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While many global businesses are scratching their heads on how to plan their operations in a post-COVID-19 world, two digital payment firms are using the crisis to build a new payment ecosystem in your car. And in another part of the world, in Africa, some tech start-ups are helping their continent tide over the coronavirus outbreak.

Closer to home, did you know that the Zoom app is sharing user data with Facebook?

IBM is giving free access to a range of IT tools to its clients to help them during the COVID-19 crisis. And finally, some tools to help you manage projects.

Digital payment firms are building in-car payment ecosystems

In-car payments is a fragmented market. It lacks a single interoperable system. Currently, different solution providers offer diverse options for making payment.

Many drivers connect their smartphones to cars using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in the absence of built-in communication interface.

Visa and Mastercard are using this absence to build ecosystems that will link merchants and drivers to make and receive in-car payment. This is part of their Internet of Things strategy, according to a report byPaymentsSource.

The duo aims to stitch disparate systems together for car makers, payment infrastructure providers and other fintech firms to offer in-car commerce.

The digital payments firms see the COVID-19 situation nudging more people towards using private or personal vehicles.

They view this push as an opportunity to develop in-car payments technology that can allow drivers to pay for fuel or food without handling cash or coming in contact with any potentially infected area.

Mastercard is working with GM, Honda, IBM, Amazon and other merchants and tech start ups to create car commerce platforms.

"Our role is to ensure that in-car payments are safe and simple for consumers, merchants and card companies," Mastercard’s senior vice president for digital future, products and innovation Femi Odunuga said.

"We’re still in a nascent stage for car commerce. The technology is there, and initiatives are progressing, but adoption is tempered by the fact that you need vehicles to operate the requisite software, merchants to sell on these platforms, and consumers to transact.”

Visa, on the other hand, sees strong potential in cloud-based IoT payments and authentication via biometrics

“Visa’s approach relies on its Visa Ready tokenization platform integrating with e-wallets such as Apple Pay to tokenize connected car payments and prevent consumers’ cards from being exposed,” said Bisi Boyle, Visa’s vice president of IoT.

How is Africa’s tech ecosystem responding to COVID-19 crisis

Africa was relatively untouched by the coronavirus until early March. Now, that has changed.

“About 10 days ago we had 5 countries affected, now we’ve got 30,” WHO Regional Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said at a press conference on March 19. “It’s has been an extremely rapid…evolution.”

As on Tuesday, COVID-19 cases in the Sub-Saharan Africa jumped to 3671 from 463 on March 18.

To stem the spread of coronavirus, start-ups in Africa are shifting a large volume of their transaction to digital payment, Techcrunch reported. They see physical cash as a conduit for the virus to spread.

Kenya has turned to mobile-money as a public-health tool, and the country’s largest telecom provider Safaricom implemented a fee-waiver on M-Pesa, a mobile-money product to reduce physical contact in exchange of currency notes.

In Lagos, a mobile payments company Paga adjusted fees to allow merchants to accept payments from Paga’s customers for free, according to a company statement.

CcHub, Africa’s largest innovation incubator based in Lagos and Nairobi, posted an open application on its website to provide funding blocks to companies working on COVID-19 related projects. The funding range from $5,000 to $100,000.

Zindi, a Cape Town-based crowd-solving start-up, opened a challenge to its 12,000 registered engineers on its platform to create models to predict global spread of COVID-19 in the next three months.

Did you know that Zoom app is sharing your data with Facebook?

In the past few weeks, Zoom app has become a household name, and is the go-to videoconferencing platform to connect with friends and family to beat the lockdown blues.

Based on the recent analysis by Motherboard, the app’s iOS version sends some analytics data to Facebook. The videoconferencing platform does this even if the user does not have a Facebook account.

While this kind of data sharing is not uncommon for apps that use Facebook’s software development kits (SDK), Zoom has not made its users aware of this transmission mechanism.

Many apps use Facebook’s SDK to implement features into their apps easily.

When you open a Zoom app, it connects to Facebook’s Graph API, which is the main gateway for developers to get data in and out of Facebook.

Through this pathway, Facebook receives data from the user on the time they used the app, location and the device. It also gets the information on the user’s unique advertiser identifier. This is used to send targeted advertisements to the user.

Facebook requires that its developers be transparent to their users about the data their apps collects and sends to Facebook.

Zoom responded to Motherboard’s query in a statement confirming the data collection practice.

"Zoom takes its users’ privacy extremely seriously. We originally implemented the ‘Login with Facebook’ feature using the Facebook SDK in order to provide our users with another convenient way to access our platform. However, we were recently made aware that the Facebook SDK was collecting unnecessary device data," the statement read, and described the data being collected as the same sorts of information that Motherboard identified.

IBM offers an array of tools to support companies during COVID-19 pandemic

As many firms are forced to change the way they operate globally due to the COVID-19 outbreak, IBM is making some of its IT tools available for free to its existing customers.

“We're hearing and seeing firsthand from clients who are now grappling with the reality that most, if not all, of their workforces are conducting business from home,” Akilesh Duvvur, vice president Public Cloud said in a statement.

IBM is providing free offering to its clients across cloud-enabled AI, data, security, integration and video through its public cloud.

The nine cloud products and services available for use by IBM customers include IBM Cloud, Aspera file sharing and team collaboration, IBM Security, IBM Video Streaming and IBM Enterprise Video Streaming, IBM Sterling supply chain tools, IBM Blueworks Live remote collaboration tools, IBM Cloud Event Management, remote learning resources, and IBM Garage.

These tools are free of charge for 90 days.

“As the work environment evolves in these difficult times, we'll continue to evaluate ways we can ease the burdens our clients are facing so they can focus on driving their businesses forward,” he added.

Cloud-based project management tools

Managing a project’s lifecycle can get easier by using the right tools. These software can help you stay on your task and collaborate with teams situated across regions.

Here are some tools, researched by TechRepublic, for your consideration:

ActiveCollab: Helps organise teams and implement internal processes. The software also allows individuals in the team to see when each stage of the project is due. The visual workload management feature helps improve overall team performance. It also has billing tools that tracks hours for all projects and creates invoices. AciveCollab costs $6.25 a month for annual pricing.

Asana: Focuses on goals and daily tasks and helps plan and structure workload, track deadlines and follow tasks. Its Agile management tools track product or project launches and iterations. Asana helps track progress and identify bottlenecks with digital Kanban boards. It costs $10.99 per month.

Celoxis: Customizable project management toll that handles scheduling, forecasting and task status. It provides risk management and capacity planning solutions. Celoxis costs $25 a month.

LiquidPlanner: Provides automated scheduling and project forecasting to help predict actions. It helps the project team to taken in uncertainty and adapt to the changing situation through collaboration. Pricing details not available. Please contact LiquidPlanner

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 2:56:38 PM |

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