SA phone payments start-up goes live

Durban-based Emerge Mobile has launched a product that allows merchants to accept card payments via their smartphones.

Emerge Mobile MD Matt Putman

Emerge Mobile MD Matt Putman

Durban-based Emerge Mobile, the ambitious mobile payments start-up, has launched its smartphone-based mobile payments system. Similar to US-based Square, the payment card acceptance solution allows users to accept card payments using their smartphones.

iKhokha, a Cape Town based financial services brand created by Emerge Mobile, has been named as the inaugural go-to-market vehicle for Emerge Mobile’s device, called The Edge.

The device is a secure and compact chip-and-Pin card reader that plugs into iOS or Android smartphones, and is coupled with the iKhokha mobile application.

Emerge Mobile was founded by the father and son team of Clive Putman (who is technology director) and Matt Putman (MD), along with Ramsay Daly (marketing director).

Emerge Mobile's M-POS terminal docked with an iPhone

Emerge Mobile’s prototype M-POS terminal docked with an iPhone

The Emerge Mobile solution is the second such payment system being developed by a South African start-up. Thumbzup, founded by well-known technology entrepreneur Stafford Masie, recently launched a smartphone-based payments system, the Payment Pebble, in collaboration with banking group Absa.

In conjunction with the mobile application, The Edge turns a smartphone into a secure mobile point-of-sale (MPOS) terminal, allowing merchants to process chip and Pin and magstripe, debit and credit card payments as well as selected mobile wallet transactions.

Earlier this year, Emerge Mobile received Payments Council International Payment Terminal Security (PCI-PTS), and Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) Level 1 and 2 certifications for the solution. The Edge is registered with the MasterCard Mobile MPOS Program and the Visa Ready Program, meaning it is getting exposure to financial services institutions worldwide.

Absa is the acquiring licence provider working with Emerge Mobile in South Africa, although it doesn’t matter which institution prospective users of the Edge MPOS solution bank with. Once an application is approved, the device, which costs about R1 000, is sent via courier. Users can also rent the device over a 24-month term.

iKhokha charges merchants a flat rate of 2,75%/transaction. There are no monthly fees. The app allows users to send receipts to their card and cash-paying customers via SMS or e-mail. Device holders can also sell value-added services such as airtime for mobile network operators.

“The solution can be white-labelled for an acquiring client’s brand, or we can launch a similar brand to iKhokha in other international markets,” says Matt Putman.

Emerge Mobile secured a first round of funding from Capital Eye Investments, a private equity business that emerged from the formerly listed UCS Group.  – © 2014 NewsCentral Media

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  • Mohamed

    Correction, to my knowledge PCI-PTS is not “Payments Council International Payment Terminal Security” it is Payments Card Industry Pin Transaction Transaction Security.
    On another note, I heard that Square died (I may be wrong), I hope that’s not a bad omen for this space within mobile payments.

  • Wayne Gemmell

    Odd that ABSA would get involved with a product that is probably in competition with it’s payment pebble.

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