Contactless payments are fast-becoming the norm for South African consumers. The pandemic has forced us to be acutely aware of the surfaces we touch.
It has also pushed companies to innovate their offerings to accommodate the new needs and demands that consumers have.
Nedbank launched the first tap-on-phone functionality in Africa earlier this year. The function allows all merchants and business owners to convert mobile phones into payment acceptance devices. Previous to this, contact payments required a QR code app or point-of-sale (POS) device.
Capitec recently launched a virtual banking card for its customers. It can be used to make secure payments, shop online, scan-to-pay and to make payments on apps such as Netflix, Uber, Takealot and so on.
FNB launched its own virtual card payment system which works exactly like a physical card. It can be used on tap card machines, in QR payment systems like SnapScan and online purchases.
SnapScan and Zapper have been around for a while now and are a popular POS system for small businesses and restaurants alike.
Google and Apple pay
Smartphone-based digital wallets Apple Pay and Google Pay have a far wider reach than the individual bank offerings currently available in South Africa.
Apple Pay allows those with an Apple device to upload their debit or credit card details in order to make contactless, secure purchases in stores, on apps and online. Device holders can also send and receive money from friends and family through 'messages'.
Google Pay is slightly different in that users add a credit or debit card to their Google Pay app but uses a PIN authentication for purchases to be made. To purchase something, a customer taps their mobile device on a point-of-sale terminal or chooses to pay in their mobile app. Google Pay responds with the customer's tokenised card and a cryptogram which acts as a one-time password.
Rather than being strictly limited to your bank, these two options make contactless payment even more effortless.
Will SA ever get these options?
As it stands, neither Apple nor Google Pay will be launching in South Africa anytime soon.
Apple Pay is not not supported in Africa at all currently. Google Pay is available in 29 countries worldwide, but not one of these are in Africa either.