FNB launches geo-based mobile payments

The bank is adding a new feature to its mobile application that will allow its customers to make and receive payments when they are in close proximity. By Craig Wilson.

Michael Jordaan

First National Bank is launching a new payment service that allows users of its mobile app to make payments to one another without needing to exchange banking details, provided they are near to one another.

The service uses the GPS chips built into modern mobile devices, with authentication provided by the app.

The service appeared in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play store on Monday morning. It is also available for BlackBerry devices.

FNB CEO Michael Jordaan will launch the location-based payment feature at an event in Johannesburg on Wednesday. It appears the bank didn’t intend to release the app to users ahead of Wednesday’s launch. TechCentral broke the news about FNB’s plans on Monday morning.

The media invitation to the launch event hints at the new payments feature with phrases such as “get a little closer” and “a new way to pay”.

FNB customers will be able to use the service to make payments to — or receive payments from — app users that are nearby. During the set-up process customers can link one of their accounts — assuming they have more than one — to make and receive payments.

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Only the person making payment is required is required to log in; the receiver simply selects “receive payment” and the funds are credited to their default account.

It appears that there is no cost for transfers and it’s not immediately known what the maximum value of transaction will be set to.

The service is only available to users with devices that have GPS functionality, including Apple’s 3G-enabled iPad — Wi-Fi only iPad models don’t support GPS.

Non-FNB customers who wish to receive a geo-based payment can download the FNB banking app. By selecting “geo payments” and entering their cellphone number, an e-wallet (an electronic store of funds) will be automatically created for them into which they can receive a payment. Payments made to the e-wallet can be withdrawn as cash.

Absa, meanwhile, has been trialling near-field communications (NFC) payments with 500 of its employees since December last year. But being GPS based, FNB’s offering doesn’t require users to have NFC-enabled smartphones.  — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media

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