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Pocit makes paying easy

QUEUING to make a payment is the bane of everyone's life, yet there is a simple and painless solution at hand - making payments with a web-enabled cellular phone.

With Pocit, a payment system for mobile phones, Johannesburg residents have been able to pay their municipal utility bills, traffic fines and accounts at large retailers with their cellphones since 2009. Registered users can also transfer money between their different personal accounts or to another individual, buy airtime and receive accounts.

The facility is available countrywide. Starting off as a low-key business venture with the initial target to attract students - the mobile generation - the service has now grown to just under 100 000 users, says managing director David Reynders.

Internet alternative
Offering a welcome alternative to the many South Africans who are unable to afford the country's relatively expensive and often inaccessible internet networks, it is Pocit's hassle-free and time-saving ability which is the real benefit to most people.

Almost all phones can support the service, except for iphones and handsets older than four years as these are not internet-enabled - also known as General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) enabled.

Reynders points out that even with internet access, a person still needs banking details to make an online payment. Because Pocit works with cellphone numbers rather than bank details, a money transfer can be made to an individual's account anywhere in the country as long as the payer has that person's cellphone number.

"We built the platform with this in mind."

Pocit also offers a higher security rating than internet banking, he adds. The Pocit website states that "while no data transmission over the internet can be guaranteed to be 100 percent secure, we will take all reasonable measures to ensure that the information you transmit to us using the website will remain confidential and protected from unauthorised access".

"As a device a cellular phone is more secure than a computer because it is unique," says Reynders. Information relating to the registered user is encrypted and stored in a "secure information vault", with each user getting a unique pin. No personal information is stored on the actual handset.

How it works
Getting started is simple: either phone the call centre on 08600 76248 (POCIT) or visit the Pocit website using your web-enabled phone to register as a user. It costs about 60 cents in network charges to download the software to your phone to enable the service. Once registered, costs are kept to a minimum with no registration fees or monthly charges.

Users can also use the system to store money, referred to as Pocit money, says Reynders. Money is loaded from your bank account and used to make payments. "It can only be used on Pocit and is a little bit like a gift card. It makes it easier for people who just have a bank account."

Pocit is a payment service provider and is registered with the Payments Association of South Africa (Pasa) - an association set up by the Reserve Bank of South Africa to oversee this kind of activity. Registration with Pasa must be done in conjunction with a registered bank that must sponsor the initiative. Pocit is sponsored by Capitec Bank.

Accounts that can be paid using Pocit include those for big retailers such as Woolworths; service providers like Neotel; all the major metropolitan municipalities; and traffic fines with Payfine. Users can also make contributions to some charities.

The businesses that can be paid through Pocit are:

City of Johannesburg;
City of Tshwane;
City of Cape Town;
eThekwini municipality;
SABC TV licence;
TV Plus (subscriptions);
Doctors via Pocit Collections;
Big Time Insurance;
Sandwich Baron Bryanston;
Cerise Coffee Shop Bryanston;
The Trust; and
No Food for Lazy Man Trust.