A new mobile payment system that will allow companies of all sizes to accept credit and debit card payments through their mobile phone has been snapped up by South Africa’s First National Bank.
mPowa is set to be the cleverest and most cost-effective mobile commerce tool yet, transforming any smart phone into a till.
The lightweight device works by using a free mobile phone app and a reader which connects to a smart phone or mobile device by plugging into its headphone socket or connecting via Bluetooth, transforming it into a mobile till accepting all major debit and credit cards across all platforms on any network.
It enables companies and individuals to accept card payments for their customers on the go in a quick and convenient way. First National Bank will embed the mPowa tools and software into its own merchant services, which enable the bank to tailor the look and identity of the card service while maintaining the sophisticated and patented functionality that mPowa offers.
Jacques Celliers, First National Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We have recognised the need to support our merchants’ desire for mobility and convenience. We will be looking to mPowa to provide us with a robust and secure mobile environment that will appeal to our demanding and techno savvy customers.
“The South African economy requires an entrepreneurial culture to be incubated and supported from all stakeholders. Thousands of our small business clients are in the services industry and a fixed merchant device is not of much use to them. This new technology promises to accept card payments anywhere, anytime. It could mean the difference between success and failure for many of them.”
Dan’s the man
The brains behind the new service, which is anticipated will revolutionise cash flow particularly for small to medium-sized enterprises across the world, is UK based serial entrepreneur Dan Wagner.
He said: “The app was developed eight months ago but the challenge was providing the appropriate infrastructure necessary to support the highly secure Chip and Pin transaction flows.
“We are delighted to have signed this important deal with First National Bank. It will enable them to mobilise thousands of their business customers which in turn will allow them to be much more flexible in how they do business. In today’s marketplace, nobody wants to be tied down to a fixed location.
“FNB are customising mPowa to fit their merchant services infrastructure and will roll out the solution in early 2013. The app will be FNB branded and available in the various mobile app stores (Apple, Android etc). They haven’t released the merchant expectations but the trial is designed for 60,000.”
Just the ticket
He believes First National chose mPowa because it is a unique proposition that includes the card acceptance device. He said: “We manufactured it from scratch to be both inspirational and tactile. The infrastructure of applications and software libraries, the security accreditations and the fact that we are the only party providing this solution set as a white label service offering.”
Wagner was quick to identify Africa as a potentially strong market for the app considering that there are many small businesses operating in remote areas of the continent, making the app invaluable to them.
He said: “There are number of mobile payment initiatives in Africa but the only truly successful one is Vodafone’s mPesa platform, which is different to mPowa in that it is really a peer-to-peer money transfer system. mPowa, on the other hand, is all about acceptance of credit cards.”
He is keen to identify more distribution partners like First National Bank, such as other banks and telecommunication companies and hopes to have some more new deals to announce very soon.
Wagner, who is one of UK’s most successful technology entrepreneurs, has consistently anticipated game-changing technological shifts, by ten years. He created the first online information service M.A.I.D. ten years before the internet was born. He was also a cloud entrepreneur offering software as a service through his first e-commerce business Venda, ten years before these terms were coined.
Now Venda is the largest independent e-commerce platform turning over $35 million and processing in excess of $4 billion a year in retail transactions.
MPowa, his latest baby, is set to revolutionise the next generation of e-commerce making it exponentially more sophisticated and allowing retailers to mine the vast global online shopping community tactically.
But what is in store for the next 10 years? He said: “Loyalty and ewallets will form an important part of the mobile payment marketplace. I believe that these will be the next major development and we are already planning the inclusion of these capabilities in mPowa.”