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Use your smartphone to buy things

No cash, credit card necessary.

JOHANNESBURG – If you’d prefer to leave your bank cards at home and never carry cash, you can now make payments using your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy phone or Blackberry.

Freely available for download in several app stores, mobile payment solution SnapScan allows you to make payments by scanning a merchant’s unique QR code, known as a SnapCode.

Once you’ve scanned the merchant’s QR code, you then need to enter a unique PIN (four digits of your choice) to conclude the transaction.

The merchant will then receive an SMS confirming payment from SnapScan and you will be told via the app whether or not payment was successful.

In order for a merchant to offer this payment solution to you, it needs to register with SnapScan and print its unique QR code, which can be displayed at the checkout counter.

SnapScan does not work without internet reception.

According to Standard Bank, which developed the app, traditional card machines involve expenses and complexity that exclude a number of merchants, in particular small business owners and entrepreneurs.

“SnapScan moves the intelligence located in a card machine to the QR code and the smartphone, so that merchants don’t need any high-tech devices or connectivity,” John Campbell, head of Standard Bank’s innovations division Beyond Payments, told media on Wednesday.

After downloading the SnapScan app, customers embed their credit card details in the app (excluding the credit card PIN). These are then hidden from view.

Credit cards, or hybrid cards that can function as credit cards, must be linked to a bank account capable of making online payments and can only be a Visa or MasterCard.

There are no fees involved for customers to make payments using SnapScan and customer don’t need to be Standard Bank customers.

Merchants don’t need to be Standard Bank customers either. They don’t have to have a bank account at all and can use vouchers, redeemable at any Standard Bank ATM or SPAR, to access money earned through SnapScan.

Merchants will pay a flat fee of 3% of the value of any transaction. “It is our intent to drive the fee down over time, as we introduce additional payment mechanisms into SnapScan,” Campbell noted.

For example, SnapScan will soon be able to use e-currency and Instant Money, where vouchers are converted into cash without the need for a bank account.

If your phone is stolen, Standard Bank suggests cancelling the card linked to the SnapScan application and remote wiping your phone. “If someone was using SnapScan for suspicious purchases, we could block the whole device,” Campbell said.

According to Vuyo Mpako, Standard Bank’s head of innovation and channel design, the app is attracting large retailers and restaurant chains, in addition to small business owners.

Mpako said that Standard Bank would wait for feedback from customers and merchants before it decided on “the next big thing” to include in the app’s functionality.

Early adopters of SnapScan include Motherland in Johannesburg and House of Machines in Cape Town.

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