By Lesego Mabe
One beautiful Sunday afternoon, I took a walk to my local laundromat expecting the usual pleasant trip. Little did I know things were about to take a turn for the strange.
I watch as a car filled with passengers, except the front passenger seat, suddenly stops mid-intersection and makes a U-turn. Something about it seemed off and not the antics of a free-for-all driver.
I ignore the strange sight and mind my business. As I pass the intersection, I notice someone walking ahead of me and my spidey senses tingle. I make it a point to keep my distance and walk slowly enough to delay getting close to him… that is until he notices, stops and pretends to be on the phone giving directions, allowing me to close the distance. We are now almost side by side.
Behind me, the strange car switches lanes and is moving in my direction. This stranger on the sidewalk begins to walk beside me and starts making conversation about trying to meet a girlfriend who is bad with directions.
Walking on the sidewalk toward the laundromat, I keep some distance between us and I am on full alert. I can feel my skin start to prickle. I nod along and feign interest when I notice another person coming towards us with his head down and hands in his pocket. Glancing around, the car is now behind me.
I precede to take my hands out of my pockets and prepare for the worst. The man coming from the opposite direction is now getting closer. Suddenly, he drops a wad of cash in a transparent money bag and keeps walking past us as if nothing happened.
The stranger beside me stops, examines me and remarks that we should either take the money and share it or alert the guy – most probably the former. The car, at this point, has already passed us, perfectly timed as if it were a coordinated getaway. I look at the money. I look at stranger two, and back to stranger one… then stride away. The laundromat is on my left and I can see the complex’s security guard. I am almost safe.
Glancing behind me, stranger one stands with the bag of money. Ahead of me, the guarded parking lot – empty enough for everyone outside the stores to see me.
Finally, I make it to the welcoming and almost ethereal doors of the laundromat. I am safe. I quickly pay for my laundry and decide to order a ride using my Bolt app. It is not worth risking another walk with all the stranger danger outside.
But fight or flight mode has not left me unscathed. My Bolt password and all my relief have disappeared. I cannot remember my card password and, as the exact opposite of luck would have it, I do not have the right sim card in my phone to get an OTP. Everything is now working against me to keep me out of the safety of a car and back onto the streets. I register a new Bolt account, but I don’t have cash on me and my card is a debit card so it won’t be able to process the transaction. The street seems to look smaller as I stare back out at it.
The idea of walking home is out of the question. I am sure I would not be the first person to try to inhabit a laundromat with all its clean sheets?
I need an alternative. Then, suddenly, I remembered “KEYSTONE!”
In a vision, I see a member of my team at Synthesis showing me that Keystone, a technology used to encrypt sensitive banking information, allowed my bank app to send its users their card information.
To add my card to the Bolt app, all I needed was my card’s number, its expiration date as well as CVV. Information I did not have on me but information that the bank app could provide me, thanks to Keystone. I checked and sure enough, everything I needed was there. The banality of having card information on hand had never seemed so precious.
So, I registered the card that was inconveniently sitting at home and ordered my ride. When my rescue vehicle arrived, I left the ethereal doors of the laundromat and jumped into the car.
That day, the 12th of July 2020, helped me appreciate, even more, how helpful software like this can be, especially when you really need it to be, and that made me appreciate the work and team that made it possible, even more.
I hope one beautiful day, when you are walking down the road expecting the usual but find your spidey sense tingling, that technology comes to your rescue as well or, at least, it saves you from your own paranoia.