South Africa: Absa Trials Payments Via Mobile Phone

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Banking group Absa conducted South Africa's first live user trial of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology on mobile phones in December, with 500 of the bank's staff members using the technology in a commercial environment.

The bank partnered with global financial services provider Mastercard to embed the Paypass Tap and Go payment chip on cellular handsets for the trial, enabling participants to load funds onto their phones through the Absa website or ATMs.

They can then pay for goods or services by merely holding their phone in front of a NFC-enabled pay point, with the value of the transaction being instantly debited from their stored value.

The trial enabled participants to pay for goods at coffee shops, canteens, and later, at other service providers that are located at Absa's head office buildings in central Johannesburg.

"Absa is the first institution in South Africa to bring Near Field Communication capabilities with an EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) card payment application to a handset," said Absa retail markets head Arrie Rautenbach in a statement last month.