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Made-in-SA cardless transaction system debuts

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A new cardless transaction system, which uses biometric data to verify the customer, has been developed in South Africa by software technology firm Wongeta.
Founded by software engineer Tshepho Lebelo, Wongeta specialises in cloud and real-time business software applications, and has experience in the financial services, insurance and inventory management fields.
Its cardless transaction system, SmartCash, allows a customer to deposit cash, send cash, receive cash and pay for goods and services using just their fingerprint as verification.
Lebelo believes this is a South African and African first, and has filed for a South African patent for the system.
According to Lebelo, finger-print verification is used by a number of banking solutions in rural India. And, while it is used by South African banks to verify customers via a link to the Department of Home Affairs biometrics database, no local bank has yet invested in a biometrics system.
Lebelo attributes this technology stagnation to the industry’s historical reliance on card-based systems, and the fact that the switch to biometrics would require new infrastructure.
His prime argument for a cardless transaction system is an expansion of the banking system. He says that the current card-based service is limited to just 33% of the formally-banked market in South Africa. This means there’s a 67% opportunity for a mobile solution.
Lebelo’s second argument is related to crime. He said it is estimated that the banking and retail industries loose around R300-million to card fraud each year. SmartCash offers a layer of security that takes away card fraud.
SmartCash provides for several applications – transacting across different mobile wallets, monitoring third party transactions, a coupon system at events, and card-less in-store accounts. The latter is where Lebelo believes the system will add most value.
“SmartCash is a card-less transacting solution that uses the power of existing retail footprint to increase the financial inclusion of the formally unbanked market in South Africa,” he says.
“This solution benefits customers and retailers because it reduces the risk of card fraud and unauthorised transactions; it takes away the cost of issuing cards and it minimises the risk of handling cash in stores.
“Importantly, SmartCash can easily be setup in remote and rural areas overcoming issues of accessibility.”
SmartCash makes use of a number of technologies:
* Biometric fingerprint technology for verification and authentication;
* Advanced encryption for the security layer;
* 3G connectivity and geolocation services; and
* Realtime transaction processing.
“The SmartCash ecosystem has benefits for all end-users: for banks and merchants it offers increased transaction volumes and for consumers it provides increased convenience; for all it ensures protection from card-fraud and unauthorised transactions,” Lebelo says.