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If banks in South Africa show support, customers could increasingly embrace mobile payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Wallet

Both these payment systems allow their users to make payments securely and directly from their smartphones by using the Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) or the chip-and-PIN standards. Since South Africa has adopted the EMV standard, it allows for customers’ Apple Pay or Google Wallet accounts to be easily linked to their existing debit or credit cards issued by their banks.

Apple and Google advertise their payment systems as being different from each other but Craig Kilfoil, managing director at ExactConsult, a payment systems consulting firm, said otherwise. “While neither obvious nor advertised by Apple and Google as such, I have concluded that Apple Pay and now Android Pay are 100 per cent interoperable as they are both built on Visa and MasterCard Chip card technology called EMV.” But he went on to explain that the technology being available is no good unless the banks decide to allow their customers to use it. “The customer’s bank that issued their card must give permission to Apple and Google to allow their cards to be loaded to the Apple Pay or Android Pay application.”

The rollout of this technology has been delayed in South Africa due to a lack of supporting mobile devices. The country has a massive handset penetration, but the number of smartphones is still low in proportion. According to a recent joint survey by wiGroup and Fast Company, The SME Mobile Readiness Survey, only 35 per cent companies allowed their customers to make purchases on mobile devices. As the number of smartphones grow, mobile payments are likely to increase.

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