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Johannesburg – Big four bank Standard Bank has bought a majority stake in Firepay – the team behind SnapScan.

In a statement on Friday, the bank said the deal – for an undisclosed amount – was “testament” to its commitment to innovation.

Firepay launched in 2013 to take advantage of mobile payments technology and is an app-based solution to carrying around cash or credit cards.

A year after launch, Firepay, in partnership with Standard Bank, launched SnapScan to allow customers to pay for goods and services using only their mobile phone.

SnapScan now has more than 32 000 merchants signed up, as well as what it calls a vast user network across South Africa, according to its website.

The app supports credit cards and most debit cards from any local bank, as well as 3D Secure-enabled international bank cards.

To make a payment using SnapScan, you call up the app, scan in the merchant’s QR code (QR stands for quick response, and the code looks like a mosaic bar code), enter the amount payable, enter your unique PIN and hit “pay”.

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World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says it makes sense for Standard Bank to buy the stake as it is a growth industry. In addition, he says, the bank is shoring up its own efficiencies.

“Mobile payments make so much sense; they just make the process seamless.”

Standard Bank SA head of card and payments Lincoln Mali says the deal shows the bank’s commitment to innovation and working with industry leading fintechs to bring relevant solutions to customers.

Goldstuck says the mobile payments industry is very competitive locally, and becoming more so, although it is dominated by SnapScan. He says other notable players include Zapper, while Yoco is making inroads.

Goldstuck adds “everyone is keeping a close eye on the space to see where they can play”.

Standard Bank says SnapScan will continue operating as normal, with the Firepay team staying onboard to grow the product, so there will not be any disruption to its services.

In addition to SnapScan, the Firepay team’s technology platform also enables payments for several clients, including WeChat and Masterpass. It will continue to develop and expand its offering to provide a range of product development and payments services.

Firepay CEO Kobus Ehlers says the team is  excited to work with Standard Bank to “solve the real-world payments problems we have always focussed on”.

BUSINESS REPORT