Top 5 reasons to get a Legal Entity Identifier

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The LEI has become established as the standardised code to identify who is who, and who owns whom in the world.

The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) is a unique global identifier of legal entities that participate in financial transactions – whether entities are individuals, companies or government bodies. Used in reporting to financial regulators, LEIs are a requirement for all financial companies.

With almost 1.6 million organisations now with LEIs, the global identifier has become established as the standardised code to identify who is who, and who owns whom.

Below are some of the key reasons your organisation should register an LEI – sooner, rather than later:

Reason 1: International recognition

As your global identifier, the LEI code allows you to be recognised as a legal entity internationally. It is a standardised organisation identifier that is endorsed by the G20 and Financial Stability Board, and regulated by the Global LEI Foundation (GLEIF).

A live reference to your organisation’s identity record (see Ubisecure’s LEI record), the LEI is just as important as other organisation identity attributes, such as your local business registry company number, VAT number, domains, etc.

The LEI is an essential identifier for enabling cross border transactions, and also greatly enhances your organisation’s credibility, both locally and globally.

Already widely supported, with a 1.5 million-strong install base, LEI issuance is growing rapidly.

Reason 2: Compliance

There are many regulations that mandate the use of LEIs (see latest Regulations), with non-compliance inhibiting transactions and leaving organisation’s open to the risk of getting fines.

With new regulations demanding the use of LEIs going live every month, it is to your advantage to be prepared and obtain a LEI in advance.

Reason 3: KYC processes

The LEI code is widely used for Know Your Customer (KYC) processes. Make sure your organisation is recognised as a credible LEI holder.

Extensive vendor networks (see GLEIF vendor stakeholder network) already rely on LEI for KYC, B2B onboarding and to refresh client identity data.

The use of LEIs is well researched as a tool for cost saving in KYC/onboarding in the banking sector (See the GLEIF ebook).

LEI is the primary connector between all regional and private sector identifiers. By connecting multiple sources and formats of identity, it is possible to conclude a more trustworthy identity assertion.

The LEI is formed using a standardised, consistent identity data reference schema that includes Entity Legal Forms (ELF) codes (Ltd, GmbH, etc). The unambiguous ELF data provides an improved user experience by categorising legal entities, providing clear insight into the global marketplace.

Reason 4: Total trust

LEI records contain a powerful set of identity data attributes, helping improve trust in who you are, both in the physical world and in the online world.

Both humans and machines can verify the LEI. The GLEIF database of issued LEIs is open and searchable via its web interface, full dataset download, or API.

The LEI must be renewed annually to remain active, and renewal requires revalidation of corporate details.

The LEI can be readily updated at no cost to the holding organisation and can always represent accurate organisation identity. It is not necessary for a new code to be issued should corporate details change.

The LEI is the only identifier to connect parent and children organisations publicly. Known as Level 2 data, LEIs provide transparency into the “who owns whom” aspect of organisation identity.

LEIs can list multiple “Doing Business As” names and previously incorporated names, giving a historical audit trail to counterparties.

LEIs support multiple languages for names and addresses. Local language support provides a better localised understanding of, and reliance upon, identity data.

The data quality of the LEI system is open and transparent. LEI reference data can be challenged. A defined, publicly accessible process exists within the ecosystem to openly challenge identity data if a counterparty believes it to be inaccurate.

Reason 5: Security & brand protection

Because your LEI code will be used by numerous other applications, you can enhance security and brand protection by obtaining one.

It is becoming commonplace to report your LEI on websites; contained in web pages, press releases, site seals, QR codes, bar codes, and more.

LEIs are already supported by XBRL (the open international standard for digital business reporting). Both human-readable and machine-readable LEIs can be embedded in critical XBRL documents, such as annual reports and financial statements, as the standardised organisation identifier.

LEIs will soon be included in the new ISO payment standards as the organisation identifier in SWIFT transactions.

The implementation of LEIs into digital certificates will soon be standardised through the draft ISO 17442-2 and ETSI TS 119 412-1; delivering digital signing and workflow solutions that embed the LEI into the digital signatures.

If you haven’t already, head over to RapidLEI to get an LEI today. With our automated issuance, you can have a registered LEI code in just a few minutes.

[REFERENCES]  

  1. Wikipedia – Legal Entity Identifier
  2. Ubisecure – 5 Reasons to get an LEI Number
  3. Ubisecure – “Now is the appropriate time for the payment industry to begin its adoption of the LEI,” says SWIFT

PBSA SIGNIFLOW CORPORATE STATEMENT – COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS

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PBSA, including SIGNIFLOW global operations, continues to monitor the latest developments of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), which has now been classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a global pandemic. Guided by our core values, we have taken and will continue to take actions that protect the health and well-being of our employees, partners and customers, as our number one concern.

PBSA business, support and service delivery teams have developed agile business continuity strategies that specifically deal with COVID-19 to safeguard the health of our employees and minimise the impact of delivering services to our customers.

A special COVID-19 committee has been formed and the following steps have been taken:

  • Operational Review
    • Individual reviews were conducted with each person in the organisation to assess personal risk, business risk and compile a comprehensive skills matrix.
    • Limitation of contact strategies were reviewed.
    • Work from home strategies were reviewed and feasibilities assessed.
    • Service delivery strategies were reviewed.
    • Support delivery strategies were reviewed.
    • Contingency plans for low, medium and high impact disasters were reviewed.
    • IT readiness infrastructure was reviewed.
  • Policies and Procedures
    • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) under ISO9001:2015 are being implemented to deal with any change in the work environments.
    • A Pandemic Policy is being drafted.
    • Sanitising and hygiene at the workplace have been stepped up.

The following measures have been taken:

  • Sanitising. Awareness around the use of hand sanitisers has been stepped up. Hand sanitiser dispensing units have been installed at all critical points in-and-around the building and all external employees are equipped with hand sanitisers and medical-grade facemasks. Medical-grade facemasks and surgical gloves have also been made available to all staff. 
  • Location and employee segregation. In order to limit human contact and to ensure contingency of management, key personnel and job functions, four isolated locations were identified that will host segregated groups of employees. Group segregation was done strategically in accordance with Personal Risk, Business Risk and Skills Matrix profiles of each person.
    • PBSA Head Office Building (Site A, hosting Group A)
    • SigniFlow Offices (Site B, hosting Group B)
    • PBSA Warehouse (Site C, hosting Group C)
    • DevOps Krugers (Site D, hosting Group D)

The fifth location grouping is known as “Offsite Isolated”, hosting Group E and relates to employees working from home, who have no contact with customers or other personnel.

The sixth location grouping is known as “Offsite non-isolated”, hosting Group F and relates to employees, who are designated to work from home, but may have periodic contact with customers and personnel also in Group F.

The seventh grouping is known as “Cape Town”, hosting Group G and relates to personnel stationed in Cape Town. 

The eighth grouping is known as “Durban”, hosting Group H and relates to personnel stationed in Durban. 

The ninth grouping is known as “UK”, hosting Group I and relates to personnel stationed in the SigniFlow UK office. 

The tenth grouping is known as “AUS”, hosting Group J and relates to personnel stationed in the Melbourne Australia office. 

  • Employee contingency groupings. Employee groupings per location were done in accordance with:
    • Segregation of management and key personnel.
    • Segregation in accordance with skills matrix and job function.
    • Segregation of divisional teams – Admin, Finance, Sales, Customer services and Support services.
    • Isolation by location of employees that were identified with higher-risk profiles.
  • Visits to customer premises. For the time being, “Offsite non-isolated” personnel will be permitted to meet at customer premises, upon executive approval only.  
  • Onsite (customer premises) service personnel. No service disruptions are anticipated. For onsite maintenance and support functions, we have business continuity plans in place that are activated on demand. All internal systems, tools and monitors are designed to allow for remote work.
  • Visits to PBSA’s premises. For the time being, limited to executive approval, customers will be able to meet at Site A with anyone in Group A in a demarcated, isolated area. Customers will be requested to sanitise hands before entering the premises and may be asked to wear facemasks during the engagement. 
  • Software Support. Support continues as normal. All internal systems, tools and monitors are designed to allow for remote work.
  • Software Development Support. Support continues as normal. All internal systems, tools and monitors are designed to allow for remote work.
  • Local travel. Suspended until further notice in accordance with local regulatory guidance and restrictions.
  • International travel.  Suspended until further notice in accordance with local and international regulatory guidance and restrictions.
  • Digital Communications platforms.
    • Internal
      • All employees in all locations are connected via Microsoft Teams. All employees have the same access as before to IT systems like ERP and CRM via secure access protocols. 
      • All employees have access to SigniFlow for internal workflow approvals and digital signing of forms, documentation and contracts. 
    • External
      • Microsoft Teams has been identified as the primary means of video and teleconferencing engagements. Others like Skype, WebEx and Zoom will be considered in accordance with customer preference.
      • All employees have access to SigniFlow to distribute contracts, proposals and documentation for approval and digital signing by customers, partners, suppliers and/ or any external party.   

These and other related policies and SOP’s are effective from 18 March 2020 until further notice. It is business as usual, but with a fine touch of digital.

PBSA offers software that assists with business process automation and digitisation. You can learn more about these offerings here.   

Should you have any questions or concerns, please direct communications to: The Compliance Manager deonJ@pbsa.co.za

Support channels (ticketing systems, telephonic support and email systems) remain unchanged.

This statement will be formally reviewed on 3rd April 2020, or sooner if there are any regulatory changes or significant change to the COVID-19 status quo.

Come witness the latest in pharmaceutical automation in motion

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pbsa health would like to invite all interested parties to come have an exclusive, personal experience of the Gollmann GO.Compact, at our brand new Gollmann showroom centre, now open at our Kyalami Business Park offices in Midrand, Johannesburg.

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Please don’t hesitate to book an appointment with any of our team members, who are keen to show you first-hand how this groundbreaking new technology is changing the way pharmacies around the glove operate. Simply give us a call on +27 516 9461, or send an email to the team at sales@pbsa.co.za.

The team will ensure you enjoy a full demonstration on the functionality of the Gollmann GO.Compact, as well as make sure all of your burning questions are answered to your satisfaction. We are eager to share our excitement and knowledge of this revoluiton in pharmacy automation with you.

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Technology and automation are changing the way pharmacies operate in remarkable ways, and pbsa health has teamed up with Germany-based pharmacy modernisation company, Gollmann, to bring the latest European automation technology to pharmacies of all sizes in Southern Africa.     

Modern-day advances allow for the streamlining of processes, resulting in greatly improved stock management, increased efficiency and, ultimately, massive time and money savings, not to mention greatly improved customer experience.

The Gollmann GO.Compact, is a compact and flexible automated dispensing system for pharmacies. Thanks to its patented automated roll-fronted compactor system, GO.compact can accommodate more packs per metre of body length than ever before.

The GO.compact is designed to fit into any pharmacy; Gollmann custom builds the GO.compact to available height, width and length specifications.

We look forward to chatting with you – why not call us today? +27 11 516 9461 or email sales@pbsa.co.za for a quick response.

PBSA ‘s Innovation centre, situated in Kyalami Business Park (78 Kyalami Boulevard), is just a step away. Here’s a quick preview:

Industrial air cleaning at its purest

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PBSA’s German-made aeropur products proactively tackle the problem of poor indoor air quality in production and warehouse environments.

With a notable rise in the incidence of reported health problems, and consequent increasing environmental regulations, businesses worldwide are looking to combat one of the biggest culprits of health problems in the workplace – poor indoor air quality (IAQ).

IAQ has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as one of the top five most urgent environmental risks to public health, and has been linked conclusively to cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) IAQ is a “major concern”. The US-based agency recognises that poor IAQ can be hazardous to workers’ health. “It is in the best interest of everyone that building owners, managers, and employers take a proactive approach to address IAQ concerns.”

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate office workers spend approximately 40 hours a week in office buildings. “These workers also study, eat, drink, and, in certain work settings, sleep in enclosed environments where make-up air (i.e., fresh air added to recirculated air) may be compromised.”

At increased risk, are workers who operate in large indoor environments, such as production and warehouse spaces, where there is constant exposure to excessive dust and chemicals.

Lifesaving technology

This is where our technology steps in. Mobile dedusting and air cleaning technology from aeropur makes breathing cleaner air possible. Aeropur mobile dedusting devices produce visibly improved production and warehouse spaces, laboratories, workshops and offices when it comes to dust.

Made in Germany, aeropur industrial air purification products are also fully compliant with industrial norms and standards.

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).

And improved air quality is what aeropur stands for. Aeropur’s dedusting and cleaning products have proven to have a huge impact in large production spaces and warehouses, removing almost 100% of annoying and health-endangering particles from the air.

Immediate features & benefits

At a glance, aeropur’s mobile dedusting technology is guaranteed to benefit your company in the following ways:

  • Staff will be healthier and absenteeism will be reduced.
  • Your plant and equipment will work more precisely and last longer.
  • Your goods and materials will have considerably less dust.
  • Your cleaning requirements will be reduced.

In addition to the above, our aeropur devices have the following important features:

  • Easy to maintain.
  • Require little space.
  • Operate immediately as a plug-and-play system.
  • 100% mobile.
  • 30% lower energy consumption.
  • 50% less cleaning required.
  • Amortise after two to three years.

For more information on aeropur mobile dedusting technology, and how it can improve the health of both your workforce and your business, contact: sales@pbsa.co.za or sales@pbautomation.co.za.

[REFERENCES]  

  1. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) – Indoor air quality in commercial and institutional buildings
  2. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) – Indoor air quality in offices and other large buildings
  3. WHO (World Health Organisation) – Guidelines for indoor air quality: selected pollutants
  4. NCBI (National Centre for Biotechnology Information) – Indoor air pollution and cardiovascular disease: New evidence from Iran
  5. Harvard Magazine – Clean air, longer life

Dalimfundo & PBSA honour little learners

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Dalimfundo Day Care & Preschool Graduation 2019

PBSA Compliance Manager Deon Joubert (left) and Dalimfundo Grade R Teacher Nokuthula Masango with some of the school’s young graduates.

As part of its Socio-Economic Development Programme, PBSA assists one of Mpumalanga’s NPO institutions prepare SA’s children for the future workforce.

“Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth who care for and protect our people.” – Nelson Mandela, June 1995.

As a company committed to ensuring the economic longevity of our business, to the benefit of our employees, our clients and our home country, South Africa, at large, PBSA believes it needs to proactively foster the development of the future workforce.

As such, our company is proud to be able to contribute to the success of Dalimfundo Day Care & Preschool, which honoured 2019’s young graduates on 23 November.

Situated in Botleng, a rural township outside Delmas in Mpumalanga, Dalimfundo is a non-profit organisation (NPO) that was founded by local leaders, with the aim of providing a future for the children in their community.

Dalimfundo not only fulfils the crucial role of providing quality education and training to the children of South Africa, it is ultimately responsible for helping lay the foundations of the country’s future.

As an NPO, the institution is wholly reliant on donations to carry out its good work. In a bid to do our part, PBSA contributes to the institution on a monthly basis, with donations going towards the school’s daily nutritional programme that ensures its learners have a healthy meal each school day.

It is a privilege for PBSA to be a small part of our children’s education, and we salute the founders and staff of Dalimfundo Day Care & Preschool for their ongoing commitment to our nation’s greatest asset – its children.

 

Debt Relief Bill: 13 Fast Facts

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debt-1157824_960_720We explore details around Government’s recently signed National Credit Act amendment, which aims to free low-income earners of crippling debt.

pbVerify Business customers who extend credit to consumers are urged to strengthen their KYC procedures to not only ensure legislative compliance, but also to protect them against potential financial losses.

This comes after a recent amendment to South Africa’s credit act, which has highlighted the importance of responsible credit lending.

Just over two months ago, the National Credit Amendment Bill – broadly dubbed the “Debt Relief Bill” – was signed into law and, although it has been almost two years since Parliament’s portfolio committee on trade and industry initiated the amendment bill, there are still uncertainties around its implications.

Also known as the Debt Intervention Bill, the bill basically aims to protect low-income earners from what government considers reckless credit lending, allowing consumers who are burdened by debt to have it written off.

While the bill has been welcomed by consumers, around 9.4 million*[7] of whom may qualify for debt relief thanks to it now having been signed into law, it has been met with “extreme concern” by others, including the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA), which said in a statement on 16 August, “The Act, in its current form, will restrict ability of banks to lend to this vulnerable market and increase the cost of credit.”

Treasury estimated government’s debt-relief proposals could result in the write-off of R13.2bn to R20bn of debt.

In response to concerns raised, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the bill and its proposals were within the country’s constitution. Business Day cites Ramaphosa as saying that, regulations and certain provisions notwithstanding, the law is constitutional.

Here are some fast facts relating to the debt relief bill and debt in South Africa to help demystify the controversial piece of legislation:

  1. The National Credit Amendment Bill was signed into law on 15 August 2019.
  2. The Debt Intervention Bill is an amendment to the National Credit Act.
  3. The bill’s primary aim is to provide relief for South Africa’s vulnerable and most financially distressed consumers.
  4. There is no date set yet for the bill to come into operation.
  5. According to the bill, indebted consumers must meet the following criteria in order to have debt extinguished:
    1. They must earn a gross monthly income of R7 500 or less.
    2. They must have unsecured debt amounting to R50 000.
    3. The National Credit Regulator (NCR) must have found them to be critically indebted.
  6. The bill also makes it an offence for a person to intentionally submit false information related to debt relief.
  7. The bill will inevitably result in losses for banks, retailers and other credit providers.
  8. TransUnion’s Q2 quarterly Industry Insights Report shows a significant increase in the amount of credit being taken out by consumers (Unsecured lending was recorded to be up by 12% in the second quarter).
  9. BASA petitioned Ramaphosa in August not to sign the Act in its current form.
  10. According to BASA, existing debt relief measures have proven to educate and rehabilitate debtors and return them to the credit market. “In 2017, banks expunged R30 billion in prescribed debt in line with existing legislation and their own policies.”
  11. Following a government-commissioned study by consulting firm Genesis Analytics, it was suggested that Parliament reconsider the passage of the bill in its current form, and rather introduce the debt-intervention system within the bounds of the current debt-review system, with subsidy mechanisms for low-income consumers.
  12. According to the Genesis Analytics study, it is unlikely that the introduction of law will have a significant economic impact at a macro-economy level.
  13. The study suggests that the law will mostly benefit the informal credit market. On the other hand, the formal sector credit providers could lose about R3.9bn of existing credit book.

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.

Phone: +27 (0)10 300 4898

E-mail: support@pbverify.co.za

 

[REFERENCES]

  1. gov.za – National Credit Amendment Act 7 of 2019
  2. Government Gazette – National Credit Amendment Act 7 of 2019 PDF
  3. Fin24 – 5 questions on the ‘debt relief bill’ unpacked
  4. TransUnion – Q2 2019 Industry Insights Report
  5. Moneyweb – Unsecured lending up 12% – report
  6. The Banking Association of South Africa – NCA Amendment Act
  7. *Moneyweb – Close to 9.4m consumers may qualify for debt relief under new bill
  8. Business Day – Cyril Ramaphosa defends controversial debt-relief law
  9. Business Tech – Ramaphosa signs controversial new debt relief bill into law – Here’what it means for you

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

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

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