MasterPass: one click secure payments for South African online shops

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Standard Bank and MasterCard have teamed up to launch a rather clever method of helping you pay for stuff with your mobile phone. It’s called MasterPass, and takes the form of an app for Android, iOS and legacy Blackberry which lets you clear through online checkouts without having to enter your credit card details. So it’s simple and, theoretically, very secure too.

MasterPass has been around for a while internationally – there are nine countries where it’s currently working and chains like Burger King support it overseas – but this is the first time it’s been available within South African shores. For those familiar with Standard Bank’s previous move into mobile payments, it functions in a very similar way to SnapScan. With SnapScan, shopkeepers hang a QR code next to their goods which you simply point your phone at in order to authorise a payment directly into their bank account.

With MasterPass, when you hit the checkout at an online store a QR code is generated on screen. Again, you simply open the app, point your phone at the code, and all the payment stuff goes on behind the scenes. There’s no forms to fill, details to enter and your CVC codes aren’t revealed to the web at large. MasterPass accounts are linked to your debit card via your Standard Bank account.

Apart from adding the ability to add multiple cards (from multiple institutions) to one’s profile and choose which one to use at the time of checkout, the app also allows users to add a shipping address to their profile. so they can pay and select a shipping address in a single step.

At the launch, MasterCard’s Aaron Oliver said that South Africa is the 10th market globally to launch the digital wallet and is well positioned because of its 39.3% penetration of 3G (the global average is 25.8% and the emerging market average is 17.3%) and the fact that the majority of South Africa’s 13.8m Internet users connect using their mobile phone.

From a retail perspective, launch partners include South African Airways, Takealot and, but Oliver said the company is working actively with some key payment service providers in the country that provide the technology for over 10 000 merchants.

The primary benefit for merchants is convenience and to some degree, being able to absolve themselves of a big part of the responsibility that goes with accepting payments online, because the transaction is completed using the app on a mobile device and not on the merchant’s website.

Standard Bank’s Andrew WiIlmot said businesses are increasingly under attack from criminals, who want their customers’ information and data.

In fact, he said, card data is considered the currency of organized crime. This takes a lot of that risk away from the merchant and removes them from some of obligations in place in this area right now.

The app can be downloaded from the Google Play store, iOS store or Blackberry World today by searching for ‘Standard Bank Master Pass’.

It should become available for Windows Phone within the next three months but definitely before the end of the year.

Brett Haggard

Brett Haggard

Brett is the big cheese at Hypertext Media. He's been covering the technology industry for so long, he's seen old technology be 'respun' as the next big thing one too many times. He started Hypertext in 2002 and quite frankly hasn't looked back (although he often longs for the days when a steady salary, sick days and leave were a given). Publications in his stable include; DailyFive (; Connect; Tarsus Channel and GirlGuides ( He also hosts the ZA Tech Show (, does a monthly tech column for Sawubona and writes the odd gadget piece for a magazine here and there. Currently uses: 11-inch Macbook Air, iPhone 5, Blackberry Z10, iPad Mini, Nexus 7, Kindle Paperwhite, Marley TTR Headphones, Xbox360, PS3, Nintendo 3DS.