Johannesburg - Absa Group [JSE:ASA] has launched a new card
in South Africa that does not need swiping.
The bank on Wednesday introduced the Absa OneTouch
card that aims to provide a convenient alternative to cash and is most
suitable for small payments.
Absa head of consumer cards, Simon Just said the
"contactless" card is a precursor for mobile payments.
The card will cost consumers R20.50 once-off and it can be
loaded with a maximum of R3 000. The system allows for payments of under R200
at a time.
The fees will depend on where funds are loaded and consumers
have the option of doing so at retailers, Absa branches and online.
A minimum of R1.50 will be charged although, depending on
the amount of money loaded on to the card, customers may pay between 2.5% and 3.5%.
Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of technology market research organisation World Wide Worx, said: "It is clear that banks are
both experimenting and innovating to gain a competitive business advantage and
differentiation in what is becoming a highly contested space."
With the new card, customers no longer need to swipe or sign
to complete transactions.
"A contactless or tap and go payment is a payment at a
point of sale... where the consumer pays by tapping their card against a
reader without requiring a signature or PIN," said Just.
Goldstuck said Absa's initiative is "not so much
revolutionary as the next step foward" because this technology is already
in use globally and is on par with "near field communications (NFC)"
which is currently being built in to new cellphones.
Just said Absa's aim is to build a
"platform for NFC from which consumers will be able to make low value and
high value card payments from their mobile phones" as the merchant
footprint for contactless payments grows.
The idea of a smart card is already well entrenched in the
markets so the challenge for Absa is to convince the markets that this is a
small step forward, said Goldstruck.
The smartcard will be available as a standalone convenience
card at selected Johannesburg and Cape Town branches from December 19.