFlow works by allowing business owners to create input and output rule-based folders, following the mapping of a business process, to manage the flow of data and documents from the initial input, to the ultimate archiving destination.

Based on pre-configured process workflow rules and security-based user roles, DocFlow manages the workflow of all business documents, through automated and controlled digital processes.

DocFlow utilises the SigniFlow workflow and digital signature signing capabilities to ensure processes that require documents to be signed can be automated, while processes remain fully digital at all times.

DocFlow also allows businesses to link physical paper documents kept in filing rooms or cabinets, or at branches, to digital records using structured file plans – as well as to manage physical documents that are in transit, ensuring that what is sent from a location, is exactly what arrives at the intended destination.

An essential for businesses of any size, document management has never been so secure and failsafe.

As of Q1 2019, this powerful new tool will be available for all SigniFlow customers at no additional licence costs, with a basic setup for document archiving.

For more information on DocFlow and what it can do for you and your business, contact the team via support@signiflow.com  or phone:

South Africa : (+27) 10 300 4898

Americas: (+1) 603 717 4248

Europe: (+32) 494 102 095

Introducing the most powerful consumer signing tool in the world

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happy-computer-woman logoThe SigniFlow team has come up with a sophisticated and secure – yet simple and easy to use – consumer signing tool, set to revolutionise the digital signature market in 2019

When our clients – and the market they serve – speak, we listen. Carefully. So when a number of SigniFlow clients, who serve private customers from all walks of life, told us they needed an uncomplicated signing tool that could be used by anyone, anywhere and on any device – without security ever being jeopardised – we put our heads together and came up with what we have dubbed EasiSign.

Simple and unassuming by name, EasiSign is by no means that at the core. On the contrary, EasiSign is the most powerful consumer signing tool yet. Paradoxically, our latest consumer signing tool is something so intricate and sophisticated, something so watertight and secure on the inside, yet on the surface – for the end user – a simple, clean and uncluttered, easy-to-use interface.

Currently in Q4 2018, EasiSign is only available to customers with existing, or new, SigniFlow Hybrid Server licences. EasiSign is set to officially be launched into the SigniFlow technology stack during Q1 of 2019.

This revolutionary consumer signing tool will essentially replace the existing signing interface when SigniFlow Version 4 is launched during Q2 2019. Don’t get us wrong – the current interface in SigniFlow Version 3.3 is a great business process tool – but we have learnt that for private consumers, especially in the lower LSM groups, signing documents electronically can be overwhelming.

EasiSign eliminates complexity entirely. It is fast and very easy to use, on any device. Best of all – you can rest assured that security and authentication will never be compromised.

The A, B, C of EasiSign

With EasiSign, the authentication configuration can be set by each customer, and on a document level.  Authentication methods include any one, or a combination of, any of the following options: full registration, ID number verification and input matching, SMS One Time Pin (OTP), USSD OTP, password and email verification.

EasiSign is mostly driven by API integration with document composition systems or enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) in the background producing the documents, and triggering the SigniFlow EasiSign workflow.

The new interface features a multi-document portfolio environment that simulates attachments to an email, and can group multiple documents together – which are then presented to the signer as a single document, for easy reading.

EasiSign also features a secured document upload portal, through which the sender (workflow creator) can request that the signer upload additional documents (such as proof of residence, identity documents, etc) when signing.

A great tool for carrying out FICA processes, EasiSign also has huge advantages in terms of the POPI Act, which calls for stringent private information protection.

EasiSign is included free of charge with any SigniFlow licence and, as always, there are no costs involved for the consumer, who can sign in EasiSign using their free SignFREE licence.

Existing Hybrid Server customers that wish to switch to EasiSign, can do so without any cost implications.

For more information on our awesome new consumer signing tool, contact the team via support@signiflow.com  or phone:

South Africa : (+27) 10 300 4898

Americas: (+1) 603 717 4248

Europe: (+32) 494 102 095

SigniFlow lands on American shores

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SigniFlow Globe croppedA new alliance between PBSA and a Brazilian-born IT enthusiast and security specialist has given rise to SigniFlow Americas.

The technology giants we have all come to know so well – to mention just a few, Google, Apple and Microsoft – would be nothing today if it were not for the formidable partnerships they were founded on. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and Paul Allen – all of these dynamic duos go to show that great things begin with great partnerships.

Which is why we are so excited to announce the recent alliance that has given rise to SigniFlow Americas, between PBSA and US-based Laila Robak, former Director of Partnerships at Digicert and Vice President of Latin America GlobalSign.

It is now official: South African-born digital signature and workflow solution, SigniFlow, has landed on American shores, to provide the Americas with an innovative, highly efficient and socially responsible product for business process automation.

A woman-owned small business based in New Hampshire in the United States, SigniFlow Americas is a member of the New Hampshire Tech Alliance – an affiliation committed to nurturing a vibrant technology ecosystem by building partnerships, enhancing knowledge, and shaping public policy.

The woman behind this exciting new digital signature solution is Laila Robak, a Brazil-born entrepreneur with a passion for information technology and the power it has to transform and improve lives.

“We are very excited about the launch of SigniFlow Americas, and with Laila at the helm, this business is destined for greatness. We are proud to welcome all our Americas customers and partners to the global SigniFlow family,” says Leon van der Merwe, Director of digital technologies – SigniFlow headquarters in Kyalami, Johannesburg.

Setting it apart from other solutions present in the market today, SigniFlow delivers enterprise-grade on-premise, private cloud and cloud solutions with a high level of integration, allowing companies to customise the solution to suit both their specific needs and their budgets. The leading-edge solution provides legally valid digital signatures (cryptographic e-signing) and accepts digital certificates from almost any e-identity provider, publicly trusted Certificate Authorities (CAs) and privately signed Public Key Infrastructures (PKIs).

Often bound by endless red tape, many processes in the Americas remain onerous and complex – particularly when it comes to contracts or documents that require approval and/or signatures. SigniFlow takes these processes, which can take anything from days to weeks to finalise, and transforms them into seamless digital processes that reach completion in just minutes.

Speaking of the power SigniFlow puts in business owners’ hands, Robak says, “SigniFlow is a solution that can revolutionise business processes. It has various APIs that give us flexibility to create and integrate with existing systems and platforms, allowing organisations to choose from a range of options, from cloud to local deployments and hosted environments, and to use a mix of digital and electronic signatures – all while guaranteeing the legal validity of documents.”

In addition to this, SigniFlow fulfils the social responsibility role that so many organisations today strive to fill, to the end of doing their bit for the environment – and society at large.

“The launch of SigniFlow Americas not only centres around innovation in the tech space to help companies become more effective, it also goes around environmental awareness. So it’s a win-win situation. We have the opportunity to make business people’s lives better and contribute to the ecosystem at the same time. Signiflow’s solution goes above and beyond,” says Robak.

Go paperless…go green

According to environmental facts and live statistics website The World Counts, 50% of business waste composed of paper.

And here are some related – and scary – facts:

  1. More than two pieces of paper are used per person on Earth every single hour. It is expected demand for paper will have doubled by 2030, from 2005.
  2. The average person in the USA, Japan, and Europe uses between 250 and 300 kilograms of paper every year. In India this figure is five kilograms, and in some countries it is less than one. If everyone on Earth used 200 kilograms of paper, there would be no trees left.
  3. It takes 10 litres of water to produce a single A4 sheet of paper. The pulp and paper industry is the single largest industrial consumer of water in Western countries.
  4. Producing one kilogram of paper requires two to three times its weight in trees. Paper can be recycled, yet 55% of the global paper supply comes from newly cut trees.
  5. Each ton of recycled paper can avoid the use of 17 trees; 1 440 litres of oil; 2.3 cubic meters of landfill space; 4 000 kilowatts of energy and 26 500 litres of water.

SigniFlow not only brings to the Americas the opportunity to expand horizons by automating internal and external business processes, it also assists companies in going green by helping them cut down on resources, costs and by-products of paper-intensive processes – including ink, printers and mailing procedures – ultimately increasing overall environmental awareness, decreasing carbon footprint and bettering companies’ return on investment.

The power it has to transform business and the world it runs in, says Robak, is what makes SigniFlow the most powerful business process automation tool on the market. Coupled with a formidable partnership, the sky is the limit.

“A strong business partnership can be summarised in two words: trust and collaboration. Trust speaks for itself and that is what I have with the amazing team at PBSA. Collaboration means aligning ideals, understanding and supporting each other’s growth and walking towards the same goal – in this case, improving people’s lives through technology and contributing to the environment,” concludes Robak.

To find out more about how we can assist you in your digitisation journey, click HERE

pbVerify bolsters risk management portfolio

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pbVerify qv4b pic

SA’s number one data bureau has added a new TransUnion product to help companies eliminate risk when it comes to choosing who they do business with.

As South Africa’s number one data bureau, pbVerify is constantly striving to put the power of knowledge and sound decision making in the hands of local businesses.

To this end, we have bolstered our TransUnion Business Report with Quick Vet 4 Business (QV4B) – an instant online commercial credit vetting tool that will allow businesses to quickly and comprehensively make informed decisions with regard to the customers they onboard.

The new business score gives businesses an accurate overview in one quick view as to what the status of a potential business or customer is, without them having to go through the lengthy process of investigation and manual vetting. Via just one automated online process, businesses can now identify who the profitable and low-risk customers are, and move swiftly forward.

The latest addition forms part of pbVerify’s expansive range of credit risk management products, which come with a top-notch support system. Businesses can access all Credit Bureau products via one secure, efficient online platform.

“This new score is going to make the decision-making process a lot easier and quicker for our customers, and give them total peace of mind that they have made the right credit decision,” says System admin-support manager Sean Bennett.

Seeding success

Understanding and implementing risk management is absolutely crucial when it comes to the success of your business. In today’s volatile financial milieu, no company can afford to enter business deals with businesses that have questionable financial footing.

Unfortunately, too many honest businesses fall prey to dishonest or irresponsible parties that don’t fulfil their end of the business deal, whether it’s failure to repay a loan, defaulting on payments or being dishonest about credit histories, and this ends up hurting profits, productivity and reputation.

pbVerify takes the risk factor out of your business decisions with its risk management tools. And it couldn’t be easier to sign up. After registering for free, you will have instant access to detailed financial information, credit histories, public trace record information and more. There’s no monthly fee – you only pay per search.

pbVerify offers reports on individuals, companies, closed corporations, consumers and properties in South Africa.

For more information or to get in touch with one of our dedicated pbVerify support agents, go to www.pbverify.co.za.

 

pbVerify renews data protection promise

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Blog picSA’s number one data bureau has renewed its status as an official credit bureau, reinforcing customers’ trust in our services.

We are living in the Information Age, and there is an intense air of nervousness and reluctance when it comes to the sharing of personal information. And rightly so – given the proliferation of data breaches and brazen data misuse by marketing companies across the globe.

As SA’s leading data bureau, pbVerify fully understands these concerns and continually takes decisive measures to address them, ensuring our customers’ data remains private and secure at all times.

To this end, pbVerify recently cemented its status as an official credit bureau in terms of Section 43 of the National Credit Amendment Act, 19 of 2014, serving as a stamp of surety and our promise to you, our customer, that your data is safe with us.

In a nutshell, a credit bureau is as company that holds information on credit-active individuals, and uses that data to advise businesses and consumers as to their credit risks associated with a given application or transaction, using complex algorithms.

pbVerify’s status as an official credit bureau, in line with the National Credit Act, validates the fact that we are a professional business, bound by and compliant with all local and international data policy and privacy policy regulation. It also verifies that we have a failsafe disaster recovery system, so both ourselves as a service provider, and our customers, can have total peace of mind when it comes to the protection of the valuable data we deal with.

You can rest assured, your data – including identity data – is secure with us and will stay with us. We will never trade customer information with another company, nor share it for marketing purposes.

pbVerify offers a range of Credit Risk Management and Credit Check products for businesses and consumers.

For more information on pbVerify’s suite of B2B and B2C products click HERE.

To view pbVerify’s NCR Credit Bureau certificate click here: NCRCB343 Certificate – Valid 2018-2019

What is a Credit Bureau?

To manage credit risk and for the sake of general financial health, it is vital that you have a grasp on your credit history. As a consumer, it is important that you understand your credit score and report, as well as the bodies that compile that information, i.e. credit bureaus.

The National Credit Regulator (NCR) describes a credit bureau as “A company that gathers information and updates each consumer’s credit history. A credit bureau creates a record of a consumer’s credit information indicating how the consumer manages his/her credit.

“The credit bureau supplies these records to credit providers, such as banks, retailers and other credit providing companies. The information indicates each consumer’s payment record. It is also used to detect fraud, corruption or theft.”

What rights do I have?

When it comes to the accessing of credit history by a credit provider, you have the right:

  1. To be informed that the credit provider intends to report negative information on you to a credit bureau before the credit provider actually reports you.
  2. To receive a copy of your credit record from a credit bureau when you request it.
  3. To challenge information kept by the credit bureau if you are unhappy with the information.
  4. For your information to be kept confidential, and for your information to be used only for purposes allowed by the National Credit Act.

Click HERE to learn more about credit bureaus and the National Credit Act.

 

REFERENCES 

  1. National Credit Regulator – National Credit Act pamphlet
  2. Fin24 – Five massive data breaches affecting South Africans
  3. Business Live – All your personal information is up for sale to debt counsellors for 55c

Introducing our new self-service support hub for API customers

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API integrationpbVerify has created an API development portal with tools that could help save days in developing time.

In our ongoing quest to optimise business operations, fine-tune digital processes and, ultimately, make our customers’ lives easier, pbVerify has added a developer’s portal for our API customers.

An easy-to-use set of tools for developers, the API Development Portal offers a library of API integration documents and general information, as well as means to test each of the API services we offer.

The new API developer’s portal allows all pbVerify API clients with valid account credentials, to access our user-friendly Swagger interface for all RESTful  Web services.

The main function of the interface is to allow API customers to test the RESTful/JSON services they have access to, giving developers access to online documentation and an instant understanding of how to integrate, and to see the JSON responses and payloads they will get from each  Web service. Using pbVerify’s new Development Portal, customers can now:

  1. Test RESTfull/JSON services live with built-in testing tool per API call.
  2. Import all RESTful/JSON services into postman with pbVerify’s Swagger file.
  3. View all extended Web services documentation.
  4. View Terms and Conditions.
  5. Directly contact Development support.

The face of pbVerify’s  Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) program, the API Development Portal aims to provide a top-class developer experience for our Web services.

NOTE: API tools are currently only available for REST/JSON services. Certain pbVerify products, such as Consumer Credit Check and Bank Code Verification are still in our SOAP service. Documentation for these will need to be obtained from pbVerify’s support service.

Geospatial tech solves FICA, KYC challenges

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geospatial image.PNGpbVerify’s ground-breaking KYC API transforms laborious manual processes into fast, effective and secure verification.

In our ongoing quest to build a digital future based on holistic online solutions to help our clients maximise operational efficiency, pbVerify has developed a Digital KYC API like no other.

Designed for institutions accountable to the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) – specifically its know your customer (KYC) requirements – our Digital KYC API (application programming interface) takes the pain out of the on-boarding process for both accountable institutions, and their customers.

pbVerify’s API transforms an onerous, time-consuming and expensive manual process into a convenient, fast-moving and inexpensive online one.

KYC hurdles

KYC, a risk-based assessment of customers (individuals and businesses), is an integral part of FICA which makes it incumbent on accountable institutions to carry out extensive due diligence on all financial services applicants.

This typically involves a list of documents, including minimum requirements such as proof of residence and proof of identification for individuals; and evidence of shareholding, director information and company history for businesses  (either originals, or sighted by an institution employee).

Steeped in red tape and paper documents, the manual KYC process has long been the bane of institutions and potential customers alike. Not only is it costly and time-consuming, it can be incredibly frustrating, given South Africans’ unique circumstances.

Moonstone, a Stellenbosch-based independent support network for financial service providers, cites residential transience and “an inefficient postal service” as aggravating factors in the KYC process.

API answer

Instead of spending unnecessary time and money trying to acquire the list of documents and physical verification required by FICA’s KYC rules, financial institutions can now – by running pbVerify’s Digital KYC API – get identification and residential verification directly from the HANIS (Home Affairs National Identification System) and SACRRA (South African Credit & Risk Reporting Association) databases, respectively, instantly and online.

Coupled with advanced algorithms, which were built to eliminate all the challenges South African address databases face, this makes pbVerify’s latest solution the most powerful one on the market.

In a nutshell, the KYC API works like this:

  1. Applicant requests an account with a registered credit provider.
  2. Applicant completes the credit provider’s online form, linked to the pbVerify KYC API.
  3. Applicant’s identification information (names and ID number) are instantly verified against the HANIS database.
  4. Applicant’s address (residential information) is verified against the SACRRA database, based on two parameters set by the credit provider, i.e. over what period – 3, 6, 12, 24 or 36 months; and how many address matches required, obtained from other credit providers.
  5. If the Digital KYC API returns the applicant’s address data as matching the database, as per credit provider’s criteria, the system automatically approves the KYC process.
  6. The system sends a response to the compliance department, indicating whether or not the consumer is FICA compliant.

API differentiator

What sets pbVerify’s KYC API apart from other digital KYC verification products on the market, is the advanced method is uses to not only effectively, but to irrefutably verify applicants’ information.

Our API uses geospatial technology, as well as multi-paradigm geodistance algorithms, to determine and compare address data between data received from applicants, and data on file from at least one hundred registered credit providers across South Africa.

Essentially, our technology loops through credit provider data to find similar address matches, within the said specified time parameter (3 to 36 months), within a few metres of the pinned geolocation of the applicant’s input.

One of the biggest challenges in South Africa when it comes to address verification by credit providers, is the fact that many citizens live in townships and townhouse setups, where the address does not conform to the standard street address format.

To overcome this challenge, pbVerify’s algorithm pinpoints the applicant’s address via geospatial location, strips all anomalies and/or conflicting information from the address, and finds other credit providers that have similar address details. Only if these are also within a few metres of the applicant’s original input, will the API accept the address and report the credit provider sources where it was found.

In other words, only if enough data exists to satisfy your unique KYC requirement-settings, will the API return positive results, together with the source of the data matches, e.g. Vodacom, Edgars, FNB Home Loans, etc.

Apart from the immediately evident advantages of replacing manual with digital – primarily time and cost savings – pbVerify’s Digital KYC API underpins POPI (Protection of Personal Information) Act compliance, it adds another dimension in terms of security, and it removes the probability of human error.

 

[REFERENCES]

  1. gov.za – Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 2001 (Act No. 38 OF 2001)
  2. Financial Intelligence Centre – The FIC Act
  3. Financial Intelligence Centre – Frequently asked questions
  4. Moonstone – KYC– Knowing your client or killing your client?
  5. FNB – KYC/FICA information portal
  6. Investec – KYC Requirements

 

SignFlow broadens horizons, rebrands as SigniFlow

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SignFlow rebrandWe have spread our wings and taken to international shores…introducing our new, fresh look.

As a South African technology team with a spirit of innovation at the heart of our being, change and growth are two things we at SignFlow prize very highly.

Which is why we are so excited to announce that SignFlow has spread its wings, recently journeying beyond the African continent, into Europe, the United Kingdom and the Americas.

As an embodiment of this globalisation, we have decided to consolidate our local and international branding, which goes hand in hand with a fresh new look – including an awesome new website and epic new logo…

Introducing SigniFlow

The international offering of SignFlow (.co.za) is called SigniFlow (.com), which – as of May 2018 – is officially the successor to SignFlow.

While all old and existing marketing and training material and other content will still be branded as SignFlow – along with the old logo and look – it all remains 100% relevant.

SignFlow has been around for a few years, having made indelible footprints in cyber space, so the transition to SigniFlow is going to take some time. Our focus right now is on all of our branding going forward, so all new material and content will be branded SigniFlow.

What does this mean for you?

Well, to cite Coca-Cola, “Brand new look. Same great taste.”

SigniFlow, like SignFlow, is still the same world-class, local solution it has always been – just with a facelift. Think of it as a better looking version of the same great product.

SigniFlow is still Proudly South African. Nothing in terms of ownership of SignFlow has changed. SigniFlow – the new, fresh-faced SignFlow – is a 100% South African-owned product.

SigniFlow is also proudly protective of what matters most our customers: sensitive data. In terms of the storage of and access to your valuable files and data, fear not – this, too, remains unchanged. Your files are exactly where they were before, and still just as safe and secure as they have always been, in our South African data centres.

Finally, putting the cherry on top of this exciting transformation, the South African SigniFlow system is currently being revamped, and will be updated with the release of SigniFlow v4.0 during the third quarter of 2018.

Exciting times ahead, indeed. Onward and upward!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or for more information on 010 300 4899 or support@signflow.co.za.

Data protection D-day is here – SA companies take heed

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gdrpGDPR is here, and for organisations that deal with any personal information relating to EU member states, non-compliance will be ruinous.

The countdown has ended. D-day for enforcement of the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is here.

As of today, 25 May 2018, penalties will begin rolling in for organisations that have not yet taken the necessary steps to ensure they are compliant with this restructured – and considerably more stringent – set of data protection regulations.

The GDPR is a regulation borne out of the European Parliament, Council of the European Union and European Commission’s joint intent to strengthen and unify data protection for EU citizens.

But just because the GDPR is an EU regulation, South African organisations are by no means off the hook. On the contrary, experts warn, local companies need to take the GDPR – positioned as one of the most significant changes in data privacy regulation in 20 years – very seriously.

The inescapable fact is, any South African company that handles personal data connected to the EU has to comply with the GDPR, and failure to do so will be met with the same major consequences EU organisations face for non-compliance.

Far-reaching forces

Over recent decades, not only has personal data has become an increasingly important corporate asset that needs to be handled with extreme care, it has also become geographically agnostic. This means that, today more than ever, with the exponential growth of data propagated across borders, organisations globally need to take a staunch and unified approach to guarding it.

South African organisations, big or small, are no different – and the GDPR is not the only government-led product of this hugely digital age, nor will it be the last, it is merely the latest one to be enforced.

Leilani Smit, compliance professional at Smit Compliance (Pty) Ltd, notes that the GDPR applies to any local organisation that holds or processes data on EU citizens, regardless of the location of its head office. “This includes companies that have employees in the EU, sell or market products or services in the EU, or partner with EU organisations.”

Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at customer communication firm PBSA and director of local digital signature and workflow solution SignFlow, adds that any South African entity controlling or processing data relating to EU citizens is affected by the GDPR. “Controlling refers to any organisation that states why and how data is processed, while a processor is any party doing the actual processing of the data, whether based in the EU, or not.”

World Wide Worx MD, Arthur Goldstuck, says the effects of the GDPR will be far-reaching due to the fact that the EU is SA’s biggest trade partner. “[On top of this], any company that does business with a company that has to comply with GDPR, will also have to comply, to ensure the client is in compliance.”

GDPR vs POPI

Fortunately for SA, details around the country’s own local version of data protection policy – the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act – have been highly publicised since 2013, and many companies will already be familiar – some even largely compliant – with what is expected of them in terms of data protection.

Summing up SA’s POPI Act, Michalson’s says: “Essentially, the purpose of [POPI] is to protect people from harm by protecting their personal information. To stop their money being stolen, to stop their identity being stolen, and generally to protect their privacy, which is a fundamental human right.”

Although – unlike the GDPR – it is still not known when POPI will come into effect, what is known is that companies will have a one-year transitional phase in which to comply once POPI’s implementation date is made public.

Smit says, should a local company already be compliant with international legislation such as GDPR, the implementation of policies to comply with POPI “should be a breeze and not require anything other than normal company practices and procedures”.

Van der Merwe says POPI and GDPR are similar in that both are intended to strengthen the protection of individuals’ personal information and privacy, and it is precisely this element – intention – that is key here, says Goldstuck.

The high price of non-compliance

Another area in which both sets of rules are similar, is in the hefty fines that come with non-compliance.

In a nutshell: breach rules laid out in the POPI Act, and face a R10 million fine and/or a jail sentence; fail to comply with the GDPR’s regulations, and be prepared to be slapped with a fine of up to €20 million (about R290 million) – or 4% of annual sales (whichever is greater).

Smit comments: “In South African terms, POPI already poses strict penalties for non-compliance, however as far as our Rand stretches, the GDPR’s penalties will definitely cause sleepless nights.”

Although possibly the biggest concern for companies, Smit notes that financial implications are not the only implications they should be worried about. “Not only can non-compliance result in fines and penalties set by the legislation itself, but [the] reputational damage of not processing information correctly, can often be more damaging that the initial penalty itself.”

It is this high price of non-compliance IT and legal experts hope will drive South African companies to do the right thing – not only for themselves, but ultimately for their customers – and fervently strive to meet GDPR compliance criteria.

Consumer-centric control

Van der Merwe says it is all about the consumer. “Both GDPR and POPI were ultimately created to protect the consumer’s privacy. We are all someone’s consumer, and even small businesses owners need to think carefully and logically about areas in their business where personal information is processed or stored, and what vulnerabilities may exist in their processes.

“For instance, we all receive CVs that contain heaps of personal and even sensitive information. Often, after a host of interviews, only the person’s CV that is employed, is securely transferred to a digital or physical vault in HR. What happens to the rest of the CVs that did not make it? It is the responsibility of any business to have policies and procedures to timeously and responsibly destroy such information. Simply identifying these vulnerabilities and implementing logical measures to manage them, is a good start for any size business.

“GDPR is a good thing that could be very bad news for companies, if they fail to provide evidentiary and auditable processes and adequate IT security to protect personal data.”

Goldstuck adds that it is not only important, but essential, that South African companies have a global view on data protection. “Something as simple as having a website hosted on an international platform can make a company liable to sanction under GDPR.”

Teaming up with tech

When it comes to local companies complying with the seemingly daunting and complicated GDPR in a relatively pain-free way, experts agree technology will be key. Software systems that offer automation, content management, enterprise resource planning and accounting, among others, will become a lifeline for many companies in their quest to comply.

Van der Merwe says existing paper-based processes and antiquated electronic systems that were created prior to factors such as the GDPR and POPI, pose major risks of contravening their laws and directives. “It is all about how businesses – and governments themselves – are going to align their physical and data processing practices with the new requirements and legislation. New regulations that enforce concepts such as the right to be forgotten pose major challenges if not considered in the process from the outset.”

Goldstuck says, while the data protection laws necessitate considerable changes in the ways businesses operate and interact with customers, good compliance systems will provide most of the safeguards they need.

“Businesses will have to get permission for almost every interaction with customers, they will have to become more discerning in what information they require from customers, and they will have to institute strict compliance systems to ensure they do not fall foul of these laws. As a result, compliance officers, CIOs and CTOs will have more direct roles to play in customer strategy.”

Don’t delay

Although not yet enforceable, the commencement date for POPI has been looming large on the horizon for some time now, with many expecting it by the end of 2018.

Despite this, say experts, many organisations are far from being ready. Goldstuck says: “Most large businesses have geared themselves up to comply with POPI, although many have not put this gearing up into effect. However, there is also an impression that many companies are simply not bothering until they are forced.”

Forrester’s 2018 predictions indicate that a whopping 80% of firms will not comply with GDPR regulations by May this year.

This has to change – and fast – says Smit. “Businesses can no longer just take a backseat and hope this will pass by or fly over.  Active steps will have to be taken in an organisation, for instance staff training, risk assessments and creating an ethical culture within an organisation, specifically with regards to processing personal information.”

 

 

[REFERENCES]

  1. EUR-Lex – Access to European Law
  2. org – Web learning resources for the EU General Data Protection Regulation
  3. Government Gazette (justice.gov.za) – Act No. 4 of 2013: Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013
  4. Michalson’s – POPI Act Summary in Plain Language
  5. Forrester – Predictions 2018: A Year of Reckoning

Credit providers to proceed with caution

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man-and-women-window-shipping-at-mallCredit-granting companies are urged to continue to carry out stringent checks on prospective lenders, following a recent ruling that relaxes affordability assessment requirements.

While many local retailers have lauded a recent High Court ruling that binned a legal clause requiring lenders to demand payslips and financial statements from credit applicants, the move has been met with raised eyebrows from SA’s credit regulator – which is concerned it may lead to reckless lending.

Indeed now more than ever, in light of the historic ruling, it is worth reiterating how vital it is for credit lending – in whatever form – to be approached with caution. If you are a business owner that deals with individuals or other businesses, the importance of carrying out thorough checks when assessing customers’ credit status cannot be stressed enough.

While it is unquestionably important for businesses to have customers, financially vulnerable customers only spell trouble – both for your company’s bottom line and the customer, who you as a business should be protecting.

Court ruling

On March 16 this year, the Western Cape High Court made a ruling that binned the clause of the National Credit Regulations that, since 2015, had made it compulsory for credit lenders to acquire payslips and financial statements from prospective borrowers before granting credit.

The judgment applies to all forms of credit lending, from store credit to microloans.

Prior to the recent ruling, subsection 23 A(4) of the National Credit Regulations required credit providers to obtain three recent payslips or bank statements as proof of income from applicants who were permanently employed – and three recent documented proofs of income or bank statements from those who did not receive a salary. If the applicant could not provide proof of income, credit providers had to then get three recent bank or financial statements from them (see page 18 of the Government Gazette, 13 March 2015).

While affordability assessments have always been a requirement of the National Credit Act (NCA), prior to the more stringent requirements put in place in 2015, credit providers were allowed to decide on their own means of carrying these out.

This year’s Western Cape High Court ruling – spurred on by applications by Truworths, the Foschini Group and the Mr Price Group – essentially returns the affordability assessment subsection of the NCA back to its former, more moderate, self.

The three retailers brought the case against the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Credit Regulator (NCR) because they claimed the said affordability assessment regulation adversely affected their businesses.

Continue with caution

However, the NCR, which believes an important tool in the fight against reckless lending and borrowing has been removed, is not happy with the ruling, to the extent it is considering an appeal.

The Credit Ombud, meanwhile, has also reportedly greeted the ruling with caution.

News site iol cites NCR company secretary, Lesiba Mashapa, urging credit providers to continue to carry out thorough credit checks despite the ruling: “We appeal to credit providers to continue to apply the income verification standards set by the regulations to protect themselves and consumers from reckless lending and borrowing.”

While the credit regulations in terms of affordability assessments have been significantly relaxed, Section 81 of the NCA, which requires credit providers to take “reasonable steps” to assess consumers’ financial stability before granting credit, remains in force.

Mashapa has urged credit providers to proceed with caution, and continue to carry out stringent credit checks on prospective customers. “[Credit providers] should request consumers to produce proof of income.”

pbVerify offers a range of B2B and B2C Credit Risk Management tools for any size business in South Africa that grants credit. For more information visit our products page HERE

 

[REFERENCES]

  1. Credit Ombud – National Credit Regulations including affordability (Chapter 3: Page 17)
  2. The Department of Justice & Constitutional Development – National Credit Act (Page 114)
  3. Southern African Legal Information Institute – Truworths Limited and Others v Minister of Trade and Industry and Others (4375/2016) [2018] ZAWCHC 41
  4. iol – High Court ruling removes barriers to credit
  5. Business Day – Court ruling leaves credit providers in catch-22 situation

Data protection: SA companies need to take a global stance

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how-to-comply-with-the-data-protection-act-457501399With the implementation of the EU’s data protection laws just around the corner, local entities need to study up on how it could affect them.

D-day for implementation of the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is just three months away – and South African organisations are by no means off the hook.

If you are a South African entity that handles individuals’ personal data, you will be acutely aware of our country’s data protection law – the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act – but have you considered how the looming GDPR affects the way you manage clients’ personal information?

The fact of the matter is, if you are a locally-based business that offers goods or services to EU customers, you also deal with personal information or data relating to EU citizens’ – and you are just as responsible for complying with the GDPR as any EU business.

Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at customer communication firm PBSA, points out that any entity controlling or processing data relating to EU citizens is affected by the GDPR. “Controlling refers to any organisation that states why and how data is processed, while a processor is any party doing the actual processing of the data, whether based in the EU, or not.”

GDPR vs POPI

Van der Merwe says it is crucially important for local companies with dealings abroad to do their homework and familiarise themselves with the GDPR’s ground rules. “Companies could be fined heavily under GDPR regulations if they fail to provide evidentiary and auditable processes, as well as adequate IT security, to protect personal data.”

The GDPR is a regulation borne out of the European Parliament, Council of the European Union and European Commission’s joint intent to strengthen and unify data protection EU citizens.

Non-compliance with the GDPR comes with a hefty fine of up to €20 million (about R290 million) – or 4% of annual sales.

Similar to SA’s POPI Act, the GDPR is all about data protection. Data includes things like a person’s name, email address and phone number, as well as information collected by website cookies like internet browsing habits.

Breaching rules laid out in the POPI Act comes with a R10 million fine and/or a jail sentence.

Van der Merwe summarises the parallels between the two data-protection directives: “POPI and GDPR are similar, in that they both aim to strengthen the protection of personal information. They differ in their approach, in that the GDPR takes a wider, more global perspective that includes anyone, anywhere either controlling or processing – or both – data relating to EU citizens.”

Auditable business processes

A big part of compliance, when it comes to both the POPI Act and the GDPR, specifically involves audit trails – something PBSA’s digital signature and workflow product, SignFlow, is heavily centred on.

For evidentiary purposes and in order for any company to assert GDPR compliance, the automated management of an audit trail is imperative.

Van der Merwe says SignFlow is can assist customers in their strategy to automate and digitise processes in a responsible and compliant manner. “Business Process Automation is at the forefront of our technology development at SignFlow, including tools like DocFlow, CaseFlow and our digital customer on-boarding tools.”

At the core of SignFlow, he says, is Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). “PKI manages users’ private keys, and signs and secures documents using Public Key Cryptography. Not only does this make documents tamper-evident after they’ve been signed, but the entire operation is conducted in a secure network over encrypted secure socket layers between the public, personal devices and private servers.”

Unlike paper files and systems managing email attachments, this portal fully controls and audits the workflow and communication channels between interacting parties. “This greatly reduces the risk of data leaks,” says van der Merwe.

“The system enhances non-repudiation, creating a digital trail of undeniable events that prove intent and identity.”

With GDPR set to come into effect on 25 May 2018, and the high stakes attached to non-compliance, South African companies simply cannot afford not to take a global view on data protection. “The protection of personal information goes far beyond just the POPI Act for local companies dealing with international customers,” says van der Merwe.

 

[REFERENCES]

  1. Digiday – For the GDPR-curious: WTF is the Article 29 Working Party?
  2. The Digiday Guide to GDPR (PDF)
  3. The Sun – What is GDPR, what does it stand for, when is the deadline in 2018 and how can you check if a business is compliant?
  4. Michalsons – What does the GDPR mean for the POPI Act?
    POPI commencement date or POPI effective date starts the clock
  5. Wikipedia – General Data Protection Regulation
  6. IOL – Protection of Personal Information Act soon to become a reality
  7. ITWeb – Unpacking the POPI Act: The ins and outs of protecting personal information

Breaking the Crèche Syndrome cycle

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Parents

The phenomenon whereby crèche-going children are repeatedly plagued by viruses can be beaten with a simple & affordable solution: an air purifier.

 For parents of young children, the term “Crèche Syndrome” will most likely be both very familiar and utterly dreaded. Familiar, because the phenomenon – which involves crèche-attending children coming down with repeated episodes of illness – is both very real and very common; and dreaded, because it is something both hugely disruptive and largely out of parents’ hands.

According to Cape Town-based paediatrician Dr Willem Smit, Crèche Syndrome is not a condition that features in medical literature, yet it is “probably the most common chronic condition seen by paediatricians in private practice”.

Dr Smit explains, “Crèche Syndrome is a condition of recurring wet cough and excessive upper respiratory snottiness and secretions in a [day care or crèche] setting in the age group of 0-3 years.”

He says crèche-attending children can get as many as 10 -20 upper airway infections per year, mainly common colds caused by viruses. “During each episode they could have 10-20 days of a runny nose and a cough as well as fever for the first three days (72hours).”

This is not taking into account the often serious secondary infections and complications that can occur from viral infections, Smit points out.

Multiple days away from work to look after a sick child is something no working parent can afford, nor is the trauma of seeing little ones in distress something any parent ever wants to have to endure.

Tried and tested – research confirms results

The good news is that, by taking one simple step, crèches and day care centres can protect the children they are trusted custodians over, and break the ongoing cycle of viruses and infections that afflict them – especially at this time of year. That step is investing in an air purifier.

Studies have shown that using an air purifier in a crèche or day care environment is an effective means of removing and preventing the airborne germs and pollutants that cause children’s ongoing health issues.

According to Healthy But Smart, a social enterprise dedicated to helping people make evidence-based decisions regarding their health, there is a good amount of research that has been done on the effectiveness of air purifiers.

“Recent studies…showed that air purifiers are efficient not only as a protection to the more obvious allergies, but also to cardio vascular health and other hazards.”

The organisation adds that, aside from general health benefits, studies show improvement in asthma management and the health of allergy sufferers when a good quality air purifier – such as those that utilise high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters – is used.

All of PBSA’s air purifiers work by way of HEPA filters that clean and purify the air that is circulated and inhaled indoors. HEPA filters physically trap the tiny germs and particles that are merely recirculated into the air – and exacerbated – by cleaning agents.

In a nutshell, an air purifier’s job is three-fold: kill germs, filter particles and remove volatile organic compounds (hazardous air pollutants that can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, and even damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system).

When it is children’s health that is at stake, cleaning the air they breathe with a proven solution – air purification – should be at the top of schools’ priority lists.

For information on pbOffice’s (a PBSA division) range of air purification systems, visit our Air Purifiers web page, or call 010 300 4893.

 

REFERENCES

  1. Dr Willem Smit – https://www.facebook.com/drwillemsmit/posts/1061171520655407
  2. Wikipedia: Volatile Organic Compounds – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatile_organic_compound
  3. Healthy But Smart: Are Air Purifiers Helpful? The Research Reviewed – https://healthybutsmart.com/air-purifiers/

Why is it important to credit check prospective customers?

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credit-check-signThe importance of knowing the credit worthiness of new customers cannot be emphasised enough.

It is undeniably important for any business to have customers – whether it be individual consumers, other businesses or suppliers – but it is even more important that the customers you do business with are reliable when it comes to paying you for the services or products you tender.

And, while it may seem counterproductive – even absurd – to turn business away, the value of having quality, paying customers who settle their bills on time, cannot be compared to the value (or lack thereof) of having customers who become a burden because they are constantly defaulting on payments.

The bottom line is, you should never be afraid to turn non-creditworthy customers away because, at the end of the day, it is your company’s bottom line that is on the chopping block.

No business – no matter how big or small – can afford to jeopardise profits. In fact, bad debt and cash flow issues have been positioned as the two main reasons start-ups and small businesses fold.

You also need to be aware that, legally, if you either fail to carry out a credit check or you decide to give a non-creditworthy candidate the green light, you have no recourse down the line should they default on payment and, inevitably, your best option would be to write the debt off.

So, without question, it pays to do your homework. In fact, the advantages of carrying out thorough credit checks go beyond just protecting your profits. The process also allows for intensified sales efforts overall, as these can be confidently spent on the right kind of client, the kind that will add to your income – and not take away from it.

pbVerify offers a range of B2B and B2C Credit Risk Management tools for any size business in South Africa that grants credit. For more information visit our products page HERE

pbVerify intros new verification product

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pbVerify Consumer Marriage Status reportSA’s leading data bureau has added the Consumer Marital Status Report to its suite of credit vetting products.

In the name of protecting your organisation and potentially saving it huge amounts of money, it is imperative that you, as a credit-granting facility, carry out thorough credit checks on new customers.

That is why – as part of our ongoing quest to place all the tools our customers need to manage their credit risk at their fingertips – pbVerify has introduced a new credentials verification product – the Consumer Marital Status Report*.

This latest addition, which forms part of pbVerify’s comprehensive Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) credit check suite, allows pbVerify users to quickly and accurately verify the names and identity number of any consumer’s spouse.

While the Consumer Marital Status Report comes primarily in response to our clients’ need to authenticate the marital status of an applicant requesting a financial service, it is also a very useful tool for tracing agents, who may need to access spouse details of customers in default.

All the user needs to access the marital details of the applicant in question, is the applicant’s name, surname and 13-digit South African identity number. These details are then checked against Home Affairs data, after which the system returns the marital details, including the applicant’s spouse’s (if any) first name, surname and identity number.

*The Consumer Marital Status Report costs R7.50 – or 75 pbVerify credits – and is available after registration to any business that grants credit to other businesses or consumers.

For more information on pbVerify’s suite of B2B and B2C credit risk management products click HERE.

New partnership simplifies company registration process

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company-registration-MalaysiaCompany and domain names can now be registered as one, making it easier for companies looking to manage credit risk to access pbVerify’s full suite of services.      

A recent partnership between three South African agencies, allowing company and domain names to be registered together, has streamlined the process of registering local companies and, in turn, of accessing pbVerify’s suite of verification products.

Earlier this month it was announced that the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC), the ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) and the ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR) had collaborated to make it possible for new companies to register with the commission and claim a parallel co.za domain name at the same time.

The move will not only give new companies greater control over their intellectual property, it also significantly simplifies the process of acquiring unique online credentials – a requirement for access to many professional services, including pbVerify’s credit vetting products.

Daily online news portal, SME South Africa, cites ZACR CEO Lucky Masilela as saying the three-party agreement enables new enterprises to protect their fledgling online identities. “This innovative offering seamlessly combines the offline and online worlds in a way that provides total convenience and protection for start-ups.”

Credit management services

pbVerify is South Africa’s leading data bureau, offering small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and corporates all the information needed in order to make informed, intelligent business decisions to the end of mitigating credit risk.

The easiest way to verify businesses, people and property in South Africa, pbVerify’s suite of credit management services includes business credit checks, CIPC business and director searches, Home Affairs ID verification, SARS advanced VAT verification and bank account verification – among others.

Minimum requirements for companies seeking full access to pbVerify’s services are: a business email address; a business landline number and valid business registration details pertaining to an active business.

Now, thanks to the CIPC, ZADNA and ZACR partnership, companies can quickly and painlessly ensure they are able to tick all the above boxes.

Masilela describes the partnership as a “a fantastic example of domain name space pioneering coupled with out-the-box thinking in the area of public-private partnerships” and says the organisation is looking to launch further services for new enterprises, start-ups and other commercial users in future.Masilela describes the partnership as a “a fantastic example of domain name space pioneering coupled with out-the-box thinking in the area of public-private partnerships” and says the organisation is looking to launch further services for new enterprises, start-ups and other commercial users in future.

For more information on pbVerify’s services call 010 300 4898 or send an email to support@pbverify.co.za.

 

REFERENCE:

SME South Africa – Attention Startups! Company and Domain Names Can Now be Registered Together

 

Clean air, longer life

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breathe easy indoorsExtend your life expectancy by cleaning the indoor air you breathe with an air purifier.

You eat well, don’t smoke, exercise fairly regularly and drink alcohol in moderation – and yet, some days, you feel like you’ve been hit by a large bus.

Sound familiar?

Because air pollutants are often not visible to the naked eye, many of us don’t realise just how debilitating poor quality indoor air can be on the human body – but the effects of indoor air pollution should not be overlooked. They range from short-term afflictions – like eye, nose and throat irritations – to more serious long-term effects like respiratory disease and even cardiovascular conditions.

And, while we may think we can eliminate common culprits like pet dander, dust, smoke and mould spores by keeping a clean home or office, the fact is that dusting and vacuuming are simply not enough to remove all these daily pollutants from the air we breathe.

But fret not, because it’s not all doom and gloom for those after a life of health and longevity in a world where clean air seems like an unattainable ideal – help is at hand.

Think of air purifiers as pollution-busting superheroes – except these clean air crusaders are by no means fictitious or out of reach – they are practical, affordable and dependable devices that have been proven to improve and lengthen lives, if not save them.

Air purifiers work by way of HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters that clean and purify the air that is circulated – and that you breathe daily – indoors. HEPA filters physically trap the tiny particles that vacuum cleaners and other cleaning equipment merely recirculates into the air.

A health must-have in your home or office, air purifiers not only clear airborne bacteria quickly and quietly, they are also very effective in the removal of odours, allergens and other pollutants that are inevitably present in indoor air. In fact, research has shown that HEPA filters remove about 99.9% of dust particles and impurities from the air.

According to The New York Times, studies have found improved air quality has prevented tens of thousands of premature deaths from heart and respiratory disease. Simply put, “Clean air, longer life” (Harvard Magazine).

The conclusion: air purification equals the removal of impurities…equals clean air…equals better health…equals longer life.

So you have to ask yourself, can you afford not to invest in an air purifier?

For information on pbOffice’s range of air purification systems, visit our Air Purifiers web page, or call 010 300 4893.

Optimise your business mail system with a Relay inserter

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Relay 1000When it comes to the mail you send out to customers, time and cost savings are just two of the many ways in which your business can benefit from a quality inserter.  

pbOffice, a division of customer communication firm PBSA, has just introduced a new, improved range of mail inserters, serving mailing needs from small- to large-scale. Read more about the new Relay range of inserters, manufactured by Pitney Bowes, HERE.

Wondering why you should invest in an inserter for your business in the first place?

Before going into the huge advantages an inserter can bring your business in terms of productivity, efficiency and professionalism, it is important to note that traditional mail as a means of engaging customers is far from dead.

On the contrary, traditional mail has been widely advocated as the most effective means of communication. People have a strong sense of nostalgia when it comes to physical mail and – if done properly – this means of communication and marketing can really help your business stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Mail folding and inserting machines not only give your business mail the professional touch, they also ensure the right mail gets out on time, to the right customer – and far more speedily and painlessly than with a manual system.

If you are sending mail out the manual way, your process probably goes something like the time-consuming and tedious process outlined below:

  1. Gather all printed documents, inserts and outer envelopes.
  2. Manually fold documents, trying to make them look as professional and neat as possible.
  3. Select and include all the necessary inserts, checking and double-checking these are all in the correct order.
  4. Manually insert the documents and inserts you just put in order into envelopes.
  5. You are now ready to mail the one piece of mail you just prepared (but you probably have hundreds more to go).
  6. Put plasters on your paper cuts.
  7. Repeat

With a Relay inserter, this could be turned into a simple, speedy and precise process – like the one below:

  1. Load documents, inserts and envelopes.
  2. Select job on keypad.
  3. Stand back as the machine prepares the job.
  4. Ready to mail.

But time-saving is just one of the many advantages that comes with investing in a Relay inserter for your business.

An inserter will also allow you to correspond with your customers more regularly; easily add revenue-generating inserts; improve the security of mail with envelopes that stay sealed; align mailing addresses for a precise fit in envelope windows and deliver frequent promotional mailings.

If you are a business that regularly communicates with customers via mail, a Relay inserter is not just a luxury – it is a must-have.

Relay inserters are machines you can stake your business on.

For more information call 010 300 4893.

 

PBSA upgrades to Relay inserter range

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Relay 3000 & 4000The customer communication firm has just launched a new suite of mail folding and inserting machines that will fit any size business’ needs.

Being a company that believes in moving with the times – and bringing its customers only state-of-the-art technology – PBSA has upgraded its folding and inserting machines to the Relay range from global technology company Pitney Bowes.

The move gives pbOffice – the division of PBSA that provides automation solutions to serve mailing, marketing and communication applications for small and medium-sized enterprises – the ability to better serve its customers by being able to more accurately align machine specifications to specific application needs.

Quieter to operate and more aesthetically pleasing, the new Relay inserter range is more office-friendly. More importantly though, the Relay ranges drives higher performance, increasing productivity and allowing you to focus your time and energy on driving your business.

The Relay range of inserters comes with a number of vital features and scores of benefits. These state-of-the-art machines come with guarantees of:

  1. Data protection for your customers: This is an invaluable benefit, especially given the country’s personal information laws (does the term POPI Act ring any bells?).
  2. More productivity, less wasted time & money: Relay inserters offer a proven, easy-to-use platform that delivers fast, accurate and affordable mail assembly.
  3. 100% Accuracy – every time: The Relay range of inserters was specifically designed to deliver accurate, reliable processing of mail – so you can be confident your mail is not only getting out on time, but the right information is getting to the right customer. Every time.
  4. Ease of use: Even if you’re not technically inclined, you can be up and running with your Relay inserter in no time, ensureing your monthly mail gets out quickly and easily.
  5. Customisation: You shouldn’t have to tailor your mail programmes to the limitations of your equipment. With the Relay range of inserters, you have the ability to process various sizes of letters with the option of processing flat-sized envelopes or mailers.

For more information and model specifications relating to the various machines offered by pbOffice, click on the links below:

For more information on pbOffice products and services call 010 300 4893.

Mining and the air you breathe – how you can mitigate the health risks

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coal mining pollutionThe effects of mining on human health are shocking. Take control of the air you breathe indoors with an air purification system.

South Africa is a mining mecca and, while the country’s mining riches may be great for the economy, the same cannot be said for our health.

Fortunately, however, the serious health risks associated with mining pollution – as outlined in this article, below – can be considerably mitigated by purifying the indoor air you breathe at home and at work with a good quality air purification system.

pbOffice, a division of PBSA, offers a range German-made air purifiers, humidifiers and combo units to serve all household and business premises indoor air purification requirements. Designed and manufactured by Ideal in Balingen, Germany our state-of-the-art devices work on a multi-stage air purification system, which filters almost 100% of pollutants from the air before they reach your lungs.

Mining in South Africa and your health

The adverse effects of mining activity on human health – and the environment at large – is a stark reality that environmentalists, politicians and civil activists alike have been trying to grapple with for years now. Unfortunately, it is a reality we cannot escape.

South Africa – the world’s third largest coal exporter – is also home to a host of other minable minerals, including diamonds, gold, platinum, palladium, chromium, uranium, manganese, ilmenite, zirconium, vanadium, rutile and vermiculite.

Over the past few months there has been a heightened focus on the effects of coal mining, in particular, on human health. In September, UK-based air quality and health expert Dr Mike Holland visited South Africa and uncovered some shocking air quality issues surrounding the country’s coal-mining activities.

According to Holland, air pollution from coal-fired power stations kills more than 2 200 South Africans and causes thousands of cases of bronchitis and asthma in adults and children every year. The accumulative monetary damage to the economy – which includes healthcare costs and lost working days – is more than R30-billion a year.

The recent visit follows in-depth research undertaken by Holland last year. Commissioned by local non-profit environmental justice service groundWork, Holland’s findings are contained in a report entitled Health impacts of coal-fired power plants in South Africa.

Shocking figures

These are some of the estimated annual impacts Holland attributes to air pollution from the burning of coal in South Africa:

  • 2 239 deaths – 157 from lung cancer, 1110 from ischaemic heart disease, 73 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 719 from strokes, and 180 from lower respiratory infection
  • 2 781 cases of chronic bronchitis in adults
  • 9 533 cases of bronchitis in children aged 6 to 12
  • 94 680 days of asthma symptoms in children aged 5 to 19
  • 2 379 hospital admissions
  • 3 972 902 restricted activity days (all ages)
  • 996 628 lost working days

On 26 September 2017, the South African Medical Research Council released research findings on Air Quality and Human Health in South Africa that corroborate the gravity of the situation, as laid out in Holland’s reports.

The council report outlines how air pollution plays a direct role in a number of adverse health conditions in adults and children, and points out that the situation is only set to worsen, due to climate change.

The report highlights indoor air as one of the biggest culprits in its report background: “In 2015, 6.4 million deaths (and 167.2 DALYs*) were attributed to air pollution globally. Household air pollution accounted for 2.8 million of these deaths [and] ranked [as the] 7th leading risk factor attributing DALYs globally in 2013.”

Reduce your risk

There is an often-quoted statistic that indicates many adults spend up to 90% of their time indoors, between home and the office.

What’s worse, is that children are now starting to spend more time indoors in South Africa too. Earlier this year, in February, Stats SA’s Victims of Crime survey revealed that most South Africans spend less time in public open spaces or allow their children to play outside for fear of crime.

When you consider that some studies have shown indoor air to be two to five times more polluted than the air outside, it is clear that it is the indoor air that we breathe which should be our first line of attack when it comes to defending our – and our children’s – lungs.

And this goes for office workers, too. According to research conducted by the University of California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, employers can improve workforce performance by up to 10% through improvements in the quality of indoor air.

Air purifiers have been proven to limit the risks of illness caused by airborne pollutants by eliminating the vast majority of airborne substances that are a danger to our health and well-being, and cleaning the air we breathe.

In light of our environmental circumstances, never has it been more crucial than it is today, to ensure air we take into our lungs on a daily basis – both at home and at work – is clean. Invest in your health today, by investing in an air purifier.

For more information on the various Ideal models and features, visit our Air Purifiers web page or call 010 300 4893.

[NOTES]

* The disability-adjusted life year (DALY) is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.

[REFERENCES]

  1. Wikipedia – Economy of South Africa
  2. Wikipedia – Mining industry of South Africa
  3. co.za – Effects of Mining on the Environment and Human Health
  4. ee Publishers – Air pollution from coal power stations deadly
  5. Dr Mike Holland – Health impacts of coal-fired power generation in South Africa (PDF)
  6. South African Medical Research Council – Air Quality and Human Health in South Africa (PDF)
  7. Huffington Post – How employee productivity chokes on indoor air
  8. EPA’s report on the Environment – The importance of indoor air quality
  9. Sandton Chronicle – Stats SA – South Africans spend more time indoors because of crime

The future of digital onboarding is here

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An integration between two of pbDigital’s software platforms makes it possible for financial institutions to digitally onboard customers in record time.

A recent integration between SignFlow and pbVerify has created a platform for digitally onboarding customers that is about to change the way credit is granted –in terms of risk management, compliance and convenience.

Although pbVerify has offered digital onboarding – an advanced customer activation product designed for financial institutions – for some time, never has this tool been as powerful as it is now, with the incorporation of SignFlow digital signatures.

Digital onboarding was introduced specifically to A) improve the customer experience by making it easier for them to activate and use financial services products, and B) give financial institutions a more secure and scalable means of growing their business.

That said, it makes no sense for institutions and their customers to have to switch back to manual halfway through the digital process of onboarding, to finalise the process with signatures – the old way of doing things.

Since pbDigital is all about innovation, meet the new way of doing things…

Now, with pbVerify’s integration with SignFlow, you can say goodbye to the expensive and onerous manual methods associated with finalising the process of customer onboarding – printing of forms, signing by hand, scanning, uploading and emailing – and say hello to a new fast and fail-safe system that allows institutions to onboard customers entirely online, in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.

No longer do red tape and geographical circumstances play a part in how long it takes to finalise the onboarding process. With SignFlow, it is simply a case of sending the completed online form to the designated signatory or signatories for approval – all via a secure, legal online platform. No more physical records, no more running around, no more waiting – and, most importantly, no more jeopardising of customer data.

Compliance & security

In today’s legal milieu, with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) of 2001 and the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act of 2013 binding businesses to stricter data protection criteria than ever before, there is no margin for mistake.

With pbVerify and SignFlow behind your onboarding process, FICA and POPI compliance concerns are a thing of the past.

These software platforms – now integrated into one seamless onboarding solution – offer financial institutions an efficient and guaranteed means of making sure business processes and IT systems comply with the law when dealing with customer data.

 

This is how our new onboarding solution works, in a nutshell:

Front-end: Customer Online App

  1. The customer fills out pbVerify’s intelligent digital onboarding form (complete with auto-population and including Home Affairs/CIPC verification, as applicable).
  2. Details of the designated signatory or signatories (approver/s) are entered.
  3. The signatory/signatories are notified pbVerify has received a customer activation form, of which they are the listed party/parties responsible for sign-off.
  4. The said party/parties follow the link provided, and sign the application form online using SignFlow.
  5. The application process is complete.

Back-end: Admin/Credit Control

  1. Once the customer has completed the application, admin/credit control will get notified of a pending application and can log in to the admin portal, in order to run the required credit and compliance checks.
  2. The digitally-signed agreement/contract can be downloaded online for review and compliance validity confirmation.
  3. If required, different checks can be generated such as CIPC, Bank Code Updates and Full Credit reports.
  4. Once checks are done, the system can notify the relevant department of the application status and pending credit facility.

NOTE: All internal checks are scoped according to customer-specific scope and requirements. This is all customisable, according to business’ specific needs.

Welcome to the future of digital onboarding – an error-free, fast, secure way of procuring new customers.

 

ABOUT OUR COMPANY

pbVerify and SignFlow are products of pbDigital, a division of customer communications firm PBSA.

About pbDigital

pbDigital is the software division of PBSA, which specialises in a range of software products designed to help clients communicate more efficiently with their customers.

pbDigital’s software offerings can be classified according to the following categories:

  • eSign document workflow, digital signature and PKI integration solutions (SignFlow https://www.signflow.co.za/)
  • Credit risk management, data & credit bureau API integration and customer on-boarding
  • Enterprise content and document management
  • Business process automation software with multi-channel output tools and workflow

 

About PBSA

With a rich history of innovation dating back over 90 years, PBSA (formerly Pitney Bowes SA) is a leading customer communications company, offering software, equipment and services to help companies improve operational efficiencies and connect with their customers in more meaningful ways.

Based in Midrand, Gauteng, PBSA understands both hardware and software solutions and is optimally positioned to provide a secure, committed support infrastructure to its Southern African customer base. The company’s solutions help companies engage customers, gain business insight, manage document workflow and ultimately optimise overall business performance.

PBSA believes innovation and growth go hand-in-hand with long-held ideals such as collaboration, integrity and accountability.

PBSA embraces the fast-changing world of technology, which today sets the tone for the business going forward. The company has transformed – and continues to transform – from a purely paper-based to an integrated digital business that serves the market through its own time-honoured patented technology and an extensive network of channel partners.

Everything the company does has one goal – to help its clients communicate more effectively with their customers.

Hello clean air, goodbye hay fever

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summer allergies

Investing in a good quality air purifier will create a pure-air haven for you and your family, curbing those pesky summer sniffles.

It’s the height of summer, many South Africans’ favourite season and a time when you should be enjoying the radiance and outdoor activities the season brings – but you feel like you’ve been battered with a winter flu stick.

If this sounds like you – runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and nose – you may be one of the many people who suffers from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever. This is a type of inflammation in the nose caused by the immune system overreacting to allergens in the air. Although pollen is the primary culprit, other common airborne irritants like pet dander, smoke and dust exacerbate the condition.

According to the Allergy Society of South Africa, up to 20% of South Africans suffer from allergic reactions, with hay fever being rife – especially during change of season. And, although this often overlooked ailment does not come with the same level of notoriety that winter conditions like flu do, it can be just as debilitating.

And it is not only during waking hours that hay fever affects health and performance. According to research, two-thirds of hay fever sufferers continue to experience symptoms while trying to sleep. “[These people] are losing an average of more than an hour of sleep a night as they struggle with streaming noses and itchy eyes,” writes the UK’s Daily Mail.

“An estimated 80 per cent of people with asthma are at increased risk of having an attack because they also suffer from hay fever.”

Now for the good news

But don’t cancel your summer plans just yet – the good news is, there are sure-fire means of managing and mitigating hay fever symptoms considerably. pbOffice, a division of PBSA, offers you one of the most safe and effective of these with its German-made indoor air purification systems by IDEAL.

Studies have shown that people spend around 90% of their time indoors – a figure that is rising, not abating – and indoor air can be up to 100 times dirtier than the air outside. Unlike the outdoors, airborne irritants and bacteria are largely trapped, churning constantly in the indoor air that we spend so much time breathing in.

A good quality air purifier in your home and office environment can trap up to 100% of these summer spoilers, including germs, dust, pet dander, smoke, pollen, mould spores, odours and vapours and various allergens.

Award-winning online information source HowStuffWorks, confirms air purifiers – in particular those that have met the strict regulations and attained HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) certification – can help with allergies.

“No matter how much you clean your home, you cannot rid the air completely of allergens and other airborne irritants. Air purifiers are devices that are designed to clean the air in your house and improve the quality of air you and your family breathe.”

pbOffice’s range of top-quality air purifiers feature all the vital mechanisms that are needed to turn contaminated, harmful indoor air into clean, allergen-free air – including HEPA filters and intelligent air quality sensors.

Our devices work on a multi-stage air purification system, which filters almost 100% of the smallest particles and pathogenic germs from the polluted air before they reach your airway.

Investing in an air purifier for your home and office will allow you to breathe and sleep better, by turning your indoor environment into a safe, clean haven away from the wave of airborne irritants that vex you on a daily basis.

For more information, visit our Air Purifiers web page or call 010 300 4893.

SignFlow engineers terminate menacing Bitcoin virus

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pic for SignFlow bitcoin blogA dangerous Bitcoin-mining virus has been detected and disabled by two of our IT experts.

A potentially devastating Bitcoin-mining virus has been stopped in its tracks, thanks to the vigilance and quick actions of SignFlow (a PBSA brand) engineers William Vermaak and Morne Wilken.

Vermaak and Wilken detected malicious activity on one of their customer’s servers last week, immediately analysed the source of the virus and un-infected the server.

According to Vermaak, the virus had gone undetected by all available virus packages. “We submitted samples to ESET the next day and [the company] immediately responded from its virus lab in Denmark, confirming the virus was wild and that detection for the threat had been added to its latest definition updates.”

Founded in 1992, ESET is a Slovakia-based IT security company that offers anti-virus and firewall products such as ESET NOD32. The security company named the virus winlog.VBS – VBS/TrojanDownloader.Agent.QE trojan winlog.bat – BAT/CoinMiner.UG Trojan.

By the time of detection, the virus had already infected 0.04% of Windows computers in South Africa, while Russia was hardest hit, with 0.5% of all Windows computers infected. Windows is currently the most popular end-user operating system in the world.

Essentially a Bitcoin-mining virus, the Winlog Virus downloads a Bitcoin CPU miner on the victim’s computer, and then mines Bitcoins for the virus originator. Vermaak says this type of virus is particularly evasive. “It tries to make itself resilient and configures various system schedules to start it again if it’s stopped. The virus will also install itself on the system as a system service.

“The virus infiltrates the System Registry and changes some keys to make itself run again if it’s shut down. Shortcuts on the victims’s Desktop are modified to run the virus and these then run the original program, in an attempt to mask it’s presence. The virus also copies itself into various other files on the system – including Microsoft.exe – to try ensure resilience.”

Prevalent pest

According to Manuel Corregedor, chief operations officer at information security company Telspace Systems, Bitcoin-mining viruses have become rampant. “There has definitely, in recent times, been an increase in Bitcoin-mining viruses – in particular the diversification of the type of currencies they mine.”

Almost three months ago, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s Internet advisor, Herman Klimenko, issued a dire public warning that 20 to 30 percent of all computers in Russia were infected with computer malware designed to turn devices into Bitcoin-mining machines.

At the time Klimenko told Moscow-based news broadcaster RBC that viruses that install bitcoin-mining software are the “most common and most dangerous” type of computer malware in existence.

Corregedor says the main issue Bitcoin-mining malware creates, is that it negatively impacts the performance of the victim’s computer. “[The malware] does this by stealing/utilising the infected computer’s resources (CPU, GPU, RAM, etc). This may result, over time, in increased wear and tear, which may cause the computer to fail or cease.” On top of this destructive consequence, he adds, there are other costs associated with increased power consumption.

But this destructive malware goes even further. Apart from the said performance impact, Corregedor notes that – apart from mining Bitcoins – it  has also been seen launching web- and network-based attacks, such denial of service attacks, login brute force attacks and web application attacks.

“It should also be noted that the danger [with Bitcoin-mining malware] is further increased due to the fact that [it] has been found to be infecting Internet of Things devices i.e. web cameras, routers, Network Attached Storage devices, etc.  The infections have mainly occurred due to these devices having default credentials configured on them – for example user name admin and password admin on a router.”

Protection pointers

Corregedor says users can protect themselves against these kinds of malicious virtual attacks by ensuring their operating systems (Windows, Linux etc) are up to date with the latest security updates (patches).

He gives the following pointers:

  • Ensure you have anti-virus software installed and that it is up to date
  • Ensure your devices are not using any default login credentials and/or weak login credentials, in particular devices such as routers
  • Enable/install a Firewall
  • Install a HIPS (Host Intrusion Prevention System)
  • Be cautious/aware when it comes to receiving unexpected emails with attachments and/or installing potentially unwanted software

“Attackers are constantly scanning the internet looking for devices that are not up to date and/or are not configured securely (for example using default credentials).  Once such systems are identified, they are infected with malware,” he warns.

“Additionally, attackers are also constantly sending out spam/phishing emails that contain malicious attachments.”

Corregedor says, while South Africa is just as vulnerable as any country when it comes to infection, the country’s lack of a National Information Security Awareness campaign could render it in deeper danger.

SignFlow ties up with Accfin to digitise accounting processes

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The integration of two state-of-the-art software platforms transports the accounting profession into a new world of digitisation.

Digital signature workflow solution SignFlow and accounting software firm Accfin have integrated their respective software platforms, in a move that places the accounting profession securely in a new and exciting world of digitisation.

Accfin, a local software firm leading the way in automation of back-office systems for accounting and auditing companies, grew out of an accounting firm over 20 years ago. The recent tie-up with SignFlow – a locally developed and internationally recognised digital signature solution – essentially automates the entire communication process involved in the accounting practice.

Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at SignFlow parent company PBSA, explains, “By using the SignFlow feature in Accfin software, you eliminate the need for print, courier and e-mailing of sensitive documents to customers – and then having to wait days, even weeks for a response.

“SignFlow is built on a powerful, digital workflow engine that tracks progress and instils accountability and auditability. Apart from the obvious environmental advantages the solution offers, the value of saving time through increased efficiency, is most valuable to accountants, who work under tremendous time pressure.”

Accfin MD Mark Silberman says the integration with SignFlow “changes the state of play” in the accounting market place. “It automates the communication process. Our software allows accounting firms to communicate with their clients. The integration of SignFlow with [Accfin’s] Sky Software allows the customers of the accountant to authorise the filing of tax returns and approve company resolutions.”

Accfin, which strives to provide state-of-the-art back office systems to South African accounting firms, currently provides automation software across the sector – from large international firms, to small sole practitioners.

Van der Merwe says SignFlow is proud to be associated with Accfin Software – a company that is “definitely leading the way in automating back office systems for accounting and auditing firms”.

“SignFlow is fast becoming the most trusted digital signature workflow solution in South Africa, especially within the auditing and financial sectors,” concludes Van der Merwe.

Draftworx, SignFlow integration yields SA first

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A recent partnership between the two software platforms brings a cutting-edge automation solution to the accounting and auditing industry.

In a move that has seen the birth of cutting-edge technology – the first of its kind in South Africa – SignFlow has partnered with Draftworx, addressing a critical need identified among auditors and corporate companies that draft financial statements.

Draftworx provides automated drafting and working paper financial software to more than 2 500 accounting and auditing firms. The company went to market six and a half years ago, bringing the industry easy-to-learn and easy-to-use automation software, which allows  accountants and auditors to generate International Financial Reporting Standards  (IFRS)/IFRS SME compliant financial statements and ISA audit, review, and compilation engagement compliance.

According to Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at SignFlow parent company PBSA, the integration between the two software platforms came about when a massive need among auditors and corporates that prepare their own financial statements was identified – that of automating and digitising the process of getting financial statements and engagement documents signed off by company directors.

“Auditors can now automate and digitise their document delivery processes using the DigiSign module in the Draftworx platform to distribute documents electronically for customers to sign, using legally binding SignFlow digital signatures. The distribution and signing process is completely digital and auditable, entirely removing the need to print, scan and deliver paper-based financial statements and engagement contracts.”

Draftworx CEO Earl Steyn says the company, which aims to be in the cloud by year-end, sees SignFlow becoming one of its core technologies and marketing advantages. “Accountants and auditors can reduce time wastage – as well as waiting periods – by having their clients sign all their documentation offsite and at their leisure.”

Steyn adds his experience with SignFlow – a locally developed and internationally recognised digital signature and workflow solution – has been “phenomenal”. He says the team pays attention to detail and is willing to customise SignFlow to Draftworx and its clients’ requirements.

Van der Merwe says the SignFlow team is proud to be associated with Draftworx software, “which is leading the way in IFRS/IFRS SME compliant financial statements and ISA audit software in South Africa and across Africa”.

ACS partnership bolsters digital certificate security

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SignFlow has teamed up with Altech Card Solutions to offer Thales hardware security modules to its digital signature customers.

In a move that will see users’ private keys and personal digital certificates receiving a serious security boost, SignFlow has partnered with Altech Card Solutions (ACS), a division of Altron TMT, to offer Thales HSMs (hardware security modules) to digital signature customers.

Using SignFlow’s PKCS#11 cryptographic interface, SignFlow uses Thales NShield Connect HSMs to perform highly specialised cryptographic operations, and to fully manage and secure private keys and personal digital certificates.

Head of digital at SignFlow’s parent company PBSA, Leon can der Merwe, says the partnership with ACS sees SignFlow extending its integration reach to include the Thales NShield range of network attached, FIPS 140-2 Level 3 HSMs.

“Apart from deploying the NShield devices in the highly-secure SignFlow Cloud, we now also offer the NShield range to corporate customers who would like to localise and manage their SignFlow private keys in private data centres.”

The SignFlow HSMs are directly integrated with multiple local and global CA’s (Certificate Authorities) to offer stringent, legally compliant Advanced Electronic Signatures (AES), Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) and Adobe Approved Trust List (AATL) certificates, which are applied to documents through its digital signature application.

A division of Altron TMT (Pty) Ltd, ACS was formed in 1993 and is today firmly established as a leading player in the secure electronic transactions market.

It is Thales’ established track record in the payments security space and global footprint in hardware and software encryption solutions that makes this partnership so advantageous, says ACS.

SignFlow, an enterprise-class digital signature and document workflow application, was born in a digital era that has seen new business opportunities emerging as paper-based systems are replaced by digital platforms.

SignFlow digital signatures are powered by robust public-key infrastructure (PKI) technology, which is recognised as best practice for ensuring digital accountability. SignFlow digital signatures offer an effective, secure and legally compliant method of providing accountability during electronic transactions.

“Our partnership with ACS will benefit customers across the spectrum – including consumers using SignFlow’s SignFREE to sign documents, businesses using the SignFlow Cloud to distribute documents and government and corporate institutions using SignFlow’s Enterprise Hybrid Servers and Private Network Servers to digitally sign and workflow documents for sign-offs,” says Van der Merwe.

Got business mail? Pressure sealers offer huge time saving benefits

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As a business or institution that relies on productivity, time is valuable – let pbOffice help you maximise it. 

It has been said that time – not money – is the 21 century’s most precious commodity. It is free, yet priceless and, once spent, it can never be regained.

So it comes as no surprise that the modern-day business places so much emphasis on time saving, and productivity is measured according to stricter deadlines than ever before.

At pbOffice, a division of customer communication firm PBSA, we pride ourselves on offering state-of-the-art solutions that allow our customers to not only make the most of their valuable time – but also to experience tangible results in as little time as possible.

Epitomising this methodology, is our pressure sealer product range. Pressure sealers cut manual printing, folding and sealing time down by a massive 90%.

With exclusive distribution rights on Welltec pressure sealers in Africa, pbOffice is the number one supplier of pressure sealers and payslip sealers (also referred to as one-step mailers) in South Africa.

Welltec is the world’s number one desktop pressure sealer company, holding over 75% of the European and Asian market since its inception in 1999. The firm exports products to over 30 countries across the globe.

Largely used in South Africa for preparing salary slips, municipal bills and other mail notices such as traffic fines, pressure sealers offer a host of time-saving – and other – gains to any industry that has a business mailing component to it.

Reaping benefits

Also referred to as variable information printing, our pressure seal digital printing systems allow text and graphics to be changed from one printed document to the next, without slowing down the process.

Pressure seal technology completely does away with the need for separate folding, filling and sealing of envelopes. This alone represents huge time savings. And, because documents go directly from being printed, to pressure sealed, there is no need for handling of documents.

Apart from being massive time savers, pressure sealers give business mail an indisputable quality of professionalism and security.

Pressure sealed documents do not need envelopes – they serve as their own. This means you save on time, money and storage and handling. Our machines offer a range of solutions for different form sizes and fold types.

Pressure sealers also print addresses directly onto documents and forms, which means no more problematic window envelopes or messy alternative solutions.

Finally, in terms of security, pressure sealers complete documents with solid, consistent edges, while high-pressure sealing makes for a much more effective seal than traditional envelopes. And, because each piece of mail is individual and self-contained, there is no risk of two confidential documents being put together in the same envelope, or a document being placed in the wrong envelope.

pbOffice currently supplies pressure sealers to an extensive customer base and offers solutions to suit all industry mailing needs.

For more information, visit our Pressure Sealer product page.

To watch a short video on Welltec’s best-selling mid-range desktop pressure sealer, the Postmate III, click here.

FICA compliance made easy

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SA’s leading data bureau gives businesses the key to pain-free compliance.

Although the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) came into effect almost a decade and a half ago, it is as relevant today as the day it was conceived.

Instituted in 2003 to curb financial crimes, such as money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorist financing activities, FICA is a law that all financial institutions need to comply with. This includes any business that provides credit facilities in any form – whether assets like houses and cars, or retail items like mobile phone contracts and appliance/clothing accounts – or cash in the form of loans.

FICA basically makes it incumbent on all aforementioned financial services companies to reassess their entire client list, in order to ensure that all clients’ identities and finances can be verified. Think of it as a sweeping credit check of every person in an existing database – it is a means of identifying any individual who could potentially pose a threat to your company.

As with any law governing how businesses handle customer identification and verification processes, and how they manage records, FICA is multifaceted, and comes with severe penalties for businesses that are non-compliant.

Pain-free compliance

But, as daunting as this may sound, it does not need to be – nor does FICA compliance need to be another headache you have to deal with as a credit providing company.

South Africa’s leading data bureau, pbVerify, offers a range of services to make your path as a business striving for FICA compliance as straight as possible.

A division of pbDigital, under Customer Communications firm PBSA, pbVerify is essentially a credit risk management tool for any size business in South Africa that grants credit accounts and payment terms to other businesses and/or to South African consumers.

pbVerify’s online web-based tools help companies assess credit risk by evaluating the credit history of any business and its principles and/or any consumer a company wishes to grant credit terms to. This is done via multiple credit bureaus and other business critical data providers, through one easy-to-use website.

Included in pbVerify’s suite of services, are the following consumer credit check products, which offer your business a painless means of becoming FICA compliant:

Consumer traces for address validation: facilitated by three of South Africa’s main data credit bureaus – XDS, TransUnion and Compuscan – pbVerify’s consumer trace service gives you access to consumers’ latest  contact information.

Bank account verification: pbVerify’s Bank Account Verification Service allows you to efficiently verify the bank details of a consumer, and determine the status of their account – whether the account is currently active, open or closed and whether it has been open for more than three months. The service is available for the 5 major banks in South Africa only.

CIPC Company & Director Verification: pbVerify’s CIPC Company Search Report – one of the most advanced CIPC search tools in South Africa – allows customers to easily retrieve and verify all registration information related to any registered South African business and its principles. Complementing this search too, is the CIPC Director Search Report.

ID Verification: The pbVerify Home Affairs ID Verification tool is used to determine the correct identity information on South African citizens. (This validates the consumer’s identification, but does not confirm whether or not they are credit active)

Alongside this, pbVerify’s ID verification API is used by various corporations, retailers, telecommunications companies, online service providers and system integrators to instantly verify identities for an range of different functions, including customer identification at point of sale, fraud prevention, online transaction verification, customer relations, human resource software and more.

pbVerify Bank Code Update gives added assurance

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bank code update2For absolute assuredness around credit risk, complete your business credit report with a bank code update.

As a business striving for problem-free, profitable dealings with customers, you know how important complete, accurate and up-to-date credit information is, and you will want to leave no stone unturned when it comes to assessing creditworthiness.

As South Africa’s leading credit bureau, pbVerify provides you with all the products you as a business need, to guarantee sound commercial transactions – including a Bank Code Update service to round off business credit reports.

Complementing pbVerify’s recently launched XDS Business Credit Report, is our commercial bank code update service – also provided by XDS – that allows you to acquire an up-to-date bank code from any listed South African bank.

Bank codes are critical when it comes to assessing the credit limits and creditworthiness of potential customers. Before extending credit to any business, request a Bank Code Update on the pbVerify system to the value of credit you are considering.

In a nutshell, this is how it works: After you have submitted the required information, pbVerify’s Bank Code Update service makes contact with the customer in question’s bank, and requests the latest bank code against the desired Rand value. The return bank report is kept in your pvVerify account and can be retrieved any time after it is received.

What is a Bank Code?

A bank code is essentially a code provided by a bank on the company in question’s account, representing how good the company is for the amount of credit it is applying for. This is an investigation report that takes 24 hours.

As the business looking into a company as a potential customer, you are required to enter the company’s bank details (bank name, branch, account number) and the terms of the enquiry. For example, if the company in question signed a credit agreement of R10 000 for 12 months. The terms would then be R10 000 at 30 days over 12 months.

Below are the possible bank codes pbVerify’s Bank Code Update service could return:

A = Undoubted for the amount of your enquiry

B = Good for the amount of your enquiry

C = Good for the amount quoted if strictly in the way of business

D = Fairtrade risk for the amount of your enquiry

E = Figures considered too high

F = Financial Position Unknown

G = Paper occasionally dishonoured

H = Paper frequently dishonoured

Bank Code Update is a standard feature within the pbVerify system and is also available to third-party integrators via an API.

Please note:

  • Before requesting a bank code, businesses need to ensure that the company registration number matches that associated with their bank account.
  • It takes 24 hours from the time of enquiry for a bank code to be returned to the business enquiring.
  • This product is only available for companies – a bank code cannot be requested for an individual.

pbVerify launches new business report

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business credit reportSA’s leading data bureau has added a new B2B product to its extensive suite of credit risk management products.

SA’s leading data bureau, pbVerify, has just launched a new product to complement its existing B2B suite – the XDS Business Credit Report.

The new product will furnish businesses looking to draw business credit reports with instant insight into the existing status of any company that is registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

XDS is one of South Africa’s leading credit bureaus and, while pbverify has been an XDS partner for many years and offered a range of consumer verification products, the new XDS report is the first business product to be launched on the pbVerify website.

A comprehensive overview and statement of the credit status of any company being researched for credit worthiness, the XDS Business Credit Report is competitively priced and offers all the information (on both the company and its directors) a business requires to make sound commercial decisions.

The information offered in the XDS Business Credit Report also helps businesses prevent fraud by exposing whether any prior legal action has been taken against the company in question. It also gives businesses assurance that the Business and Principal information the company in question has provided, is 100% legitimate.

Below is just some of the information businesses can expect to garner from pbVerify’s new Business Credit Report from XDS:

  • Company CIPC status and information
  • Commercial credit score (with indicator)
  • Auditor information
  • Active director information
  • Business contact information
  • Business banking details
  • Bank Code history information
  • Commercial adverse information (judgements, defaults, etc)

Note: When drawing a business credit report, consent will always be required in terms of the National Credit Act (NCA) and its Prescribed Purposes. Read more about this here.

Get through winter with a quality air purifier

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Don’t let the ailments associated with the season get the better of you – create pure indoor air, breathe freely and enjoy good health this winter.

The sudden icy temperatures over the past week are proof that winter is well and truly upon us and, while many may associate allergies with the summer months, the truth is that winter is a breeding ground for the particles and germs responsible for poor health during this time.

Studies have shown that most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors in winter – if not more – and, with the cold season being the time dusty winter coats and blankets are brought out, and long-dormant heating devices powered up, indoor air quality hits an annual low.

On top of this, the chances of transmission of common winter ailments rise steeply, due to the bacteria and viruses that cause them densely populating indoor air.

In fact, if we had to really grasp the extent of allergens, particles, germs and irritants that circulate through our indoor air during the winter months, we would probably wonder how it is that we can breathe at all.

The good news is, using a high-quality air purifier can reduce – and even completely eradicate – winter allergy symptoms and significantly reduce your susceptibility for catching a cold or getting the flu.

pbOffice (a division of PBSA) offers a range of top-quality air purifiers by IDEAL, which feature all the vital components needed to turn contaminated indoor air into pure, healthy and allergen-free air – including HEPA filters and intelligent air quality sensors.

Our devices work on a six-stage AEON Blue air purification system, which filters almost 100% of the smallest particles and pathogenic germs from the polluted air before they reach your airway. Additionally, the clean air is enriched with negative ions – oxygen atoms that are charged with an extra electron (as found in nature) and are proven to have significant health benefits.

With pbOffice’s air purification solutions, you can safely say goodbye to indoor air pollutants like viruses and bacteria, pollen, animal hair, chemical fumes, dust, odours, tobacco smoke and aerosol fumes.

This winter, don’t succumb – invest in and enjoy a quality air purifier for your home and office and say goodbye to the “sick season” blues.

[REFERENCES]  

Wikipedia – HEPA

Web MD – Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes

Consumer credit checks and the NCA

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Consumer credit checks

Businesses need to provide reasons for drawing consumer credit reports, in terms of the National Credit Act. 

If you are a credit provider of any kind, it is inevitable that you will frequently have to dig into the financial history of potential debtors.

pbVerify offers a range of Business to Consumer (B2C) credit check services*, which help businesses make better business credit decisions when assessing new debtors. As SA’s leading data bureau, we know that the better the information you have on your potential customers, the better your decisions will ultimately be.

At the same time, you need to be aware that the rights of the credit-seeking consumer are clearly enshrined in legislation, in particular the National Credit Act (NCA) No. 34 of 2005, and the onus is on you to make sure you comply.

Yes, as a credit grantor following good business practice, you have the basis for an enquiry into a potential debtor’s financial history (i.e. via a credit report) – but a consumer’s credit report is confidential and may not be accessed without legal grounds, or the consumer’s explicit permission.

These “legal grounds” are laid out in the NCA, in the form of prescribed purposes (the Act requires that you specify the reason you are drawing a credit report).

In this article, we will outline the rationale behind the NCA, and list some of the prescribed purposes it incorporates.

The purpose of the NCA

South Africa’s population consists mainly of lower LSM (Living Standards Measure) individuals with limited to no access to credit channels.

According to the Banking Association of South Africa, the complex nature of credit agreements has left many of the country’s consumers vulnerable and often exploited by credit providers.

“This led to the establishment of the NCA [which includes] mechanisms to protect consumers against unscrupulous lending and over-indebtedness.”

The NCA seeks to “promote and advance the social and economic welfare of South Africans, promote a fair, transparent, competitive, sustainable, responsible, efficient, effective and accessible credit market and industry, and to protect consumers.”

The association lists credit providers as banks, micro-lenders, retailers (e.g. furniture and clothing stores) and “all businesses, companies, close corporations, partnerships and individuals who do business on credit, provide loans or charge interest on overdue accounts; and who offer credit within the prescribed threshold values in terms of the [NCA] Act”.

Consumers, says the association, include both individuals (natural persons) and “certain juristic persons [e.g. companies, close corporations, trusts (with more than three individual trustees), partnerships and an association of persons] whose asset value or annual turnover, together with the combined asset value or annual turnover of all related juristic persons, at the time the agreement is made, equals or exceeds the threshold value of R1 million”.

Prescribed purposes

A credit bureau may issue you with a consumer’s credit report in terms of the NCA, under a number of prescribed purposes – including, but not limited to:

  • Account Management
  • Affordability Assessment
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Book Assessment
  • Consumer Enquiry
  • Credit Assessment
  • Credit Limit
  • Credit Ombud Enquiry
  • Tracing (non-credit provider
  • Debt Review
  • Education / Employment
  • Employment
  • Fraud Investigation
  • Fraud Prevention
  • Insurance Application
  • Marketing Services
  • Other Legislation
  • On consumer instruction/consent
  • Score Development
  • Tracing
  • Unclaimed Funds

The above are abbreviated descriptions. For the full description, explanation and NCA references, click HERE.

pbVerify’s B2C credit check suite and is available after registration to any business that grants credit to other businesses or consumers.

 

*pbVerify’s Consumer Credit Check services include the Transunion ITC Credit Check; Compuscan Credit Check; Experian Credit Check; XDS Credit Check; pbVerify Credit Check; and our recently added Express Credit Score product (See related blog here).

 

REFERENCES

  1. National Credit Act 34 (2005)
  2. The Banking Association of South Africa website
  3. IOL – Who may see your credit report?
  4. pbVerify blog – Credit vetting: an essential key to SME success
  5. Compuscan’s “Prescribed purposes for access to consumer data” guide

SignFlow enables Group Signing for mandate registers

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group meeting eOur leading digital signature technology is further diversified with the addition of a feature enabling mandated group signing.

Our digital signature solution has just become more powerful with the addition of Group Signing – a parallel workflow feature for mandate registers.

The SignFlow team has been hard at work, as always, advancing what is already a world-class digital signing and workflow solution, to give our users a top-notch experience, with everything they need to do business at their fingertips.

The latest addition to the SignFlow set of business tools, Group Signing, is a valuable and efficient tool for companies with mandate registers (people in an organisation that are authorised to sign off certain key documents).

Unlike a sequential workflow, in which a document in need of a signature/signatures is distributed to a number of people, one after the next, Group Signing is a parallel workflow feature – meaning a number of people will receive a document at the same time.

Characteristically SignFlow, this new feature is completely user-friendly and the process quick and painless.

Let’s take facility letters sent out by banks to illustrate the process. There may be ten directors that have signed a mandate authorising them to sign annual facility letters, but the bank only requires signatures from two directors. The bank would then set up a group called “Company Directors”, for instance, and load all ten directors as signers. The document is prepared with two signature fields and sent to all directors simultaneously. As soon as any two of the ten have signed, quorum is reached and the workflow is complete (or, depending on how it is set up, it may continue to completion).

What makes SignFlow’s Group Signing feature unique, is the fact that it allows a combination of sequential and parallel workflow – also known as Advanced Routing – which lets users combine individual signers and group sign-offs, in a single workflow configuration.

The addition of Group Signing follows two other game-changing features that were built into the SignFlow application recently, namely Face-to-face Signing and Geolocation.

Want financial freedom? Know your credit status

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have-you-pulled-your-credit-report-yetDespite the country’s robust credit information industry, most South Africans do not know what their credit profile actually looks like.

It’s an all-too-common scene: you apply for an account at a retail store, and are taken aback when your application is declined on the grounds of bad credit. As far as you know, you’re the poster child for sound financial management – so what went wrong? Most likely, “as far as you know” is not far enough.

Sadly, even though South Africa has an incredibly strong credit information industry, many citizens are in the dark when it comes to what their credit profile actually looks like.

Earlier this month, local news site News24 cited African Bank executive Alfred Ramosedi as saying that many South Africans were “surprisingly unaware of the importance of a good credit profile”. What’s more, he said, many didn’t even know what a credit profile was – and in instances where they did know, they rarely checked their own personal credit profile.

And yet, the importance of managing your credit status – a task that begins with knowing your credit status – cannot be downplayed in today’s volatile economic climate. As Ramosedi rightly points out, many potential employers nowadays look at job applicants’ credit reports as a means of judging character and level of responsibility.

South Africa’s leading property website, Property24, lists bad credit records as the number one reason banks reject home loan applications, while car finance giant Carfin says the first thing you need to do if you’ve been declined for finance is “Find out why” – i.e. check your credit report. Step number two, says Carfin, is to improve your credit score.

No excuse

 The Credit Bureau Association points out that every single credit-active person in South Africa has a credit profile that shows how they manage their debts and accounts.

Fortunately, if you are a South African who wants to do the smart thing and familiarise yourself with your credit profile, you don’t have to climb any mountains to do so. On the contrary, our country’s credit information industry makes the process next to effortless for you. So much so, that there is really no excuse for not knowing your credit status.

On a scale of 0 to 8, South Africa ranks 7 on the World Bank’s Depth of Credit Information Index – a measure of the availability of credit information, where 8 is the highest level attainable by any country.

Additionally, according to the National Credit Act, every consumer has the right to one free credit report once in a 12-month period from the country’s main credit bureaus, namely TransUnion (formerly ITC), Experian, XDS and Compuscan.

A credit report is basically a comprehensive statement outlining your financial history and standing. It comprises information on your spending and borrowing patterns, how well you meet your financial obligations, general spending and payment trends and contact details. It also lists any judgment you may have against you, as well as any money owed to creditors.

MYpbVerify* – the most versatile personal credit check service on the Net – offers you this and more. The tool not only gives you instant online access to your personal credit report, it also allows you to customise your report with variable information.

MYpbVerify offers various pricing options to suit your needs. Depending on your status and credit history, you can choose either a Basic credit report, or a more advanced (Standard or Premium) report. The latter option includes directorship information, deeds data (properties owned), your personal Compuscan credit rating score and more.

This year, do yourself a great favour – get to know your credit status and start building a good credit profile today. Not only will you never have to fret about being turned down when applying for credit again, you will also be able to take advantage of the better repayment  terms that come with having a strong credit report.

*MYpbVerify™ is an online credit check system designed for consumers in need of quality personal credit check reports. The product offers three different credit reports, all instantly sent via email in PDF format once an order is completed. 

[REFERENCES]        

News24 – Ways to take control of credit

The Credit Bureau Association – http://www.cba.co.za/

The World Bank – Depth of Credit Information Index

Property24 – Why banks reject your home loan

Carfin – Have you been declined for vehicle finance?

 

PBSA shredders underpin POPI compliance

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shredder-generic-picThe company’s hard drive shredders offer local businesses a sure-fire way of complying with the act’s stringent data protection laws.

This year, the implementation date for the much-publicised Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act is expected to be announced, and local businesses will have a year from this date to become compliant – or face severe penalties.

Passed into South African law towards the end of 2013, the POPI Act essentially regulates how companies store and secure personal information of individuals and entities. Because the act aligns South Africa with international laws on privacy, it includes some stringent rules that businesses – no matter their size – will need to follow to a T.

Wale Arewa, CEO of Secure IT asset disposal company Xperien, says, although the POPI Act gives companies a grace period of a year from commencement to comply with its requirements, they should make it a top priority now.

“There are serious penalties [for non-compliance with the act]. Besides the possibility of prison terms and fines of up to R10 million, POPI also allows individuals to institute civil claims. This means there is the possibility of further financial loss on top of any fine that may be imposed,” warns Arewa.

Data demolition

One of the POPI Act’s key objectives is to ensure customer data is destroyed sufficiently. According to the act, user data cannot be kept for longer than necessary and will have to be completely destroyed – not merely deleted or superficially disposed of.

This means it is simply not good enough for companies to wipe or format a hard drive, nor is it sufficient to toss it out, regardless of how unlikely it may be that it will be discovered.

The only sure-fire way to destroy data, is to physically shred it – a method vouched for by international business news site Bloomberg, in an article entitled “The right way to destroy sensitive data”.

“Hard drives are fed into a machine that resembles a photocopier, which chews and spits out slivers of scrap metal,” the site explains.

pbOffice, a division of PBSA (formerly Pitney Bowes South Africa), offers a failsafe solution to data destruction with two quality HSM machines – the HSM Powerline HDS230 Hard Drive Shredder and its smaller – but equally effective – counterpart, the HSM HDS150 Hard Drive Shredder.

Both fully data protection compliant, the two hard drive shredders destroy digital media devices in a safe and economical way. These safe and easy-to-use devices shred hard drives into tiny particles – ensuring absolute and irreversible destruction of all data contained on them.

Designed with longevity in mind, both hard drive shredders feature sturdy, solid steel-cutting units and powerful drives. Additionally, because the units feature high throughput capacity and energy-saving continuous operation, they are an intelligent choice for businesses seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Visit us today to find out more, or to request a quote.

[REFERENCES]  

Bloomberg.com

Xperien.com

 

pbVerify introduces Express Credit Score

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SA’s number one data bureau has added a new, express credit check product to its B2C suite.

pbVerify has just expanded its Consumer Credit Check product suite with a new service that enables businesses to draw an express credit report in seconds, at less than half the cost of the full report.

Introduced in mid-November, pbVerify’s Express Credit Score enables businesses to view a condensed report of a consumer’s credit viability, and quickly determine whether or not further data on the consumer in question is necessary.

The service, launched in response to market demand, saves businesses the trouble, time and cost of drawing a full report on every consumer they investigate and allows them to quickly sift through credit candidates for potential clients.

Express Credit Score complements pbVerify’s original Consumer Credit Check, rather than replaces it. The express product offers basic information such as whether a consumer is a High, Low or Minimum risk consumer and – in the case of High Risk – what the main reasons are for the adverse score.

The full Consumer Credit Check report offers information businesses will only need to draw on if the consumer being investigated is deemed a risk, including contact and employment data, all adverse information (judgements, defaults and collections) and an enquiry list.

The full report costs between R35 and R45 (350 to 450 pbVerify credits) per report, while the Express Credit Score costs just R12,50 (125 credits). For a full breakdown of pricing click here.

NB: Businesses wishing to draw a credit report on an individual must have the consumer in question’s signed/written consent.

* pbVerify Express score is a credit bureau score developed in partnership with Compuscan using advanced statistical modelling techniques.

Experian Consumer Credit Report back online

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experian-consumer-credit-reportpbVerify has reinstated its Experian Consumer Credit Report, following a period of about four months of the service being offline.

The product, part of pbVerify’s comprehensive consumer credit check suite, was temporarily discontinued in July due to a system upgrade.

Experian is the world’s largest credit bureau operator, with local offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The bureau has a long history of protecting personal lending in South Africa’s financial services market.

The Experian Consumer Credit report forms part of the pbVerify Business to Consumer (B2C) credit check suite and is available on registration to any business that grants credit to consumers.

The report, garnered directly from Experian for pbVerify clients, provides extensive information – obtained from major credit providers and collection companies in South Africa – relating to individuals’ credit status.

Forewarned is forearmed

Business owners in South Africa are acutely aware that, in order to run a successful operation, they have to be on top of risk management.

Knowing who to do business with and who to avoid is critical and, in order to make an informed decision, it is essential organisations have access to extensive data.

pbVerify’s credit check services offer quick and complete information that ensures effective risk management, and are ideal for:

  1. Credit grantors. If you’re a business that grants credit accounts, you need a full report on potential clients’ credit history before you take a decision to grant them additional credit.
  2. Home loan companies. You want to ensure you are not granting a home loan to someone with a questionable financial past, who is likely to disappear – leaving you with the burden of their debt. pbVerify enables you to view a potential grantee’s financial information, and then make an informed decision.
  3. Micro-lenders. Even companies that solely grant small loans need to be certain that their borrowers are responsible and reliable. Before you sign that paperwork, run a potential borrower’s name through pbVerify and get an idea of who it is you’re dealing with.

For just R42 (420 pbVerify credits), the Experian Consumer Credit Report produces the following information on the consumer: Name; Address; Adverse credit information; Experian Delphi Score*; Mobile number; Landline numbers (personal and work); Employment/occupational information; Enquiry list.

pbVerify’s goal is to give businesses tools to protect themselves and make informed business decisions.

It is unfortunate, but true, that business owners fall prey to fraudsters every day. pbVerify arms businesses with the information they need to protect their future.

pbVerify will be adding other Experian products, like the Experian Business Credit report, to the menu in 2017.

NB: Businesses wishing to draw a credit report on an individual must have the consumer in question’s signed/written consent.

* Delphi Score is a credit bureau score developed in partnership with Experian using advanced statistical modelling techniques.

Goodbye ink, hello digital signatures

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With the business world turning increasingly to digitally signed documents, the hand-written signature is on its last legs.

digital-signing

With more businesses and entities than ever before turning to digitally signed documents to solve security issues and improve logistics, the value and lifespan of the hand-written signature has come under serious scrutiny.

While there is a certain sentimentality – perhaps an emotional attachment bred at school level – still attached to an individual’s unique autograph, there are overarching ideals that suggest a future without it.

In fact the hand-written or ink signature has, in recent times, been likened to landline telephones and typewriters – age-old tools that, beyond their nostalgic appeal, are on their death bed. In the corporate world, which is increasingly aspiring towards a paperless future, pen-and-paper signing has been dubbed the enemy.

Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at PBSA and co-founder of South African based digital signature solution SignFlow, believes the hand-written signature’s time is slowly but surely coming to an end. “Ink signatures have been a part of human culture for aeons and, for their time, they had their place. But with today’s technology, there is no reason for us to hang on to something that, for all intents and purposes, is about as dependable as a fake Facebook profile.”

Ink signature snags

Van der Merwe points out the biggest problem with hand-written signatures is that they can easily be forged. “There are a number of ways in which digital signatures trump hand-written ones, but the most significant and compelling feature of digital above ink is that of security.

“Digital signatures use a cryptographic operation that creates a hash-code, which is unique to both the signer and the content. It cannot be copied, forged or tampered with. The whole process provides irrefutable proof of the signer’s identity, protects the data integrity of the document and provides non-repudiation of signed documents.”

Apart from ink signatures being prone to forgery, a general attitude of inattentiveness has crept in over the years, making them quite literally a joke. This is most applicable when it comes to transaction authorisation.

“When last did you notice a waiter or retail clerk checking the signature you pen on the receipt? And do you always sign legibly and consistently?” asks Van der Merwe.

As far back as 2001, Internet humourist John Hargrave experimented with this notion in a credit card prank in which he forged outlandish signatures on receipts. He reportedly signed receipts with, among others, “Mariah Carey”, “Beethoven” and “I stole this card”. Hargrave even signed in hieroglyphics. None of the merchants noticed. (Hargrave recounts his famous Credit Card Prank in his 2007 book, Prank the Monkey)

‘Sign here’ has been replaced with ‘Click here’

Former US president Bill Clinton lent credence to the solidity of signing digitally in 2000, when he signed the first US bill into law electronically.

Renowned Amercian business magazine, Forbes, begins its article on Clinton’s watershed signing with the line, “‘Sign here’ has just been replaced with ‘click here’.”

Another turning point in the life of the digital signature took place earlier this year, in July, when the European Union effected new guidelines for electronic signatures, giving them the same legal power as hand-written signatures.

“The benefits of employing digital business processes far outweigh the paper-reliant processes of days gone by and it’s only a matter of time before digital signatures take over from their expiring ink-on-paper counterparts,” says Van der Merwe.

Not only are digital signatures undeniably more secure and unable to be forged, he concludes, they are legally sound. “Importantly, they also create a digital audit trail and they don’t rely on filing, printing, scanning or back-and-forth emailing – paper-based processes that cost companies profoundly, in terms of both time and money.”

REFERENCES

SignFlow

The Verge

New Republic

Forbes

Paid-up court judgments for bad debt now easier to rescind

CaptureAn amendment to the law that governs how courts treat bad-debt judgments against companies and individuals makes it much easier for these to be revoked once paid up.

Finally some good news for South African companies and individuals that have been affected by court judgments for bad debt: Once paid up, bad-debt judgments will now be much easier to remove.

This comes after an amendment (Clause 14 into Section 23A of the Courts of Law Amendment Act No. 7 of 2017) to the law on how courts handle bad-debt judgments.

As of 11 March 2019, a company or consumer that has settled their bad debt no longer needs to prove to the courts that there is a sound reason for their judgments to be removed. Previously, those with bad-debt judgments against them had to follow an arduous process known as rescission of judgment, which basically means having a judgment revoked.

Rescission of judgment historically involved a lot of red tape, including a lengthy application process and solid justification, and often hefty costs – and after all of this, there was still no guarantee that the court would accept the justification provided, and consent to reversal of the judgment.

Now, a company or consumer simply needs to show that their debt – including any interest and/or costs accrued from the judgment – has been paid in full, and the related bad-debt judgment can be reversed by the court. There is also no longer need to obtain permission for reversal from the party that obtained the judgment originally.

What does the amendment mean for pbVerify customers?

As South Africa’s leading data bureau, one of pbVerify’s priorities and chief services to you, as our valued client, is to allow you to grant credit to customers with complete confidence. This is why we welcome the latest amendment to the Courts of Law Amendment Act.

If you are a business that has customers for whom you have requested bad-debt judgments, the amendment means those customers now have far more incentive to pay up their debt, as this will allow them to have the judgment against their name removed. Previously, many individuals may have shirked paying their debts, because the judgment against their name would still stand.

If you are a business that yourself has a bad-debt judgment, you can now rest assured that, after paying the relevant creditor or originator of the judgement, you can wipe your company’s bad-debt slate clean.

While there are still processes and costs involved – and some feel the move may benefit companies more than individual consumers – it has been lauded as largely beneficial for any debtor that wants to clear their credit record.

[REFERENCES]

  1. Business Insider – Bad debt judgments now easier to overturn with new rescission rules
  2. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development – Self-help guidelines for Consent Rescission of Default Judgment
  3. RNEWS – New provisions for rescissions of Paid-Up Judgements
  4. Fin24 – Rescission of judgment explained
  5. Parliament (PDF) – Portfolio Committee amendments to the Courts of Law Amendment Bill

 

pbVerify provides an easy to use, web-based system that instantly connects your business to real-time consumer and business information from the four largest credit bureaus in South Africa, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, Deeds Office and other business-critical data providers. pbVerify’s business tools enable you to instantly access current and accurate information to assist you in preventing fraud, identifying, tracing and assessing debtors, and effectively managing risk in your business at all times.