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.