No-swipe bank card

2011-12-01 07:35

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. 

  • Koelsum Jacobs - 2011-12-01 09:16

    It sounds great, but I dont read about the safety aspect of such a system in SA...You need to convince the consumer, which this article is not doing Please post a more in-depth article FIN24....

      Nuck Choris - 2011-12-01 11:01

      Lots of stolen cards, if you ask me. In this country you have to have a pin system.

      100002502865286 - 2011-12-01 13:18

      See my post above about the EU "chip-knip". It works like a charm, it's quick, easy and convenient. It's specifically designed so that you cannot load too much money on to it. @Nuck Choris: Please show me how to use a PIN number with a banknote :-) The cards have the same "features" as cash, except that you can now rest assured that you will never carry any Nigerian-issue counterfeit R100 notes.

  • Simon du Toit - 2011-12-01 09:36

    ABSA bank - All I read was fee's fee's fee's fee's - go fee yourself

  • Roaant - 2011-12-01 10:45

    Just another page in the ABSA Kama Sutra.

  • DSR - 2011-12-01 11:08

    I do not have to pay a sent for my FNB purchases when using my cheque card. In my opinion its safer as just a tap. How will they control how is using the card if you just tap it on the device. No thanks I'll stick to FNB.

      100002502865286 - 2011-12-01 11:40

      The aim of this card is not security, it is just a convenient replacement for cash. A similar system has already been in use in the EU for a while, in the Netherlands they call it the "chip-knip". You load the card with the same cash as you are willing to carry in your wallet, e.g. R500 at a time. If the card gets lost or stolen, that's the max you will lose.

  • PK - 2011-12-01 12:33

    FNB is the way forward had enough of banks just bullying us with their fee system, its like toll-gates can't travel anywhere without paying toll, can't even do a simple balance enquiry without banks demanding a fee. It's Everyone wants a cut mentality, and bad service.

  • Rick Shore - 2011-12-01 12:54

    Wow! ABSA is building a system that will EVENTUALLY cater for cell phone payments. Maybe I'm missing something but I can already do this with my FNB account. p.s can your bank do all that? I think not!

      proudly - 2011-12-01 14:30

      I agree, FNB is way ahead of these guys

  • SaintBruce - 2011-12-01 22:30

    Why is it that in the USA similar "near field read" (RFID type) cards now require a special secure wallet? Because a skimmer reader held near your wallet / handbag can read it and transact your funds while you are unaware of the transaction! Card skimming of RFID bank cards is already in progress. I don't think this system is such a good idea.

  • Anthony Faul - 2011-12-02 00:13

    Will not work in a crime country. Sorry absa.

  • Anthony Faul - 2011-12-02 00:14

    Nobody has R3000 in their wallet, or at least not the normal person.

  • Gerald - 2011-12-02 15:20

    Cash pretty much covers the purpose of this card. Except you pay no transaction fees, you always know your balance, and its accepted absolutely everywhere.

  • BigAl - 2011-12-02 15:48

    Quite often with cards, you get merchants duplicating transactions. As this is an insecure system, the bank will probably not bear the responsibility or reverse duplicate transactions. Are you prepared to lose "only R3000?" I don't see how much more convenient it is than using a debit card. Entering a PIN does not even take a minute. If a minute of your time is worth R3000, then this system is for you! Why should we pay fees for the bank's experimentation of the system? If they want to introduce it, they should make it free. They make more than enough on the other transactions anyway. Also who wants another card in your wallet? Cash is king for now, but lacks security. This system costs more, poses more risks but just saves a few seconds' time. Give us something that's useful to us, not another money-spinner for yourselves!

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