FNB adds Geo-payments to mobile app, ignores NFC for now

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South African banking giant FNB has added a new feature to its app that allows users to make and receive payments when they’re in close proximity without having to know each other’s banking details.

It may sound like voodoo, but it’s actually pretty simple. The process, called Geo-banking, uses the GPS units built into all modern mobile devices to determine how close people are to each other and the app itself as authentication.

At first Geo-payments was only available on iDevices, but is now available as an update on the Google Play store for Android devices. The update appears to have been a bit of a slip up as the new feature wasn’t slated for release until later this week.

Admittedly there’s a lot riding on all parties concerned banking with FNB and using the app, but there’s still a fair amount of potential here. Unlike with services like Square, the paying party doesn’t have to have a credit card — just a bank account. You also don’t need a reader and an enabled phone like you do with NFC.

Assuming the service comes to the other devices supported by the FNB banking app, it would mean that people can make payments anywhere across a wide-range of devices.

When FNB launched its app in 2011, it was a first for South Africa. The bank also has a reputation for being social media-savvy, something only helped by its CEO Michael Jordaan who tweets regularly and freely.

At least one of FNB’s rivals meanwhile has been testing out NFC-based payments.

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