South Africa's Absa has launched Payment Pebble, a headphone-jacked mobile point of sale device for small traders, as it refines its operating model to become a fully digital bank.
The full-scale commercial launch of Pebble - which has been in the works for 18 months as part of an agreement with Thumbzup - was announced at a press event in Rosenbank where the bank also disclosed its plans on the future of digital banking.
Arrie Rautenbach, head of retail banking Absa, says the overhaul of the bank's IT infrastructure will make it one of the most "digitally-enabled" financial services providers in the country.
"Over the last few months we have optimised our branch processes to move towards a paperless environment that will save our customers and our colleagues time and make their lives easier," he says. "Consumers increasingly demand an end-to-end experience and greater consistency when accessing their bank accounts remotely via their mobile, an ATM, their PC or even their iPad."
The first embodiment of the strategy is the pilot of an instant account opening process, which enables branch consultants to open a current account for customers in a few minutes directly from a tablet device.
On the Web, customers can apply for various products including personal loans, insurance and savings accounts and manage their ATM and card daily limits. Cash accepting ATMs are also available for cardholders and non-Absa customers to make payments into accounts and pay bills.
The launch of Payment Pebble, is billed by the bank as "the most affordable point of sale" solution in South Africa. The bank says entrepreneurs who have utilised the Payment Pebble have seen a spike in sales by being able to accept card payments remotely.
Says Rautenbach: "Everything significant we are working on is part of the move to offer customers a digital banking experience from start to finish. The move ensures customers' banking needs are met in real time and means our clients prosper with value-added services to conduct the transaction of their choice through the channel of their choice - any time, any place, with any device."