Absa Pilots Mobile Point-of-Sale Innovation

Barclays subsidiary, Absa has announced that its Payment Pebble, a mobile point-of-sale (MPOS) innovation, which aims to fundamentally transform the payment acceptance industry, is gearing up to enter its pilot phase.

The Payment Pebble is a small portable device which plugs into smartphones or tablets and enables small and medium scale enterprises to accept payments from debit and credit cards. It is the first portable payment system of its kind that does not rely on Bluetooth, thereby significantly enhancing the simplicity and security of the payment process.

The Payment Pebble is expected to transform the market in South Africa, which has more than 60 million active debit and credit cards and over 10 million smartphones. Almost a quarter of all purchase transactions in the country are done at a point-of-sale terminal. Small businesses, such as the plumber that arrives at your house to fix your geyser or the caterer who delivers canapés to your offices, will now be able to accept card payments on your doorstep.

The Payment Pebble is truly a world-first South African innovation that was conceptualised, created, developed and manufactured locally. Absa Head of Retail Banking, Arrie Rautenbach, says: “Building this product is an incredible testament to the work between Absa and thumbzup; aligning to the Absa vision of supporting local entrepreneurial spirit, while creating a solution that answers to the daily needs of our customers.

The partnership brings with it the added benefits of socio-economic uplift through the creation of local employment, rapid innovation turnaround and the end result of a product customised with local support and a real understanding of local requirements. We believe that this is a massive differentiator – we are not simply reselling a product made abroad, but creating a partnership for the future built on South African innovation and invention – no other bank can claim this today.”

The Payment Pebble solution will launch with many positive technology features. thumbzup CEO and founder, Stafford Masie explained the benefit of the direct connection to a mobile phone through an audio jack. “You can pull our Payment Pebble out of the box and simply plug it in and it works with smartphones or tablets that support the mobile application. It does not use Bluetooth, which is known to be erratic and technically arcane to reliably configure.

Bluetooth implementations are proprietary across mobile devices and setup is often difficult. Mobile operating system and application updates are volatile and continuous, which may affect your Bluetooth settings. I would not want to be the bank that has to wake up to thousands of non-technical clients with Bluetooth pairing issues every morning. thumbzup is built on a philosophy of making things, like payment, easy, by solving the problem while ensuring the technology remains invisible; you get your Pebble, you plug it in, it works!”

Rautenbach added, “The new PIN entry invention greatly enhances traditional methods for PIN entry. This locally invented PIN entry solution reduces costs and offers businesses a more cost-effective method for card payments. We are building a solution that is affordable to the masses – it is a world first and fun to use. We have been amazed at the strong demand for the Payment Pebble over the past few months with pre-launch orders exceeding all of our expectations.”

Security is paramount to any payment processing solution. The Payment Pebble is the first South African MPos solution to be announced certified for Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) Level 1 type approval. By dispersing with the need to a keypad for PIN entry the cost of production for the Payment Pebble been greatly reduced thereby rendering it affordable for the mass market.

Absa said facilitating world-class, affordable, easy payments for customers was in line with its brand promise that aims to make its customers lives much easier in its journey to become Africa’s Go-To-bank.

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