07 October 2015

Zimbabwean firm unveils sound-based in-store m-payments system

11 June 2014  |  5387 views  |  10 Mobile phone turning to cash

A Zimbabwean technology firm has developed an in-store payments system that lets shoppers pay at the point-of-sale through a sound emitted by their mobile phones.

Edgetech Solutions has built an Android and iOS app that uses technology from Brazil-based NearBytes to create one-time passwords in the form of sounds.

To make a payment, customers open the app and place it next to a specially-designed POS terminal with an integrated app and a microphone and speaker.

The terminal transmits details of the transaction to the handset and the user enters their banking PIN before placing the phone next to the terminal again to confirm the payment. Finally, the POS terminal sends the request to the bank for processing and prints out a receipt.

Wilson Tawodzera, MD, Edgetech Consultancy, says that the technology has attracted serious interest from several local banks and that the firm expects deployments to begin within the next few weeks.

Comments: (10)

Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 11 June, 2014, 12:14 Clinkle wasted over $15m on a similar solution (GUI mostly...), but never got it working reliably. A blender or a grinder in a coffee shop was one of the problems. VeriFone tried sound too (they bought ex-MIT startup), but no mass deployment yet. Would be interesting to see how Edgetech deals with that.
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Lauren King - Sprint - Pinsight Media+ - Somerset | 11 June, 2014, 16:04

For what its worth, TagAttitude is one company that appears to have deployed NSDT in several countries with some success...

However, I believe the 'retailer issue' regarding POS updates is a significant hurdle that many can't break through...thoughts?

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A Finextra member | 11 June, 2014, 18:21

Hi Alexander and Lauren, I'm one of the partners at NearBytes, the company behind the technology EdgePay is using.

Regarding the issues Clickle had, we use a different patented method that is not affected by noisy enviroments. Besides this we are much more compatible than Verifone, being also available for computers browsers, raspberry pi or even SmartWatches

About POS updates, we are seeing a trend of "smart" POS becoming cheaper and most of the news ones are actually runnind linux or android. We envision that when the merchant gets a new POS chances are he will prefer one of these new ones that enable not only payment but also in store loyalty, promotions, etc. 

Feel free to contact us if you want to test the technology on real situations

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Tom Hay - Icon Solutions Ltd - London | 12 June, 2014, 09:05

So as a consumer I take out my phone, open the app, place it near the POS, wait for it to transmit the transaction, enter the PIN, put my phone next to the POS again ... it doesn't sound like a seamless customer journey. I wonder what are the benefits compared with cards, and for whom?

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Wilson Tawodzera - Edgetech Consultancy - Harare | 12 June, 2014, 15:10

Hi Tom, the transaction workflow demostrated on the demo video is just one of many workflows which can be implemented. We choose this one to demonstrate that data transfer can happen both ways between the POS and the mobile, otherwise the transaction can be accomplished in one step (Customer enters amount to be paid, and PIN on mobile app and then transit details to POS and payment is relayed to bank). The benefits are numerous (from an African point of view)

  • A small percentage of people in African countries actually use credit cards, and mobile payments provide an opportunity to reachout to wider population.
  • Customer will also save money from the huge credit cards fees
  • There are other bank products where credit cards are not linked. A good example is bank ewallets, loyalty/incentive programs; Mobile payments can easly be integrated 
  • The implementation of Agency Banking can be made convinient and much easier by using this approach of mobile payments
  • Its an alternative approach to banking and give the customers another option to make payments. Not every customer enjoys carrying around cards
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Alan Greenwood - Stepping Through - London | 13 June, 2014, 10:07

What is the problem that's being solved here?  The user still has to hold a phone somewhere nead another device as part of a payment transaction. 

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Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 13 June, 2014, 10:26 The problem of interface. For any transaction, especially secure one, you need some user participation, so what?
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Hitesh Thakkar - Payments Consulting Network - Mumbai | 13 June, 2014, 14:55

Kudos to Edgetech team to build sound based near field authentication solution with out using NFC chips (new models of smartphones) or other similar accssories.

Technology  is based on basic microphone and speaker which comes with any mobile. Microsoft research team has done successful implementation please refer to the link - http://www.themobileindian.com/news/13639_Microsofts-alternative-to-NFC---Dhwani

It's only matter of creating business cases, putting it in commerical field level implementation and any phone can be used for payments in most secured way with out major costs of upgrade but only effort to modify terminals.

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Tom Hay - Icon Solutions Ltd - London | 13 June, 2014, 16:37

Unless a new payment experience offers significant benefits over paying by card, it is unlikely to achieve mass adoption.  Wilson has given some reasons that are applicable in Zimbabwe, but not in UK / W. Europe.  The level of user participation in a payment should be as low as possible, commensurate with the value of the payment and the level of risk.

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A Finextra member | 13 June, 2014, 17:12

Hi Tom, we totally agree with you, that's why there are more interaction levels possible, each client can customize the level of complexity/security he wants. As Wilson mentioned, the 2-step payment he is currently using can be changed to a 1-step if he wants.

Please check the video below, in which we should how the same solution can be used for mobile-mobile and mobile-web.

the goal, in the end, is to have a single experience no matter what kind of payment (POS, web, mobile) the end user is doing and being faster/more convienent than the current methods (cards, cash). 

our goal is to "be faster than money"


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