With the local launch of Apple Pay in 2021, South African banking customers now have wide selection of digital payment wallets to choose from. The service is the fourth device-based payment app to go live in the country, following Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay, and Garmin Pay.
These wallets allow users to load their bank or loyalty cards to an app on a smart device – such as a smartphone, tablet, or smart watch – which they can then use to make contactless payments.
It uses the NFC technology of a device to support tap and go at payment terminals – similar to how contactless bank cards can process payments.
Given that South African banks recently reported that the majority of their payment terminals now offer NFC, the functionality will likely work at most retailers.
These payments wallets can therefore provide great convenience by allowing bank customers to leave their wallets at home when they go the shops or have to pay for transport on services like the Gautrain.
In addition, they offer robust security, with the user required to provide a PIN, pattern, fingerprint, or facial ID scan before the payment can be processed. Apple Pay allows iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and MacBook users to make payments with their device.
For the time being, this digital wallet is limited to Absa, Discovery Bank, and Nedbank. Its primary rival in South Africa is Samsung Pay, which has been around since August 2018.
The latter is now supported by all of the major South African banks – with the exception of Capitec – and allows users to make payments with many Galaxy smartphones or smartwatches. This is not surprising, given that Samsung leads smartphone sales in South Africa, and Samsung Pay is supported on a variety of the company’s mid-range smartphones.
Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay are limited to smartwatches, accessories which fewer consumer can afford in South Africa. The other major international digital payment wallet which remains to be supported by any bank in South Africa is Google Pay.
This service allows Android-based devices capable of running Android version 5.0 (Lollipop) or greater to perform tap and go payments. Given the popularity of Android as an operating system on mobile devices in South Africa, it could see significant uptake.
Unfortunately, according to the latest update from South African banks, there are no set dates for its launch in the country. The table below shows the digital wallets available in South Africa, which banks support them, and what device you will require to use the payment feature.
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