By 29 November 2012 | Categories: news


Absa has launched a mobile payment acceptance service which is intended to enable small and medium enterprises (SME’s) as well as entrepreneurs, to more easily accept debit and credit card payments using their smartphones and tablets.

This, the bank explained, was accomplished thanks to an agreement with a local payment innovations company Thumbzup and “a world first” plug-in device called ‘The Payment Pebble.’

The Pebble is a small card-reader device that plugs into a 3.5 mm audio input on any mobile smartphone or tablet and includes a mobile app. It is intended to be a significant step up as compared to card readers currently available in the market, that ordinarily get attached to mobile phones to process merchant payments and which no doubt many are all too familiar with.

As easy as skipping Pebbles on a pond 

Under the agreement, Absa is set to provide its Payment Pebble as a value added service to all small business owners and merchants on-the-go with availability scheduled for early 2013.

Absa explained that as a first step, the merchant simply downloads the Pebble’s mobile app and, once registered, receives a pre-configured Payment Pebble that plugs into the mobile phone.

Once plugged into the mobile phone, Absa’s Pebble is turned into a mobile point-of-sale terminal where merchants can accept card payments in real-time anywhere in South Africa simply by “dipping” the card into the Pebble, entering the pin in a safe and secure manner and then following the prompts on the mobile app to conclude the transaction. 

Benefits unwrapped

Apparently, one of the key differentiating features of the technology is its ability to enable safe and secure payment acceptance as a pin entry device, for both chip and magnetic swipe strip cards.

Another important benefit, according to the bank, is that the Pebble has been set at a “highly affordable price” for small business. This is aimed at allowing more merchants to accept card payments from their customers anytime and anywhere.

Additionally, the Pebble’s ease of use was further touted at the device’s launch, with the bank explaining that “it seamlessly interacts with any smartphone without the hassle of complex synchronisation or power supply concerns.”
Speaking during the announcement of the strategic partnership, Absa head of retail markets, Arrie Rautenbach, said there was no other mobile acceptance device in the world that enables merchants to process payments remotely - with a plug in device - containing a mobile app that supports chip, pin and magnetic stripe cards, and allows both debit and credit card transactions without the need for a power supply.

Thumbs up for progressive payments
Thumbzup CEO and founder, Stafford Masie, described the agreement as a major milestone for both organisations.

“We are extremely excited about our partnership with Absa, not only because we will bring a world first innovation to the market with the largest retail bank in South Africa, but because we have gained a business partner that understands our vision for payments into the future and a bank that is truly forward-thinking in their ambition to change the lives of their customers for the better. This is the success story of a local company achieving extraordinary things globally, and Absa made this happen,” he enthused.

To the point

For business owners and entrepreneurs though, the news is similarly positive.  According to Rautenbach, the technology would truly make the bank’s customers’ lives much easier.

“It is a game changing innovation with the potential to transform the way in which entrepreneurs can safely accept offsite payments,” he concluded. 


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