New way to pay online without an app and using your data

Limited space on smartphones, high cost of data make people think twice about downloading apps

You can now pay a service provider via electronic funds transfer without having to download a payment app which munches up your data and takes up space on your phone.

To pay with Ozapp you don’t need data or an app.
To pay with Ozapp you don’t need data or an app.
Image: 123RF/MILKOS

Mobile payment apps such as Snapscan, Zapper and Masterpass all take up space on your phone and to use them to pay a merchant, you must have data.

Ozapp is a progressive web application (PWA), which acts and looks like an app, but is actually a webpage that takes up very little space on your phone. It displays as an icon on the home screen of your smartphone just like a native app.

When using Ozapp to make a payment, you don’t need data – Ozow, the company that created Ozapp, carries this cost. You also don’t have to register to use it or have a credit card. All you need is an online banking profile with your bank, and while payment happens through your banking profile, you don’t ever have to add the service provider or merchant as a beneficiary. Ozapp does it for you.

For example, say you want to buy something from Takealot. At the checkout, you select EFT with Ozow. Then select your bank from the list. You will then be prompted to log in to your online banking using your online banking credentials. You will be asked to select the bank account you want to pay from. Your bank will ask you – either by means of an SMS, USSD push message or in-app message – to authorise the transaction. Once you’ve done so, the transaction is marked as complete. Ozow will send a notification to Takealot on the outcome of the transaction and Takealot will process your order.

If you’re inside a store that accepts payment via Ozapp, you’ll be presented with a QR code. Simply scan the QR code with a built-in scanner on your phone or go to and click “Scan”. If you’ve already put the web-based app on your home screen, simply tap the icon.

You will need to select your bank and log in to your banking profile. Then select an account from which to pay and authenticate payment.

Ozow does not levy any fees on the payer. But, depending on your bank or account, you may incur fees. “For example, transacting from a savings account could incur a ‘withdrawal or transaction’ fee,” Ozow says on its website.

If you have an FNB Easy account on the Pay-As-You-Use option, an EFT will cost you R1 via online banking and mobile channels and R8 if you want it to be cleared immediately, says Elmar Gräter, the head of pricing in FNB Consumer Core Banking division.

The managing executive of everyday banking at Absa, Cowyk Fox, says EFT bill or beneficiary payments performed via the app/internet banking attract fees dependent on the product you hold. For example, Absa Transact customers pay R1 per EFT while Pay-As-You-Transact customers pay R10 per EFT and Gold Value Bundle and Premium customers get an unlimited number of free EFT payments.

Mitch Adams, the co-founder and head of research & development at Ozow, says what makes Ozow unique is that it facilitates payment on EFT “rails” and not card rails. The cost to process an EFT is lower and this makes it a cheaper method for entrepreneurs to accept payment, he says.

But payment via EFT can be manual and cumbersome for you, the end user, who must source the correct banking details for the merchant and then carry the risk of human error when adding the merchant as a beneficiary. Ozow takes this pain out of the process by prepopulating the merchant’s bank details during the online transaction.

Adams says that in preliminary studies, the company found that out of every 20 South Africans who know about payment apps, only five will download one. Out of the five that download such an app, only three will use it more than once.

The barriers to downloading apps include limited space on smartphones and the high cost of data.

Adams says only one out of eight South Africans have a credit card, which locks the majority of consumers out of digital payments and excludes them from a wide range of services.

In a bid to drive inclusivity and woo small merchants, Ozow is making its services available to individuals and sole proprietors free of charge for the first 12 months or up to a processing value of R1m a month, he says. Data costs are also reversed for merchants.