It’s time to quit internet banking on your computer

It’s time to quit internet banking on your computer

I have been saying this for years. Your computer is not safe. It never has been and never will be. Despite the efforts of anti virus companies, banks and everyone else, Internet fraud has been increasing rapidly. There are no signs that it’s going to decrease soon. The reason is simple. It’s much, much safer from criminals to steal your money from somewhere in Russia than to storm into a bank with machine guns.

Once again my suspicions that these are mostly inside jobs has been confirmed. MyBroadband reported today that the FBI is being called in to help catch syndicates that have infiltrated Vodacom and ABSA. These insiders have been doing illegal sim swaps and committing internet banking fraud on mostly ABSA clients.

I have been going on about this for years but the only response I ever got from Vodacom and ABSA was that there is no problem. It seems that these two companies are masters in spinning the bullshit. The sad thing is that thousands of people have lots millions due to the negligence of both Vodacom and ABSA.

Five years ago I told Vodacom that their practice of allowing sim swaps without proper security verification is a serious security threat. They did nothing.

Mobile apps are far more secure than internet banking on your computer browser. Your computer browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox) is probably the least secure piece of software on your computer. Every bank has a mobile banking app today. Stop using your computer to do your banking. Switch to the apps and you will not be exposed to the risk of spyware, malware and keyloggers.

The safest way to do your banking is by using the banks mobile apps on iPhone or iPad. Yes, I’m not the greatest Apple fan but Apple is way more secure than Android.

You have been warned. Continue using internet banking on your PC at your own peril.

Read more at MyBroaband

 

Best South African Banks for Airport Lounge Access

Best South African Banks for Airport Lounge Access

We like to to travel but we definitely don’t like sitting at the departure gate on uncomfortable chairs with screaming children playing hide-and-seek.  Although some travellers love the hustle and bustle of airports, chances are that if you’re a frequent traveller the one thing you’d love before your flight departs is an hour or two of peace and quiet.

Access to airport lounges used to be a privilege only a few – with a business-class ticket in hand, of course – enjoyed.  Certain banks and financial institutions provide access to the lounges for free and some require you to jump a number of hurdles (or in bank parlance, ‘qualifying criteria’) before you can gain access.

Here are the best banks and accounts for airport lounge access – and the worst.

FNB and RMB

RMB and FNB Private Clients

RMB and FNB are both connected to the awful eBucks program which means you have to earn rewards in order to gain access to the lounges. Even as a RMB Private Bank client you don’t get free access to the airport lounges. The real annoying part of their rewards system is that you never know what level you are on. The airport lounges are not connected to the bank so when you swipe your card at the lounge they can’t tell you if you have earned enough rewards points to gain free access. They just swipe your card and you go in. It’s when you get home when you get the shock, because they then charge you for the access. You thought it was free. Nope. Neither FNB or RMB offer a credit card that offers free local or international lounge access.

Verdict: Terrible (change your bank)

Standard Bank

World Citizen Credit Card

The top Standard Bank credit card is called the World Citizen Credit Card.  You need to spend R15,000 per quarter to get complimentary access to over 500 airport lounges within SA and abroad, through their chosen partner, LoungeKey

Verdict: Bad

Diners Club

With Diners you need to spend R15,000 per quarter to get free access and the same rules/benefits as the Standard Bank World Citizen Credit Card.

Verdict: Bad

ABSA

Platinum Cheque Account

The ABSA Platinum cheque account offers an optional DragonPass membership, offering five free airport lounge visits per 12-month cycle at R59 per month.

Verdict: Terrible

ABSA Private Clients

6 visits (Only 6? Really?) per year to more than 800 airport lounges in over 300 cities across 100 countries affiliated to the DragonPass program.

Verdict: Bad

Nedbank

Platinum Card

Nedbank’s Platinum Card provides free access to the Bidvest Premier airport lounges for domestic flights only.

Verdict: Nothing to write home about

American Express Gold Charge Card

8 visits per year to the Bidvest Premier airport lounges for domestic flights only.

Verdict: Very average for Amex

American Express Platinum Charge Card

Amex Platinum Charge Card provides free access to over 900 local and international airport lounges in over 100 countries, with Priority Pass.

Verdict: Good (Because there are no other benefits to the Amex Platinum Card that’s comparable to a Private Banking offering.)

Investec

Investec Credit Card

Every Investec card holder has complimentary, unlimited access to SAA-owned Lounges and Bidvest Premier Lounges.

Verdict: Very Good

Investec Enigma Card

The Investec Enigma Card (SA’s own Black AMEX card) offers unlimited and free access to over 900 local and international airport lounges in over 100 countries, with Priority Pass.

Verdict: Excellent

Conclusion

Investec is the only bank that provides a really good airport lounge benefit to it’s card holders. Investec also offers a wide range of other benefits to card holders, which makes it a better choice than American Express. The great disappointment is RMB who have lost serious ground to Investec due to their complicated and terrible eBucks rewards program.

Private banking is definitely not what it used to be. There is very little special about it.

Which Countries Guarantee Drinkable Tap Water

Which Countries Guarantee Drinkable Tap Water

Bottled water is expensive but bad water can make you very ill and spoil your holiday. There are many countries where you can safely drink the tap water and then there are others where you just can’t take the risk. It’s important to note that just because you can drink your tap water that does not mean it’s safe for foreigners to drink it. We get used to our own water but it could very easily make someone else sick.

The guide from Danny Ashton at NeoMam Studios uses information gathered from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can see each continent with guaranteed safe countries in blue and potentially unsafe countries in brown, along with some tips for how you can avoid unsafe water. Keep in mind, potentially unsafe means that it could be harmful to drink if your system is not used to that environment, not necessarily that the water is polluted and dirty.

Visit Exotic Vacations for the ultimate family holiday to Mauritius, Zanzibar, Seychelles or Maldives.

Inforgraphic. Where its safe to drink tap water.

I am a European living in Africa

I am a European living in Africa

It was smack bang in the middle of winter 5 years ago that I embarked on an adventure I will never forget. The funny thing is that what I perceived as an adventure, millions of people experience as everyday life.

It was 4am on a bleak winters morning in the Joburg CBD. The city was already busy with taxis and pedestrians making their way. Unbelievable how noisy the city can be at that time of the morning. The roisterous taxis were hooting and the drivers shouting for passengers to get on board. The smog was hanging low over Eloff street as I made my way to Noord street, the biggest taxi rank in Jozi.

I was nervous. After all, I’m a white dude and as out-of-place as a missile in a bathtub. It seemed as if everyone was looking at me. Staring. Thinking about it now I think they were. But I was keeping my eyes on the dirty sidewalk, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone.

Noord street taxi rank is a huge, sprawling, bustling hive of activity with hundreds, no, maybe thousands of taxis lined up to move passengers around the 600 square miles of metropolitan Joburg. Smog town. It could be the title of a low budget horror movie.

To be a pedestrian here is either to be bold or to be poor.

My adventure was to get a taxi from Noord street to Orlando in Soweto where I would spend the two nights with a friend. The next day I would catch a train from Soweto back to Jozi and walk to Noord street taxi rank to catch a taxi to Sandton.

Why in gods name would any self respecting white dude do this? Because I wanted to experience life as the majority of our population experience it, every day. I know, two days is nothing compared to a lifetime, but this was my opportunity to try and connect with my fellow citizens.

Little did I know how absolutely profound this experience was going to be. Thinking back, this was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had. I’d rather do this again than climbing Mount Everest.

I eventually found the correct taxi. It was a mission. Everything is foreign. But for the regular travelers it’s as easy and obvious as us whiteys driving to Woolies in the Prado. Once in the taxi you wait until it’s filled up. And man oh man can they fill it up. I stopped counting at 15 because I was concentrating too hard on trying to breathe. I was convinced that if they squeeze one more person into the taxi it would burst open like a ripe peach.

Noord Street Taxi Rank
Noord Street Taxi Rank

The taxi drove off, direction Soweto. The first thing I noticed was how happy everyone was. Laughing, joking and chatting as if they were on their way to a family holiday in the Maldives. You pay the taxi fare by handing the cash to the person in front of you. They then pass it forward to the passenger in the front seat who keeps the money for the driver. Incidentally when the front passenger got in the taxi he fastened his seatbelt and the driver said; “You’re not in your mothers car”.

The taxi stopped anywhere. On yellow lines, in front of fire hydrants, in the middle of intersections. Anywhere. I eventually understood that he picks up passengers wherever he could to keep the taxi full. It wasn’t like he was some recidivist anarchist in a Mad Max movie. It was all business.

Kota
Kota. Township bunny chow.

We arrived in Orlando Soweto and I climbed out. I was in the heart of the largest black city in Africa. Not a white face to be seen. But, nobody cared. I was invisible. The smell of Kota drifted through the air. Kota is basically mince and mash. Think of the kota as an evolving township street food burger. R10 bought me a plate full of divine tastes. I chowed my Kota-looks-like-bunny-chow while watching the people bustle past. I was starting to get into this. Frankly I was surprised that I hadn’t been robbed yet. I was invisible.

The map to my friends place was easy to follow. I was still not comfortable enough not to constantly look over my shoulder, expecting to see a gang of tsotsis following me. No one followed me though. I was walking in Soweto, a white guy. Alone. And I was ok.

After 45 minutes I arrived at the house. It was a pleasant little face brick house opposite a school. Kids were playing on the field. Innocent was waiting for me at the gate. His toothy smile made me feel welcome immediately. “You made it” he said, with a hint of surprise in his voice.

I was introduced to his family. They had all dressed up for the occasion, waiting in the lounge. It was almost formal, like being introduced to the royal household. Nkgono (grandmother) was last. Eight people lived in the same house. A two bedroom house a little bigger than my own bedroom.

I learned that they were the lucky ones. Grandma receives a pension because her husband worked on the the railways for many years before he passed away. At the end of the month everyone put their money together to pay for food and other living expenses. Everything is shared. Millions of others cannot afford a house and they live in shacks made from plastic and corrugated metal sheets. Millions don’t have running water or electricity.

We spent the evening eating and talking and grandma made a pot of tea. It was a delightful evening and I completely forgot that I was in the middle of a black township. While laying in bed I thought of the last time I was there. It was in 1983. The riots were everywhere and I was deployed to Soweto for a short stint in June 1983. I was a young policeman intent on defending the nation against the “rooi gevaar” (Communist invasion). Those were dark days. I was swept up in the almost religious like fevor of nationalism. Just like everyone else. I was fiercely patriotic and I genuinely though I was doing the right thing.

While laying in bed, listening to the sounds of Soweto, I remembered.

The next morning at 4am Innocent woke me up. Breakfast was ready. We ate quickly because it was a long trek to the train station. I was going back to Joburg and I was going to travel by train. Innocent and I left for the station and had to break into a slow jog because we were running late. We arrived at the station and bought my ticket. We said our goodbyes and I climbed the stairs to platform number 2. What a sight. There were literally thousands of people on the platform waiting for the train. I have never seen such a mass of people at a train station.

Singing on the train
Singing on the train

There was shouting and singing and selling and it was just totally overwhelming. For a typical Afrikaner boytjie like me, this was mind numbing. All of a sudden everyone started running to the other side of the platform. I didn’t know why and only later realised it’s because they never know on which railway line the train is going to arrive. So when they see the train arriving they have to move to the correct line. I ran with them. The train pulled in. There were people peeling out of the doors, people on the roof and in between the carriages. It was surreal. I was standing back, waiting to see what was going to happen because there was a huge crowd in front of the one door. The doors opened and the crowd pushed forward like a wave as bodies pushed up against each other.

I had no idea how all these people were going to get on the train. Impossible I thought, but most of them did. They squeezed and pushed and pushed some more. Eventually I was in the middle of the thriving thong of bodies pushing and I was pushed into the train. Many couldn’t get on but they helped to push the others in.

In the train I was standing with my hands pinned to my sides, chest to chest and face to face with a crowd of people. Squashed together like jalapenos in a jar. It was difficult to breathe. I tried to look around but couldn’t move my neck more than 90 degrees. I immediately noticed how relaxed everyone was. I was the only one freaking out. They did this every day. It was kak hot in that train and I was sweating like a pig.

The train started to move and I really didn’t think I was going to survive the trip. I was either going to die of asphyxiation or I was going to fall down and trampled to death. I imagined that no-one would ever find my body. Destined to travel from Soweto to Joburg and back for eternity.

Then the singing started. It was incredible and took my mind off my desperate thoughts. If you’re claustrophobic don’t ever try this. The singing grew louder and the sides of the train were used as impromptu drums. The beat was hypnotic. The singing was out of this world. I noticed then that all the people in the carriage were Zulu. I found out later that Zulus and Xhosas don’t travel in the same carriages. There is intense tribal and cultural conflict between them and they stick to themselves. They just don’t mingle.

The food vendors were moving around the carriage, under people and sometimes climbing over them. They travel these trains every day and all day selling cigarettes, sandwiches and sweets.

Then the smell hit me. Joints were being passed around and everyone was smoking dagga (cannabis).The smoke spread thought the carriage until I couldn’t see a thing. The singing became louder and louder and the drums kept the rhythm. I was in a daze. It was an incredible experience. I don’t have the skill to communicate the sensory experience of standing in that train, stuffed full of people, singing with one voice.

We arrived in Park Station and climbed off the train. I think I breathed properly for the first time since the start of the journey and stood on the platform for at least ten minutes trying to focus my mind. The crowds rushed past me while I tried to make sense of the past hour.

It was then that I realized that the cultural gap between white people and black people is enormous. In fact it’s a chasm so wide that it will be nearly impossible to cross. The differences between us are fundamental and very deeply rooted in long and colorful, divergent histories.

It was there, at Park Station that I realized that I could truly appreciate another culture but that I am what I am. I am not black. I am not an African. No matter that this is the country of my birth, I am nothing but an immigrant. I will never be an African and I will never be accepted as an African, by the indigenous Africans.

The white people that think that because their ancestors came to Africa a few hundred years ago that makes them Africans are delusional. We are Europeans living in Africa. It’s really as simple as that. We can live here and contribute here and we can even make a difference here, but we are not from here.

Once you make that mind shift it becomes easier to understand. Stop trying to turn black people into Europeans. They are not. Stop measuring them against your own expectations.  Our genetics are European. That is where we belong.

I am not African. I am a European living in Africa.