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Phone Payment Startup Goes Live in South Africa

Mobile Commerce Insider Featured Article

July 08, 2014

Phone Payment Startup Goes Live in South Africa

By Joe Rizzo
TMCnet Contributing Writer

Emerge Mobile is a South African company, based out of Durban. It was founded by a father and son team, Clive and Matt Putman. The company sees itself as a services and technology provider. It is competing in the mobile point of sales (MPOS) market. At the beginning of this year, Emerge Mobile launched its MPOS systems for small and medium enterprises (SME) across Africa, as well as other emerging markets.

The company's MPOS solution consists of a card acceptance platform, web portal, smartphone merchant applications and a hardware adapter that is attached to a smartphone. The technology is designed to transform your smartphone into a mobile payment terminal capable of processing chip-and-PIN and mag-stripe card payments—very similar to the Square card reader—and has been named The Edge.

As you can see from the two images below, it is a simple process to use the device.

Images via Techcentral

You will notice that while the device is the same, one image shows Emerge, while the other shows iKohokha. The second is a Cape Town based financial services brand created by Emerge Mobile. iKohokha means “to pay” in Zulu.

Earlier this year, Emerge Mobile received Payments Council International Payment Terminal Security (PCI (News - Alert)-PTS), as well as Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) Level 1 and 2 certifications for its payment solution. The Edge is registered with the MasterCard Mobile MPOS Program and the Visa Ready Program. By doing so, the device is getting exposure to financial services institutions on a worldwide basis.

There is no monthly fee for the service; iKhokha charges merchants a flat rate of 2.75 percent for each transaction. The smartphone app also allows you to send a receipt to the customer. This is accomplished through a SMS or email message. According to Matt Putman, “The solution can be white-labelled for an acquiring client’s brand, or we can launch a similar brand to iKhokha in other international markets.”

While it does not really matter which financial institution the perspective user banks with, Absa is the acquiring license provider working with Emerge Mobile in South Africa. The way it works is that you fill out an application, once it is approved by Absa, you will receive the device by courier. It will cost you about $100. The fee has not been listed, however, if you do not want to purchase the device you can rent it on a monthly basis.

Essentially, The Edge converts your smartphone into a secure mobile point of sale terminal. It will allow a merchant to process chip-and-Pin, as well as cards with magnetic strips, such as debit and credit card payments. In addition, several selected mobile wallet transactions will also be accepted.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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