South Africans can now use their cellphones to donate money to political parties at a fraction of the cost of a premium SMS.
The payment service is called Pocit and uses mobile Internet rather that premium SMS to keep the cost low.
"The system is simple," says Pocit's chief operating officer Oliver Krantz. "All people have to do is SMS the name of their party and the amount they want to donate to 39621. We then send them a confirmation SMS with a link to a small program they can download. Once it's installed, they register; add their bank details and we transfer the money to their party."
The fee is 5% of the donation, compared to 50% with a premium rate SMS, he adds.
Donors are rewarded with a link to a WAP site, developed by technology partner Strike Media, offering downloads of party logos, ringtones and other media.
"The Obama campaign is famous for the remarkably effective way it used the Internet to raise millions of small donations from ordinary people," says Russel Stromin of Strike Media. "In South Africa the cellphone is the only way for the vast majority of people to get online, and we are really leading the way in creating innovative services for mobile users."
So far nine parties are listed on the service, with one collecting over R80 000.00 in the first week the service was launched.