South Africa’s ABSA bank has announced the launch of its Payment Pebble, a device that allows businesses and vendors to accept card payments through a smartphone.

The device allows businesses to accept chip-and-PIN and magstripe-and-PIN payments from Mastercard and Visa cardholders.

“The Payment Pebble is a compact, mobile device that simply plugs into the audio jack of your compatible smartphone or tablet and once set up, allows you to immediately start transacting,” the bank said.

The bank said the Pebble features “extreme cardholder protection through the patented PIN entry method” and that it “adheres to all mandated banking rules, global certifications and regulations”.

The Pebble can be used in conjunction with numerous smartphones produced by HTC, Samsung, Apple, Huawei and BlackBerry.

Merchants and retailers are required to pay a ZAR50 (US$5) monthly rental fee for the first 12 months and ZAR20 (US$1.90) per month thereafter, ZAR160 (US$15) initiation fee and ZAR30 (US$3) for each additional Pebble unit.

ABSA bank customers will pay 3.2 per cent on merchant service fees while non-ABSA accountholders pay 3.75 per cent.

“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 customer’s 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, any device,” said Arrie Rautenbach, head of retail banking at ABSA.