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The South African mobile payments space may not be quite where people were hoping it would be by now, but that isn’t stopping people from making their plays in the market. One area that a number of people appear to be making plays in is card reading devices that can attach to smartphones and tablets. Inspired by the success of companies like Square, the South African market has already witnessed the launch of Absa’s Payment Pebble and now independent player Emerge Mobile has launched its own play, called iKhokha.
If the company is to believed however, iKhokha isn’t just another mobile card reader, but can also be used for mobile wallet transactions. Indeed, iKohokha is actually the name of the service, with the card reader going by the name “The Edge”.
In conjunction with the mobile application, the company says, The Edge transforms a smartphone into a secure mobile point of sale (MPOS) terminal, enabling merchants to process Chip & PIN and magstripe, debit and credit card payments as well as selected mobile wallet transactions.
With a closed pilot among selected merchants in South Africa and authorisation from various international payment regulators, Edge Mobile reckons iKhokha is ready to go to market, as it were.
It seems that the device itself won’t just be aimed at the South African market though. The Edge is apparently registered with the MasterCard Mobile MPOS Program and the Visa Ready Program, meaning that the technology can be bought and used by international banks.
Matt Putman, managing director of Emerge Mobile, says that the launch of iKhokha will give potential acquirers from across Africa and other international markets the opportunity to see the solution active in a real life situation, demonstrating that the company understands the marketing, distribution, merchant support and legislative requirements needed to gain traction in the MPOS sector.
“This commercial launch is a realisation of Emerge Mobile’s vision to create an MPOS solution that will improve the lives of countless SMEs in South Africa,” says Putman. “It also demonstrates that we can provide both the technical expertise as well as the in-house design and marketing skills needed to differentiate the offering in the mobile financial services space.”
“We are excited to take on the challenge of local and international growth and are working hard to identify suitable international strategic partners to assist us in rapidly positioning the business as a global force,” he adds.
South African merchants can purchase The Edge online via the iKhokha site, where registration is fully automated and available to all businesses irrespective of whom they bank with. Once an application is approved, the device is dispatched via courier, reaching the merchant within five working days. ABSA Bank is the acquiring license provider working with Emerge Mobile in the South Africa market.
The solution costs about R1 000 (Approximately US$96) to purchase including delivery, with merchants being charged a rate of 2.75% per transaction and no monthly fees. Merchants can as an alternative rent the Edge Adapter over a 24 month period.
It also offers business analytics through the phone application, and allows users to send receipts to their card and cash-paying customers, via SMS or email. In addition, The Edge makes it possible for device holders to earn extra income by selling value-added services such as airtime for local mobile network operators.
Emerge Mobile says it is aiming to expand into both emerging and developed markets.