When we shop we seem to have an automatic reaction to pay with a credit card or a debit card. We hardly use cash anymore. Besides the bank charges to withdraw and deposit cash, there is a safety element we are highly aware of. Since we are so “card-happy” it comes as a shock when the merchant we want to buy from says “sorry – cash only”. For a merchant, a term used to define essentially anyone who sell you stuff, to be able to have a credit card machine, they need to be willing to pay a rental amount as well as a transaction fee per credit card they process. This has become the accepted norm in high-end stores, however it does leave out a significant segment of the SME market who can not afford the extra rental charges.
This is the problem that Standard Bank’s new system aim to solve with a simple yet innovative technology known as SnapScan.
Snap and Go
SnapScan is an app that anyone can download regardless if you are a Standard Bank customer or not. To this app you marry a credit card and set a PIN and then you are ready to shop. From the merchant’s point of view, they simply have a sign with their unique QR code. This tells their customers that they accept SnapScan payments. When the customer wants to make a payment, they simply open the app, scan the QR code, enter the amount and their PIN and a payment is made from their credit card direct to the merchant. There is no POS terminal that needs to swipe a card and handed back to the customer to enter their PIN as Standard Bank has taken the complexity of the Terminal and replaced it with the power of the smartphone. The merchant receives their SMS confirming that money has been paid.
Keeping it simple is the underlying aim.
When you sign up for the app, all that is required is an email address. No forms, no paper work, no need to come into the bank. If you would like to add your home address then it makes it simple to order an item and have it delivered without typing anything else in.
Merchants have two ways to collect their fund. They can either request a voucher that can be redeemed at any Spar outlet or a Standard Bank ATM. Alternatively they can nominate a bank account where the funds are deposits into. Merchants pay no monthly fee and only pay 3% per transaction.
The app has a Merchant Finder section that allows the user to see where the nearest merchants are which not only shows their location, but also have their operating times and telephone number too.
What about Security
In order for SnapScan to work, the app needs to have an internet connection. Only once the transaction has been verified will the merchant receive their notification to allow you to walk out of the store. As you enter your PIN on your own device, which should not have to be the same PIN as your credit card, then there is no risk of handing over your PIN to the merchant.
In the event that the phone is stolen, the credit card can be stopped thereby making SnapScan useless. The operating system have the ability to remote wipe the phone so that’s an extra layer of comfort too.
If you enter the PIN 10 times incorrectly, then the app will lock itself and you can only reactive it by deleting the app and reregistering with a new card.
Of course each app communicates with the Standard Bank systems security and via an encrypted channel and all the phone’s info is passed along with the transaction to provide full logging and reports.
Its still early days
SnapScan was created by IT company FireID based out of Stellenbosch which won the 2013 MTN Business’ App of the year award. In a few short month, it has undergone extensive testing and breached beyond Stellenbosch’s perimeters and successfully rolled out to 10 000 merchants across South Africa such as Motherland in Johannesburg and The house of Machines in Cape Town.
App loving mobile generation youth have no issues in using this technology however not everyone is so easily convinced therefore Standard Bank has taken the slowly-slowly approach as they realise that South Africans don’t rush at these kind of changes. The app currently can only be married to one credit card and on one device only. Future plans are to have the app handle multiple credit cards and debit cards so customers can choose from which account they would like to make payments. Being able to load the app onto multiple devices is also on the cards so that families can share their cards with kids/ wife/ significant other.
Marrying online with offline
One of the greatest power of the app in my opinion is being able to bridge the gap for those who do not want to enter their credit card details online. Potentially the app could allow an online merchant to show their QR code at the point of checkout so that the customer could simply make the payment via the app. Now this takes the power of online shopping and entering a new layer of security that disconnect payment from the web completely. This could be expanded to other services such as logging into secure portals such as online bank.
You heard it here first – (do I get royalties ?)
When to sign up
SnapScan is currently available to iOS, Android and Blackberry smartphone owners and can be downloaded from app store or from http://www.getsnapscan.com/
Merchant can sign up at: https://merchant.getsnapscan.com/signup